For fans of Ghosts ‘n Goblins (NES) or Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (SNES), Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins will double-jump you down a nostalgia-filled memory lane. For those who have never played a title in the series, however, the old-school controls and high difficulty will most likely lance any possibility of fun.
Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins, not unlike a Mario game, re-spins the same simple story of its predecessors: The demons of the Ghoul Realm, seeking to mix their bloodline with that of human royalty, have kidnapped the princess. As the knight Arthur, it is your job to get her back. Like most platformers, the “how” is more important than the “why.”
The Ghosts ‘n Goblins series is known as one of the most difficult in gaming, mostly due to the rigid jumping mechanics that don’t allow you to redirect Arthur one he’s started a jump. Being allowed to execute a second jump mid-air helps to a degree, especially since you can head in a new direction, but the jump itself is still locked to a certain trajectory. Ultimate’s roots have yielded no new foliage in this regard.
Also like its predecessors, Ultimate requires you to play through the game multiple times. However, whereas the prior games let you play all the way through before telling you it had just been “a trap devised by Satan,” Ultimate won’t even let you fight the final boss and get a bad ending before going back through. You need 22 golden rings to access the final battle, and you will get teleported back to the first level if you reach the gatekeeper in world 5 without all the rings. Even then, if you beat the last boss with less than 33 rings, you will receive a bad ending and have to start over anyway. This mechanic of being forced to look in every nook and cranny for the rings can be a major detriment to any gamer that doesn’t enjoy collecting.
Several things offset this potentially negative aspect of collecting. First is the inclusion of difficulty levels. The hardest setting is reminiscent of older games in the series, where death takes Arthur back to the start of the stage or to a checkpoint. The two easier settings respawn Arthur near the point of death and provide many more lives before it’s Game Over, plus let him retain the weapon he was using.
The second counterbalance to forced collecting is the inclusion of shields. Shields allow you to block, preventing damage to Arthur’s armor until their durability is used up. Honestly I didn’t use them much, at least not for blocking, since one of them lets you to fly for a short time. The flying shield makes it far easier to look for those rings. Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins also has various types of armor, one of which lets you fly indefinitely, but you can’t store the different armors in your inventory like you can with the shields.
The final compensation for forced collecting is the set of warp staffs you collect. There’s one for each level, so if you remember that you weren’t able to access a certain area of a level but have just obtained something that might let you in, you can warp back to that stage without having to cycle back through the entire game again.
If you enjoyed prior entries in the series and you don’t mind collecting, Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins will be worth your time, especially right now while it’s on sale for $10 via the PSN’s Special Offers (download size: 271 MB), though you can buy it in disc format as well. Otherwise, you’d probably be wise to save your money for another title.
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See Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins in action:
About the Author
|Markham Asylum is a founding member of Delta Attack. His tier-1 favorite genres are role-playing, puzzle, and strategy. His tier-2 are adventure, shooter, and platformer. He strives to provide spoiler-free postings whenever possible.
Markham Asylum has written 398 posts on Delta Attack.