Throwback Thursday #32 - Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
Posted 12 Mar 2020 at 14:37 by Dennis Tummers
There was a time when hearing that typical Capcom jingle meant diving in another great adventure. Especially during the SNES era, the Capcom sound led to awesome things such as Super Street Fighter II, The Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse, Mega Man X and… Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts!
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the third game in Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins series, and it released in December 1992 here in Europe. I owned it as a kid, and recently I revisited the game through the SNES Online app on the Nintendo Switch.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is considered a hard game. Thinking back to playing it in my childhood years, it is baffling that I could finish it at all. But I guess that’s what can be achieved with plenty of time on hand and no worries!
Luckily some of the muscle memory remained and helped me in my recent playthrough of this 2D action-oriented platformer. Tricky jumps were no problem, and I remembered how to get a bunch of the hidden treasure chests that are scattered throughout the levels as well. But I’m not going to lie, I used the SNES Online’s rewind function a fair amount of times. I can imagine that if you are going to play this game for the first time, it is hard and that may be off-putting.
But if you push through (with or without a little bit of modern help) there is a lot to like! Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a good-looking game, and it holds up quite well. You can finish it in a couple of hours (although if you want the true ending you will have to finish it twice) the biggest flaw is its occasional slowdowns when the screen gets busy.
Environments are atmospheric and varied; from graveyards to sinking ships and from the innards of a monster to a harsh snowy mountain complete with avalanches. As a kid, traversing these lands felt like an adventure, and the mix of enemies thrown at you made it feel epic. Especially the bosses felt impressive. Giant birds, three-headed hydras and big ice demons will cross your path. Nowadays these bosses are a bit less impressive and they are easier to beat then I remembered, but they are still a nice ending to each level.
You'll want to be in full gold armour when facing off against the bosses in this game.
Luckily Arthur has quite an arsenal to slay all this evil. There is a plethora of weapons to pick up, although you can only hold one. Each one has different pros and cons. Throwing knives are fast but deal less damage, and the crossbow has great range due to its split attack but is quite weak. If you want power grab an axe or a torch, although they require more skill due to their strange trajectory.
You start each level in your iron suit of armour, which gives you the normal version of the weapon you are using. Pick up a bronze suit and your weapon powers up, increasing in strength and changing form, and sometimes handling. Go for the gold suit and the real fun begins. You can charge up to unleash each weapon's special attack, which ranges from a flash that reveals hidden treasure chests, to summoning a dragon. Don’t get too used to your armour though, as a single hit shatters it, and leaves you vulnerable and in your underwear. Another hit and it will cost you a life.
Watch out though, when Arthur is down to his 'less-armoured' state he can only take one hit.
So how did it end for good old Arthur after saving the princess in Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts? After his SNES adventure, he went underground for a while, only to show up in a bunch of ports and in the spin-off game Maikamura for WonderSwan. In 2006, however, he reappeared in Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins for the PlayStation Portable. His last new appearance was on iOS, in the mobile games Ghost ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights I and II, and he dished out some punches is Marvel VS Capcom 3.
Meanwhile one of his foes (the red demon Firebrand) went solo in the Gargoyle’s Quest series. If you have access to the SNES Online app you can give Demon’s Crest a try, the third game in the Gargoyle’s Quest spin-off series.
But if you want to start a game in the series, let it be Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. It holds up better than Demon’s Crest, and I find it a joy to play. The nostalgia glasses definitely help, but I’m certain that if you are in for an atmospheric retro platformer with a good challenge, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a great one.