Kickin’ It Old School – Super Ghouls and Ghosts

There were games way back when that were just plain tough. You could play them for hours and barely get into the game. You could lose life after life, credit after credit, and yet, you can’t put the controller down. Because even though you’re getting chewed up and spit out by this game, you’re still having fun. After playing it enough though, you can get through it without much pain. Take Mega Man for instance. The difficulty is high, but you can get through it. And a game like Contra may seem tough at first, but the 30 lives code can take care of that.

Then, there are games so tough, so unforgiving, so cruelly evil that you just want to throw your controller through your TV. Let’s take a look at one such game; a game that just had to have come from the Devil himself…

Super Ghouls “Ëœn Ghosts

Talk about a game that doesn’t fuck around. The Ghosts “Ëœn Goblins series is legendary for its difficulty, and the SNES sequel is no exception. You take control of Arthur, the protagonist of the series who fights to the death (over and over and over and over again), even when stripped to his underwear, as he strives to rescue his girlfriend, the perplexingly named Princess PrinPrin, who has been kidnapped by the evil demon Sardius. Along the way, he is attacked by all manner of, well…ghouls “Ëœn ghosts. You are to hack and slash your way through 8 levels, some of which have multiple stages.

Not such a daunting task on paper, is it? Hell, Super Mario Bros. has 8 levels, with 4 stages each, surely a game with less can’t be too bad. The problem here is twofold: number one, you are constantly bombarded by enemies, who can kill you in two hits, one to strip you of your armor and the other to turn you into a pile of bones. There are armor upgrades you can get, but that only slightly helps. Sure, Capcom had the decency to give you the option of multiple lives and continues, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is just too damn hard to not die in this game.

Number two (tee hee…), the controls could be a bit better. They’re okay, but jumping is a problem in some places. You either jump straight up or in an arc in either direction. You can’t change direction in the air unless you do a double-jump, and after that you can’t change direction at all. So if you’re in the air about to land on a zombie, you’re screwed. Then there’s the slowdown if there’s too much action on screen, but I don’t really count slowdown as part of a game’s difficulty, so I can look past it.

But don’t get me wrong; I actually like the game. Despite the horrific difficulty and patience and time needed to complete just one level, it’s pretty fun. There are a variety of enemies to fight and weapons to use, although some are more useful than others. I can’t really pinpoint what I like about the game; it just has a certain charm to it. The image of a knight stripped of his armor and continuing to fight in his underwear to save his beloved is not only pretty funny, but inspiringly badass.

Badass as the Arthur is, the downright evil difficulty of the game has probably caused many gamers to abandon the game and the rest of the series. I can’t really say I blame those who did; despite liking the game, I was kind of one of them. I beat the game once, since I have no life and was able to devote an entire day to playing it through sheer determination and strength. But once I beat what I thought was the final boss, the Princess says that Sardius cannot be defeated without a magical Goddess Bracelet, so you must go back to the beginning of the game and beat it again with the Bracelet this time. Why am I just hearing about this now?

I hate it when games do this. I take a beating throughout the whole game, and it’s “Your princess is in another castle” and Super Bases Loaded all over again. So you’re sent back to the beginning, with the difficulty increased, which I didn’t think was possible, to beat it again. I don’t care how much I like the game, I already beat it, that should be enough. So you know what? No. Fuck you, game. I’ll go play something that’s easier and more rewarding in the end. Like a game I like to call, “Running into a Brick Wall”.

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