Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Good: Old-school feel, weapons and armor variety, music, visuals
Bad: Jumping, almost unreasonable difficulty
Back: The classic boxers
The original Ghosts 'n' Goblins for the NES was and still is one of the most ridiculously difficult games of all time. This new title in the series is a welcome homage to its classic dagger-throwing gameplay, while adding enough elements to make it more than a nostalgia act (and don't worry, the difficulty has been retained:for better or worse).
Sir Arthur is our protagonist once again, and he's still occasionally running around in his heart-pattern boxers. While the original titles in the series had extremely limited armor options, Ultimate Ghosts 'n' Goblins adds several different tiers. Unfortunately, all of your upgrades are null and void if you fall into a pit, which you'll be doing a lot thanks to confusingly limited jump controls.
For the longest time, I thought something was wrong with my PSP based on how Arthur jumped. It seemed like you could jump a certain degree to the right, left, or up, but absolutely no control once your feet left the ground. In pretty much every side-scrolling platformer ever, you can adjust in mid-jump if you over or under-estimated the distance. Not so with UGnG. It gets slightly easier once you acquire the double-jump, but not much. Certain jump-heavy stages that feature Arthur riding floating platforms are nearly impossible thanks to these clunky controls.
The assortment of weapons this time around is truly impressive, featuring old mainstays and new additions. Arthur will acquire multiple magic spells as well that can be unleashed with a press of the O button. Some are area attacks that are extremely useful when you're surrounded by the game's many enemies. Occasional boss battles do a great job of shaking up the action, and they're all well-designed and amongst the best in the series.
Environments are filled with visually appealing characters and effects, and the PSP manages the on-screen action with little hint of slowdown. While it's certainly a 2D side-scroller, some 3D elements are present when you turn certain corners or in other situations. I was very glad to hear the classic GnG theme recreated for this title, as I've always considered it perfect for the game.
Ultimate Ghosts 'n' Goblins features some great bosses, interesting stages, and a wealth of new abilities and weapons, but it's somewhat hindered by the insane difficulty. Even on the easiest setting, it can be harder than most games are on the most difficult setting. If it weren't for the extremely awkward jumping mechanics, this would be a fantastic title. As is, it's merely an ambitious upgrade to a classic series.
First Play: 7.0
Replay Value: 6.5