After a little break I'm returning to my game collection to dig out an old favorite and show why it should be remembered more fondly. Today we're gonna look at Super Ghouls'n Ghosts for the Super Nintendo, the sequel/re-make of the NES' Ghosts'n Goblins. With refreshingly old school plot, Arthur rushes to meet his royal lady only for... Oh no! A monster to capture her. So begins a classic horror platformer romp like only the 16 bit generation could provide.
But here's the thing, Super Ghouls'n Ghosts was a little different from Zombies Ate my Neighbours or Castlevania..... It's Viagra hard. When I call this the Dark Souls of the SNES it's not because of its playful gothic vibe. Like the modern classic by FROM software, SGnG punishes those who rush into situations, cruelly demoralises the arrogant and forces the player to repeat huge chunks of the game when they make a mistake. When I first played this game i made me feel the same way as Super Star Wars did, that I sucked at games and by logical progression so did this game.
But just like that story set a long, long time ago, I got better. And gradually I uncovered a really interesting but nerve shreddingly difficult game. You have to learn the patterns, master the deceptively simple controls and take your time (but stay within the limit) to conquer this game. But like Dark Souls and Super Star Wars, this gem is rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable.
If your good, (and I'm really really not good enough) you can upgrade Arthur's armor with various magical versions. This is nearly impossible as, like other versions in the series one hit reduces Arthur to his under pants, and one more hit puts him six feet under. This is the cruel level of difficulty that I adore about SGnG, just two mistakes and your right back at the start of the level. This one really isn't for the fainthearted, and that's not to mention you have to complete the game twice to get the final ending.
The level design is cleverly built around the simple controls, so simple jumps become more challenging. Unlike your Mario's or Megaman's, You're unable to control Arthur's jump trajectory once you've begun the action. This means that the player needs to be able to know the exact distance Arthur can reach, and also be able to change this on the fly using the double jump. Like all great control gimmicks this seems simple, but is far from it when it comes to crunch time.
Like some of its 16 bit bed fellows, SGnG manages to walk the line between spooky horror and playful fantasy. Making it more Scooby Doo than Saw, so even when it's at it's most infuriating it's impossible not to enjoy its bright and colourful art style. The levels all hit the familiar spooky notes, haunted ships, graveyards and layers of hell all make welcome appearances. and for those who can stick with it, there is a wealth of well put together levels,
SGnG was lost in a maelstrom of good games for the SNES, whilst it did well at the time it is long forgotten. the series has more recent appearances, but none in my view match the perfect leveling of SGnG. This is a series BEGGING for a New Super Mario Bros U style remake, and it would remind people that Team Meat did not invent the hard platformer, some of us have been masochistically punishing ourselves for years!
You can get SGnG on pretty much everything in one way or another, I would recommend either Capcom Classics on PS2 or the Wii U version as that save state function will prevent hair loss.