Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Speccy Capers: Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (US Gold, 1988)

Originally released under the name Daimakamura in Japan, Ghouls N Ghosts sees our hero Sir Arthur off to rescue Princess Prin Prin from the clutches of a demon. Along the way, he must face skeleton warriors, tornado devils and Firebrand (who got his own game in the shape of Gargoyles Quest on Game Boy). If hit, his armour shatters and you spend most of your time in your under crackers. One more hit, and you lose a life and get reduced to a pile of bones. The arcade original is widely known as one of the best games of the 80s, and is also one of the hardest, with enemies flying at you thick and fast. Luckily, to help fend them off, you get a variety of pick ups like replacement armour, a weapon charge upgrade, and various weapons like axes, blade discs and fire bombs. On occasion, chests pop up, and once opened either grant you said armour, or a magician appears and turns you into either a duck or an old man. The spell wears off after five seconds, meaning you can go in your merry way, slaying monsters and wotnot.

There are 5 stages in total, with an end of level boss on each. The levels vary, with one being set first of all in  graveyard, then on a cliff, the next level sees you running through a village, which then goes up in flames, and the graphics change as the levels progress. If you thought the arcade graphics were awesome, the Spectrum version has some of the best I've seen. Highly detailed, and with minimal colour clash, US Gold came up trumps with how this looks. Yes, they might be monochrome at some points, but when it requires other colours, it works really well.

There's hardly any music, except on the title screen and the map screen, which is a faithful rendition of the arcade version. It does, however, have some great spot effects, like the driving rain on the second half of the first level, and sounds like proper driving rain.

Controls are simple, and are very responsive. Just make sure if you're emulating on the DS, that you use keyboard, and can remap jump to one of the other buttons, as it will help a lot. The status bar at the bottom is a huge step up from Ghosts 'n' Goblins, which was just a yellow bar with writing. Overall, a great effort which retains the playability, and difficulty, of the arcade original, while injecting some Spectrum charm into the proceedings. Highly recommended. Also, check out the remade title screen from Ghosts N Goblins, taken from a hand drawn picture (see above), as it's pretty awesome, and should have been the loading screen.

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