When hearing the name Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection, one might be mistaken in thinking it’s some horrible Tinder branding, and much like digital dating, Ghost ‘n Goblins Resurrection is difficult. It often requires precision and persistence in putting yourself in the deep end of things to get the fullest enjoyment. It’s all about trying, and trying again until you persevere. However, GnG Resurrection’s drip feed of serotonin is tailored to those that are up for a challenge but is that enough to reanimate this long dormant franchise?
We really still doing this?
In reviving old-school side-scrolling action so too has Capcom jolted back to life a vestigial story of a damsel in distress that must be saved by the absolute unit and swipe-rightable knight Arthur. To put it bluntly – the narrative is blasé in presentation, inherently problematic and obviously not the reason one plays Ghost ‘n Goblins. It must be asked though, why maintain the status quo for the sake of nostalgia? If Capcom is performing a resurrection of sorts, then they should have left the ‘women-as-prize’ nugget this industry used to hold dear dead. Ultimately, this backdrop isn’t intrusive or detrimental to the gameplay experience but at a minimum, it’s a little staggering. I thought we had moved past a trite motif such as this one some time ago but here we are.
Sweaty rants aside, gameplay in GnG Resurrection is clearly the focus as it quickly overshadows the morsel of plot with a wild amount of inconsistency across level design, combat and adherence to old-school difficulty. Firstly, I found the level design flipping wildly between the two classic extremes of “wow, this is really cool” and “who the fuck thought this was a good idea?” Some sections are absolutely brutal, forcing you to make precise jumps in the dark while also dealing with flying burrito-esque ghosts. This then transitions into having you soar through volcanic ash on the back of stone dragons in an elaborately delicate platforming event. The latter is a superb set piece that paces the platforming challenge methodically in such a way that it’s readable, yet difficult without being tedious and therefore exhilarating to overcome. The former however comes off simply cruel as jumping in the dark inherently sucks and the flurry of enemies just tips the balance more towards frustrating than rewarding. As a whole, every section or level (depending on your difficulty choice) feels like it’s eventually based on trial and error gameplay. Is it painful? Yes. Is it gratifying though? I’d say, just barely.
Magpie swooping season
One reason it is just enjoyable enough is that difficulty can be tailored. The game offers four options that provide more checkpoints and Arthur with more hit points the lower down the difficulty ladder you go. For the record I played on Squire and am working my way through Knight as of review. Legend seemed truly masochistic and I’ll give first person to show me their deathless of the entire game before Australia is vaccinated $100.
A lot of the weaponry you come across is very situational, creating a bungling feeling of never being at your best. Arthur’s iconic throwable Lance, as well as its quicker dagger variant are the ol’ reliable when it comes to slaying these spectres and gremlins. Unfortunately most other items are somewhat useless at times, or in the case of the Molotov, all the time. I found the crossbow to be destructive to most bosses but horrible for anything on the x/y axis. Honourable mention goes to the boulder for being too funny not to use despite its abysmal range. There’s a decent variety of weapons to play around with but I could never shake wanting to stick with the lance or dagger for the entire game.
The Umbral tree is a skill tree that provides unlockable spells and passive effects to help you on your turbulent journey, and actually does a lot to spice up otherwise repetitive gameplay. I’d liken these spells’ effects to a multi-tool approach to combat in both offensive, defensive and supportive capabilities. Turning all enemies into frogs will never not be wonderful in games but I really appreciate the gameplay-altering upgrades like being able to hold multiple weapons or the ability to revive on a minuscule dice roll. In a way they remedy some of the complaints I’ve outlined but not in such a way it makes them negligible as you have to explore, collect and put up with some painful chases to acquire the currency to unlock them.
The pepe memes are increasing in obscurity
As a whole, every section or level (depending on your difficulty choice) feels like it’s eventually based on trial and error gameplay. Is it painful? Yes. Is it gratifying though? I’d say, just barely.
As for the look and sound, whimsical dark fantasy is how I best describe the world created here, with a dash of Where The Wild Things Are. It has this papercraft, inside of a storybook look with lovely animations. These tidy animations include Arthur’s idiotic (but charmingly gallant) gait and most of the scenery and platforms themselves, such as vines that recede to clear the way for Arthur or an ice castle that continually tries to freeze itself to trap him. And the music, the damn music! It is one of the most memorable parts of the game by far, and a testament to its quality being that you can retry a level 500 times and still be jamming out to some of these bops. As a final positive, the game is incredibly polished and runs smoothly, hitch free in both TV and handheld.
There is the nostalgia angle of experiencing the way platformers used to be, women as an object to be won angle and all. At the end of the day though I can only recommend this if you’re the type of person that enjoys smashing your face up against a brick wall in your spare time. It’s decently fun to see yourself improve with the satisfaction stemming from just scraping through each level. The music, and unique style of visuals add a lot of vibrant character to the punishing journey, but that alone can’t carry it. It’s all about that gameplay and difficulty, which has an audience, but it’s maybe not enough of a grand revival for a wider reach.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch // Review code supplied by publisher
- Nintendo Switch
- February 25, 2021