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Ghouls ‘n Ghosts Review

Developer: Capcom Publisher: Sega
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

Capcom was a company that rarely failed to make a good game. Even the few titles it manufactured that were less than their other releases were still quite playable. One of their earliest and most well-known titles was Ghosts n’ Goblins, which was released in the arcades and for a variety of systems back in its day. Of course, with the success of such a game, a sequel was destined to occur. Enter Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts built on a number of the original features that started the series and added alterations, new characters, new weapons and better gameplay. This, of course, as its predecessor, was then ported to a number of systems, the Master System being only one of several. Although not the best port of the original, this version is quite amazing in its ability to almost match the 16-Bit version (some people even mistake them sometimes when viewing screenshots), as well as containing almost every aspect of the arcade version while throwing in new, innovative features that makes it different enough that you’d want to at least try it out instead of one of the others. It has its faults, but don’t be fooled, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a great title.

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This is graphically one of the more impressive games on the Master System.
Mind you, it’s not entirely accurate with some bugs and slow down, but it’s
impressive mainly for it’s ability to nearly capture the look of the Genesis
version. It’s a good example of how much the SMS could do
when it was programmed well, though, like I said, it has problems. Overall
there’s a nice range of colors, great detail and smooth animation; the final
point only when there aren’t too many enemies on screen. Some of Arthur’s
movements, like the way he moves his arm in the air in his armor when he’s
running, look almost messy, but overall a good job. Most of the enemies are
well-detailed and the bosses in particular are large, vibrant and
frightening to fit the gothic horror theme.

Only a few minor enemies are missing from the line-up, but surprisingly Sega
managed to cram every stage into this beauty and they almost look just like
the arcade minus some background effects and such. The final boss, Loki,
looks spectacular, a real graphical showcase. There are, however, some
buggy, glitchy issues here and there as well as this feeling that Sega tried
a little too hard to make this close to the original; trying to make the
levels entirely the same while sacrificing some key animation frames which
end up making certain enemies look silly. Case in point, later in the game
you encounter these “goblin hands” that grab you and kill you if you get to
close. They’re placed onto these black squares to keep them separate from
the rest of the background so they look smooth, but the programmers didn’t
work with it and eliminate the edge so you can clearly make out the
dimensions of the square and it looks pretty sick. Stuff like that abounds
in Ghouls n’ Ghosts, but really, overall, I have to say they did some
amazing stuff here and these details don’t effect the overall play much.

I was also surprised with the sound. As I’ve always stated, but yet again in
case this is the only review you’re going to read, the SMS doesn’t have the
best sound capabilities. However, the programmers really managed to capture
most of the sound from the original. The musical arrangements are nearly all
hear and the sound effects as well. Ghouls n’ Ghosts didn’t have the
greatest sound track ever, but I can’t apply that to the score here since
they’ve simply ported it. What I can score on is how well they managed to do
this and overall it’s impressive. Of course some of it is stripped down in
comparison to the 16-Bit version, but what remains manages to capture the
feel of the sound very well.

Ghouls n’ Ghosts, being the sequel to Ghosts n’ Goblins, is essentially the
same idea. Your princess has been captured again, but this time by Loki. The
game carries most of the original concepts and throws some new ones into the
mix. Arthur can now throw his weapons up as well as down instead of merely
to the right or left. There are a few other weapons, in addition to
different suits of armor you can pick up. With all this you go through a
total of five levels with two stages each fighting various, horrific
creatures and large, gruesome bosses. The final boss, Loki, takes up the
entire screen and is one of the more impressive segments in the game. The
levels have a lot of variety and, as mentioned earlier, the programmers have
kept most of the game intact, including the gameplay. In fact, as far as I
can tell, nothing is missing in this regard. You face generally the same
difficulty and enemy patterns as you do on the Genesis.

The only thing they changed, which will make it worth your while to try this
version, is they’ve thrown in several unique features. Arthur, instead of
merely collecting his armor from treasure chests that pop up, now has to
locate secret doors where he can replenish his hits or magic points. In
addition, there are also doors where you can select new helmets, armor,
boots and weapons! You need the most powerful armor to beat the game, so
it’s great they threw this feature in because this version has not removed
the more annoying feature of the series. Plus, you have the option of
selecting different type of magic by pressing Pause, and you can use them
according to how many magic points you have. You can shoot fire, replenish
your health or even make a second version of yourself to do more damage.
It’s really a great idea and I’m glad they did something different for the
Master System version. Other than this, it carries the same problems of the
original with segments that are a little too difficult and the annoying “go
back through the entire game to find the secret weapon” theme that tends to
piss people off. As I hinted at above, though, they manage to avoid this
somewhat by making the collection of better armor more involving. The only
thing I don’t like is that they’ve given you infinite continues. The game is
tough and would have taken awhile to get through if you only had a limited
number, making it an excellent challenge. Giving you infinite makes it a bit
too easy, though it’s still a tough game to crack.

Ghouls n’ Ghosts has just been ported, but as mentioned the programmers
threw in some unique features to make this version different than the
others. In my opinion, other than some graphical issues, it’s better than
the 16-Bit version and I’d play this over that one any day. The game itself
was groundbreaking and from one of the more recognizable gothic horror
series in video game history, so even though they’ve ported it I’ll give
credit for that too.

I’ve played this title several times after I purchased it. It’s a fun game
and if you’re into the gothic horror genre it’s definitely one to check out
because later titles built themselves on games like this. The game length is
nicely set, taking around an hour and a half to complete or longer depending
on how well you do. Would have been longer without infinite continues, so I
have to lower the score for that. I wouldn’t exactly toss this in the Master
System every single day, but it’s worth it now and then.

Ghouls n’ Ghosts is a wonderful title in the Master System’s library.
Gothic horror titles were almost an underground genre back then, and it’s
nice to see one on an underappreciated system with few titles on the NTSC
market to begin with. Fans of Ghosts n’ Goblins for the Nintendo NES will
enjoy this one and it could possibly be a good lead-in to SMS collecting.
At any rate, though not perfect, it’s a title that anyone who plays the
system should own.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 7.8
Written by Stan Review Guide