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June 2024

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 25, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 25, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

The legendary platforming series rises again, as Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection marks the heroic return of the series, which debuted over 35 years ago.

In Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection, players take on the role of Arthur, a brave and powerful knight who's battling the forces of evil. Arthur isn't particularly hardy, and he can't control his momentum in air — two things that make for a rather challenging platformer. While Ghosts 'n Goblins is an old-school 2D platformer at heart, the franchise is known for hating its players, and GnGR is no exception.

Arthur's biggest advantage is the huge collection of weapons. He starts with a simple lance, but you'll quickly find different weapons, each with an advantage of its own. The crossbow shoots a diagonal shot upward and downward, the discus glides along platforms, the hammer is immensely powerful but short range, and the fire … maybe we don't talk about the fire. Success usually boils down to having the best weapons for the situation. By default, Arthur automatically swaps weapons when he picks up a new one, but he can eventually gain the ability to hold two or three weapons at once and swap between them at will. If he's hit once by an enemy, he's reduced to boxer shorts, and he dies if he's hit again.

GnGR gives you a bit of a handicap in the form of Umbral Bees, which are rainbow-glowing bees that are located throughout stages. They're usually hidden or in tricky locations, but once you collect a bee, it is collected permanently and can be used to buy new skills, which let you turn enemies into frogs, create duplicates of Arthur, or even upgrade your armor. There are also passive skills that you can unlock, such as the ability to hold multiple weapons or potentially resurrect on death. Skills cost a fair number of bees, but you can re-spec at any time, so in an upcoming stage, you can decide to have super speed instead of turning enemies to stone. You can use magic spells an unlimited number of times, and they can be swapped at any time, but you must charge them before use and let them cool down afterward.

While the bee powers are cool, I found them to be out of place. They are exceptionally powerful, especially once you get a few upgrades under your belt, but they give the game a weird difficulty curve. Once you can turn every enemy into a frog every few seconds, it takes away from the tension of avoiding swarms of enemies. This can make some of the level design feel bland because it's easier to dissolve everything in your path or turn into a nigh-invincible stone rather than wrestle with Arthur's awkward movement. The toughest moments of the game are those where you need to do precision platforming, which most of the powers don't assist with.

Even ignoring the bee powers, GnGR throws a lot of bones to players. There are multiple difficult modes that have significantly different play styles. In Knight mode, you'll play a standard GnG experience, while Squire mode gives your armor additional durability so you can take more hits. Page mode is effectively invincibility for those who want to breeze through the game. (I wouldn't recommend Page mode, as it prevents some unlocks and is pretty dull.) If you die repeatedly on a stage, you can temporarily drop down to a lower difficulty, which is nice if you're stuck on a specific punishing part. Of course, there is both a harder Legend mode and bonus Shadow variations of the stage for those who want to keep having trouble. The game offers a cooperative mode where one player can help the other, but since it's local co-op only, it's limited in use.

Despite all of this, GnGR is very loyal to its quarter-eating heritage, and that will probably be the biggest make-or-break element of the game. You will die — a lot. Some of the deaths will feel earned, and some will feel frustrating and cheap. You may die because you couldn't predict a dragon would suddenly dive down at you, or you might die because Arthur's very stiff jump was a smidgeon off. No matter how many new features or shiny upgrades it has, it's a game where you'll get hit by a random bird, drop down to your boxer shorts, and then fall into a pit. If that sounds more frustrating than fun, then Ghosts 'n Goblins isn't for you. The game is about five hours long, and if you zoom through on Page mode, you'll be left distinctly unsatisfied. You need to enjoy challenging yourself to GnG's sadistic style to get your money's worth.

One element of the game that everyone can enjoy is the delightful storybook art style. The game intentionally looks like a pop-up fairy tale, and it works wonderfully. All the classic GnG enemies are present but with new redesigns that are delightfully charming while retaining details of the original. It's a joy to watch in motion, especially when the game introduces clever concepts like enemies who only appear in light or shadow. The music is fairly solid but feels awfully familiar and lacks some of the flair of other similar remake remixes.

All in all, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is exactly what it promises: a shinier, more modern, and no less punishing Ghosts 'n Goblins game. It offers various handicaps and advantages, but no matter how many it tosses at you, it won't change one simple fact: You are going to get hit, frantically run around in your boxers, and then die — a lot. If masochism in video games isn't your thing, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. If you want a GnG experience that feels familiar and modern at the same time, look no further than GnGR.

Score: 8.0/10

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