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October 2022

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: June 1, 2021


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Xbox One Review - 'Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 25, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

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

When it comes to difficult games, Elden Ring may be the newest kid on the block, but the original entry in the "get good" genre was Ghosts 'n Goblins. The 1985 arcade game and later NES release were notoriously difficult but precise. As long as you had good reflexes or could learn the enemy patterns, the games were beatable. Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection, an updated remake of the original game, attempts to recapture the magic of the original but doesn't quite nail the execution.

Visually, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is a treat. The sprites are full of detail, with designs that keep the spirit of the original game alive. Series veterans will find all of the monsters easily recognizable, while new players will appreciate the clear distinction between enemy types. Although the stages aren't long in length, each section has its own visual identity, while still clearly being part of a larger whole.

Now, saying that the stages aren't long is true from a "ground covered" sense, but not from a "time to beat" sense. Most players, including yours truly, are going to spend quite a bit of time getting through each level — and not just because you have to beat all of them twice to unlock the game's true ending. Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is hard, and it turns the difficulty up to 11.

At first glance, the challenge isn't a problem. After all, it's supposed to be a core part of the experience. If you buy a Ghosts 'n Goblins game, you know what you're getting into. However, the difficulty isn't nearly as well balanced as it was in the prior games, which ends up making it feel cheap rather than challenging, especially as you push through to the endgame.

The biggest issue has to do with the fact that Arthur moves so slowly (why can I jump forward faster than I can run?) that reaction time isn't enough to cut it at certain points. There's nothing more frustrating than dying not because you messed up but because the game threw a surprise curveball at you that was impossible to avoid unless you knew it was coming.

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection attempts to mitigate this issue by way of collectibles and magic power-ups. As you gain magic, you can cast attack spells and protection spells to even the odds. You can even learn magic that gives you a chance to resurrect. While magic makes the game easier, it also ends up feeling required. Unlike other games where power-ups make me feel more powerful, in Resurrection, they made me feel like they were compensating for shortfalls in level design.

The same can be said for the co-op mode. Available locally (there's no online play), co-op allows a second player to take control of a ghost that supports the primary player. This is done by way of additional magic, such as a damage shield, that the second player can deploy. The second player needs to be near the primary player, but that's the only restriction.

On the one hand, this is a great way for casual players to join in the fun and support the primary player. On the other hand, having a second player makes a number of sections much easier than they would ever be by default. Like the magic system, adding a second player doesn't feel like an alternative way to play but a way to compensate for deficiencies that already exist.

The good news is that in spite of its flaws, the underlying gameplay can still be enjoyable in short bursts. Success can be heavily dependent on memorization and getting lucky with the weapon RNG, but when it happens, it feels good.

The RNG element has to do with the weapon that comes out of the in-game chests. It seems to be a random selection from a preset pool. If all the weapons were equally useful in all situations, this wouldn't be an issue, but they're not. If you don't have the right weapon for the level or the boss fight, the challenge is going to be that much greater. It's not because of damage but simply because the weapons handle differently. Sometimes you get lucky and get the perfect weapon for the situation. Other times, you end up with the wrong weapon and start a boss fight feeling like the Fresh Prince — right after a freeze-frame and record scratch.

In the end, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection nails the visual update but stumbles when it comes to gameplay. Hardcore fans of the franchise can look past the rough edges and find the fun buried underneath, but if you don't feel like putting forth the effort, you'll probably be happier playing the original arcade game via Capcom Arcade Stadium.

Score: 6.5/10

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