Monday, January 10, 2011
Ghosts 'n Goblins Arcade and Wii Virtual Console
Ghost 'n Goblins remains one of the true classic early platformers. It exists as an example of what platformers were before Mario: brutal arcade machines with clunky controls demanding intense memorization. Ghost 'n Goblins on the Arcade, Wii, and even NES is no exception. The is now available for download on the Nintendo Wii for 800 points. I highly recommend it, but you should know what you are getting yourself into, so MAME might be a good idea at this point. Alternately, you can grab the arcade port in Capcom Collections Vol. 2 for the Playstation 2.
You play Arthur the Knight, and you were about to make sweet love to Princess Prin-Prin when some demon named Astaroth abducts her. As a video game hero, this is your idiom. You collect different weapons to spam at bad guys, like daggers, shields, and fireballs. Get hit and you'll lose your armor and run around in your boxers. Get hit again and you die. Like Mario, you can collect extra lives, but you do have unlimited continues. And you'll need them.
The game is brutally difficult, but you have unlimited continues in the Arcade. When real money isn't on the line, learning to play the game can be great fun. The levels vary in subject matter; you'll fight through Ghost Towns, Graveyards, Caves, Forests, Ruins, and the Pandemonium Palace of Hell. Between every stage you'll see your progress on the map, a convention later adopted by many arcade and NES games. The design is amazing, the music fits the tone of the game well, and despite the difficulty, the game is quite beatable.
Unfortuneatly, to get the real ending one must play through 2 loops of the game--a rather underhanded tactic. Still, many gamers put the game down after the first loop. I certainly did after beating Satan on the NES (oh yea, the Final Boss is none other than the Dark Lord Satan himself, so good luck). Other gamers, like doctorx0079, can beat both loops without dying. Watching videos can certainly be a useful tool for advanced players, but don't rob yourself of the experience of playing through the game initially!
The VC port offers gamers the ability to customize the settings as per usual arcade emulation. The game always ran in Horizontal Alignment, so you won't have to worry about black bars (unless playing on a widescreen TV). Unfortunately, Capcom had the NES version of Ghosts 'N Goblins pulled from the store, which is a shame. The NES version remains very much a classic, but doesn't offer the visual, auditory, or customizable experience of the arcade port. The move appears to makes sense from a "business-meeting" perspective, but honestly these games are all old news now and Capcom wouldn't hurt anyone by leaving the NES version for sale. They fail to account for hardcore fans of the series, who would purchase BOTH games, and they (presumably) lose all the money they've earned from the NES VC release (all $200!).
Like 1942, Capcom ported the game to many home consoles (especially in the European market) including the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC, Commodore 16, Sharp X68000, Game Boy Color, GBA, NES and Apple's iOS. The game spawned sequels at the arcade and SNES, which was recently remade for the PSP. Gargoyle's Quest, an RPG series, would result in a spin-off series arguably better than its source material (check out the NES Gargoyle's Quest!).
The Virtual Console release, in any case, remains exciting because, as I mentioned in The History of the 194X Games, Capcom will be releasing arcade classics on the Wii. This also establishes a possible price-point for 1942. In addition, the precedent has now been set for the removal of NES games if an updated version is released, so expect the NES 1942 to leave the VC this year.