In the first hour of playing the reimagined Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection for the Nintendo Switch, I died 147 times. That was just in the starting zone of the game, which I barely scraped through. I wish I were exaggerating.
Looming thoughts of doubt started to plague my mind: will I be able to beat this game? Is it meant to be this hard? Do I actually suck at gaming now?
Well, they can all confidently be answered with a resounding yes (the latter I’m forever working on). Capcom’s 2D action-platformer, now reimagined to bring the best of the original Ghosts 'n Goblins and its sequel Ghouls 'n Ghosts together, is the hardest game to come to the Nintendo Switch. It has hordes of enemies that never stop bombarding you, ridiculous time-limited platforming, and the game is sometimes just plain unfair — just the way it’s supposed to be.
But Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection isn’t only a complete callback to hardcore arcade games, but it also brings fun updates to the classic, from a stylish, storybook art style (even if it feels a tad jarring at first), to an updated magic system, giving it RPG-lite elements. The problem is, will enough players stick around to experience it all, or will their Nintendo Switch be thrown across the room before they do?
Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection: What’s new
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection starts off as usual with our near-naked hero Sir Arthur chillin’ in a green field and having a pleasant chat with The Princess, only for her to be nabbed by a mysterious flying demon while their kingdom goes up in flames. It’s up to poor ‘ol Arthur to don his flimsy armour to fight through hordes of zombies, red demons, unicorns (which are really just giant trolls) and even flying burrito-looking monsters to save the princess. Really, that’s it in terms of the plot, but that’s not what anyone should be here for.
The biggest update is the four difficulty modes for players to choose: Squire, Knight and Legend. There’s also Page mode, which is meant to appeal to anyone who has never experienced Ghosts ‘n Goblins before. It’s the easiest mode, allowing players to respawn on the spot with unlimited lives. Although, it defeats the purpose of Ghosts ‘n Goblins as being a brutally difficult game and cuts the total in-game time dramatically.
The Legend difficulty mode (which is what I regretfully started on) is referred to as the real Ghosts ‘n Goblins experience, and while I can’t vouch for that classification considering I almost immediately exited my first time playing the original on the Switch’s NES, the sheer amount of enemies thrown at you at any given time is bonkers (damn Skeleton Murderers).
Luckily, to help out are umbral bees hidden through each zone. These fairy-like collectibles contribute toward magic and skill progression in the game, which is crucial at some points, especially towards Zone 4 and beyond. While they are hidden, and usually trying to collect them leads to certain death, Ghosts ‘n Goblins eases off as players will only have to collect them once, even if Arthur becomes a pile of bones straight afterward.
Speaking of hidden things, randomly throwing Arthur’s lance or other weapons often uncovers hidden treasure chests, which includes extra armour, more weapons, and a gold armour upgrade (making a return from Ghouls 'n Ghosts) that offers a boost in speed, attack and extra defense. More often than not, though, the treasure chest offers only points.
Yup, it’s an arcade game, after all. While I died far too many times to care about my high score, veterans or those looking for a real challenge may be delighted to try to top the charts.
Finally, for the first time in the series, there's a local two-player co-op option, although it’s not exactly what I expected. The second player becomes a guardian angel of sorts who can fire projectiles at slow intervals, carry the first player, create bridges and even make a shield around Arthur. It’s a fantastic feature for newcomers, although it’s slightly disappointing that it’s not an Arthur doppelganger so Player 2 can also feel the pain of this game.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection: Test your mettle
So, about that difficulty: it’s hard. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is the type of game that will either make players give up in the first 10 minutes or have them persevere through countless deaths. That is, on Legend or Knight difficulty.
While platforming sections, like the rage-inducing first half of the Caverns of the Occult where bats fly everywhere and when the walls come alive later on at the Citadel Approach, still offer great difficulty on any mode, Squire and Page will disappoint long-time fans as these difficulties are comparatively a cakewalk. For newcomers who can’t be bothered with the challenge, playing Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection on these difficulties makes it all-too-short. While there are seven zones, with the first two sets allowing players to pick their path, each area is relatively short if players don’t die often.
During my playthrough, I started out on Legend difficulty and proceeded to die over 400 times (I lost count due to preserving some honor). I reached Zone 3, the dastardly Caverns of the Occult, and wasn’t sure who in their right mind would want to go through this level of hell. Once a player dies enough, a convenient option to lower the difficulty and start from the last checkpoint shows up. Yeah, I pressed it.
Knight mode is still hard-as-nails but offers more room for strategy. From landing precise attacks so a Red Arremer doesn’t hunt you down, to jumping just at the right time to land on a rotating platform while dodging spider lava, Knight difficulty is the perfect option to learn the ropes and see some light at the end of it all.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection: Plain unfair
Get. The. Knife. If you know, you know. While Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection brings new weapons into the mix, including a spiked discus and short-range hammer, they are pretty much useless compared to the lance or knife/dagger. While Capcom did want to bring back the classic feel of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, it’s disappointing it didn’t make the arsenal of weapons any more viable.
Anytime I picked up the crossbow, hammer or holy water weapon, all hope was immediately lost. It’s strange to keep these weapons when they can’t help deal with enemies nearly as well as the lance or dagger. Arthur also keeps the weapon until he picks up another; finding a chest with a dagger grows annoying.
For some bizarre reason, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection also makes the button you press after Arthur dies the “Restart Area” option instead of making you restart from the last banner/checkpoint. Three times I made it through an area to the last banner, only to mistakenly press A, which immediately took me back to the very start of the area. They weren’t good times.
However, a silver lining is understanding the trial-and-error progression of the platformer. I definitely blasted through the same areas slightly faster, including the stone dragon roller coaster section, although some areas still whooped my butt.
What didn’t really do any whooping were each zone’s bosses. Sure, they caught me off guard at first, but they were a delight compared to the rest of the stages leading up to them. While beautifully designed and great to watch, attacks from these monsters were easier to predict, with the very last boss, Lucifer, hardly putting up much of a fight.
Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection: Once more into the fray
Like any Ghosts 'n Goblins game, once you beat Resurrection once, it unlocks the World of Shadows, which rearranges the levels by turning them into Shadow Stages, all to unlock the true ending. These mix-ups were a welcome challenge, even if I was slightly sickened that I would now have more pain coming my way. They definitely bring more replayability, although bosses at the end of each zone still stay the same, which is either a gift or a curse whether you were looking for something different or not. I, for one, was happy that there wasn’t a whole new pattern to learn.
This also presented more opportunities to gather umbral bees to access even more magic, from the very handy resurrection to the Medusa skill, which turns all enemies into climbable stone. In the long run, these upgrades made higher difficulties a lot more realistic to complete.
For those who believe they’ve bested the toughest games around, give Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection a whirl. It isn’t every gamers’ cup of tea, and there will be many immediately turned off due to the countless deaths, especially when certain sections require pure luck to get through. However, those who persevere will find a beautifully crafted reimagining of Capcom’s classic.
There are definitely missed opportunities, from useless weapons to easy boss fights, and while the difficulty options are a great addition to bring in newcomers, easier difficulties can make Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection too short. However, hardcore platforming fans and veterans of the series will find plenty of replayability.
It’s hard to recommend a game that will turn off a lot of players, but if you can put up with countless deaths, unfair hordes of enemies, and sticking to just using one weapon (if you find a use of any other weapon that’s not the knife, do let me know), Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection will give you the glory and adrenaline you’re after.