Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts looks fine and sounds better, but it's one of the hardest video games you'll ever play.
- Distinct visual style
- inventive gameplay
- catchy music.
- It's really, really hard.
Regardless of whether it went under the name Ghouls 'N Ghosts or Ghosts 'N Goblins, one of the defining characteristics of Capcom's playfully macabre 2D side-scroller has been a hair-singeing level of difficulty. Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is arguably the hardest game in the entire series, a trait that can lead to either demoralizing frustration or a supreme sense of satisfaction, depending on your feelings toward unbridled masochism. There's no denying the constantly inventive gameplay design or the quality production values, but Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts is a seriously tough game that's not for everyone.
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts for the SNES was essentially a boosted version of Ghouls 'N Ghosts, which itself was a sequel to Ghosts 'N Goblins. But all of these games have the same basic setup: Playing as the knightly Arthur, you must travel through a series of spooky environments brimming with zombies, ghosts, demons, and other paranormal apparitions to save your betrothed from a big, ugly demon. Armed initially with an apparently infinite supply of lances to throw, basic silver armor, and the ability to double-jump, you'll find treasure chests that can contain new weapons, such as scythes, crossbows, daggers, torches, axes, and more, as well as special armor upgrades that can improve your weapon's effectiveness.
While the game draws from familiar horror conventions for its look and feel, what makes Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts so terrifying is its level of difficulty. When wearing his suit of armor, Arthur can only be hit twice; one hit knocks him down to his Skivvies and another hit turns him into a clattering pile of bones. Even on the easiest difficulty level, you are faced with an unrelenting number of enemies that will constantly spawn around you. The upside of this is it keeps you moving because you're more likely to be overcome by monsters if you just stand still. There are also plenty of forced movement areas that require crackerjack timing to make it through the level. The game is stingy with the checkpoints, which just exacerbates the inherent trial-and-error quality of the gameplay.
Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts is an easy game to admire from afar. Though it suffers from some extreme slowdown, the art direction is distinct. The game makes great use of the various parallax scrolling and Mode 7 scaling and rotation effects native to the SNES hardware. The soundtrack is catchy, evocative, and memorable. Whether that's worth 800 Wii points to you will depend on just how much abuse you're willing to take.