Capcom takes one of its beloved franchises back to the future. We take a masochistic new look.
LAS VEGAS--If you're of an age, the name Ghosts and Goblins (or even the first few bars of its theme) either brings warm fuzzies to your soul or wraps your heart in the grip of a cold sweat. No matter which camp you fall into, there's no denying that Capcom's old-school side-scroller left an impression on anyone who played it. We were pleased to see a shiny PSP update of the series at TGS, and were delighted to see it appear again at Capcom's Las Vegas press event under the new moniker Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins. In addition to a presentation that shed some light on the game's origins, we were able to try out a playable version of the game, which reminded us of our love/hate relationship with the venerable series.
Producer Hironobu Takeshita gave a presentation that detailed the game's origins and wound up getting us pretty excited for it. The title came about due to requests for a new game in the old series, and it led Capcom to decide that it would create a new title that remained faithful to the original. To do so, it gathered together members of the original team and set them to work on what is being considered a modern sequel to the old games. The team retained the 2D mechanics and feel, but instead used polygonal graphics to take advantage of the PSP hardware. The end result is a game that looks razor sharp on the PSP, thanks to 3D visuals, but maintains a decidedly 2D feel.
After playing the work-in-progress version that features roughly 15 percent of the final game, we have to say we're pleased so far, despite the fact that the game's punishing difficulty makes us feel inadequate as gamers. We started out in a graveyard and made our way to the right of the screen--naturally, the time-honored direction for finding one's lady love--and began to contend with a bunch of familiar foes. We encountered and dispatched the usual undead suspects in our graveyard romp, which showed off some of the new elements that the team is tweaking.
Our boy Arthur is able to double-jump, dash, and hang on to the sides of cliffs now. His arsenal with which to fight evil includes magic, armor, shields, and weapons. One of the most significant elements to the experience is the use of shields you can equip that give you enhanced abilities. In addition, you can power up your armor to increase the amount of damage you can take. As far as weapons go, you'll find and throw your preferred arms on the ground or in the air in several different directions, as needed.
In terms of your path through the game, while Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins is essentially a side-scroller, you'll find horizontal scrolling levels, secret routes, pathways, and boss fights. In order to take the edge off some of considerable challenge you'll encounter, the team is implementing multiple save points to let you continue where you die, which it hopes will reduce the amount of frustration for players.
Based on what we played, Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins is looking like an addictive game that's taking the right initial steps toward filling the big shoes left by its predecessors. The only catch will likely be how hard it is. We're hopeful the team's efforts with save points and continues will make the experience more accessible. But we still can't shake the feeling that it may wind up like that one girlfriend who you just know is going to treat you badly but you go back to regardless. Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins is currently slated to ship later this year for the PSP. Look for more on the game soon.