TGS 2005: Goku Makaimura Hands-On

Arthur is back, and yes, he's still running around in his underwear.

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TOKYO-What the Japanese people call Makaimura, we know as Ghosts 'N Goblins, a classic but almost punishingly difficult side-scroller that came to arcades and later found an even wider audience on the NES. Sequels have come and gone, and Capcom even has another series, Maximo, that exists almost as a tribute to the Makaimura series. But now, Capcom is currently developing an all-new Ghosts 'N Goblins adventure for the PSP. The game, known in Japan as Goku Makaimura, definitely looks like it's taking some steps in the right direction.

There's a pretty heavy functional change in Goku Makaimura that might surprise players who remember the original game: Your suit of armor can take more than one hit before busting off and leaving poor Arthur running around clad only in a pair of heart-laden boxer shorts. You'll be able to take two or three hits, actually, before losing your armor completely, but getting hit with no armor on is still sudden death. Also, when you die, you won't return to a checkpoint as you did in previous games. Here, you'll rematerialize after a death and continue on from where you left off. Considering how tough parts of the original games could get, these changes seem like they could balance things out a little bit. But don't take that to mean this new game is going to be a cake walk.

The one thing we came away from Goku Makaimura with was a feeling that it's going to end up being a pretty difficult game. It constantly tosses enemies at you, even if you're standing still. From floating ghouls to creepy hands that rush out of the ground and grab you, there's a lot to contend with, even in this brief demo, which appears to be the first level in the game.

Arthur has a decent array of movement options, including the ability to double jump. That's been in previous games, but now you'll also be able to automatically grab nearby ledges if you fall or need to pull yourself up to a higher ledge. This seems like a smart addition to the franchise.

As in previous games, you'll be able to pick up new weapons to replace the lance that you begin the game with. Many of these weapons originated in previous installments in the series. You'll encounter fast-moving daggers, the wide arcs of a throwing axe, and more. Also, you can pick up different armor suits that seem to give you access to a separate magic power. The one we saw in the demo causes a fiery cloud to appear around Arthur for a second or so, damaging everything in his way. We met our end fighting what appeared to be a level boss--a large, four-legged creature that filled most of the screen and stomped down on us until we were dead.

Goku Makaimura is currently scheduled for a Japanese release on the PSP. Plans to bring the game to North America have not been officially announced at this time, but given the classic status of the franchise, this one will probably make it over sooner or later.

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