Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection Review

Richard Walker

There's always been something about the way Ghosts 'n Goblins' plucky protagonist Arthur jumps. Successfully clear an obstacle while maintaining forward momentum, and he almost triumphantly punches the air like he's Mario. Fudge the timing, and he'll hop up like a directionless frog, legs splayed, ready to inevitably fall on or into whatever lies beneath him. His slow, deliberate run, too, is of a man trying really hard to get to where he's going, the weight of his quest, and, presumably his armour, holding him back. It's these aspects of developer Capcom's cast-iron arcade classic that also happen to make it so damn difficult, and yet so irresistibly alluring, especially so in this beautiful, RE Engine-powered reimagining, fittingly suffixed 'Resurrection'.

This is what happens when you're caught with your pants down.

Jolted back to life, like Frankenstein's monster, for a 2021 audience, what initially strikes you about Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is how lovely its painterly fairytale world looks. Unsurprising this may be, perhaps, given the splendour the RE Engine has previously conjured - most recently in Resident Evil Village, and, in the gorily gorgeous remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 - but this reinvigorated version of an almost 36-year-old game looks as if it's been torn straight from the pages of a Grimm's fairy tale book. The artwork, by Uichirou Murata, deftly fulfills Capcom's mandate of delivering a spooky “horror theme park”, as Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi puts it – albeit it with a colourful, comical undercurrent.

Don't let that hint of lightness fool you, though. Nor let the concessions to accessibility, with checkpoints, save states, and easier difficulties, coax you into thinking that Resurrection has somehow had its hard edges sanded off for a more casual audience. Granted, you can play this revamped iteration of Ghosts 'n Goblins at a range of varying difficulty levels (which can be rolled back if you're struggling), and slow time using the pause menu's 'Magic Metronome', but the tough centre remains, like one of those little toffee Revels that's been stuck languishing, unnoticed, in the corner of the wrapper for slightly too long. And while Capcom's game might not break your teeth, it still has ample capacity to break your spirit. Also, maybe a controller or two.

Make no mistake: Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection is still incredibly hard. Even if you decide to play at the lower 'Squire' or ‘Page’ levels, the core experience remains unchanged; the only compromises being moderately generous checkpoints at various intervals and the occasional boss battle hint, when the game decides you might be struggling. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of being repeatedly punished in a game – it's one of the reasons I've never got on with Dark Souls and its ilk – but there's an ineffable 'something' in Ghosts 'n Goblins that makes you want to pig-headedly keep on pushing forward, until you've cleared each level and beaten the game.

Progressing through the game's five zones is but the tip of the iceberg, however. The first two zones have alternate stages to tackle, each harbouring their own treasure chests and Umbral Bees to collect, the latter serving as currency to exchange for new magic spells that can be affixed to Arthur's 'magic waistband' and upgrades. Abilities like lightning strikes and fireballs aren't hugely effective, but being able to transform every on-screen enemy into a frog or temporarily turn yourself into a boulder is, and is also very funny. Most of the time, though, you'll be hurling lances, daggers, boulders, crossbow bolts, or phials of blue flame across the screen (and upwards, unlike in the original), desperately striving to abate the unending onslaught of flapping bat creatures, trident-wielding pig people, and other demons all intent on only one thing: killing you dead.

Unlike most games, killing an enemy only means that another will almost immediately take its place, making Ghosts 'n Goblins a relentless exercise in clearing the way ahead, and then quickly moving forward before you're overwhelmed. As previously alluded to in this review, Arthur isn't particularly fast or agile, so getting hit is a regular occurrence, leading the hero to shed a piece of his armour with each strike absorbed (rather than his armour being shorn away with a single hit). Eventually, you'll be running around in Artie's boxers (adorned with little strawberries and not hearts, apparently) clenching your teeth in the vain hope that you won't take another hit and die, sending you back to the last checkpoint (or Banner of Rebirth), or, if you're a mad purist, right back to the beginning of the level.

This is easy… Relatively speaking, of course.

Commendable in its commitment to the original spirit of Ghosts 'n Goblins, Resurrection nonetheless feels like a vibrant and fresh update for an old classic. While it might not be to everyone's taste, there's a warm, nostalgic charm to the game that overrides any sense that it is, beneath the pretty, hand-painted veneer, a loving homage to something released back in 1985. If you already love Ghosts 'n Goblins, then you'll relish revisiting and conquering its myriad challenges, but if you're a newcomer, all the better: Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection might be the best way to play and enjoy one of Capcom's most beloved all-time greats.

Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection

An endearing and impeccably-made reboot of a Capcom classic, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection not only looks really good, but it doesn't compromise on any of the aspects that made the original so special.

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The music by composers Kento Hasegawa, Masato Kouda, and Ryuta Hida is suitably spooky and evocative, matching the game's picture book art style for spine-tingly-dingly-ness.


Have I mentioned the lovely hand-painted look of the game? I think I might have. Again, it's really nice and I like it a lot. Look at it! It's pretty!


While the high bar of entry set by G'nG's difficulty has been lowered with a selection of levels to choose from, Capcom's game is still very hard, regardless. It's fun, but beware: it's also incredibly tough and doesn't take any prisoners.


Branching and expanded levels lend new life to an old game, meaning that even the most seasoned of Ghosts 'n Goblins veterans will find something to challenge them.


Collecting all of the Umbral Bees, beating a stage without dying once, and gaining the game's 'true ending' are the real nasty ones on the list, but there's a really good spread here, rewarding you for completing some of the game's more basic tasks, like catching a key.

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