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Chris Sell
07 Sep, 2006

Ultimate Ghosts'N Goblins Review

PSP Review | The long overdue update to Capcom's classic finally hits the PSP.
In Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins you once again take on the role of Arthur, the brave protector of the often kidnapped Princess Prin-Prin, who happens to be the last living member of the royal bloodline. Under the leadership of a new ruler, the Demon Realm has yet again sent its forces to kidnap the Princess to complete the missing part of his plan to rule the world. Fortunately, no sooner had Arthur heard of this evil plot, he ventured courageously into the Demon Realm to save the day. Ok, so the story isn’t going to win any awards but it’s not the franchise is known for is it?

The gameplay delivers pretty much what you would expect from the series: classic platforming with an old school feel and a punishing difficulty level. Needless to say, the old dog has learned a few new tricks this time around with many new items, weapons, etc now at your disposal to help you in your quest. New weapons include a wonderful boomerang scythe, a menacing whip made from thorns and even a giant lance (obviously a tribute to the classic starting weapon in the previous games) to name but a few. In addition, weapons are now somewhat upgradeable. By finding special ‘Pow’ items you can increase your weapon’s speed, range or strength. New items offer the ability to double jump while special shields not only allow you to block enemy projectiles but also offer certain attributes too such as the ability to absorb enemy attacks as well as being able to fly for limited periods.

There’s also a new magic system too. Filling up your magic meter by collecting magic bags, lets you use spells that you’ve found along the way and while they’re initially a bit useless, some of the later ones like Invincibility are obviously more than helpful. As well as dealing out the damage there’s also an armor leveling system to help you when it comes to receiving it. While in the old games you could only take the one hit before losing your armor you can now build up multiple layers of protection before you die. Combine this with the fact you now respawn where you died and not at the start of the previous section of the level means Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is certainly more forgiving than its old incarnations, though still a stiff challenge by anyone’s standards, if not a very long one.

It's like Back to the Future II all over again.

It's like Back to the Future II all over again.
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Commendably, Capcom have included 3 very different difficulty settings to play through. In Novice Mode for example, you begin the game with more lives, respawn where you die and are knocked backwards less of a distance when attacked. Also, powered-up weapons retain their extra strength when players spawn back to life. When in Standard Mode, however, you’re only given two lives before the Game Over screen appears. Ultimate Mode is the closest thing to the original game and makes you respawn at the beginning of the stage when you die. Your armor also break after one hit too.

In terms of how the game plays Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a real mixed bag in almost every respect, with much of its problems stemming from the controls. The game feels intentionally old-school and suffers as a result. Movement feels somewhat clunky, no doubt thanks to the decision to use 3D models on a 2D plane. Many games that have done this have lacked the responsiveness and precision that traditional 2D sprites offer, even New Super Mario Bros lacked the swiftness of the 2D games. But it’s when you have to jump that the biggest problems arise. No matter where you are, how much momentum you have or how long you hold the jump button for, every jump is exactly the same. Want to hop up on top of the tree stump you’re standing right next to? Well unless you take a few steps back and line up the landing of the jump perfectly, it’s not going to happen. If you jump too far away you won’t make it and if you’re too close you’ll jump right over it. Moreover, you can’t adjust your movement after you have jumped. It’s needlessly fussy and makes hard work in situations where it doesn’t need to be.

Hands off!

Hands off!
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The PSP d-pad isn’t exactly the most ideal device in the world when it comes to precision movement either which certainly doesn’t help matters. The control deficiencies are highlighted further by the constant use of randomly spawning enemies. Having things appears in front of you while your midway through a jump soon grows tiresome because you can’t alter your direction, remember? Time after time a seemingly safe jump leads to a death simply because you have just made a jump and now have neither the time or space to avoid damage. What’s worse than that is when you’re trying to jump to a ledge in the distance while enemies are constantly spawning between you and the ledge. As soon as you clean them out and fresh wave appear before you’ve even had time to take the jump and climb up from the ledge. The sad thing is that when the game isn’t throwing random enemies at you and takes form of some memorable sequence it’s much better for it, the screen filling boss fights being a prime example of that. When there are attack patterns to observe and learn there’s more pleasure when you overcome them.

Graphically things are as hit and miss as the rest of the game. There are lots of moments where it looks superb, the theme of the game offers a great deal of freedom when it comes to designing the environments, but they too often play it safe and too much of the game looks rather dull and dirty. On the plus side there’s a good deal of variety packed into the environments. The game starts out in a familiar woodland setting but soon moves on into underground caves, lava pits and haunted castle grounds. The green/brown colour palette is a little overused as are some of the more generic enemy designs but there’s a fair few visual treats to be had. The soundtrack on the other hand is consistently superb throughout as it uses simple, old school styled, catchy themes with the benefit of modern production values fitting the mood of each level perfectly. The sound effects are of an equally high standard too meaning this really is a game deserving of a decent pair of earphones.

Put some clothes on young man!

Put some clothes on young man!
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Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a difficult game to sum up. In many areas it’s better than any of the previous games in the series. There’s more weapons, more items and it certainly looks better but there’s something not quite right with it. I don’t know whether its problems are more to do with changing standards over time or simply because it’s not that great of a game but while the formula of similar platform/adventure games like Castlevania or even Metroid are timeless, Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins feels somewhat stuck in the past. With its archaic controls and irritating enemy spawning patterns it’s often more like hard work than enjoyment. It’s not an issue with difficulty either. Recent games like Gradius V and Devil May Cry prove you can be hard and enjoyable but while Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is throwing random enemies at you in an attempt to be difficult, Gradius V’s carefully constructed waves are entirely memorable with practice. Death in that game is almost always down to player error while in Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins ‘cheap’ deaths are far too common.

Despite the relatively average score at the bottom of the page, Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is something well worth trying out as it’s such an acquired taste. Fans of the original games may well find a great deal of enjoyment here, as could those who like their games to offer a challenge. There’s certainly a fair amount of content here, not in terms of the number of levels because there isn’t that many, but for the sheer amount of hidden areas and secret items there is to uncover there’s plenty of reason to keep coming back to it. In fact, you can’t finish the game properly without collecting all 22 special rings (and maybe more after that….). But for many the clunky controls, randomly respawning enemies and the sheer amount of unavoidable deaths spoil what could have been a must own title for the PSP.
The Score
A somewhat missed opportunity to bring an old franchise up to date. Fans of the series or those looking for a challenge should give it a try but many will no doubt be put off by the clunky control and unrewarding difficulty.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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37 Comments
7 years ago
The movies of this thing in motion from gamespot looked HEAPS better then these stills....makes me wonder if they were the same game.

The movies ahad wicked transparency effects and all sorts of bells and whistles, these look like old amiga shots in comparison.

So much potential...the gba version sounds like a better(if not as good) romp and half the price to boot.
7 years ago
Screenshots don't really do it justice to be honest, especially the ones we had to use from Gamepress. Besides, te game is actually 3D but pictures just make it look (understandably) flat so it'll always look much better in motion icon_smile.gif
7 years ago
You totally missed the point with pretty much everything you said.

The jump system is completely intentional, and if you'd have played a GnG game in the past you would expect it and praise capcom for not messing with it.

I like how you complain about how you don't have any options in the air when you need to adjust due to being surrounded by enemies and also say the early magic spells in the game are useless. Guess what? You're supposed to jump, panic and magic cancel to destroy the enemies around you when you need to. That's how you use the 1st spell in the game.




Have a good think about why you gave an authentic GnG game such a bad review. It's an AUTHENTIC sequel that fans of the series will completely understand. It's not supposed to be a mario or metroid game you.

I have edited stuff out, it is your right to disagree with the review but personal attacks will not be tolerated - Luke
7 years ago
Man, pwned. >_>
7 years ago
hey ultracrazy1 I agree with you....but you don' have to be so rude, the man's just doing his job. icon_confused.gif
7 years ago
The thing is, all these reviewers should have criticised the game if it was exactly what they wanted. If it was too easy, and changed the core gameplay drastically, then it fails. As it is, you can't ask for more. Games shouldn't be criticised for being to difficult, they should be criticised for being too easy. Why does new super mario bros get such great reviews when it's a total cakewalk? Cos it's fun?

Fun comes from mastery and overcoming a challenge. Not pretty colours and being told you've just saved the world from minimal effort. Are there any reviewers out there who were actually playing games in the 80s?
7 years ago
Chris was just giving HIS opinion of the game. By all means post your opinion but there is no need to critisize him because his views of the game are different.
Also who are you to tell other people what fun is, your idea of fun could be sexually interfering with animals but to others thats just wrong.
7 years ago


icon_lol.gif Gold.

I haven't played the game, or any games from the series so I can't really comment on the review if it's correct or not. However, I do agree that many reviewers fall in a hole of hype and get caught up in giving out stupid scores when they aren't warranted. I think, in most cases, PALGN as a whole does give accurate review scores - unlike IGN who give almost every game that's advertised on their website a 9.

It's one of my biggest dislikes in video game journalism. People dislike games such as Titan Quest because it's too much like Diablo 2 (probably the best action RPG ever made). But how is that a problem? Just far too many reviewers get caught up in the hype, in my opinion, and I try my hardest to not fall into it.
7 years ago
OK, for one, I believe that ultra could have expressed his views in a much more acceptable manner.

secondly, is it ok for a developer to make a game where the challenge comes not because of your own fault but the limitations of the game?

Hell, that's exactly part of the reason why GTA pisses me off. Deaths occur not because of supreme enemy AI or an error on the players behalf but because the controls are freakin shit. Yet, GTA sells and gets rave reviews.

The thing is, GnG is the only game that you've played for the past 10 years, you're unlikely to see the relevance of such an arguement. However, if you're some who plays a crap load of games (I'm sure that this applies Chris), you are going to appreciate a game that has better underlying controls over one that doesn't.

There is nothing wrong with games being difficult and i like a challenging game. But i don't like one that is challenging because the developers are talented or able (or willing?) to make it play properly.
7 years ago
^Yeah Jez is right.Just because that's the way jumping has always been with GnG games doesn't mean it shouldn't evolve as gameplay of other games evolves as well.

Just because the jumping in gng is, technically, how jumping is in real life(despite jumping nearly twice your own standing height) deson't mean it's a great game mechanic.

maybe an option should have been included, old skool vs updated or easy mode where you can adjust the jumping a bit.It's one of the only games i can think of atm that has this broken jumping style-and even though it is staying true to the old school design, sometimes things should remain old school for a reason.
7 years ago
ultracrazy1 wrote
The thing is, all these reviewers should have criticised the game if it was exactly what they wanted. If it was too easy, and changed the core gameplay drastically, then it fails. As it is, you can't ask for more. Games shouldn't be criticised for being to difficult, they should be criticised for being too easy. Why does new super mario bros get such great reviews when it's a total cakewalk? Cos it's fun?

Fun comes from mastery and overcoming a challenge. Not pretty colours and being told you've just saved the world from minimal effort. Are there any reviewers out there who were actually playing games in the 80s?
I agree man...the game is faithful and it gets slammed for it. And I also agree there are a few fanboys on the Nintendo side of things.

Also you guys thinking that the jump should be changed.....you're completely wrong! It wouldn't be the old skool gameplay if it changed and that's the reason the game has been remade!! That's it! No more to it! If you want an updated next gen Ghouls N Ghosts...go play Maximo!

Also comparing an aiming system that puts preference on pedestrians instead of enemies depending on whos closest is a completely different thing! The jump in Ghouls and Ghosts is something that you should get used to....it's part of the game mechanic. It's not unexpected where arthur's gonna land if you jump from one spot because it will be the same distance and height as always! Get used to it and you won't make the same mistakes! There's a big difference when something is broken as opposed to something working exactly the way it should. Respawning enemies and the jumping is part of the game mechanics. Arthur's supposed to be a knight in armour....not a plumber with overalls.
7 years ago
UltraCrazy I have edited the insults out of your post, as I said it is your right to disagree with the review but personal attacks will not be tolerated.

A 6.5 is NOT a bad score.
7 years ago
Come on, 6.5 is not buy worthy in any scoring system.

I agree with UltraCrazy to a degree (not the way he did it of course). However the review clearly states that it is faithful and a fustrating hard game, and chances are if you are a G'n'G fan you will buy the game regardless. I mean, pretty sure the SNES version wasn't getting rave review (from memory).

I guess it's one of those games where if you are a fan you could add 1.0 to the score, correct?
7 years ago
^ Yea well put mate. I actually thought the actual review was fine....just the low score surprised me. Maybe Chris should've said "add a 1.0 or a 1.5 to the score if you're a fan".
7 years ago
leonmc wrote
Come on, 6.5 is not buy worthy in any scoring system.

I agree with UltraCrazy to a degree (not the way he did it of course). However the review clearly states that it is faithful and a fustrating hard game, and chances are if you are a G'n'G fan you will buy the game regardless. I mean, pretty sure the SNES version wasn't getting rave review (from memory).

I guess it's one of those games where if you are a fan you could add 1.0 to the score, correct?
I never said 6.5 was "buy worthy" I simply said it was not a bad score.

I refer to here

6.5 – 7: Above average. Minor errors corrupt what may have been a good game.
7 years ago
Fair enough, I apologise for sounding overly abusive.

Jeremy wrote
is it ok for a developer to make a game where the challenge comes not because of your own fault but the limitations of the game?
It's not ok, but that isn't relevant in this case. Its a jump we're talking about. Mistiming jumps is the player's fault. There are instances where you'll hit an enemy mid air that will alter the spot at which you land, but the game has mid air attacks that shoot in 4 directions, as well as surrounding spells to help you deal with it. The game is difficult, not broken.

Cheers ugh the boot for getting it.

This is not a mainstream game, it's designed for a particular audience and caters to that audience very well. The review should convey that it succeeds at what it attempts very well, but that doesn't mean any old gamer can pick it up and enjoy it. Look at how Ninja Gaiden received great reviews, but they made a point of saying a lot of people will be frustrated by the difficulty. Difficult games aren't broken or counter intuitive, or irrelevant or any other excuse you can think of. They're just difficult.

If the game was broken, sure that would be a problem. I think reviewers like to imply the game is broken when they have trouble with it. You're supposed to have trouble. You tried to rush out a review for a tough game and you didn't enjoy it. As I said earlier, you'll enjoy the game when you master it, and when that happens you won't complain about the bloody jump system! icon_razz.gif
7 years ago
Luke wrote
I never said 6.5 was "buy worthy" I simply said it was not a bad score.

I refer to here

6.5 – 7: Above average. Minor errors corrupt what may have been a good game.
I reckon you guys should look at updating that game scale. Personally I think eveything below a 7.0 is strictly for fans only. The scores like it or not, are like an industry standard to a degree nowadays.

Well, not IGN. 9.6 "brillant" on anything vaguely hyped.
7 years ago
"6.5 – 7: Above average. Minor errors corrupt what may have been a good game. "

To me that says....it could've been a good game but minor errors corrupt it.

Whereas the review pretty much sounds like it's saying:

"7.5 – 8: Well above average. A title which is worth playing, but a couple of hiccups are met along the way"

The jump and respawning enemies are hiccups (depending on who's playing)....whereas corrupt means it's broken....which it's not.
7 years ago
leonmc wrote
Luke wrote
I never said 6.5 was "buy worthy" I simply said it was not a bad score.

I refer to here

6.5 – 7: Above average. Minor errors corrupt what may have been a good game.
I reckon you guys should look at updating that game scale. Personally I think eveything below a 7.0 is strictly for fans only. The scores like it or not, are like an industry standard to a degree nowadays.

Well, not IGN. 9.6 "brillant" on anything vaguely hyped.
I disagree. PALGN's scoring system is what has made their reviews so good. With the majority of sites their reviews are really on a 5-10 scale, where anything below 7-8 is fairly rubbish. PALGN rightly scores on a true 1-10 scale, where 5 is the middle, 10 the top, and 1 the most foul thing on earth.
7 years ago
Spanca wrote
PALGN rightly scores on a true 1-10 scale, where 5 is the middle, 10 the top, and 1 the most foul thing on earth.
Then again theres always the ones worse than 1 http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=4258

HAHA
7 years ago
I used to feel PALGN scored too harshly, but now I love their scale. They don't conform to all this media junk of anything under 8 sucking. Plus, you allways have to read the full review, rather than just looking at the final score.

(non of what I'm saying is related to this game, as I'm not the slightest bit intested in reading the review, Sorry Chris icon_razz.gif)
7 years ago
Pfft. The game is brilliant. Play it for 5 minutes and its freaking obvious. Chris gave the game a bad score because he found it too difficult.
7 years ago
Yeah, down with opinions, everybody just agree with ultracrazy1. The original game was nothing that special, the remake (I'm assuming seeing as it sounds like it'll be EXACTLY the same) probably isn't either. This is my opinion, you don't like it, build a bridge.
7 years ago
This is like the whole FFXI review all over again ( The comments, not the actual review )

Don't forget, its Chris's opinion of the game. He can say what he likes.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Capcom Entertainment
Developer:
  Capcom Entertainment
Players:
  1

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