Ghouls 'n' Ghosts

by Software Creations: Mike Follin, Andrew R. Threlfall, John P. Tatlock, Ben Jackson, Peter Gough, Tim Follin
US Gold Ltd
Crash Issue 71, December 1989   (1989-11-16)   page(s) 56,57

Well, this is just fine isn't it? Giving me, who goes all wibbly at the sight of blood, a spooky Zombie-infested game like this. But wait, it isn't horrid at all! No! Why, 'tis indeed a triff 'n' brill bouncing platform game! (A nation cheers!) - (Stop the drama, get on with it!! - Ed.)

Right, here we are in the (spook!) graveyard. The chap standing here is Arthur, hero of this adventureous jaunt. A beefy kinds knight, kitted out in shiny armour. Trouble is that his soon-to-be-wife, the Princess, has been swiped by a mean ol' demon - just on the verge of them having rumpo too!

So, with lance in hand, Arthur lunges into the scroiling landscape on a quest to rescue his beloved.

And here come the spooks! Zombies rise from the ground, and touching one could seriously damage Arthur, though not kill him outright. No, he just goes flickery for a while and loses his armour, leaving only his boxer shorts intact (Brrrrr!).

Should he get caught up with another ghoulie, he's reduced to a pile of bones. Eeek! Fortunately, Arthur comes equipped with three lives. Bravo!

In the graveyard there are ladders to climb up walls, trees where vultures sit swooping down for the kill when you're near enough, and heaps of different scenery, all displayed with very detailed and well drawn graphics.

Along the way new weapons appear. There's the fire bomb which flies through the air and when it hits the ground, sets the surrounding area on fire burning the undead. There's the axe which zooms off in a diagonally upward direction when thrown (bit rubbish really), and the little dagger: this looks really tiny and rubbish but it's fast and deadly. Just the job. And you can fire in all four directions.

Magic chests appear at certain points throughout; from these may spring a magician who turns you into a duck, or more weapons, or mega-armour. Somehow I just got magicians. Hurmph!

The further you progress through the five sections, the odder and harder gameplay becomes. After the graveyard you enter a ruined city where the screen scrolls both along and up.

In level three you fly up a ruined tower on a magic carpet fending off flying ghosts. Next, it's off to the skeleton caves where the bones of megalithic creatures make up the scenery, and the final level takes place in the enemy castle where the action often becomes too hot to handle! At the end of each level is a huge monster, and they're all deadly!

Ghouls 'n' Ghosts is a thoroughly packed program with amazing quantities of playability. Mind you, it's ruddy annoying when, after leaping and running through most of a section, you die and have to start from the beginning again! Arrrhg! But you get loads of continue credits which allow you start at the level you died on, and with your most recently collected weapon intact.

Graphics remain at a very high standard throughout, as does the superbly smooth scrolling scenery. Smashing music and great sound FX accompany the action on the 128Ks. You'll be playing Ghouls 'n' Ghosts well into next year, it really is THE platform shoot 'em up to go for, and a brilliant conversion to boot! This game is coming home with me! Hurrah! (This is what I call OTT - Ed.)

RICHARD ... 92%

'Three years (game time) after the original Ghosts 'n' Goblins story, King Arthur finds that his loved one has been kidnapped yet again by a big ugly, (no not me). Ghouls 'n' Ghosts follows in the same vein as Ghosts. Arthur runs around the beautifully detailed scenery lobbing a range of offensive weaponry at the myriad of ugly mothers who would love nothing more than to reduce you to running around in your undies (if you don't believe us, play the game). I only have two slight niggles: the yellow character sprites are impossible to see on yellow backgrounds, and you're sent back to the beginning of the current level. Apart from that Ghouls 'n' Ghosts is a brilliant conversion of a very good coin op. Now go rescue that princess.'
MARK ... 92%

Presentation: 91%
Graphics: 88%
Sound: 84%
Playability: 93%
Addictivity: 91%
Overall: 92%

Summary: A stunningly executed conversion, with great scrolling routines and a very, very, very playable game to boot!

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 98, April 1992   (1992-03-19)   page(s) 80

Whoooo! It's the boogie man and he's coming to get ya! (Are you absolutely sure there isn't something hiding under your bed?) For those who aren't scared of things going bump in the night (such as Nicko after eating vast quantities of disc before bo-bo time), read on...

You are the bravest of knights, Arthur, a mellow kind of choppy until his girlie gets captured (oh whoopeedo, another blinkin' girl's blouse - Ed). Whacking on the shiniest suit of armour in his wardrobe, he leaps to the rescue.

Problem is, he's got half of hell between him and his loved one: battling his way through five horrific levels he meets more zombies than ol' Wacko Jacko In the Thriller video!

Arthur sets out with lance in hand, across scrolling landscapes, pursued by particularly amorous ghosties, chased by the undead, and if he's especially unlucky, he might get grabbed by the ghoulies! (Cue high-pitched squeals -Ed)

Should he touch any of these nasties, his armour falls off, leaving the poor chap in his undies. Any contact after this initial embarrassment and our hero becomes a crumpled pile of bones.

Birthday suit aside, he's got a few tricks up his sleeve to deal with the menaces: firebombs to singe the suckers, axes to cleave craniums and daggers to stick to 'em. There's also handy things in the odd treasure chest, but these sometimes contain mad wizards who turn him into a duck. The scenery's beautifully drawn - ruined tunnels, a flying carpet scene, a cave made entirely of skeletons - as you approach the castle to rescue the princess.

My only gripe is it's really hard, and the way you're returned to the start of each level when you lose a life is bloomin' frustrating. Nonetheless, as well as having fab graphics and triff sound (especially on 128K), it's a compelling and addictive platform romp.

ALAN ... 85%

Presentation: 88%
Graphics: 87%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 86%
Addictivity: 84%
Overall: 85%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 48, December 1989   page(s) 62,63

I got told off by Jackie for swearing this week, and now I've got to put 20p in the swear box every time I allow an expletive to pass my lips. She's got £4.60 off me already but insists "it'll all go to a good cause". Hmm.

Anyway, now I've got to try and get through this review without letting a single bit of saucy, blue or otherwise spicy language slip out. She's really picked the wrong time for these sort of shenanigans as well, 'cos Ghouls And Ghosts is a right sod (um, okay, a fiver) and just the sort of game that encourages the spontaneous use of colourful colloquialisms. In other words, it's bloomin' tricky! (Yikes! £5.20! Oh no, I said "Yikes"! That's £5.40. I
mean 60! Damn! Uh-oh. £5.80) I mean, there you
are, wandering along, minding your own business, and what happens but a zombie skeleton murderer leaps up out of the ground and has a go at you! Then another ont! And another! Vultures fly after you, plants lob skulls, pigs charge, other monsters spit fire and it all gets very unfriendly indeed! And that's just the first level! It's enough to make a grown man weep - and take out a blinking standing order with the ruddy swear box! (Another couple of 20 pees. That's £6.20 you owe. Jackie)

Yup, Ghouls And Ghosts is really hard. Perhaps a bit too hard to be friendly. In addition to the baddies, the checkpoints you have to reach to prevent getting sent right back to the beginning are quite far apart, meaning your first hour of playing is Frustration City. At least, it is if you're as crap as me. (£6.40. Jackie.)

Generally the controls work well but you have to jump up in the air, using your joystick, before you can access the upwards throwing weapons - which is sometimes rather unfortunate because it means you leap so high as to touch the villain you were trying to shoot and so kill yourself. Baddies sometimes rise up out of the ground right beneath you too, giving you no chance. Mmm. Basically really good gameplayers with a lot of perseverence will find it 'just right', but ones who are a bit crap might get a bit put off. (What's that. Jack? Oh. I didn't say crap' again, did I? Alright, £6.60. What do you mean "£6.80"?)

Right, now we've got that out of the way, let's take a look at, erm, the look of the thing. Even though it's based on an arcade original, programmers Software Creation seem to have totally thrown out of the window any pretence at emulating coin-op graphics in their conversion. In other words, it looks like a good old fashioned Speccy game, not an 'interesting', 'honourable' but ultimately failed attempt to recreate the colour and giant sprites of your average snazzy coin-op. Totally the opposite of games like, say, Altered Beast and quite a welcome relief.

The small, monochrome figures you see here may not initially set the pulses racing, but they're serviceable, have a wide range of movements and don't get in the way of the extremely challenging gameplay. Later on, when a big, snazzy graphi appears (or a neat little one, like the flickering fire bombs you throw or the rain that falls in some scenes) it's a nice surprise and sometimes truly stunning. The whole thing is backed by some of the neatest sounds (in 128K) I've ever heard on the Speccy, with a real sing-along intro ditty too. Other than that, there's not much instant appeal here but tons of life expectancy.

So, to sum up, Ghouls And Ghosts makes a welcome change from the recent slick, flash but ultimately shallow coin-op hits which US Gold has produced recently (Fog Worlds, Strider) and shows a massive improvement on the dull conversions it did at the start of the year. It's good to see the gang producing genuinely good arcadey games again and this must rate as one of the most challenging and playable of the year. A bit of a triumph for USG and Software Creations all round, I think. Blimey O'Reilly O'Rourke!

(I think we'll round that off at seven quid, thankyou very much. Jackie) Oh drat.

Life Expectancy: 93%
Instant Appeal: 82%
Graphics: 84%
Addictiveness: 89%
Overall: 91%

Summary: Simple but pleasing graphics plus bags of playability equals the best US Gold release this year (possibly). It is a bit hard though.

Award: Your Sinclair Megagame

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 76, April 1992   page(s) 59

Anyone who's played Ghosts 'n' Goblins should be familiar with this game - it is, after all, the sequel and the family relationship shows. Our hero, Arthur, the various nasties, the weapons and even the plot (involving the same dumb princess as last time who against all credibility and probability has got herself kidnapped again) all seem to ring an entire church full of bells with me.

Once again Arthur spends most of his time in his undies (rather like the knightly equivalent of a sumo wrestler) jumping across levels that feel remarkably similar to the last game's. Remember that graveyard in Level One? I thought you might.

Okay, so there are some new collectables, bonuses and weapons (although some seem to hinder rather than help - you call getting turned into a duck by an angry magician 'help'?), but that's about it for originality. You're still stalked by oozing zombies, chased by fluttering vultures, fooled by silkily-scrolling mazes and knocked on the head by ridiculous end-of-level baddies. But is this lack of innovation a bad thing, you may ask? The original, it must be said, was great, and this is just as good as its parent. A straightforward shoot-'em-up platformer with nothing radically different from other games of its type. Quite a good buy then providing, that is, you have considered the question: is that damn princess really worth it?

Overall: 67%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair - Article Re-review Issue 78, June 1992   page(s) 54

Some of the smoothest scrolling on the Speccy complements a game of bewildering toughness. Smashingly challenging gameplay awaits the hardened soul who dares cross swords with Ghouls - it's hard by reasonably fair, and the 128K soundtrack is a blast.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 93, December 1989   page(s) 46,47

Hell is a lonely place, The tormented screams of lost, dark souls echo in the void where hope is but a faded memory and pain is the currency in which all debts are paid. The Horned One, warped in his power and alone in his misery, waits only for the day of reckoning when the dead shall rise and the final judgement will be theirs.

And what has all this to do with Ghouls N' Ghosts. Well not a lot except that we should try to set the scene, for what is a thoroughly evil program with some wicked and well tasty programming.

For the sake of accuracy, for all you arcade freaksters out there. Ghouls N' Ghosts is US Gold's conversion of the Capcom arcade classic of the same name, (which in effect is Ghosts N' Goblins II). In it, you must fight your way through five levels of nastiness in order to rescue the princess and live happily ever after in Surrey where you retire to write your memoires. Play begins with you suitably decked out in your designer Pierre Cardin metal vest, resplendent in your butchness and waving several feet of cold steel that should serve you well for any open head surgery that you might like to try on a passing zombie.

And here comes one now, pushing it's way out of the ground. "Are you a private or National Health zombie?"

"Grunt!" He must be National Health you think as you make your first (and last) incision straight through the neck. There, that's cured his headache permanently.

To show their (un)dying gratitude, sometimes nasties will bequeath you another type of weapon. These vary in type and include water, an axe, sheridans etc. Each has its own advantages and weaknesses and each one, when walked over is swopped with the current weapon in use.

Now and again, you may get hit. The first successful attack completely relieves our hero of his armour, but he will battle on clad only in his tinfoil vest and knickers. Needless to say, the next hit is "Goodnight, good knight!"

There are some big chests (titter), which contain some goodies: replacement suits of armour and even super armour which when powered up, releases a devastating charge which will kill any nastie that gets in the way of it. Open them by attacking them with whatever weapon you have to hand but beware! Sometimes they hold a spell that, unless destroyed, will turn the hero into a duck (with NO weapon) or an old crumbly complete with walking stick and associated slowness.

There are 5 levels to Ghouls N' Ghosts and there's a hell of a lot in it. How'd they get so much in? I reckon they must've rammed it in with a large wooden pole.

The first stage of the game didn't strike me as wonderful with the small hero graphic sometimes getting lost with the yellow walls but on later levels this criticism disappears and the large scale monsters are very good, in both graphics and size with later levels showing some good uses of colour and making for what is a game that could be played for ages, by all ages.

Label: US Gold
Author: Capcom
Price: £8.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter

Graphics: 78%
Sound: 80%
Playability: 82%
Lastability: 88%
Overall: 82%

Summary: A great game, well converted and vast in size.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 120, February 1992   page(s) 40

Ghouls and Ghost was a brilliant arcade coin-op yet it's a classic example of a game that does not transfer well to the Spectrum.

In fact the game has been knocking around the home computer market for some time now and if you compare it to the competition of today it fails dismally.

It's a simple shoot 'em up affair involving the brave deeds of a knight. The levels change throughout the game, but my prediction is that you won't get much further than the first graveyard scene. If boredom doesn't kill you frustration will. The enemy, vampires, bats and skeletons etc come at you from all angles, even out of the ground, and are extremely fast so if you miss one there's no use trying to run 'cos these guys shift it.

Don't misunderstand me if you have the ability, time and patience Ghouls and Ghosts could be a great game; graphics are colourful and detailed, if a little small, and sound and gameplay adequate. Unfortunately I'm no Mother Teresa and will have to let it pass, but someone out there could do a blinding sequel.

Label: US Gold
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £3.99 Tape
Reviewer: Steve Keen

GARTH: Hey Farty! Ghouls and Ghosts is great! O.K. the graphics are a bit on the small side, but there's a lot to do if you're up to the job and I certainly am! I'd have given it a mark of 84% 'cos it just lasts and lasts.

Overall: 71%

Summary: Call me Farty Farty Snarf Blast, but this would make big Al choke on a bagel. It's just too hard and fast and I haven't the patience to spend all that time dying.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 97, December 1989   page(s) 76,77

US Gold
Spectrum/Amstrad £9.99, ST £19.99

Kidnappings aren't a modern day thing you know - they used to occur in medieval times too. Then, the abductors were the devil and his disciples. The ransom wasn't a few million in used notes either - the kingdom's for sake in this little caper.

But when the chips are down and things are looking, to say the least, bleak, something must be done. The hostage in question is none other than the king's voluptuous daughter - so its time to call on Camelot's answer to Rambo, Sir Arthur T Knight, RDD (Rescuer of Damsels in Distress).

Arthur must battle his way through the many lands which make up the kingdom, which is now absolutely infested with Satan creations. Beginning in the court graveyard and travelling through forests, castles and similarly dangerous areas, Arthur must complete each section within the allotted time limit - if not, the enormous creature at the end of each level will ransack the place and kill everyone, including old Art. Beginning with a magic lance which returns to his hand every time it is thrown our hero can pick up other weapons carelessly left behind by the enemy. These include razor-sharp frisbees, axes and firebombs, which can be a great help on some levels but a hindrance to progress on others.

As well as extra weaponry, treasure chests appear from nowhere, some of which contain magic armour with varying powers. Including the ability to create a mirror image of its wearer (doubling firepower) and a smart bomb-type effect. Caution is recommended though, as many of the chests contain demons who hurl magic spells, turning the brave knight into an unarmed bow-tie-wearing duck for a while.

Arthur starts the guest with three lives; if he is hit by a baddie or struck by a weapon he loses his armour and must continue in his natty white boxer shorts until he finds another suit. However, if he is attacked in this semi-naked state, he loses one of his lives and must go back to the beginning of the level.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts on the ST is an extremely faithful conversion of the coin-op. Most of the original's features have been retained and, although the graphics aren't pixel perfect, they're easily recognisable. The game itself is at first frustrating, with death knocking on the door almost immediately after play has commenced. Once you start to get further and further into each though, annoyance turns into satisfaction with each inch gained. Sound must also be given a mention, the music being some of the best I've heard on the ST for a long time - it's very atmospheric!

Ghouls 'n' Ghosts is about as good as anyone could hope for. Practically everything which made the coin-op such a delight to play is in there, right down to the pouring rain on the forest level. Getting your armour rusty has never been so much fun!

Overall: 85%

Summary: The graphics are a bit on the titchy side, but it's still a faithful conversion and an enjoyable game which provides plenty of challenge and excitement.

Award: C+VG Hit

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 26, January 1990   page(s) 22

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Atari ST £19.99

It's been three years since Arthur last lobbed a lance in the classic Ghosts 'N' Goblins, and now he's finally about to make an honest woman out of the lady he rescued - Princess Hus. But just when the lovely woman starts going down the aisle up pops a demon and spirits her away.

Being the sort of chap he is, Art isn't about to shrug his shoulders and say 'c'est la vie'. His penguin suit is swiftly swapped for armour, and a clutch of lances is promptly pocketed for the upcoming battle. The brave, not to say suicidal, adventure begins in a graveyard complete with vultures, zombies and guillotines. Being careless with these villains reduces Art to his boxer shorts. After a bit of flashing, during which you're invulnerable, another hit sends you back to the last trigger point - usually a long, long way back. This is irritating, but it's part of the game's appeal that forces you to learn the sadistic attack patterns by heart.

The second part of level one features whirling demons, which can be shot only when they're briefly not whirling, skull-spitting fires and pig-headed guardians. Beat these and it's face-to-face with a fire-breathing monster who has the key to level two.

To provide some help on your (virtually) impossible quest there are chests which can be opened by firing at them. Sometimes a magician will spring out who, if you don't shoot him first, will turn you into a helpless duck for a few seconds. But if you're lucky you'll find a weapon like mega-armour. Hold down fire when you're in this blue armour and a special weapon is activated, such as a another knight to mirror your every move, or a ray which shoots out in three directions. Alternatively there might be a normal weapon to swap for your lance, such as a fast-firing dagger, an arcing axe or a fiery torch which sets alight the ground where it lands. These weapons can also be found in sacks carried by the baddies, as well as treasure for bonus points.

Level two takes place in a ruined city complete with bouncing metal skulls, firebats, collapsing ground and a feline end-of-level monster. The next level has Art whizzing upwards on a magical carpet, mixing horizontal and vertical-scrolling for a bigger challenge. This is the ruined tower and stopping to chat with baddies will see you crushed against the roof.

The penultimate level takes you to the skeleton caves where the bones of massive creatures make up the scenery, and the resident denizens make you feel as unwelcome as their pals in previous levels. More vertical scrolling takes you down slippery slopes to a fearsome sea monster and much, much more besides.

But the worst is saved to last, and the evil red knight's castle is one of the toughest tests around. Lethal clouds with eyes at their centre, huge bullet-spitting skulls and a seemingly endless supply of winged demons are all out to get you. Clearly this is one massive challenge, but the imagination of Capcom makes it all worthwhile. Unlike so many lesser games, the later levels are virtually new games in their own right, rather than pale rehashes of the first level with different graphics.

The original game, converted by Elite, was great, so it's good to see that US Gold have more than lived up to the high standards it set. The sheer playability of the coin-op has been transferred to all the computer versions thanks to top programming house Software Creations, right down to the rib-tickling duck and boxer short sequences. Ghouls 'N' Ghosts is a great platform romp that will appeal to fans of the arcade game and the uninitiated alike.

Overall: 85%

Summary: Beautifully detailed sprites and bouncy title tune blend together to create a first class conversion of a very playable coin-op. The only slight moan is that some of the sprites are a little difficult to see at times.

Award: The Games Machine Star Player

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB