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Despite looks, Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection a fitting reboot to series

Familiar sights get reimagined in “Ghosts ’n Goblins Resurrection,” a storybook-revamp of the famed franchise.

CAPCOM/TNS

By GIESON CACHO | The Mercury News | Published: March 22, 2021

This isn’t Ghosts ‘n Goblins. My eyes reeled at what Capcom did for a modern reboot to the series. It cut out the sprites as expected but instead of replacing them with carefully crafted cel-shaded polygons, the developers opted for a paper-marionette style. The stylistic choices made the campaign feel like a storybook come to life.

While my eyes continued to be repulsed by the visuals, my brain and thumbs felt the opposite. After dying in the same area for the 13th time, my mind was convinced that this revamp belonged as part of the franchise. The frustration was palpable. The levels feel unfair at times. Nevertheless, despite the punishing difficulty, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection dangles the opportunity of success just enough that defeated players aren’t entirely discouraged.

Unlike past games, players can adjust the difficulty and even use the Page mode, which gives novices the option to immediately respawn after a death, with unlimited lives. That and the Magical Metronome setting, which lets players slow the game down, gives novices a chance to beat the challenging campaign. And if that’s still too difficult, players can enlist a friend to help out in a co-op mode that lets a buddy control support characters that create platforms, protect the protagonist or carry him across obstacles.

To get the true experience though, players should tackle the campaign on Knight level of difficulty as Arthur once again tries to save the Princess from an army of demons. On startup, players face choices as they traverse the game’s five zones. In the first two zones, players get the choice of areas to explore. Choosing one means they can’t explore the other, but that doesn’t hurt the experience because Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is meant for multiple playthroughs.

Although the time limit pushes players to complete the levels, they should spend time exploring and investigating the multiple paths. They’ll find treasure chests, secret levels called hell holes and most importantly Umbral Bees. These spritelike creatures are worth grabbing because they’re used to unlock magic and skills in the Umbral Tree. This is the progression system that shows Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection does have modern trappings.

The Bees grant Arthur the power to summon lightning, turn enemies into frogs and even turn the hero into a boulder. In addition, they can unlock skills that let players carry more weapons or let them cast spells more quickly. Depending on how they play, one part of the tree will be more beneficial than the other, but the only way players can reach the most powerful branches is by meticulously collecting Bees hidden in each level.

Being a reboot, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection borrows heavily from the previous two arcade games. Hard-core fans will recognize the level design and enemies, but the unique visuals give it an unfamiliar touch. The visual interpretation of the classic design stands out, for better or worse.

Like the previous games, the campaign involves trial and error as players learn enemy patterns and the ins and outs of each level. They’ll understand that a log that drifts back and forth between a river shuttles back and forth twice before completely crossing over to the other side. They’ll memorize the flight paths of flying stone snakes that Arthur must jump atop to complete the Caverns of the Occult.

Knight mode was too difficult for me during the Cerberus boss fight, so I lowered the difficulty. The difference is that attacks are more powerful and Arthur could survive four hits instead of the normal two in the easier option. That made the game more manageable but a big part of survival involves getting the right weapons, magic and skills for each level.

I found the Crossbow to be the most effective weapon. Meanwhile, new weapons such as the Hammer and Spiked Ball weren’t as effective because of their limited range. Attacking from a distance and at advantageous angles are important in combat, especially in boss fights. I leaned heavily on magic to get an edge in other circumstances, taking advantage of a few frames of invincibility while casting to help get through adversaries and relying on the the resurrection spell to get a second chance at tough confrontations.

Even after completing the campaign, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection offers players more incentive to play through the game again with Shadow versions of every stage. It’s a remixed version of the normal stage and adds candles that obscure enemies, increasing the difficulty. To help players out, the game lets Arthur keep the powers from the Umbral Tree so experts can conceivably earn every ability in the game.

Although it doesn’t look like any of the previous games, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is part of the series through and through. The maddening difficulty is in its DNA along with key gameplay components. The only issue is that it doesn’t go far enough to modernize or advance the gameplay. The Umbral Tree is nice but I would have really liked a double jump similar to the one in “Ghouls ‘N Ghosts.” Instead, it sticks solidly to the core arcade games and the nostalgia they bring.

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Online: ghostsn-goblins.com/resurrection