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Ghosts 'N Goblins

aka: Ghost 'N Goblins, Ghosts 'N Goblins Mobile, Makai-mura
Moby ID: 582
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Description official descriptions

Ghosts 'N Goblins is a sideways scrolling action platformer spread over six levels, each of which must be completed within three minutes (or a life is lost), taking in forest, village, mountain and cavern settings with increasing difficulty.

Arthur the brave knight must rescue his beloved Princess from the Demon King Astaroth and his forces - amongst them are the various undead (ghosts, zombies), bats, ogres and goblins. Other challenges include moving platforms, ladders and water/fire hazards.

The player can walk left and right, jump, and is also equipped with a lance to use as a weapon. Getting hit by enemies causes Arthur to lose his armor and run around in his underpants, getting hit again will cause the player to lose a life. As in most games in this genre, the player can pick up power-ups such as daggers and bombs during the course of the game, giving the player greater firepower.

Spellings

  • Ghosts & Goblins - Alternate spelling
  • 魔界村 - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Arcade version)

This programe is programed by
Sound Composer (uncredited)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 74% (based on 57 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 190 ratings with 5 reviews)

An excellent Capcom platform game with a few cool features

The Good
Tokuro Fujiwara only developed two games for Konami before moving over to Capcom where he created Ghosts 'n Goblins (魔界村 Makaimura), which received top marks from various computer magazines at the time. It was certainly a refreshing change from the vertical shoot 'em ups – such as Galaxian – that invaded the arcades back then.

King Arthur is having a quiet picnic with his girlfriend, Princess Prin-Prin, when a demon kidnaps her and takes her back with him. Vowing to go rescue her, Arthur navigates the six areas full of zombies and demons with a variety of weapons. Access to the next area is blocked by a gate guarded by a boss, who must be defeated to get a key.

Graphically, Ghosts 'n Goblins looks quite nice for its time, and there are plenty of smooth animations everywhere you look. The overhead map looks excellent, and it is nice the game lets you know how long you have to walk until you get to the castle. The map is useful for checking whether you made it to one of the checkpoints. For the sound department, the background music changes every two levels, and so does the boss music. It is the type of music that you can always remember.

Normally, when you are hit by an enemy, you would lose a life. However, this is not the case in the game. When you are hit by an enemy, you are stripped down to your underpants make up for its difficulty. Get hit by an enemy one more time, and you are reduced to a pile of bones. There are only two checkpoints in each area; and if you don't cover a certain distance, you are sent back to the start of the area. This high difficulty is common in other games Fujiwara has developed, not just Ghosts 'n Goblins.

To make matters much worse, you are sent back all the way to the first area again, once you defeated the final boss the first time, and the difficulty gets ramped up. Imagine how many people were furious that they inserted a lot of coins into the machine for nothing. When you defeat the final boss for the second time in a row, the game awards you with no ending and you are sent back to the first area once again. Then, it's just a matter of seeing how far you get without losing all your lives.

The Bad
Apart from the difficulty, I found nothing bad about Ghosts 'n Goblins.

The Bottom Line
Ghosts 'n Goblins is an excellent game, released around the time when Capcom was beginning to make more high-profile games. The graphics and sound is very good, and there are a few features that make up for the difficulty. Its success in the arcades warranted a release on the popular eight-/sixteen-bit systems of the time, with the Amiga and NES versions being more faithful to the original game than any other version out there.

Arcade · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2016

The legendary difficulty of this title is balanced by great gameplay

The Good
This game is a classic because its immense difficulty can bring extraordinary payoffs. Arthur, the hero of the game, seems to be designed to give the player an idea of what it is like to be one of the weak, fragile enemies in other platform games. One hit will knock Arthur backwards and strip him of his armor, leaving him in his red skivvies. Another will reduce him to a pathetic-looking pile of bones. The more difficult enemies require from four to a dozen hits to kill, and, while you are facing these, innumerable weaker enemies that die with one hit are flying all around waiting to catch you at an awkward moment. Also, at the same time you must jump from platform to treacherous platform, face boss enemies that have immunity to certain weapons, and oh yes, there is a strict time limit.

Few games have ever asked so much of the player. Few games have unapologetically stacked the odds so much on the side of the enemy hordes. And this difficulty is there from the beginning. About a quarter through the very first level, one of the most devious foes in video game history appears--the red demon. This menace, once roused, will proceed to run back and forth hurling fireballs at the player. If the player shoots, the demon will fly up, again shooting fireballs, and perform a death swoop that is almost impossible to dodge. If you attempt to jump it, the demon will fly upwards into you. If you stand still or duck, the demon will still hit you solidly. The only viable option is to run like hell, jumping backwards and chucking javelins until the monster swoops. Then the player must flee in earnest, cowering in fear at the last moment as the thing rushes by overhead. The red demon takes four hits to kill, and very likely will take your first life if it hasn't been taken already. And this is just the first of his many, many appearances.

There are brown ogres that vomit purplish projectiles at you both horizontally and vertically. These can withstand over twelve hits from any weapon, and will continue to gain ground on you even if you fire your weapon as quickly as you can--if you catch them too late with your first shot and they get to you, it's all over.

Two of the boss opponents have immunities to a different particular weapon, and the last boss has immunity to all weapons but one of limited range. Two of the weapons are worse than useless--the axe is slow-moving and cannot be rapid fired while the fire shoots in an arc, has no range, and if the player misses twice, takes precious time before it can be fired again. The shield blocks projectiles but has limited range and cannot damage the cyclops, while the javelin is moderately fast and long range but cannot damage the dragon. The sword is an excellent weapon because it kills all but the last boss and is very fast-firing. If you lose one of the good weapons and receive a bad one, you will have very few opportunities to correct this mistake. Going through the game with a lousy weapon makes things even more difficult, and in some situations it will make the game impossible. When you finally beat the game the first time, you are greeted to poorly translated text saying everything was an illusion, and now you must beat it from scratch, only with faster moving enemies.

Sound impossible? Sound like it couldn't be any fun? Well, not so fast. The reason this never gets too frustrating lies in how good the play control is. Controlling Arthur is intuitive, simple, and always precise. While Castlevania fans might relive nightmares during this game when Arthur is knocked back in a most inconvenient spot, there usually isn't anyone to blame for a truly impossible situation but the player. When an ogre is hurling purple death at you and simultaneously a blue bird flies across the screen ready to knock you backward to allow the ogre an opening to finish you, Arthur is capable of dealing with the situation so long as you know what to tell him to do.

This is where the payoff comes in. When you waltz into one of the last stages and see the terrifying image of a red demon and an ogre sitting right next to each other, defeating both and surviving through a mixture of skill and luck is one of the great thrills of gaming. For once in a platform game, it isn't the sheer weight of weak enemies that are designed to wear you down, making it impossible to be skilled enough to escape untouched. In this game it is your own skill level that is most responsible for how you survive--it is possible to go through the whole game without getting touched, although it would take an enormous amount of skill and no small degree of luck. In a platformer like Actraiser 2, this would be impossible.

The Bad
The story is very dull, and the translation and ending are lousy, but that's not what this game is about. The story here becomes surmounting the incredible difficulty of the game, being able to survive video game Hell--if you are skilled enough to beat this game, no modern game should give you trouble.

The Bottom Line
Ghosts 'N Goblins is a great platformer with a horror theme. The knight Arthur has stripped to his underwear while he and his gal are having a pleasant cemetary picnic. Suddenly a mammoth devil steals the girl and vanishes. Art throws on his tinfoil-like armor and charges into the armies of the undead to save his girl. From the dimwitted zombies to the utterly devious and unpredictable red demons, this game will give your platforming skills the ultimate test. You will be intimately familiar with a dying Arthur. You will have the sorrowful pile of bones he forms burned into your retina, and the map theme music that heralds his next attempt wormed deep in your ears. The difficulty is extreme, but the payoffs are worth the trouble.

NES · by J. P. Gray (115) · 2004

Quite O.K. port for the Amstrad CPC. Kinda too hard and cut off though..

The Good
I really adore the graphics, the music and the atmosphere they create. And this one is a bit a different than the original game the port is based in.

What I like the most is the music. Instead of the classic arcade tunes, a different soundtrack was written especially for the CPC that is maybe one of the most amazing themes I have ever heard on the CPC. Actually the sounds/instruments that were used have a very unique sounding, one I cannot describe, a heavy bass sound, some sounding like cymbal some like deep underground drums, I really cannot describe but it's quite different and more reach in sounds and atmosphere than any other CPC tune you might have heard. It has remained in my mind since the first day I have played this game in 1989.

I also find the graphics quite appealing for it's time and not only. And the dark gothic themes are very well presented here despite the low resolution of the CPC. The sprites are smooth enough and there is even hardware scrolling used but only when the player reaches an edge of the screen (and the action freezes). Proper scrolling is not very easy to do on the CPC and this one was maybe one of the first games to do it for it's time. I think that technically both in music and graphics the game is really well done.

The Bad
There are a lot of cutoff's from the original. And some even make the game even harder than it is. Ok, there are no weapon bonuses and neither can the player shoot up or down but it's not very important as the fact that when the knight is hit he instantly turns into bones instead of losing his armor and getting another chance.

Also there are only 3 levels instead of the 5-6 (or more?) of the arcade. Still, it's not that bad since the controls/movement are nicely done and it gets quite playable in the easy levels. Learning it, despite it's difficulty, one case sometimes reach the beginning of the 3rd level but then the hell begins. It's doable though since I have seen people bringing the game to it's knees.

The Bottom Line
I was expecting quite a worse port for the poor Amstrad but I was positively surprised. This is one of the few good classics on the CPC, I believe you will adore the music and you will like the mood that the minimal graphics create. And quite the reductions in gameplay from the original and it's difficulty, I think it is quite fun to play for a while and the frustration in the later levels might fade out as someone learns how to play in specific levels. Check it out if you are into CPC games or if you ask for a challenge!

Amstrad CPC · by Optimus (75) · 2008

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Ghosts 'N Goblins released for Windows(via Steam) on Capcom Arcade Stadium Andrew Fisher (695) Aug 22nd, 2022
US Release for the C64. Edwin Drost (7553) Mar 24th, 2017
Wonderswan version should be split GTramp (81867) Nov 30th, 2012
C16 port - split entry? Rola (8131) Aug 23rd, 2012

Trivia

8-bit computer ports

The 8-bit computer ports made by Elite Systems and released in 1986 are all shorter than the original arcade game. The game is only 4 levels long (instead of 6) on Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64, only 3 levels long on ZX Spectrum, and only 2 levels long on Commodore 16. Interesting fact of all these ports is that they are rather average titles but each of them stands out for different reasons: The gameplay in the Spectrum version, the Amstrad version's graphics and the music from the Commodore 64 version.

Red Arremer

The famous Red Arremer mini-boss was actually based on Capcom programmer Toshio Arima.

1001 Video Games

The Arcade version of Ghosts 'n Goblins appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Atari ST MIDI music

The Atari ST version has a special trick. The developers programmed the MIDI interface to play the game music. If you hook a MIDI synthesizer to the ST, the game music will play over your MIDI device.

Commodore 16 version

The C16 port is even shorter than the C64 version, as it features only the two first levels, with simplified gameplay (one weapon, less enemy types). There's no music and no title screen picture.

Japanese title

Japanese title Makaimura translates into "the deceptively cute Demon World Village".

Sales

According to publisher Capcom, Ghosts 'N Goblins has sold 1.64 million copies worldwide since its initial release (as of June 30, 2016).

Spectrum version

The Spectrum version does not load on Spanish +2A or +3 models, as their ROM mapping is slightly different from the UK models. An unofficial patch is available however.

Awards

  • Commodore Force
    • December 1993 (Issue 13) – #68 “Readers' Top 100”
  • Commodore Format
    • March 1991 (Issue 6) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
  • Happy Computer
    • 1986 - Runner-up as Action Game of the Year
    • Issue 04/1987 - #5 Best Game in 1986 (Readers' Vote)
  • Retro Gamer
    • October 2004 (Issue #9) – #39 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
  • Zzap!
    • January 1990 (Issue 57) – 'The Best Games of the 80's Decade' (Phil King)

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Related Sites +

  • The Ghoul Realm
    Fansite dedicated to the history of and information about Ghosts 'N' Goblins.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by faceless.

Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Commodore 16, Plus/4 added by Rola. Wii U added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo 3DS added by CrankyStorming. Arcade added by 666gonzo666. iPhone, iPad, Android, Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. FM-7 added by Infernos. NES added by Kartanym. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 added by Sciere. DoJa, Windows Mobile, BREW added by Kabushi. ZX Spectrum, Atari ST added by Martin Smith. Game Boy Advance added by Freeman. Wii added by gamewarrior. Game Boy Color added by Satoshi Kunsai. Amstrad CPC, Amiga added by Katakis | カタキス. PC-88 added by j.raido 【雷堂嬢太朗】.

Additional contributors: Satoshi Kunsai, Guy Chapman, Scott Monster, Martin Smith, Freeman, monkeyislandgirl, Atom Ant, formercontrib, Rola, CalaisianMindthief, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Kam1Kaz3NL77, FatherJack, RetroArchives.fr.

Game added December 16th, 1999. Last modified October 11th, 2023.