Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Ghouls n' Ghosts (Sega Genesis, 1988)

 Time for the mid-quell of the series. Somehow this one gets forgotten a lot in-between the NES' Ghosts n' Goblins and the Super NES' Super Ghouls and Ghosts. Probably a lot like this post, which I'm sandwiching between them in close-proximity.



 We get the standard panning level map. Weirdly enough, the final castle is...an E-Tank?

 This starts out just like the other games in the series. Don't call it a remake, though, because outside of the first level it's very different. There are some new additions that weren't in the NES version, and it doesn't have everything the SNES version did yet either.

 The first chest I open contains a magician who zaps me and turns me into a completely defenseless duck for like ten seconds. That's the main problem with this game: Almost every damn chest is a trap. After a while you're better off just ignoring all of them.

 Guillotines, crosses, and hovering buzzards make this first stage one of the most atmospheric to be found in any game.

 This version adds a new armor, the Gold Armor. It gives you an extra hit and lets you power up for screen-clearing magic spells. Super useful, but good luck hanging onto it for long. Super Ghouls and Ghosts will add another armor level and a shield powerup, but for now Gold Armor alone is the only powerup from the default armor.

 A huge monsoon crashes in at the end of the level!

 The ogres that like to block ladders are back. There's good news and bad news: The bad news is, they can now attack you from up there with their puke, making them even more of a menace. The good news? You can now fire upwards, in what is easily the biggest game-changing improvement of this particular version.

 The first boss, Cyclops. This guy looks a lot badder than the Unicorn of the first game, but he can be easily defeated in a few hits.

 Stage 2 is a town with some sweet music. Let's listen:

Probably the best track in this game. Almost sounds like something you'd hear in a Conan movie.

Unfortunately, three billion human lives ended in the later parts of town, as you encounter Red Arremer for the first time.

CHRIST! GET HIM OFF ME!

The good news is that he only takes a few hits in this version, so if you can line him up and let 'em loose, it's a quick fight. As I feverishly look for new armor, every damn chest I open is another magician who turns me into a frog or some shit. This is getting really old.

One of the couple of new weapons this game has over the original game: The Sword. It looks really cool, but unfortunately it's probably the worst weapon. Turns out you can't really get anywhere with a melee weapon, so it's easy to see why this weapon didn't stick around for the next game in the series.

Another new weapon is the Frizbar, which hits surfaces and travels along them. It fires fast and is actually a decent weapon. The knife is still better though. Don't think this one made it out of this game either.

I finally get the knife, which looks a little different in this game. The rapid-fire is a necessity for powering through this game. The only weapon better than this is the endgame weapon, which unlike the original game is actually powerful and useful.

As the town slowly becomes overtaken by a raging fire, the second boss is this monstrosity. This is where things start to get a little tougher. This thing moves in some unpredictable ways. The main reason this series is as difficult as it is: The enemy patterns can be pretty inscrutable compared to your average game.

Stage 3 gets pretty weird, with knights growing out of the walls. Let's just move on quickly. Hey, I got the Gold Armor back. Let's hang onto it this time.

There's an auto-scrolling section that tries really hard to trap you before you realize what's going on. What shitty design. It only happens this once though.

This part is a complete death-trap, as giant demon heads extend their long lady-pleasuring tongues at our hero. You use them as platforms to continue. Just don't stay on one for too long or...

...they'll retract said tongues and eat you, which is a one-shot.

The third boss is a Zelda refugee eye boss, as I demonstrate the knife's magical power: A doppleganger effect that also attacks. It's exactly like in the NES Ninja Gaiden games. You have unlimited usage of this doppleganger, so it's good to keep him summoned at all times.

The next area has a crystal ceiling (that kills you if you bump into it) and giant gropy hands. It's a real nightmare.

Also, plant platforms that try to eat you, because you can't rest for a SECOND in this game. That said, it's by far the easiest of the trilogy overall.

The fourth boss is this giant larva-thing with five hearts on the outside. To win here you have to jump and fire downward.

It's a little bit like an R-Type battle. It's grody.

Stage 5 is the last stage in this version, but it's so ungodly long that they really should have split it up into several stages. That said, this game has halfway checkpoints that persist even if you game over, so in that sense it's like having two stages. The NES version of the castle transpired over two stages and was better off for it.

There isn't much to this place. It isn't the life-or-death struggle of the NES original. A couple of Red Arremers pose a threat but you usually fight them on level ground. The only issue with the level is that it's so long, and has multiple boss fights.

First boss fight is the Red Emperor. This guy is the final boss of the NES game, but he gets continuously devalued after that. He isn't the final boss of this or the third game in the series.

What is effectively another boss follows, as you have to contend with dual Cyclops Heads. This is a harder fight than the Red Emperor is.

Next up, TWO Red Emperors! This is a bit tougher, though there's a safe spot between them. This should have really been the end of the stage. Instead, we've still got...

...Beelzebub, probably the hardest boss in the game. This thing is fast and furious, and unleashes swarms of flying enemies in your direction. Could have really done without this fight being here considering it isn't even the final boss and doesn't appear anywhere else in the series.

Time for the second quest. Unlike the NES version, the second quest isn't just a slightly-tougher retread of the exact same content. This second quest actually has a new final boss, plus you get to go through the game with a new endgame weapon, so it's worth playing.

The big bad here is Loki (Lucifer in non-U.S. versions) and we've gotta go through the whole game again to fight him. Treasure chests now have a chance of dropping the super endgame weapon. But will they, or will they just contain more trolling magicians?

I wasn't even gonna bother with the second quest, but unlike the NES version it gave me enough reason to. Also, this is a much more accessible game than the NES one, so I don't mind playing more of it.

The Goddess' Bracer is found pretty early in the game. I got it on the 2nd or 3rd chest I opened. Hopefully you can get it in other places, but just to avoid risking losing it forever, I never picked up any other weapons.

It's this game's version of the shield from the first game, except WAY WAY better. It hurls a fireball that does a ton of damage to enemies AND wipes out projectiles. It also defeats anything that you're up close to, on any side, since the hero hurls it in a big overhead arc. This instantly makes the game a lot easier, even if the second quest has more numerous and crowded enemies.

This guy falls in a couple of hits now. This is way better than the first quest!

This guy also falls in record time. Fight lasted about five seconds. No magic charge-up power for the Goddess' Bracer, unfortunately.
I got a chest drop from the Red Emperor and opened it because why not, a chest drop from a boss probably has something good. NOPE, JUST MORE TROLLING.

I easily dispatch the Two Red Emperors, then engage Beelzebub. He's still difficult even with this super weapon. The key is to just take him out as fast as possible before he can do very much. Aggressively spamming attacks works well with this weapon since it also blocks projectiles, eliminating some of the need to play defensively.

Here's Lucifer Loki, the big bad. He sits on a throne manspreading. This is a surprisingly scary boss for a game of this era. He fights just like Sardius from the third game, firing lots of lasers from above that aren't too hard to side-step.

The idea here is to climb his feet to be able to jump up and hit the head, similar to the final boss of Mega Man X. Instead I just blasted him with vertical attacks from the ground.

Arthur saves his girlfriend (name not available) and they passionately make out. Whoa.

And that's it for this game. We'll just leave these love-birds alone.

Wait, what? A question mark? What's the deal with that? And who's that dark cloud?

...she's got nice shoulders. What a hottie.

And that's it for this game. It's cool. I liked the difficulty being a little lower and the second quest.


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