Ghouls 'n Ghosts: A Halloween Treat

Ghouls 'n Ghosts: A Halloween Treat

Kill the undead, save the princess

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on 👻

As the sequel to 1985's Ghosts 'n Goblins, Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a 1988 Sega Genesis platformer that has you battle hordes of ghouls, ghosts, demons, and even angry turtles. It was originally an arcade game then it came out for Genesis and many other platforms, too.

Since Ghouls 'n Ghosts is an arcade game, it has many design quirks. Get hit once and you lose your armour; get hit again and you lose your life. You have 3 lives and if you lose all of them, you have to use a continue and if you lose all of those, you have to start the game over again. With this Genesis release, you can also play the game in practice mode which gives you infinite continues. Thankfully, you can play the whole game in this mode, fight the final boss, and you don't get a different ending. So, practice mode is definitely my preferred way of playing. Anyway, each of the 5 levels has a mid-level checkpoint as well as another checkpoint before the boss at the end. v1d30chumz 54-211-101-93

Execution Place / Floating Island on the Lake

Arthur begins his adventure in the graveyard when his love Princess Prin Prin is abducted by a winged demon. Right away, Arthur dons his armor and goes on a quest to save her. You have to carefully navigate the cemetery and ensure you don't step over a ghoul while it rises out of the ground or run into a vulture. The ghouls die easily so that's not a problem. Next is a grassland where there's a thunderstorm and of course, it's littered with monsters such as tentacles that rise from the ground. Some of the trees have faces which is very spooky. At the end of the level is a goblin-like monster in a suit of armor but it goes down easily in just a few hits so Arthur moves on.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts screenshot 1
This is just the beginning of Arthur's adventure

Village of Decay / Town of Fire

As soon as you start the level, you're greeted by a horde of turtles. They attack from above, from the front, from behind, and some turtles stand on top of other turtles while others even attack with projectiles. I can only imagine the howls of agony of arcade players in '88 as they lost more and more quarters here. Amazingly, on my next playthrough, I didn't die at the turtles at all and I'm not sure what I was doing wrong before. After you survive the turtle invasion, you'll have to cross some sand pits by crossing rope bridges that collapse beneath your feet. There's no way to know where the bridges will collapse besides trial and error. After that is the village of fire where you'll have to take care of bats that come at you from every direction and killer plants that shoot projectiles which are an annoyance as well. Beat the flaming hound boss at the end and Arthur will carry on with his noble quest.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts screenshot 2
You'll hate seeing 5 turtles onscreen at once

Baron Rankle's Tower / Horrible Faced Mountain

Baron Rankle's tower is probably the easiest part of the whole game. So, shoot your knives up and the bats above will not bother you. There are a few sword-wielding knights but they're slow and die easily in a few hits. At the end of the tower is a tricky section where you have to move fast or the ground will rise too high and there's a low section of wall that you have to move under.

At the mountain, you travel on weird pink tongues. It looks like the gargoyles are trying to eat you but they're not very good at it as the tongues are slow. This section contains some exceptionally difficult jumps and a few pesky wasp enemies, too. The end boss is a cloud eyeball thing. It can go through the floor and attack from below which is just unfair; why can't we phase through the floor, too?!

Ghouls 'n Ghosts screenshot 3
These knights look scary but they're pushovers

The Crystal Forest

For a level called The Crystal Forest, it would be a shame if you have to avoid all of the crystals. Oh, wait; that's exactly right! Those pesky ghouls that rise from the ground make a return but they're not a problem as they die easily. Orange worm things also attack you from below the ground; how annoying. The second half of the level starts with a water slide which might be fun if you weren't being attacked by demonic hands and water serpents that can spawn on you and cause damage. After the water slide, hop over the killer plants before they eat you and you'll make it to the boss; a huge insect that looks like a nest for smaller insects which constantly try to attack you! Of course, you have to destroy its 5 hearts with projectiles before you can move on to the aptly-named Castle of Evil Demons.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts screenshot 4
Surprisingly, there are not that many dangerous crystals

Castle of Evil Demons

At last, Arthur made it to the evil castle where the princess is being held! In the first part of the level, you have to fight your way through a horde of bone dragons, winged devils, goblins, and wasps. What could be more fun? The second half is where the real battle begins. There are some purple fuzzy monsters that shoot fire at you and take a lot of hits to kill. Then, you'll fight the green goblin that was the boss of the first stage except there's now 2; one on each side of the arena. Good thing I could climb down the ladder and kill the left one from under the floor. Next up are 3 eye-cloud monsters and then another green goblin! If you made it this far, you're probably running low on time but there's a checkpoint here so it's all good. Defeat the evil bee and go through the door.

Now, what's through this long-awaited and mysterious door? Will you find the princess? An evil demon? A newly resurrected Dracula? No; there's just some sage who tells you that you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the game to get the magic power from the goddess of battle before you can defeat Loki. 😠 At least Prin Prin gets to talk to you for a bit, I guess.

Ghouls 'n Ghosts screenshot 5
Loki definitely isn't short of bodyguards

So that's Ghouls 'n Ghosts for Genesis. I had a great time even though the flying turtles in stage 2 and the boss rush in stage 5 made me want to rip my hair out. The rest of the game is pretty fun. Each stage has great music and that's awesome but there's no way I'm going to play through the entire game again just to fight the final boss, though... or will I?! Nah, probably not.

Gameplay video for Ghouls 'n Ghosts thumbnail
Gameplay video for Ghouls 'n Ghosts 10:06
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