Rescuing a damsel in distress is a plot more than a little familiar to video game aficionados over the years. And, who better to pursue a periled princess than a brave knight named Arthur? Such was the premise for Ghosts n’ Goblins, a Medieval adventure that frustrated many an arcade junkie. Fitted in his trusty suit of armor, Arthur battled his way through six levels of bad guys, creepy graphics. and a ticking clock, all to save his love from impending doom.
Developed by Capcom in 1985 as an arcade game, Ghosts n’ Goblins sent the gallant knight through such ominous surroundings as a spooky graveyard, a sinister forest, an eerie town, a collection of creepy caverns, across a perilous bridge, and eventually to a foreboding castle, where the beautiful princess Prin Prin was imprisoned. Each level was timed and should Arthur either lose his life or procrastinate a little too much, he was then forced to start back at the beginning of whatever level he had failed to complete.
Waiting in every nook and cranny along the way were a fiendish assortment of ghosts, demons, skeletons, giants, zombies and other beasts. Arthur started with a simple lance to protect himself and throw at his enemies, but his arsenal grew along his journey to include axes, daggers, fire, and for the final battle of the game, a shield. Oh, and if you tried to use any other weapon for the final level against the devilish boss, you were going to be sorely disappointed.
Arthur began his adventure suited in armor, but players soon discovered that it could be all-too-easily lost by being hit with an enemy’s blow – leaving the knight more than a little vulnerable in his unprotective underwear. Thankfully, other suits of armor were scattered around the various levels if Arthur survived long enough to find them. Surviving required the mastery of three simple controls – running, jumping and firing. Especially firing. If it moved, you threw whatever you had at it or faced the consequences.
Thanks to the immediate popularity of Ghosts n’ Goblins in the arcades, the game was soon adopted for numerous home computers and game consoles, most notably the NES, where it still holds the distinction of being one of the hardest games to beat on that particular system. A sequel to the game was released in 1988 called Ghouls n’ Ghosts for the arcade, and Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts for the SNES. The franchise was resurrected in 2006, when Ultimate Ghosts n’ Goblins was released for the PSP.
With each new version, the graphics were updated and the story altered, but the gallant Arthur’s mission never changed. Risk life, limb and the embarrassing loss of armor, all to save another sorry princess that managed to get herself locked up. Damsels, it would seem, never quite learn from their mistakes.
If you popped a few quarters into Ghosts ‘n Goblins back in the day, or even played it from the comforts of the couch on your home gaming system, we welcome all of your recollections in our comments section, as we fondly remember this arcade classic.