After many years of absence, Capcom dusts off the Ghosts n Goblins series with a new game available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
A long time ago, in a distant land, the knight Arthur he rested his weary limbs in the shade of an imposing and noble oak which seemed to symbolize his own soul. The glorious shimmering armor resting on the cool grass, the chirping birds, the tall castle towers towering over the hill. Our hero enjoyed the times of peace in total relaxation, his beard and the legendary heart-shaped boxers covering his pudenda, chatting lovingly with his beloved, delicate and radiant princess with sapphire hair.
But then a flash of darkness, a roar of evil, a deadly opacity in the sky! The kingdom had fallen, ablaze, lost, the fairies evicted from the tree of life, withered in no time. Two wings above their heads, a gargoyle! The claws clenched on the shoulders of the innocent damsel, kidnapped between desperate cries and shrill epithets in demonic language. No more light, no more peace, a journey to rediscover honor and love: this is what makes knights King, men legends, epic Ghosts’ n Goblins Resurrection.
Risen to the underworld
It now seemed to be one of the many sagas forgotten in the glory days that were, like a story lost in the folds of time, with the last two chapters released on iOS totally unsuitable to beatify the exploits of the brave hero Capcom. Eleven years have passed since Gold Knights II, even fifteen since the last episode released on consoles, that Ultimate in name and in fact that is still remembered, rightly, as one of the best arcade for PSP.
Arthur to pick up his spear again after leaving the fate of the kingdom in the hands of Maximo and that three-dimensional turning point that seemed the right way to hand down that world to posterity, from run ‘n gun to hack’ n slash, the atmospheres always suspended between disturbing and exhilarating, very rock ‘n roll. But then, it was just silence, until today. And so Resurrection looks like one of those ancient manuscripts found by chance during an excavation, when by now the story seemed known, with no more mysteries to tell; a new, brutal adventure exclusively on Switch. The abandonment of the pixel in favor of a freehand artistic direction, outlined in pastel shades that seem to come out of an illustrated book of dark fairy tales, the puppet theater animations that seem to come directly from some dirty medieval square, an era that is reflected on a gameplay full of tears, blood and inquisition, even if it is no longer necessary to pay a token for each sin committed. A sadistic video game Torquemada who incessantly tortures the less experienced until they confess their inability, giving him the opening of four difficulty levels and a handful of checkpoints to save his skin.
It starts from the greatest resistance up to the respawn at the crime scene in the Page mode, and reaches the tissue paper armor and an embarrassing amount of infernal creatures on the screen in the Legend option: in short, to each his own challenge and his reward . Patterns to learn like an Ave Maria, reflexes always ready, the tendons of the fingers stretched on ancestral commands; jump, attack, magic, the latter totally accessory to what is out of rhythm, totally detached from the speed at which the game runs.
Because you can’t force me to charge a spell while standing still when, even at the most accessible difficulty levels, enemies come out from all sides and the “run”, that is to keep in constant motion, is always more fundamental than the “gun “.
Arthur’s physicality is as heavy as we remembered it, deprived of the double jump (not a great choice, from my point of view) but graced by an attack in four cardinal directions (like Ultimate) that makes the action decidedly more dynamic than the classic chapters and their pure horizontality. From classic holy water javelins and molotovs to sharp boulders, bombs and serrated Frisbees, the bizarre arsenal will soon adapt to the flesh of soldier pigs, devils, orcs and flaming cats, sending them back to the circle they came from.
Back to the past
Where level design dares is in a more pronounced platforming trend (and for this reason the absence of the double jump is felt), often a source of problems due to the lack of athleticism of the rider, immersed in living scenarios and annoyed by our presence, in continuous geological and meteorological change. Without blemish or fear, of course, but perhaps with a few too many ailments.
On the other hand, a decidedly conservative and uncompromising path was chosen for a work that in the end is incapable of questioning itself, an exercise in style that probably will not convince the purists (who have already complained about the chosen artistic direction) and not it will astound potential new followers.
In any case, this does not mean that you play badly or that something is broken: Ghosts’ n Goblin Resurrection is definitely a competent product, modeled with great skill and embellished with good ideas, secrets and extremely adrenaline-pumping, scenographic sequences, with some very funny boss fights, amalgamated with a good general balance. Yet that spark is missing that instead I found in Streets of Rage 4 (here you can find the review of Streets of Rage 4) or in The Messenger (to learn more, here is the review of The Messenger), that fire in the eyes that had Ultimate, more imperfect but passionate.
A timid attempt to deepen the gameplay is the skill tree, to which the fairies scattered throughout the levels can be returned, thus able to unlock spells and new features, such as the ability to keep more than one weapon, changing it as needed. A feature that very little shifts the balance of the gameplay and that could have turned into a power-up dispenser that, once unlocked, could have increased the replayability of the individual areas, for example.
In the end, the real satisfaction remains learning, fighting with a knife between your teeth, dying less and less run after run, raising the difficulty until you reach a manual skill that we didn’t even think we had, provoked and instigated to perfectionism as in few other titles. Also because the first game from 4 to 6 hours (personal talent and horrible deaths included) it cannot satiate completely, and making attempts to get to the end credits is almost humiliating, not very satisfying. The nicest addition is a co-op mode where the second player will play an ancestor of Arthur, who has returned from the underworld to protect his heir by evoking magical barriers, creating bridges or carrying him away from danger. Atypical and witty.
Story in pictures
Surely one of the things I appreciated the most is the aesthetics, much less anonymous than the last polygonal drift and totally suitable for reconstructing the atmosphere with which Capcom has always painted Arthur’s misfortunes. Resurrection is a two-dimensional painting full of colors, details and animations built on the versatile RE Engine, owner of the Osaka software house, whose three-dimensional essence is perceived by very small details here and there, for an even more consistent and crunchy impact.
Already the first level set in the iconic cemetery, reinterpreted here, is a triumph of layers that create an incredibly evocative and rich parallax, embellished with a large amount of moving elements, which are the branches of a tree bent by the weight of crows at the storm-tossed grass, with overflowing rivers, crazed carnivorous plants emerging from the ground and mindless zombies emerging from graves with enviable naturalness.
And then skeletal dragons, caves that tell of forgotten cults, deserts and prisons, retracing an imaginary that Ghosts’ n Goblins has contributed to making it so characteristic. An unpredictable pace underlined by an instrumental soundtrack where organs, strings and percussion dominate the rhythm and exorcise the game over, pushing us not to give up, to play the game as if it were a musical, a theatrical show of good against evil. Playability exorcism format.
Ghosts n Goblins ResurrectionNintendo Switch Analyzed VersionGhosts’ n Goblins Resurrection decides to venture on safe, impervious but known ground, bringing the saga in 2021, renewing it in aesthetics but not in its dogmatic gameplay. A frenzied run ‘n gun with a strong propensity for platforming, accessible thanks to the four levels of difficulty but as demanding as few when the game begins to get tough, stimulating constant improvement. The high-quality level design, relentless pace and precise controls are certainly enough to honor the brave Arthur, but perhaps not enough to make this feat truly unforgettable and memorable. Missing those flashes of genius, that fire that after 15 years from the last appearance on consoles should burn in every frame. An exercise in style developed by those who have a steady hand and certainly know how to shape a good genre title, enhanced by artists who have managed to impress an artistic direction capable, at times, of really piercing the Switch screen.