Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is an exercise in realizing that you are not as good as video games as you assumed you were. Capcom’s newest 2D platformer is tough at the best of times and unfair at its worst, making for an experience that is difficult to recommend for a large number of people, but will be catnip for a small subset eager to be challenged.
Resurrection is a remake of the 1985 classic, though hewing closer to the arcade original than the subsequent NES port, rebuilt with a storybook artstyle. Fans of the original games will recognize sections lifted straight from the source material, but a large amount of it is reimagined to be a little faster-paced and less repetitive. There are multiple difficulty levels and temporary reprieves for difficulty options after dying repeatedly in a single section to temporarily make the game easier, but the highest difficulty available at the start informs you that it is the way Ghosts ‘n Goblins is meant to be played.
Which is where most of the discussion about Resurrection will take place, so let’s just start there: is this game too hard? There is unfortunately no single answer to that question. You could be a neophyte to the series and difficult platformers in general and have a fun enough time on the easiest difficulty with its built-in immortality. You could also be an experienced player who chews the gristle off Dark Souls and find a mid-tier difficulty frustrating enough to contemplate throwing your controller at the wall (hi). Unless you’re looking for some challenge, which is the overall meat of the game, I do not think Ghosts n’ Goblins is for you.
If you are looking for that challenge, Resurrection gets most things right and a few things wrong. The difficulty level determines both the number of enemies on screen and the number of checkpoints. Each area gets its own checkpoint, but optional “Flag of Rebirth” checkpoints can be hit within those areas. These can be a godsend for difficult parts, though they unfurl in front of tedious sections rather than difficult ones. Moreover, upon a player death, the game defaults to highlighting the option to restart the area, thus erasing every checkpoint after it.
If you’re the type of person who tends to hammer the A button after a particularly frustrating death (hi again), this can lead to some very loud profanity.
That said, the game’s boss fights are fantastic. They’re inspired by boss fights throughout the series, but feature new twists and test the player on reading the enemy’s tells more than reacting to them. One boss has you riding a dragon and doing as much damage as possible before it lands, another has you putting out lights around the arena as the boss changes forms to only be visible in the lights or the darkness. They’re all clever and they feel more fair than a lot of the rest of the game can be.
Aesthetically, Resurrection is a mixed bag. There are times where I looked at the game and immediately understood what Capcom was going for with the new artstyle. As a still painting, Resurrection is gorgeous to look at, with beautifully colored environments and textured characters that look like a children’s fairytale sitting on a canvas. When things begin moving, however, it animates less like a storybook come to life than a flash animation of a storybook. There’s a brief uncontrollable eyebrow raise every time I look a little too closely at the way protagonist Arthur jaunts along the stage or a boss spins around the stage. It is never terrible, but it’s often strange.
Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection exists in this weird place where I am pretty sure I want nothing to do with this game again, but it’s difficult to place that on anything the game really did wrong. I think it is the ultimate realization of the fact I do not have to climb the next hill a video game shows me just because it is there. I can sit down, breathe deep, and move on. For everyone else, Resurrection is a fun little return to an era of platformer self-destruction that, for right now, I’m happy only visiting.