We all look at the Souls genre as the “hard” games or the most challenging types of games that players don’t understand or invest in. They say it’s punishing and forces you to learn to have patience. You work to build up your character to be powerful and for certain gamers, untouchable. From Demon Souls to the upcoming Elden Ring, there has been an explosion in the genre like Mega Man was back in the NES and Super NES era. With the genre being the latest one created in the past decade, a lot of players haven’t visited the most punishing, frustrating, yell-at-series that ever grace the video game industry. No, I am not talking about Sonic The Hedgehog from 2006. No, not the Barbie games. NO, NOT BEAT ‘EM AND EAT ‘EM (that’s a whole other topic). It’s Ghosts’N Goblins by Capcom.
Known in Japan as Makaimura, Ghosts’N Goblins was created by Tokuro Fujiwara. It was released in arcades on July 7, 1985. It’s a run-and-gun platform where you play as Arthur, a knight who must rescue princess Prin-Prin from the demon king, Astaroth. The series is known for its high difficulty, Arthur in his heart boxer shorts, and replaying the game to see the true ending. The game play may seem simplistic, but it isn’t in execution. The jumping feels stiff, and the two hit mechanic was something you didn’t have in a lot of games.
Ghosts’N Goblins didn’t believe in checkpoints, save systems, or continues at a time. You had to play through the whole game dodging enemies, ducking and jumping through deadly traps, having the right weapon to defeat the boss, and praying that you make it past one area when starting the level.
This game wasn’t like Contra or other titles in the genre. The game purposely challenges you to feel that you earned the progress to save the princess. It knew that torturing you as the player brings itself pleasure, and in the arcade, more money. It wasn’t afraid to surprise you with an enemy or a trick treasure box. Even cursing you from time to time. Daunting? Yes. Upsetting? Of course. Did Capcom care? Not one bit.
When people say they are hardcore gamers, it feels like they only mention it because they play a lot of well known triple – games. Since modern gaming has allowed new players and those who’re familiar with video games to experience the deeper mechanics, cinematic storytelling, and less demanding moments throughout the game, they see it as a popularity invite and thus classify themselves as a true gamer. No matter how you see it and speak on it, that what it boils down to them.
Yet, you present them with any of the Ghosts’N Goblins titles, and that definition and mentality will clearly be wiped away before they even finish the first level. Well, if I should say. Truly, I feel you have to beat that game if you want to be a real hardcore gamer. No matter the tears, anger, or screams, you haven’t earned that title until you beat one. Of course it’s just a product, and Capcom has your money, but you can’t say it isn’t worth its value. Even Konami’s Castlevania games aren’t that hard, and people want to give up on them or use the Konami code (which doesn’t work in those games).
For some, being hardcore doesn’t matter, which is great. If you play and enjoy video games, you are a gamer, and no one can take that away. If you want to place yourself as a certain kind of gamer, then Ghosts’N Goblins is the invitation and a test to see if you earned that ‘title’. If you’re not down for it, then please refrain from that word. Aside from the toxic connection to the word (since that is more behavioral), hardcore can only be suited for this game. Not saying you won’t be challenged harshly in a souls-like game, but hardcore doesn’t need anything to hold its hands. Ghosts’N Goblins will take your hand, chop it off, and smack you out of existence with its menacing and strenuous level design and patterns.
I love the series and am enjoying the latest release, Ghosts’N Goblins Resurrection, which came out in 2021. I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer, but I love how the game delivers me that “Come on? Try again”, and I do. It feels tremendous. It feels wanted. It feels hardcore.
Do you agree? What one series is the most hardcore than Ghosts’N Goblins? Let us know in the comments or on our Discord.
Eddie V. is a co-founder of Boss Rush Network who writes, podcasts, and loves video game trivia. You can find him on Twitter with @thatretrocode.