Ghosts ‘N Goblins | NES Online

Quite possibly one of my favourite games growing up and quite possibly, to me at least, one of the hardest games I’ve ever played: Ghosts ‘N Goblins. With all my gaming experience, I’d like to think I would have been done with this by now. Thanks to NES Online, I can play the original (ish) again but can I finish? Can I fu…

As with all NES Online games I write about, Ghosts ‘N Goblins or Ghosts ‘N Ghouls is a sequence of words and punctuation on how I felt about the games back in the day, or maybe I never played it and the following commentary has nothing to do with the title. Thankfully for you, this is (mildly) relevant as I loved this game.

Arthur takes on the zombies, equipped with fireballs

Arthur. That’s the name of this hulk stomping around cemeteries chucking javelins at the dead. Arthur isn’t such a cool name but Arthur is a knight and that’s a proper name for a knight who is as hard as Bruce Lee and has the balls about him to wear white boxer shorts while dodging zombies.

Arthur’s girl has been taken – same old, same old – and he must battle across the land to save his beloved. With all the agro, I probably would have moved on as this undead horde are relentless – they just keep charging at you and won’t die. Funny that.

In the olden days, not the times of knights – only this one – but in the ’80s, video games were super hard. I’ve mentioned about a favourite of mine which is Dark Souls Remastered and its unrelenting difficulty. However… die as you must in Dark Souls, you will always come back and you just need to keep your wits about you on how to get out of this mess. Blighttown springs to mind. Sure, it’s tough but you don’t die and that’s it.

Though Ghosts 'N Goblins is a small map, it's a hard one at that

In Ghosts ‘N Goblins, you have a couple of lives and can take a hit or two but when you’re dead, you’re back to a point that doesn’t help you in the slightest. In these same archaic times, one would invite one’s friends to their home (the ones who are good at games) and ask them to get you past [insert level, boss, etc]. When you didn’t know anyone, you’d cheat. But there wasn’t the internet to look up GameFaqs, walkthroughs or the Konami Code equivalent. There were a couple of options:

  • Read the hints and tips sections in gaming magazines – you know, the blogs that are written on slices of trees, hoping someone else has the same issue and writes into the magazine
  • Wait for the weekly video game show and, hope someone has the same issue and writes into the show
  • Call a premium helpline. No, not those smutty things but a recorded message that could be navigated through the touchpad of your telephone

Now the first two are a given, but the third one I often did – much to my parents’ dismay. When they found out that it wasn’t the smutty lines, they were more surprised and possibly annoyed. Anyway, these were numbers you would call and through a series of options, could get guidance or cheat codes for a game. Thing is, unsurprisingly, these were as useful as tits on a fish.

I can’t recall if I called about Ghosts ‘N Goblins but I did about Leisure Suit Larry. I just couldn’t get into the lift on the volcano. What’s Leisure Suit Larry? Never mind. What these lines did though was keep you on the other side for as long as possible while you were charged by the minute. The recorded lines weren’t particularly slow speaking but there would be intros to other games and nonsense that you had no option but to wait.

Getting there but a dragon is about to attack Arthur

Cheat codes were the best – invincibility, level warps – that sort of thing but if there wasn’t a cheat, the option was simple tips and hearing someone tell you not to let the undead touch you and that A was jump and B was to throw your weapon, there was an element on the bullshit meter that was saying hang up – hang up! But, no. Just a little bit longer – I might as well find out how to beat the boss. You know, in case I make it that far.

I don’t know if there is a boss in Ghosts ‘N Goblins. I never got that far as there isn’t an invincibility mode. Sure, I never completed Mario either but I have seen others complete it. For me, Arthur and I started this journey together and in one incarnation or another, we will complete it together. Whether it is on the Switch or another console, we will defeat the boss. If there is one. Once done, we will record a tip line for users to call, won’t we precious?

Fun fact: Arthur was the inspiration for the look at feel on my Vulgar Knight avatar. Which either exists or doesn’t at the time I post this. Not a fun fact? Fine. Mosquitos kill more people than any other creature – the undead included. But you already knew that, didn’t cha?