back to article One hard ghoulie: 1985's Ghosts 'n Goblins

In the build-up to the Halloween of 1985, Capcom lobbed this little box of horrors into the unsuspecting crowd of arcade dwellers. With mid-'80s goggles on, it’s easy to see why Ghosts ‘n Goblins gathered attention with its spooky but colourful visuals, alongside some memorably atmospheric ditties and effects. Ghosts 'n …

  1. Mr C

    i would be rich today..

    if i did as my dad told me and not spend it all in one place :P

    Today this game gives me endless pleasure each time i see my son struggle and curse at it after getting spoiled by easy tablet-games

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: i would be rich today..

      If only all parents took such care to bring their offspring up with realistic expectations of the world and how fucking rock-hard it can be - but can be overcome if you persevere :)

      My personal favourite was Wonder Boy - 10p spent in the pub and 20 minutes later I was still on the same 10p - it wasn't until I took up pool though that I got people to buy me drinks after they lost :) another valuable lesson learned !

      1. silent_count

        Re: i would be rich today..

        It wasn't so much that Ghosts n Goblins was hard but it was both hard *and* enjoyable enough that you'd keep trying. There were plenty of games that were hard, but they were also bad so you'd never play them a second time (Moonwalker anyone?). And a few that were impossible (Qix and Tetris spring to mind).

        Wonder Boy would certainly give Ghosts n Goblins a run for its money in the difficulty stakes. Bubble Bobble and Black Tiger would too.

  2. eJ2095

    Many a 10p

    Used to spend many hours with my 10p ready to have a go.

    Always fun with the next big kid prodding you in the ribs while fag burning your neck to get a move on.

    For more retro stuff look at my friends website (Reminds me of a early 90s website gone mental)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many a 10p

      >Many a 10p

      Its called a quarter. Psst don't look now but your limey is showing.

      1. Glen 1

        Re: Many a 10p

        Nope, it's called 10p. Psst dont look now, but your septic is showing. :P

      2. Fibbles

        Re: Many a 10p

        Comes to British news site; complains everyone is British.

        Troll / 10

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Speccy version was not that bad

    Or so I remember, could it be one of those multiload affairs? I only remember seeing the first level. Or perhaps was too difficult for me and I couldn't get past it? Oh, flaky old memories.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Speccy version was not that bad

      I rememember the Speccy version not being 'crap' too. I quite enjoyed the game play on it. Actually, the best game play I remember on a Speccy was Commando. That was awesome.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Speccy version was not that bad

      Of course it was excellent!

      Those days, Elite was a name for pretty good coin-op conversions, and not tarnished by a similar-but-not-quite-the-same company who have a reputation concerning Spectrum Keyboards....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Speccy version was not that bad

      If you can look past the lack of colour and farty sound, the Speccy version had the best translation of the original gamplay of any of the 8-bit home computer conversions. Dismissing it as 'crap' suggests someone had a quick glance at the various screenshots and thought 'that'll do'. Similarly Keith Burkhill's other Speccy masterpiece, Space Harrier, looks smudgy in a screenshot and lacks certain enemy sprites, but get it moving and the slickness is way ahead of the blocky character-based C64 translation - or the laughably vector-based Amstrad port.

  4. TwistUrCapBack

    10p muncher

    Wow this thing used to munch 10p's !!

    Blissfull memories of getting so so wound up by this game but still coming back for more time and again :)

  5. Neil B

    The C64 version was pretty good. Rock hard though.

    What I remember most from this "franchise" is the C64 version of "Ghouls and Ghosts", which while a great game in its own right, I would play endlessly just so I could hear the amazing Tim Follin soundtrack. It was the thought of hearing a new theme that pushed me to the next level.

    These days, of course, I can enjoy that music at my leisure, and do!

    1. oddie

      even in death there is victory

      I remember one of my favorite pieces of music being when you died and got to type in your name... awesome music on that screen.

      there is an online 'radio station' that plays c64 music and c64 remixes.. I think I am off to listen to some now :)

      (not affiliated with myself in any way, beyong that of being an appreciative listener :)

      1. Neil B

        Re: even in death there is victory

        @oddie Here's where you want to be:

  6. Unicornpiss
    Thumb Up

    Liked the music too

    I have the starting intro music as the ringtone for my GF. (Don't read too much into that--it was just her favourite game when she was a kid.) Now with MAME and cheat mode I can actually explore the levels without my gameplay being frantic and brief. (Don't over analyse that either.) :P

  7. Spook

    Don't forget the PC Engine version of GnG which was pretty bloody amazing for a hybrid 8/16 bit machine.

    1. 1 Million Dollars

      Sadly It was only available on the SuperGrafx, which wasn't cheap bit of kit at the time and was IMHO the best version of them all. Far superior to the Megadrive.

  8. returnmyjedi

    I don't know of a single Amiga 500 owner that didn't buy a 512kb ram upgrade from Datel or the like and pop it under the machine to join the party with Denise, Agnes et al. It always reminded me of the beginning of star wars with the Rebel blockade runner being gobbled by the star destroyer. Am I right? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    Brilliant game though, which resulted in all of my pocket money being squandered in the first hour of a family holiday to the monkey tree holiday park in Devon.

  9. Matthew 17

    C64 version for me

    Put in countless hours on that game, run the arcade version in my MAME cab.

    Another Halloween themed classic on the C64, Cauldron, well worth a punt

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

      Re: C64 version for me

      Another Halloween themed classic on the C64, Cauldron, well worth a punt

      Absolutely. Similar difficulty to GnG but very satisfying because of it.

      The "Druid" series of games were kind of in the same theme. Not quite as hard, but lots of fun.

  10. psychonaut

    oh man i just found this

    dribble....want want

  11. Jim 59

    hard game

    Even jumping on and off that island shown in the last picture was very difficult, thanks to the tough "physics" and collision detection. A challenge keeps people coming back though.

    There are some great walk-throughs on Youtube. One guy in particular demonstrating that the ruthless difficulty continues throughout the whole game - screens with no workable exit, weapons that are essentially useless (including the default weapon IIRC), enemies that are virtually immortal etc. etc, puzzles with no answer. This game will chew you up and spit you out. Because it is better than you are. Another 10p...

  12. stu 4

    2p pieces

    1985 on holiday in spain, aged 14.

    On previous holidays I had discovered that the 2p was an exact match for the 25 peseta….

    So here I was on holiday, having brought with me my bag of 100s of 2ps…

    and the machine the hotel pub had was GnGs…

    I must have played it for hours and hours over 2 weeks, and I remember actually finishing it - it's the only arcade game I've EVER finished to this day.

    happy memories.

    poor bastard owner who came back, picked out the full heavy coin box thinking 'awesome' only to discover it was full of british 2p…. but hey ho.

    1. mark 63 Silver badge

      Re: 2p pieces

      I finished a few: Rastan, Double Dragon , Kung fu master , but that pales in comparison to finishg Ghosts n Goblins!

  13. RyokuMas

    You don't know you're born...

    I could just see it now: a re-working of Ghosts n Ghouls for mobile, priced at 79p...

    Cue a slew on 1-star reviews: "Too difficult!", "Died in 10 seconds, not worth paying for", "Crap controls, couldn't work out how to play"... and so forth.

  14. GeezaGaz

    a great remake here....

    only the first level but playable in your browser

  15. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    easily the most played title on my MAME cabinet

    absolutely love GnG, even though I suck terribly at it. I can't recall ever getting past level 2 without rage quitting first. Thankfully, I had the foresight to encase my MAME cabinet entirely in formica so it's nigh on indestructible.

    And a big thank you to article author Giles Hill for finding that hilarious "lyrics" video. I hadn't previously seen that and now several coworkers are wondering what the heck I'm laughing about.

  16. BasicChimpTheory

    "Modern games are for wimps"

    Not *entirely* true.

    The first time I played Demon's Souls I was immedately taken back to Ghost 'n Goblins (C64, in my case). Demon's Souls (and its sequels) is a significantly more punishing game if ever there was one - but one where the developers, to my mind, had clearly taken GnG as a spiritual starting point. Both great games.

    Finished neither.

    [EDIT: typo. May have missed more. Pretty late where I am.]

    1. KroSha

      Demons Souls

      The only time I've ever died in the tutorial.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "has there ever been an arcade title quite as brutal?"

    Yes - Williams Defender. Probably still the hardest and fastest shoot-em-up ever created.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amiga version

    >The Atari ST and Amiga got quite close with the visuals, but gameplay was ultimately not quite there.

    Actually the Amiga visuals and gameplay were exactly like the original and for once not an ST port. I ripped the graphics from the arcade machine EPROMS and converted the machine code from 6809 to 68000. The home versions were published by Elite BTW. Software Creations may have worked on the sequel Ghosts 'n Ghouls.

    1. OnlyMortal

      Re: Amiga version

      Someone left the source code to the boot loader on the floppy. It was a deleted file so easy to recover and crack the protection.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A horribly unforgiving game that I was happy to walk away from.

    Clearly not arcade leet then :)

  20. ToryPonce

    The C64 version was epic, albeit with a rather zoomed out looking view. The black background added to the eerie feeling.

  21. deanb01

    Great game!

    I worked at Software Creations during that era and developed the Amstrad CPC version of Ghouls n Ghosts. A beggar to program on 8 bit hardware and not my finest work. My colleague, Mike Follin, programmed a technically excellent scroll routine on the Speccy version, derived from earlier work on Bubble Bobble & LED Storm, that "chased the raster' to run at 25fps and draw sprites and backgrounds on alternate frames without flicker.

    The Speccy version of Ghosts n Goblins was a great game for the time & really pushed the Spectrum to its limits.

  22. peekandpoke

    Speccy Version Actually Rather Good

    Clearly the reviewer was more Zapp than Crash, or wasn't even there, because the Speccy version was very well received and accurate, IIRC.

    Yes, as others have mentioned it was released by Elite. They released some decent arcade conversions - Bombjack, Commando, Space Harrier, Ghosts 'n' Goblins, and others.

    I don't think the speccy version was multi-load (Bionic Commando was a year or two later), as mentioned by others. I remember lapping it/clocking Ghosts'n'Goblins on the speccy. Hard game, but I was obsessed with it in the '80s having played the arcade game in Spain on holiday (so 80s!).

    I still think it's one of my favourite '80s games. Bought Ghouls'n'Ghosts on the SNES - that was hard too!. Love MAME :-)

    Enjoyed reading this article... inaccuracies aside.

    1. DaneB

      Re: Speccy Version Actually Rather Good

      What's with the Speccy love in round here?

      1. DaneB

        Re: Speccy Version Actually Rather Good

        It's 'accurate'? Really? Had a quick play and it's pretty far off the arcade mark, even with a bit of rose-tinted thinking for the cack graphics.

  23. MartinB105

    C64 version had the best music!

    I played the C64 version growing up. I could never get very far in it. I was so disappointed by the music when I later played the original arcade and Amiga 500 versions.

  24. DaneB

    That baldy has ear-wormed me with his video. Ouch!

  25. Flugal

    Spent many, many happy hours playing, and finally completing, this on he C64. One of my all time favourites on the platform.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many hours on the C64 on this.. so go to see you review this game. The commodore version was very playable. Blue Max was also a good game I remember loading on the same days I'd play this one.. was there ever another computer needed after the c64?

  27. Lamont Cranston

    My parents would never let me have more than a few coppers for the arcades,

    so I'd look on whistfully as others played Ghost'n'Goblins, Operation Wulf, or Outrun, as I pushed my coppers into the 2p push machine.

    Once I'd bought myself a PlayStation (must have been 20 years old *sigh*) a Capcom compilation was one of my first purchases. Ghosts'n'Goblins (and Ghouls'n'Ghosts)! But, wait - it's bastard hard and I can barely get past the first level. *crushing disappointment*

    Nostalgia is best left in the past. I had a lot more fun playing Smash TV (with infinite continues), but that quickly got boring as it rendered it all too easy. Surely there is a middle ground?

    1. DaneB

      Re: My parents would never let me have more than a few coppers for the arcades,

      Smash TV on the SNES was a pretty awesome compromise. Joypad made for it.

  28. Yugguy

    Thank heavens for emulators

    Otherwise I'd have never witnessed the end of most of the arcade games I wasted money on in the late 70s/early 80s.

  29. Kaltern

    I could get to the last level, but fuck me was it frustrating - the fire bridge a VERY close second!! *screams with hatred..and inserts yet another coin*

    My claim to fame is that in my early teens I could complete 'Shinobi' on a single life. Including the ironman-last level. I got a free bag of chips that day (my local chippy had machines in, back when that was allowed...he rewarded me for completing each game he brought in. Clever marketing if you ask me. (one could also say exploitation... but I was 12 and I didn't really care!)

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