I can’t believe it, but it’s been 4  years since my last review of a video game. I guess I am just not that great at finishing what I start sometimes. Yet I have a review for a classic remake of a classic game – Super Ghouls and Ghosts. This is easily one of the most difficult SNES games I have ever played and one of the reasons that it took so long to do a review is because I had to really work up the courage and the discipline to get through it. Unfortunately, I was not very well rewarded with this game, but I’ll get to that later. So… here we go!

Table of Contents:

  1. Foreword
  2. Story
  3. Gameplay
    1. Basics
    2. Chests
    3. Weapons
    4. Armor
  4. Review
    1. The Good
    2. The Bad
    3. The Ugly
  5. Final Thoughts


In case you are not quite sure what this game is, it is actually a remake of a remake of remake! Yes… that’s right, third generation remake but a classic side-scrolling platformer nonetheless. To understand where this game comes from, one must understand it’s past. The game began as “Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins”, an arcade console running on the Motorola 6809 chipset in 1985. It was also released on the NES, Commodore 16, and many other game systems. Three years later, a new version of the game was created called “Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts which was released on the Capcom System 1 (CS-1) for the arcade and on various computer consoles such as Amiga and Commodore 64. Finally, in 1991, Capcom decided to release a remastered version of the original game directly for the SNES. Hence, the game was born as a remake of a remake or a remake but it is still legendary in its style and platform skill. I should mention that the series continued and spawned many other titles including Demon’s Crest, Gargoyle’s Quest, Ultimate Ghouls ‘N’ Ghosts, etc. So despite being old enough to drink, rent a car, get married, and even start losing some hair, the series is still alive and kicking today.


(( WARNING – Some Spoilers Ahead… you were warned))

Hey dude! Bring Back 2P Chains!

The story is very simple and only moderately different than the storyline from the previous games. Essentially it works like this: You are Arthur King of the Br…ahem… the Great Knight. You are in love with Princess Prin Prin (yes… that’s her freaking name… come on!) and hope to make many young Arthurs (even though the entire Arthurian legend involving Guinevere and her husband are ignored – that’s mostly a European thing so you can’t blame Japan for not knowing the full story). In the middle of the night you are just hanging out with the Princess and trying to figure out if she wants to be called “Prinny”, “Princess P”, 2P (not really but oh well). While you talk, you get this weird sensation of something coming closer and closer (the game actually uses a unique approach of the Mode 7 engine) to your castle. Suddenly.. CRASH! A Red Demon steals your girl for no apparent reason.

Get Your Princess in This Castle

So now, Arthur is pissed and leaves Cam…er… the castle, to seek revenge on the demon lord Sardius because he magically knows that’s who took her. Also, this same bastard has been stealing girls for a while so Arthur knows that she is being held captive in this castle at the end of the world. You get to hop through the window and go into the…erm… graveyard that Prin Prin keeps outside the castle. Maybe you have a red flag here?

Arthur will brave all the horrors of Sardius’s minions and the weird worlds they inhabit. All the while he must collect magical weapons, deal with landscape that changes all the time, and often gets forced to run around in his underwear… seriously, I’m not making this up. You travel through the graveyard, into the umm… ocean at the edge of the graveyard, down into the magma core of the earth, through a weird living tooth monster land, up a rainy monster tree, through a frozen wasteland, into two parts of a castle and finally to the throne room to face Sardius himself.

Unfortunately, there are some things you were not told, as it turns out, Sardius really only took 2P Chains (I don’t care, that’s what I am going to call her from now on) because he thought she had this thing called the “Goddess Bracelet” because… you know… evil Satan-like demons love to hold things owned by gods and goddesses, it won’t burn them up or anything #maybenottrue. Plus, this bracelet is so powerful that if Arthur touches it without the magical God…er…Gold armor, he can’t live either. However, because 2P Chains is a bit of a blue-haired airhead, she accidentally dropped this priceless artifact somewhere along the way. No… of course she doesn’t remember where, she just dropped it while the red demon was taking her to the castle.

I did not sign up for this!

So after you have trudged through 6 planes of death, often in just your underwear, you finally beat Sardius’ minion, Astaroth (and his jealous brother Nebirtoh – the dude is actually green) and you hope to save hottie 2P Chains and get some double P action, only to find out that you have to do it all over again because the actual bad guy can’t be beaten by anything but the VERY THING she dropped. You get sent back to the beginning. Only now that bad guys KNOW you are coming and so everything got massively harder and they called in all the reinforcements for each kind of monster. Plus, all the boss monsters have now taken steroids and have entire playbooks about how you beat them last time. That means that the monsters are harder, the maps are more complex, the bosses cannot be beaten the same way, and if you don’t somehow find this mythical “Goddess Bracelet” before you get back to the castle of Sardius, you will not be able to beat him. Dude! 2P Chains really blew it this time! Maybe you ought to talk to that hottie Guinevere over (*smacked with the ‘canon’ stick*) .. ahem… sorry, where was I? Oh yeah! You have to beat the “Fiend” Sardius using the Goddess Bracelet that 2P Chains dropped on the way after you have combed the entire map again to look for the long lost amulet.

Why do my pants have a face?

Ultimately, you get to face off  against the Fiend Sardius who stands a full two stories above you. You can shoot him with the lightning bolt power of the “Goddess Bracelet” (though it is actually pretty unwieldy). But for some strange reason, his ‘crotch mouth’ (a staple of the final baddies in this series it seems), spits out ice-like platforms to allow you to jump up and blast his blue, white-bearded, face, repeatedly until he finally blows up. Hooray! You have defeated Sardius and saved Princess Prin Prin! You can now ride off in the sunset with your blue haired girl. However, the game couldn’t possibly let you go of their massive franchise so you are actually greeted with a “The End…?” screen because… well… Sata..erm… Sardius is an eternal bad guy and he likely will want to steal your princess again sometime because that’s what eternal bad guys do so don’t get too comfortable. Roll Credits!




Easily the most difficult thing about mastering this game is understanding the unique mechanics of the game’s controls. Arthur is able to execute double jumps, use variety of weapons, upgrade his armor and ultimately use a type of ‘charge up’ to complete the most powerful use of each weapon. Some of the weapons in the game are fantastic and work very well in a wide variety of situations while others are completely useless, even for basic combat. Oh yes, and don’t forget the various treasure chests in the game. You will find yourself battling all manner of horrors throughout the map stages. There are zombies, ghosts, wolves, flying demons, faeries (I’m not talking Tinkerbell here), monster fish, giant bears with clothing, and countless others. You must jump, scream, claw, and strive through over 7 different levels with all varying kinds of environments from a graveyard, to the ocean, to this horrifying tooth cave of death, etc. Each stage has a boss at the end that seems to fit the genre of the stage you are playing and these monsters range from the normal (giant birds of death) to the really weird (mushroom coral monster anyone?)


First of all, the character has some basic moves. Arthur can move left and right in the standard fashion of side-scrolling games. He can also climb ladders if you position him over them and press the “Up” button. If you press the jump button one time, Arthur will do a basic jump that generally gets him across normal gaps or up small platforms. However, if you press jump once and within a 2-3 seconds, press it again, he will double jump which will generally get him across everything else and can even be used to jump up to different levels instead of climbing the ladders (especially useful for speedrunners). You can also change the direction of the second jump by pushing right or left with the arrow key while also pressing the second jump button. Sometimes, the only way to get over a particular obstacle is to do a ‘zig zag jump’ wherein the player pushes a direction such as left while pressing jump for the first time, then pressing the opposite direction (right in this example) and jump again. In this situation, Arthur will jump at a 45 degree angle one way, then jump another 45 degree angle the opposite way.


I CURSE you!

The other prevalent thing you will find in this game are treasure chests. These are generally unseen until your character jumps at a certain area on the screen or does a particular motion in a certain map space. When you do this properly, a chest will appear and seem to ‘jump’ out of the ground nearby. The wise player will learn the ‘hot zones’ where these appear. Sometimes the chests will drop weapons (discussed next), sometimes they will drop armor (discussed a little later), and sometimes they will release a magician who will cast a spell on you. This spell is probably one of the most annoying things in the  world because you have no control over what you are turned into. Arthur may become a goose, a bee, an old man, a little girl, a pig, or if the game is really being evil to you, a baby. Why is the baby so evil? Because he is very slow and if you get hit by any enemies, you will get stunned and be unable to move for a few moments. If that happens while you are in the mix with a bunch of baddies, you will almost certainly die. But without the treasure chests and the potential for any number of weird things that might happen with the magician’s curse, you can’t get any weapons or armor and without those, well… why are you playing? You will also encounter various jars that are either carried on enemies or sitting around on the map; usually these will just give you cash bags (worth various points based off the dollar amount) or glowing knight statues which will give you 200 points for free. On a rare occasion, a jar will give you a weapon, often whether you want it or not. So let’s look at weapons next, shall we?


Why don’t I have a sword?

So you can jump around the map and double jump, but how does he attack? Well, that is pretty simple. You start the game with a lance (weird since this is Arthur… famous for using a SWORD… *canon stick waves menacingly above me* but that’s not important, heh…) that you throw, much like a javelin or spear. It is great for basic damage and flies in a straight line when shot. What makes this even funnier is that the box of the game and the cartridge shows him carrying a sword but there really is no such weapon in the game. You may also find a variety of other weapons including the crossbow which is VERY useful as it shoots a projectile in front of you and at a 45 degree angle above you which will take out most flying creatures after a few hits and there are plenty of those! You may also find the torch as a weapon of interest but it is best saved when facing slow enemies, large enemies, or those that can’t move much as it flies up, then falls down at an angle and creates a fire geyser. You also have a throwing ax which is very slow but does some decent damage if used on the right enemies – it will fly up at a 45 degree angle and then go straight down on whatever is below it.

Beyond these, most of the other weapons are useless. There is a pitiful throwing knife that, although it is fast, does very little damage and goes straight out like a lance (so why not use that since it’s more damage anyway). You will also find a scythe which is basically like a boomerang but does very little damage unless it happens to strike an enemy flying at you as it returns. Then there is a weird, rotating knife thing called the ‘tri-blade’ but it doesn’t try to hit anything… seriously, it lazily glides out from your character’s head, goes down then straight and continues this strange up and down meandering pattern. However, much like Castlevania games, you have no choice about changing weapons – if you touch the weapon when it comes out of a chest, you will lose the weapon you had and be forced to use whatever weapon you just got.

Sometimes, the appearance of the items on the map are so unfortunate (like, if you need the crossbow because you know that there are four flying demons in the next section of the map but you randomly get a useless tri-blade from the chest) that it’s actually better to kill your character (the game gives you an infinite number of continues so… eh?) than to pick up the weapon. Now the great king of the Britons is reduced to committing seppuku… what is the world coming to? Lastly, there is the Goddess Bracelet which you can ONLY get if you have the Gold Armor and we’re going to get to that part now.


I’m too sexy for my pants

Ah yes, one of the unique quirks of the game is the way your character takes “hits”. Many platform games both past and present will give the character a ‘life bar’ or ‘hit points’ or something like that to gauge how much damage you can take. However, this is not the way that Super Ghouls and Ghosts works. Nope… you basically have two hit points. If you have not been hit, you wear ‘steel armor’ which is gray and similar to what you’d expect from a knight. However, if you get hit while wearing the steel armor, Arthur decides to run around in his underwear… literally… yup, the hero of Arthurian legend running around in white boxers with red polka dots on them. If you get hit again while Arthur is in his undies, you die – geez… I hope they were clean.

This is not Bronze…

But don’t fear, you actually can get additional suits of armor to help you with your quest – as long as you aren’t always in your undies… don’t be a weirdo anyway. The first upgrade you get is called the “Bronze Armor” which is awfully strange because it’s… umm… blue green? If you are hit while wearing the Gree-Ronze armor, Arthur simply returns to his steel armor meaning that you can take 3 hits in this armor before you die. Not to mention, when you have the ahem… Jade… Armor, each weapon looks different and is more powerful. The lances make a neat laser noise, glow blue/green and do more damage. The crossbow becomes a laser pointed set of tri-arrows that blast in three directions. The axes look more like you are tossing flying guillotines and the scythe looks more like a throwing star to name a few changes. However, if you are hit once and return to the steel armor, your weapons are only the boring standard weapons again. If you want to keep the awesome power-ups and take more damage, then you need the Gold armor…

Fear Me!

If you somehow manage to not get hit by all the horrible monsters in this game while wearing the Jade armor, you will eventually open a treasure chest that gives you the Gold armor which is obviously the best of the breed and it makes Arthur look pretty bad ass. Seriously… he is like a gold ball of awesome with a neat feather. It also gives him access to a wide array of shields that may appear in the chests but most sources agree that the shields are pretty much useless unless you are really good with them. In addition to the awesome look of the armor, that means Arthur can take 4 full hits before he dies and that’s like… invincible in this game. He gets to keep the awesome power-ups of his weapons from the Bron-reen armor and even learns how to do magic! Well… one spell anyway. But it is also ONLY with the Gold Armor that you can hope to wield the Goddess Bracelet. In fact, without the Gold Armor, the Goddess Bracelet will NEVER appear in a chest. So until you get REALLY good at not getting hit by the hordes of monsters, you will never be able to beat the ultimate bad guy and win the game.

The secret to this game is basically to learn what weapons you are best at, learn how to use the double jump with high effectiveness, and well… not get killed. The fact that you cannot even beat the game unless you can keep the Gold Armor and find the Goddess Bracelets is proof positive that the developers of this game were sadists. They only want to watch you suffer! But if you get good at leaping, weapons swapping, and using the map to your advantage, you can eke your way through and beat this game… twice.


Ah! Now we come to the part you’ve all been waiting for, my review! Yes, even though I have been gaming for over three decades and consider platform games one of my talents, it took your boy RGB here a VERY long time to beat this beast. I only played this game a few times when I was younger and would usually avoid it if I remembered what’s good for me. But now I managed to make it through this game by dedicating about 4 hours per night over the course of a week or so until I beat it. Now, I’m not going to lie, I made liberal use of the “Save State” feature on my emulator several times until I memorized the maps and the enemies. However, I actually made it all the way through the game with no save states until I arrived at Sardius’ throne room so I felt your pain all the way through. This game has some very nice graphics for the era, a really cool mix of weapons and plenty of goodies to keep you moving. However, it is frightfully difficult and occasionally darn near impossible. Without further ado, here are “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of Super Ghouls and Ghosts.

The Good

I feel so dirty!

First of all, this was released very early in the SNES library – within six months of the console’s launch – yet it seemed graphically stunning compared to the other games of the time. The developers used a unique mixture of nicely painted but static background layers, full motion front layers to illustrate rain and snow, and a mind numbing use of the Mode 7, pseudo 3D capability of the SNES. In fact, it the fourth stage, Arthur is traveling through a ‘living cavern’ with a floor that changes from a pulsating tan skin (ew!) to a writhing mass of gesticulating teeth (WTF?) all while Arthur must float around on membranous mucus platforms while avoiding steam vents and ax-wielding brutes. The game designers used Mode 7 to make this horrifying stage rotate around Arthur  while he avoids geysers of death and ground with teeth. Likewise, when you are on the ocean/ghost ship stage, the developers used gentle shifts of the Mode 7 technology to make the boat ‘sway’ in the water and to make the waves rise and fall on Arthur as he pilots a raft on the water of death. While it’s true that Super Mario World (the launch title of the SNES) used many of these features as well, they were not as potent because of the more cartoon-like design of those characters. Super GnG was not afraid to scare the crap out of you with dark landscapes you might find in a vampire movie , truly scary looking monsters (well… the ghosts were pretty lame but I digress).

Next, Super GnG took the standard approach of a platform game such as side-scrolls, creative jumping, map distractions, etc. and took them to the next level by adding weapons, power ups, landscape that transforms as you interact with it (such as a rock suddenly shifting when you step on it or waves crashing over a map and wiping out almost all of the places to stand), and an endless array of monsters to beat. I would almost go as far as to say that the game established many of the standards found in later platform games. You really have to learn what weapons work best against a certain enemy, figure out how to not die while attacking that enemy, and use jumping in a way that really pushes you to the limit of your own ability. As someone who considers themselves skilled at platformers, not even the best muscle training in the world can prepare you for some of the crazy things this platform makes you do. It takes a short time to learn but a long time to master.

Lastly, the game keeps its creepy air with a clever mix of humor but never overdoes either piece. No matter what you do, you always feel like this game wants to kill you (and it does) and even the slightest wrong move can make you die horribly. That, mixed with the altogether terrifying look of the monsters (final bosses aside), keep you feeling creeped out and quite uncomfortable. But these ingredients are exactly what makes this game awesome! You feel the macabre sense of the world but still get a laugh at a dude running about in his underwear or bears in clothing. The game has an atmosphere to it that is both creepy and fulfilling at the same time. If only you can NOT DIE long enough to enjoy those things.

The Bad

Despite the fun and challenging aspects of the game, it is not without its flaws. As with many games that were pushing the limits of a new system, Super GnG has some aspects that did not quite flesh out when it was released. For instance, when you go through the world the second time through, the amount of monsters is literally doubled in almost every stage. Not only does this challenge the player, but it also challenges the hardware. When you face a map full of baddies, especially ghosts, each one has its own individual sprite layer that forms independently around the others and this stresses the game’s rendering engine to a high degree. So much so, that many sprites at once can cause screen to flash violently enough to trigger seizures and cause the player to die while the game is trying to answer all the sprite requests plus the inputs from your controller that its trying to process.

Next of all, the more you think about Super GnG and Super Mario Brothers, it’s easy to see how one could consider them copies of one another. After all, when you start out on Super Mario World, your character is “small Mario” who will die if he’s hit. However, if you happen to have a mushroom to make “big Mario” or a cape to make “Flying Mario”  and you hit an enemy, you will lose that power up and go back to “small Mario”. Plus, the ultimate bad guy in the game steals the Princess for no apparent reason (especially Bowser, he just stole Peach to be a dick). Mix that with a creative use of Mode 7 graphics to change the rotation of things on the map and it starts to feel like Super GnG was a weird attempt by Capcom to steal Nintendo’s secret sauce for platform games. They didn’t win though, but it is notable.

Fear our crotch mouth!

Finally, the ultimate bad guys look pretty freaking dumb compared to some of the other monsters you have to face. For instance, Sardius’s minion, Astaroth and his more powerful form Nebiroth look pretty dumb. Not to mention, Sardius himself looks pretty underwhelming when you consider the alternatives. I mean, seriously… these guys look like Santa Claus got pissed off, grew a crotch mouth and tried to take over the world. From a game that has ax murdering monsters that appear out of thin air, zombies that look pretty terrible, and enemies that move all over the map, I expected SO MUCH MORE from the ultimate bad guys. They basically stomp around (they don’t even jump really), spit lasers at you, and shoot fire from their crotch mouths. It’s such a let down! You want to HATE the ultimate bad guy of this game, especially after you have to go through the game TWICE just to beat him. Yet… all you get are these weird dudes who you honestly feel sorry for more than you fear. I mean, the crotch mouth is pretty scary but only if it was like… a real head. I simply didn’t feel like it was worth it to go through all the trouble just to beat these idiots.

The Ugly

For everything this game had in awesome graphics, spooky sounds and worlds, and challenging platforms it is pretty great. I can accept the similarities between it and Super Mario, look past the idiotic styling of the demon overlords and the graphic glitches. But there are a few things out of this that I simply cannot accept and are part of the reasons that I will not be in any hurry to replay it.

First of all, doing this game twice is damned idiotic! I understand that in the arcade format of this game, it makes sense to double the game time so that the arcade (and Capcom) can squeeze more quarters out of you. But when it was ported to the SNES, that should have been less important. Now, it’d be a different story if…say… you had to go back through a world that had been radically changed after your first encounter with the bad guy (think World of Balance versus World of Ruin in Final Fantasy III/VII or the time-based changes when you changed the past of something in Chrono Trigger to impact the future) but Super GnG doesn’t do this. Nope! They just make you replay the whole game because Sardius is a jerk and he hates you!

Lame endings are for losers

Second of all… this story is freaking dumb! I mean, seriously, at least be a bit creative as to why you care about fighting the bad guy and saving 2P Chains. She just randomly gets kidnapped by Satan, you have to go through a maze of death just to learn she was an airhead and dropped something that Sardius wanted and you have to go save her. Yes, I get it, this is a hack and slash ghost game so I should not have my expectations so high but to make a story that is so devoid of any value, you’d at least hope that the ending would be good and it’s not. Nope… you are just stuck wondering if the Eternal Evil™ will return and you don’t even get to carry a real sword. You just basically ride off into the sunset with your blue haired bimbo of a girlfriend who probably almost got you killed because she’s a forgetful klutz. It’s very unfulfilling after all the hell you went through…twice… to get to the end. Of course, it’s at least slightly better than the end sequence of the NES version of Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins because it is at least in…well… English… that ending was so bad that it ranked on WhatCulture Gaming’s Most Insulting Game Endings.

Finally, the world repeatedly tries to kill you. That’s right, every. single. stage. tries to murder you mercilessly and the developers just laughed about it. Normally the first stage of a game ‘eases’ you into the crazy but not Super GnG…oh no… halfway through the stage the waves crash over the map and if you aren’t standing on a rock, you will die. Then, the second stage has indestructible guillotines plus hordes of ghosts and a raft ride of death that tries to kill you. Then, in the third stage you are surrounded by lava that tries to kill you and fire-breathing bears in sweaters that try to kill you. The fourth stage is the god awful stage of skin and teeth where even the world tries to kill you. The fifth stage is full of rain washes and disappearing platforms that try to kill you. The sixth stage has FUCKING avalanches that try to kill you… oh and ice-breathing bears in sweaters that try to kill you. I could go on and on but I won’t. I fully respect that there are some games that really make you work hard to get through them but they usually entice you with a good story or some areas of the game that let you breathe easy. Nope… not Super GnG… the world hates you, the developers hate you, your princess is a bimbo who got herself in trouble, and you have to march through hell twice.

Final Thoughts

So now I come to the end of a game that I really wanted to love, especially since it took me so long to actually get around to beating it. There is no doubt about it, this game will challenge even the most seasoned of platform runners. You will find yourself immersed in a macabre world that is almost likened to a horror genre game but with just enough quirky weirdness to make you smile and laugh a little. It is a stunning example of even the beginnings of what Mode 7 graphics could do (and eventually did) and how it could be used in varying degrees. The uniqueness of this game will make it stand out in anyone’s mind and you will have a fine time tuning your skills high enough to beat this monster.

However, this game left much to the imagination as it was somewhat too powerful for the hardware it was written on. It also had a really stupid requirement to complete twice. Now, I should note that i have actually played two other games from this franchise: Gargoyle’s Quest (think being the bad guy in a Super GnG world) and the beautiful Demon’s Crest which did the replay the world mechanic quite well and made you want to do it. I know that Capcom can make repeating a whole game interesting, they just did not do it with this game. You will also find that the game’s final bad guys are downright dumb so don’t expect too much and you might not be let down. If you can ignore the double play action, the somewhat stupid ending, and the levels with murder in their eyes, you will be able to find a lot of great things about this game to love.

It’s very easy to become accustomed to a certain way a game operates as many of those playing platform games in this era did. Capcom succeeded in taking that type of gamer and pushing them to their utter limits in order to live in their world. There is something of an artistic poetry to being able to master each weapon in this game and the right time to use them. It’s a great achievement when you learn how to navigate the levels, memorize the hot spots for treasure chests (especially knowing they will always appear), reach the fully Gold Armor clad Arthur, and beat a game that is so darn difficult that it lands on many of the “Hardest SNES Games” lists that are out there on the internet. Yet the amazing success you have in beating something that you know took the effort makes the other things in this platform game not as hard to accept.

Ultimately, this game was a defining point in the SNES game history, a turning point in the formula for platform games, and a humorously twisted approach to Arthurian legend. If you fancy yourself a master platform gamer, I urge you to give this a shot but don’t expect you’ll be able to just breeze right through it, even with cheat codes. I often will try Game Genie/PAR codes on games at various occasions just to see how the world will respond to them and I can assure you that even the best cheat codes don’t make this game much easier to play. To be true to yourself as a gamer, only use cheat codes after you have made it through cleanly. If you’ve been putting off Super GnG for a while, now is the time to give it a go!

Good luck… seriously… you’re going to need it!


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