Ghosts n Goblins NES Review – The Original Dark Souls Difficulty

by | NES

The Ghosts n Goblins NES game was developed by Capcom and released in 1985 for the arcade. The original 8-bit game on the NES version was released one year later in 1986. The game is a side-scrolling platformer where the player controls Arthur, a knight who has to rescue his kidnapped princess from the Demon King Astaroth. 

This great retro game does not have difficulty settings and the game’s difficulty level makes this title one of the hardest to complete. The game’s title is a pun on the phrase “ghosts and goblins”, which refers to the creatures that Arthur has to fight in the game. This game is one in a series of video games that was released for multiple platforms over the years, such as the Commodore, Amiga, and modern consoles like the Nintendo Switch.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is considered one of the most difficult games ever made, due to its high level of difficulty. However, this is also one of the things that make the game so enjoyable. The feeling of accomplishment when you finally beat a level is immense.

Game Story

In Ghosts ‘n Goblins, the player takes control of Arthur, a knight who has to rescue his kidnapped Princess Prin Prin from the Demon King Astaroth. To rescue the Princess, the knight Arthur must pass 6 gates to reach Hades and defeat the demon army in his path.


The gameplay is fast-paced and action-packed. Arthur has a variety of weapons at his disposal, including swords, lances, and fireballs. He can also use magic spells to help him in his quest. Weapons can drop from enemies or be found in treasure chests, these useful items can also contain armor for Arthur allowing him to be hit by an enemy a second time before dying instead of once. 

The armor you start off with won’t last for long since it takes only one hit to remove it leaving the player in their skivvies. Any further damage will kill the player. It is a good thing you can recover the armor from treasure chests if you’re lucky.

Game Levels

The Ghosts ‘n Goblins NES game has some of the best graphics for an 8-bit game. The colors are vibrant, and the sprites are well-animated. The backgrounds are also well-drawn and detailed. The game is set in a medieval world full of castles, dragons, and ghosts. Arthur’s quest takes him through numerous stages, each with its own unique challenges. Arthur must overcome these challenges and defeat the Demon King Astaroth. The game is fairly linear, but there are some branching paths that the player can take. The first level is in the graveyard and sets the tone for the game. At the end of the level at certain points, you may have a boss fight.

Gameplay and Music

The game is challenging, but it is also very rewarding. The feeling of accomplishment when you beat a level for the first time is immense since you often find yourself dying and crumbling into a pile of bones. The challenge is akin to Dark Souls if the game was made in the NES era, with no option to select difficulty levels it means you just have to get good. 

The music in Ghosts ‘n Goblins is excellent. Each stage has its own unique theme, and the music perfectly fits the game’s atmosphere. The sound effects are also well-done and add to the game’s overall audio experience.

Bosses and Enemies

Ghosts ‘n Goblins features a variety of enemies, including goblins, ghosts, and red demons. The enemies are well-animated and very colorful. They can be quite challenging to defeat, but they add to the game’s overall atmosphere. The game also features a number of boss fights. These bosses are much larger and more difficult to defeat than the regular enemies. 

Boss battle encounters require quick reflexes and good strategic planning to defeat. There are four bosses total in the game with the final boss requiring a second playthrough to reach. The majority of enemies are pretty easy enough to deal with if the player is careful with the except of the red devil or red arremer who dive bombs the player and shoots fireballs.

Final Thoughts

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is an excellent NES game. It has great graphics, music, and gameplay. The entire game is also very challenging, but this only adds to its appeal. The modern take on the game is called Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection which has punishing difficulty even more so than the original game. The direct sequel Ghouls ‘n Ghosts feature familiar gameplay and superior graphics, but is a tad easier. However, if you’re looking to play the original for old time’s sake or just a retro game fan wanting to test your skills then the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins is definitely worth checking out.

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