In the barely comprehensible scrolling prologue to Ghosts ‘n Goblins Gold Knights, the player is informed that scary creatures are stealing the souls of innocent maidens, and it’s up to you to save them. To take on this noble quest, you’ll have to choose either Arthur or Lancelot as your hero. Arthur is a little more buffed up than Lancelot and can sustain more damage, upgrade to better armor, and equip a different set of weapons. Either way you go, you’re in for a lot of hopping, killing, and dying.
The original Ghosts ‘n Goblins is an arcade game that came out in 1986, and is widely considered one of the hardest games of all time. Lucky for modern gamers, who are used to being able to beat every game they buy, the version released for the iDevices is easier. It’s still harder than most games you’ll find on the App Store, but with some practice and elbow grease you’ll be able to progress through the levels.
It’s your worst nightmare: a Viking gargoyle!
The onscreen controls are serviceable, but they get a little wonky when jumping. Most platformers nowadays give you some control during your leaps. You can generally slow your forward motion or even reverse it mid-jump. In G’nG, on the other hand, every jump is the same. You take off, go the prescribed distance, and land. This makes some of the more difficult platforming parts quite frustrating. You also have a double-jump, but it often won’t save you.
To defend yourself against the beasties, you can throw projectiles. You start out with swords or spears, but you can upgrade to arrows, boomerangs, or a number of other weapons. You’ll find these upgrades in treasure chests that rise from the ground when you pass over them. Some treasure chests contain better armor that refills your health and increases the number of hits you can take before dying. Some treasure chests contain evil wizards that turn you into a chicken if you’re not careful.
And being careful is the only way to succeed in this game. Platforms will sink, pillars will fall on you, and baddies will respawn indefinitely. Pits are everywhere, and a fall means death. One good thing about this iteration of G’nG, as opposed to some previous ones, is that you’ll never have to restart from the beginning of the game if you don’t want to. You can always pick up at whatever level you’ve already made it to.
Another way to make the game easier is to use cheats. The only problem is that they’ll cost you. Six cheats are available for $0.99 apiece as in-app purchases. Having grown up with free cheats in videogames, we would rather they had charged an extra buck for the game and made the cheats unlockable.
Overall, though, this is a solid addition to the series. The controls aren’t quite as polished as we had hoped, but the high difficulty level remains, and each level is capped off with a suitably epic boss. There are only six levels, but you’ll have to log a decent amount of time on each one before you’ll be able to beat it. And if you can beat the game, you’ll have earned some well-deserved bragging rights.