by Dain Q. Gore
The Ghosts’N Goblins series (Makaimura 魔界村 in Japan) celebrated its 35th anniversary last year, a year before this year’s iconic Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda’s 35th. A new game, Ghosts’N Goblins Resurrection, was just released for the first time since 2006.
The first eponymously titled game in the series didn’t captivate my attention, but its sequel certainly did.
I have been obsessed with Ghouls'N Ghosts since its inception in 1988. It was a much darker, more sinister (yet oddly creepy-cute) sequel to an already odd game about a hapless bearded and fragile knight that was contemporary with Super Mario Bros and would share infamy for its unforgiving difficulty. As I now believe, Ghosts’N Goblins has, over time, become its own genre.
I wasn't able to find Ghouls'N Ghosts as a kid at any arcade or convenience store, just the Golfland amusement park in Mesa, Arizona... until it was made available on the Sega Genesis. Maybe not the first time I wanted to get a console just for one game, but certainly the one that stuck. Ever since then, I was fascinated by the entire world and mythos of it. I even sent ideas to Capcom (and they very politely declined).
Eventually I would make a website devoted to these ideas for a sequel, and would reach out to an equally obscure, but far more successful, website devoted to Video Game Bosses (Destroy All Monsters! no less) and write a review of many of the symbolic, mythological references "hidden" in the game (along with many notes from Mike Bevan, curator of the now defunct site):
I'll move on now to the genesis of my own Quixotic jaunt: I will show you just some of the random scribblings of a 16 year-old imagining how during the summer of Sophomore year of high school, he would devise a sequel to be made on a "Game Maker" software he would earn if he completed his summer in Algebra with good grades. The good grades came, but he later would discover that “Game Maker” SUCKED.
Later on, I decided to name this game that never was Ghasts’N Ghouls, which seemed the perfect escalation of the weird that I was hoping would happen with this game. I dropped the project when I went to college, even though I had aspirations of being a game/toy designer/comic book artist/animator. This compulsion to create more things for hobbies I loved would never really go away…
Over the years I continued to iterate these older ideas, going back in and coloring variations on photocopied art, writing out random scribblings on memo pads, etc. The ideas persisted!
I even snuck references in some of my more “formal” visual art:
Now that the new game, Ghosts’N Goblins Resurrection, has been released, I’ve had some quality time with it. It doesn’t disappoint in the least. It is still “unforgiving” in its difficulty but there are much needed adjustments to make it accessible to more gamers, and even has a two-player mode with a trio of ghost companions that can be selected. It’s a mash-up of as much of the previous games as possible while still clearly being its own beast of a game that, once again, must be completed twice to get the “true ending.” I personally felt like it ended too soon when I play through the first time, and am dreading saying goodbye so soon yet again.
My fascination with puppetry gravitates me toward the Terry Gilliam-esque style of GnG Resurrection, and was just one way I dreamt about this game: as a puppet show. Perhaps someday I will jaunt forth and give that a go. Until then, I have Eggbert, who was inspired by the pantsless form of Sir Arthur:
The Ghoul Realm (the world of Ghosts’N Goblins), more than any other world I’ve visited in video game land, has captivated me so much as a player, an artist and performer, that I’ve wanted to be a part of it ever since first visiting. I still dream of ideas from time to time, and already have several based on yet another new entry to the series...
As it says in the ending to Ghouls’N Ghosts: “There is no reason the Ghouls’N Ghosts’ world will not be restored by someone, someday.” Here’s hoping we get yet another new iteration in the next few years, and perhaps, even see some of my decades of ideas creep into the next Resurrection.
Dain Q. Gore is an artist from Arizona who specializes in "Puppets, Ings, Minis, Art Teaching and Paintings, not necessarily in that order." His work can be found at daingore.com.
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