Rise From Your Grave! …Or Don’t.
HIGH Finally defeating the dragon boss after twenty tries.
LOW Lowering the difficulty only to find it never really gets easier.
WTF Sir Arthur’s boxers had strawberries and not hearts?
Nostalgia is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s always nice to reminisce about the classics played at a young age. On the other, the experience of picking up those titles years later is often not as good as they’re remembered, or perhaps they show that one’s reflexes have slowed with age. This is all further complicated when the title one is nostalgic about is renowned for its difficulty.
When I think about my younger days with Ghosts ‘n Goblins, I recall time spent dying again and again, whether in the arcades or at home playing both the the 8- and 16-bit versions. Resurrection is the first brand-new title in the series since the days of the Sony PSP and, well, not much has changed. As Sir Arthur Pendragon, the player will fight through hordes of enemies, jump through obstacles, and defeat bosses to eventually rescue the princess at the end in 2D platformer style.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins is infamously one of the hardest titles in the history of videogames, so it is then a deliberate choice that Resurrection defaults to the highest level of difficulty at the game’s start, almost inviting players to be masochists. Sticking to the lower rungs of the difficulty scale allows Sir Arthur to withstand a couple more hits before dying, but make no mistake here — this campaign is no picnic.
On any difficulty, Resurrection stays challenging, and trying to complete a level without dying forty or fifty times over the course of an hour (or more) feels almost impossible. It makes sense, then, that there are only five proper levels, with branching paths taking the total count up to seven.
To offset the difficulty, Resurrection offers a generous checkpoint system divided between ordinary flags and temporary banners of resurrection which — thanks to the menu system trying to trick the player — can easily be inadvertently reset. Thankfully, there are also unlimited lives, so the game manages to strike a balance between concessions for new players and the extreme difficulty that nostalgic players may crave.
Capcom has also added a progression system where the player can unlock new abilities and magic attacks. For example, the player can earn and carry up to three weapons to be switched on the fly — useful during bosses. Investing in these new abilities is recommended since Resurrection never really plays fair.
So the question I’ve been asking myself since starting Resurrection is whether it’s worth it to suffer through arduous levels, infinitely-spawning enemies and near-insurmountable odds?
First, let’s give Capcom credit where it’s due — as a reboot of the series, Resurrection works nicely, all the upgrades are well thought-out, and I liked the subtle changes in the level design compared to games past.
Graphically, I love how Capcom has gone for a ‘children’s book’ style — it resembles something from the early 1900s with a hand-drawn watercolor aesthetic that fits the strange tale of Sir Arthur perfectly. However, the details of the visuals are most prevalent in the cutscenes, and this painterly look is barely noticeable during gameplay, and even less so in screenshots.
Unfortunately, despite the concessions and visuals, it does feel as though Resurrection is actively mocking me with enemies that spawn right in front of Sir Arthur, or sometimes even right on top of him for almost unavoidable hits. While I’m perfectly okay with the idea of ‘gitting gud’, this comes off more like struggling to overcome a match that’s rigged from the start.
In the end, Resurrection works well as a reboot of the original IP, but nostalgia can only carry it so far. If the overall difficulty felt a little more fair and a lot less mean-spirited, I would recommended it to anyone looking for a challenging platformer. However, the contract Resurrection wants the player to sign on to is a Faustian one, demanding patience, and perhaps a small bit of one’s sanity.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Capcom. It is currently available on XBO/X, PS4/5 and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood and Mild Language. While graphically the game might easily appeal to a younger crowd, the high level of difficulty makes this easier to recommend to a teen audience. There is no sexual content or salty language.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not feature spoken dialogue nor are audio cues used to communicate enemies’ attacks. text cannot be resized or altered. The game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game’s controls are not remappable but do offer preset configurations. Basically, Sir Arthur moves with the analog stick, fires a weapon with either the A or the Y button, and jumps with the B button.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).