This feature started as an idea I had about 10 months ago, based on my love of retro gaming. I wanted to focus on head-bangingly frustrating games, unusual classics, or taking an objective look back at popular mainstream games. Retro Review was born out of it, and, after having a couple of temporary homes, has found a permanent one here. I’ll be posting the originals alongside brand-spanking new reviews, starting with my first ever Retro Review: Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.
Reviewed Platform: SNES
Release Year: 1992
You play as Sir Arthur, trying to rescue your beloved Princess from some baddies, through a multitude of spooky areas.
You start the game with your basic suit of armour and trusty lances which you can throw to take down enemies. These lances are infinite, and you’ll need them; the game is a frantic affair with enemies spawning in all directions and also constantly. You can’t clear out an area and then move on unhindered, as more of the undead will rise from the ground in their coffins with the sole purpose of taking you down. Get hit, though, and watch your armour go flying, leaving good old Sir Arthur just running around in his boxers. Get hit again and you’ll be a pile of broken bones, causing you to start from the last checkpoint, which aren’t as frequent as you might hope. Arthur also has the ability to double jump, which is a necessary feature in the game for some of the jumping puzzles. Unfortunately, you can’t change direction in mid-air without use of the double jump, meaning that in most cases you have to leap and hope an enemy doesn’t decide to spawn in your landing spot. At the end of each level is a boss, and whilst they pose a challenge they all follow the classic set pattern which you can use to get your hits in.
Due to this, Super GnG is a punishing game. Although you’re able to obtain weapon upgrades (such as axes, daggers and flaming torches) and armour upgrades from smashing treasure chests, the odds are still generally stacked against you. For the casual gamer this could be frustrating in the fact that it may take you hours to complete the first level. Those who like a challenge, however, will love Super GnG. Whilst it’s hard, it’s doable once you get the level layout and precision movement down.
This is one of the areas where Super G’nG really shines. The colours are vibrant in each area, be it a sinking ship or fiery cave. No two levels look the same and each has a distinctive feel. There are good effects all round, from huge waves crashing down to seeing you flaming torch create a fiery blue explosion.
Another great part of this game is the ever-changing scenery. You’ll be walking along a flat area when the ground starts to shake and you’re suddenly moving upwards as the terrain shifts beneath your feet. Take a stroll near some water and you might find a huge wave crashing down and removing sections of land from around you. It all looks fantastic and adds greatly to the game as a whole.
All characters are animated well, with Arthur standing out as the main character. His bounding, superhero-esque running and jumping fits in well with the comical, cartoony style of the game.
Many games of this era were cursed with repetitive background music and awful sound effects, and thankfully there is none of this to be found in Super GnG. The music is genuinely spooky, and provides a nice accompaniment to your playthrough without ever feeling intrusive and annoying. The sound effects feel right and make good use of the technology. You won’t ever be annoyed by tinny noises and ‘static’ type sounds whilst you’re busy throwing lances at fire monsters.
When all is said and done, Super GnG is a great game. Whilst it’s not for everyone (casual gamers need not apply), and probably one of the hardest games you’re likely to play, it just does so many things right that it’s still a blast to play.
Originally posted in TheSixthAxis forums on June 1st, 2009.