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Rainiac’s Top 20 Games of All Time July 15, 2009

Posted by Rainiac in game reviews, gaming blogs, rants.
2 comments

I recently read FI’s list of his top 20 games of all time, and put simply, it got me thinking. And since he invited his fellow non-Losers to follow his example, I figured I’d be the first to take him up on that offer and post my own top 20 list. As with Frezno’s, this list is in no real order of preference, and also like Frezno’s, I’ll only be listing one game per franchise. I confess that I haven’t played as many video games as I perhaps should have, and if you add to that the fact that the last console I bought was a Nintendo GameCube, you can probably figure out for yourself that I’m not going to list many more recent titles. I must point out that this is just my personal opinion and there were other titles that narrowly didn’t make the cut, so if for some reason you have a problem with my list feel free to air that grievance in the comments. Just keep things civil, that’s all I ask. And now, without further ado, click the link below and let’s get ready to rumble…

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Hard-Ass Games: Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts June 17, 2009

Posted by Frezno in game reviews, rants.
12 comments

Update: As of 4 years ago, I’m full of shit.

Welcome to what will hopefully become a running series here on our little blog, “Hard-Ass Games”. It’s a simple little featurette that takes a look at ridiculously difficult old-school games, and breaks down for the uninitiated exactly why they give any old-timey gamer the chills whenever mentioned. So, let’s get to it.

Before they hit the big time with franchises like Mega Man and Street Fighter, Capcom created an infamously sadistic platformer called Ghosts ‘n Goblins in 1985. Playing as a knight named Arthur, you fought your way through levels full of demons and zombies in order to save a kidnapped princess(It wasn’t quite cliche back then). Despite its notorious difficulty, it did fairly well and prompted an arcade sequel three years later, called Ghouls n’ Ghosts. Both Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts recieved several ports, but a true sequel to Ghouls ‘n Ghosts would not come until the release of the Super Nintendo. Capcom summoned the most nefarious tricks and traps they could think up, then added twice that many when Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts finally hit store shelves. Now, something a little notable in regards to this blog; A handful of us have our hands in some of the spinoff games and tributes to the franchise. OZ has completed a full LP of the final game in the Gargoyle’s Quest series, Demon’s Crest. Rizu is planning out LPs of both Maximo games, and I myself intend to do the older Gargoyle’s Quest games (that’s a fact, not a plug). Aside from Not Dave’s one-shot video of Mega Man vs. Ghosts ‘n Goblins, though, none of us have tackled the original series. Why is that?

BECAUSE IT’S FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE.

This rundown may only cover Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but many of the dastardly tricks that make the difficulty skyrocket are present in the older games as well. To fully grasp it, I’ll explain how the game plays in its most basic form. Arthur runs left to right, shooting at enemies with whatever weapon he might happen to be wielding. New weapons can be obtained from treasure chests, as well as upgrades to your armor. Bronze armor gives whatever weapon you’re holding an upgraded power boost, and gold armor lets you charge up your attack to unleash a super attack. Arthur can jump to avoid enemies, and do a second jump in the air to clear some of the trickier jumps in the game. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? A shining example of the golden age of platforming? You don’t truly know the hell Arthur has to go through until you play it. This game is HARD. H-A-R-D HARD. Even on Easy, even on the first level, if you go into this fresh, the game will tear you limb from limb. Only the most adaptable will be able to beat the first level blind without using a continue, let alone not dying. Allow me to explain just what this game does that has put it on many a “Hardest Game Ever” list.

First and foremost, you get two hits before dying. No life bars, no health upgrades, nothing of the sort. Getting hit once knocks off your armor and treats you to the comical sight of Arthur running around in boxers, vainly trying to survive. Another hit while in your drawers kills you. Oh, and when I say “two hits” I mean it; even if you get the super-great golden armor that smites anything in its path, landing on something will knock all that stuff off and leave you nearly naked. Granted, there are shields for the gold armor that block projectiles and take a hit or two.. but they’re hard to come by, and irrelevant if you take body contact damage.Wait, what about the treasure chests? Can’t you just get new armor from those? Capcom is way ahead of you there, and threw a little surprise in to fuck you over. Every so often, opening a treasure chest will spawn a wizard that appears, shoots a ball of magic at you, and vanishes. If the spell hits you, you are temporarily transformed into a helpless form, like a baby or a woman (Don’t look at me, feminists, Capcom’s to blame for that). The change only lasts for a few seconds, but if there are enemies about, chances are you’re going to get hit and die.. all because you were trying to get your armor back. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down..

The worst offense is something you might never even see, but if you have, it’s guaranteed to enrage. Let’s play hypothetical for a second here. You’ve been practicing for weeks to conquer this game, and have a Saturday with nothing else to do, so you load it up. Through much sweat and tears, you slowly advance through the game, getting through all the little tricks the game has to offer. You’re on the second-to-last level now, and there’s a big boss blocking the way to the final level. Summoning all the luck you can, you somehow manage to pull a win by the skin of your teeth. Hooray! It’s time for the.. final… bat..tle… Wait. The princess is talking to you. And telling you that the final boss, the evil Sardius, can only be defeated with the “Goddess Bracelet”. Now what in the hell is that? She tells you to come back here with the bracelet in tow, and..
You may stare at the TV for a moment, utterly stunned at what just transpired. Perhaps your mind can’t comprehend what just happened. You’re back at the first level again, and you have to start the entire game over again in order to get the true ending. By now the average gamer is screaming like a banshee, and probably smashing the cartridge into atoms in a white-hot rage. For the rest of you, let me explain what needs to be done to get the Goddess Bracelet. You need gold armor on your second playthrough, and need to find it in a treasure chest. If that’s not tricky enough, NOW you need to keep it. For the rest of the game, until you get back to the level 7 boss. Only then can you fight the true final boss. Oh, did I mention this weapon is pretty crappy if you’re in your boxers? You know, like you probably will be since this game is merciless? Yeah… have fun with that.

It’s for these reasons that the G&G series has earned its infamy in video game lore as quite possibly the hardest series ever designed by humans. Maybe humans didn’t even make it at all; this game may be the devil’s work, and impossible to conquer in a subtle attempt at saying that darkness will triumph over light. I dunno though, let’s just say that Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is fucking hard, and leave it at that.