Unlucky night for the unlucky knight.
Arthur gets jumped by the cast of Thriller!
Now if you’re going to save a damsel in distress there’s a lesson to be learned from Ghosts ‘N Goblins: It’s probably wise to research the route your going to take before you set off. If you follow poor Arthur’s lead you’re going to get into all sorts of hot water. It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t a route planner available back in medieval England because the itinerary he’s working from takes him into graveyards, through haunted forests and into the pits of hell itself (probably). It’s a tad long-winded to say the least.
The games plot is the typical damsel in distress scenario, although there really is no actual evidence put to the gamer (bar one loading screen) to suggest why Arthur is running through a cemetery late at night, armed with an infinite number of knives. He could have been exercising a spot of late night grave digging before all hell breaks lose, we just don’t know.
Arthur’s adventure is made 1000 times more difficult by his pathetic suit, which is about as strong as a layer of tin-foil. A decomposed body, plant spit, transparent ghosts, probably even a heavy rain is enough to penetrate his in-arduous amour and reduce him to a pile of bones. In all honestly, you might as well be controlling a character being pushed around in a hospital bed, connected up to a intravenous drip.
Thankfully, this is a criticism that was addressed in the games sequels. You may remember the iconic images of Arthur running through a cemetry in a pair of heart covered boxers, like some kind of goth pervert – This was a humorous (to us) and discomforting (to poor Arthur) way of giving the player an extra life – and with this in mind, we can assume that it’s Arthurs pants that actually provide him with protection and not his wimpy suit.
Arthur is perhaps the unluckiest game character I have ever come across. He’s had a turbulent love life, look’s suspiciously like a baby when he climbs ladders and is the only game character, I can recall, who has ever had to strip down to his undies.
G’NG is one of the CPC greats. It’s so darn playable and annoyingly addictive. Graphically, it’s superb (for its day) with chunky, cartoon sprites. The character designs are original, if a tad random – ghosts with pitchforks! And you wont be able to remove its catchy theme tune from your head, Chris and I have been humming for about two weeks now!
Dang da dum dang dang dum dang dum dang dudum duummmm 🙂
Ghosts and Goblins shares the honour of not only being the first game that I ever played, but also, has without any question in my mind, the best soundtrack to any computer game ever. Ever. It starts off with a digitised fanfare that must fill Arthur, the knight you control in game, with a tinge of pride and also hope…. hope for the journey ahead. That is until the sickest 8-bit bassline you ever heard kicks in. Honestly, it wouldn’t sound out of place on a current drum and bass compilation. The sense of foreboding and menace is palpable. Arthur must be bricking it, even before the chaotic melody comes in. All in all, it’s enough to reduce most knights to the foetal position.
Our Arthur is made of sterner stuff however and perseveres regardless on his quest to save his damsel in distress. She must be pretty distressed by now, as this is another game that I have never got anywhere near completing. I doubt that she IS even a damsel anymore; I don’t know if it’s an age thing and at the age of 25 you then reach wench status? Having given up waiting for Arthur, I reckon that she probably married the big, ugly, red demon thing that carried her off and her broodiness gave way to the patter of little cloven hoofs. I digress. Arthur’s damsel in distress (for all he knows) has been kidnapped and being the brave knight that he is, Arthur must risk life and limb to rescue her.
Stage one in the quest: a haunted forest. Zombies appear from everywhere intent on turning Arthur into a pile of bones. I don’t know if zombies are just jerks and try and kill everyone they see or if they have been hired to stop our hero by the demon that kidnapped his damsel. If so, he must have pretty deep pockets, there are literally thousands of zombies on the payroll, respawning and respawning and respawning. If you have ever played Driver and know the suicidal lengths that the cops go to get their man, you will be familiar with the mentality of the zombies in this game. Like moths to a flame, flies to shit or Pete Docherty to Kate Moss they seem to have an irresistible pull to Arthur. The point I’m trying to make here is that this is another difficult game. Ok, the zombies themselves are pretty wimpy but they just keep coming and get in the way of your other knightly duties, jumping chasms, climbing ladders, shooting crows in the face with lances, you know, the usual. In traditional Amstrad style, these duties require pinpoint accuracy and feats of memory that would have pulled a good crowd at the turn of the century. “Roll up, roll up and see the fantastic Mr Recollecto! He remembers the exact jumping sequence needed to escape the level one forest on Ghosts and Goblins.” Yeah, they’d f**king lap it up.
I still remember the feelings I got when first playing Ghosts and Goblins: confusion, frustration and fear. Confusion in that what I was doing was controlling a little man on the screen, frustration at not being able to get very far in the game and a creeping fear, mainly due to the music. 21 years on and little has changed, perhaps with the exception of the damsel’s body clock. Maybe I’ll give her a call.
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