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Archive for July 29th, 2009

Voodoo Farming #8: Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

It’s that time again! No, not Tool Time, it’s time for Voodoo Farming: A Not-Quite In-Depth Look At Zombies In Popular Culture.

The first game I reviewed was Zombies Ate My Neighbors, one of the classics and a hard game at that. Today I will be hitting up another classic SNES game and one of my favorites: Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts.


I can’t recall Capcom ever making a bad game.

Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is part of the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series of games. Our protagonist is a knight named Arthur trying to save a Princess named Guinevere.

That’s right. You’re King Motherfucking Arthur. When I was a kid, damn near every boy on the block wanted to be King Arthur, because he had magic armor and an awesome theme song.

Threat Level:

As I’ve said many times, I play on “Normal” difficulty (or the best equivalent) to approximate the average experience of playing the game.

Let me be clear on this: SGNG is regarded as one of the most insanely hard platform/run & gun games ever – right up there with stuff like Megaman 2. Calling the medium difficulty “Normal” in this game is the sick joke of a very disturbed mind.

You can adjust some stuff since the series has its roots in arcades – you can choose how many lives you get (1-9) and which difficulty you’d like to play with. For the purpose of screenshots, I’ve put it on Easy with 9 lives. But for normal play, I usually go with Normal difficulty… and 9 lives.

I’m the sort of person who will drop $5.00 into Time Crisis 2 and play for over an hour so I can beat the damn game. Yes, I’ve done that before. So given the chance to have more lives, I’m gonna take it.

Armaments:

Arhur, a.k.a. Lance Armstrong. BA DUM PISH!

There’s a variety of weapons in SGNG. They all do roughly the same damage, but they do it in different ways. For insance, the lance (the weapon you start out with) just goes in a straight line. The torch flies forward in an arc and then creates a trail of flame on the ground where it lands. The bow & arrow shoots a couple arrows in an upward direction.

In true arcade style, you can upgrade your weapons with powerups. After your standard Iron Armor comes what I assume to be Copper Armor (since its green). Or maybe Arthur just made armor out of a dragon’s finger, because he’s that badass.

Note the awesome built-in mohawk on the armor.

When you get your green armor, your weapons get an upgrade. Typically, they just do more damage. They might behave slightly differently; for instance, the bow gets homing capabilities.

Gold Armor, however… that’s the shit right there:

I tried so hard to think of a Double Dragon joke so I could get a 34-hit K-Groove Nostalgia combo.

Your weapons get a little bit more powerful, but you also gain a chargeup ability. Once you charge your weapon you can unleash a super attack. The only limit on this is that you have to wait to charge it again – no mana bar, no “x amount of shots”. You might think it would make the game unbalanced, but the odds are stacked against you from the very beginning.

Cause of the Outbreak:

This is the Super Mario Formula, dead on. Evil baddies kidnap a princess. Hero hulks the fuck out and cuts his way through a few thousand bad guys just to get her back.

Co-Stars:

This is one of the many games where zombies are simply trash enemies – the simple thing that, if it hits you, means you have either fallen asleep or went into an epileptic seizure while playing the game. It’s pretty difficult to get hit by them unless you make a serious error of judgment.

Aside from that, you’ll come up against things such as dire wolves, fire skull dragons, bats, floating blob… thingies, a jester that turns you into things such as a baby or a milk maid (seriously), and all kinds of other fun monstrosities.

Odds of Survival: I’d have to invent a new word that means lower than low. So pretty bad.

Here’s how the game works. If you get hit, you lose your armor and you’re down to your skivvies. Literally:

Give him a cape and a shield, and he could be Leonidas.

If you had your fully upgraded bitchin’ Gold armor, well… Arthur is understandbly pissed.

Get hit in your undies and you die.

So basically, you get two hits until you die and have to restart the level. There are a few automatic save points, but knowing your luck you’re likely to just end up right back at the start.

Note the gold armor comes with a shield. While this won’t save you from a direct monster hit, it will save you from a projectile. You can upgrade the shield and take 2 hits from projectiles (so long as it hits the shield).


The Devilish Details:

SGNG runs very much like a first person shooter, except not first person. (I guess that’s how you define a 2-D “run and gun” game…)

After some initial experimentation, you are going to find a favorite weapon and go with it. All of the weapons seem very well balanced and they all have their pros and cons. (Personally, I like the scythe, just for those lovely screen-clearing tornadoes you pop out when you use the super.)

You’re definitely going to want to practice double jumping. It is a skill unto itself. If you’re off by half a second, you could drop into the ocean or come landing back down onto an enemy. While this does have a lot in common with Super Mario Brothers, you’re not going to be stomping on any enemies.

SGNG is all about precision movement and being very, very, very, very, very aware of your surroundings. When I was younger, it took me something on the order of a month to be able to beat the game on normal.


Wrapping It Up:

I’ve kept this one relatively short. This is not for lack of content in the game. It’s difficult to accurately describe the gauntlet that these sadomasochistic developers put you through in only a few short levels.

I definitely don’t have time to take all of the screenshots to show all the ways that they can fuck you over. I kept mental track in the first level of all of the devious traps, pitfalls, etc. that are thrown your way, and I stopped counting at about 50.

If you like insanely challenging games, Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is for you.

If you’re prone to stress or heart trouble, this game is not for you. You’re going to want to try a more relaxing activity such as walking on hot coals or trying acupuncture with knitting needles.

What lessons can we take away from Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts?

Get a good burglar alarm, keep your princesses indoors, and definitely don’t fuck with King Arthur or you’ll catch a flying magic Lance up the ass.


Reader Mail:

Voodoo Farming #7: The Evil Dead

ineedhelpbad Says:
July 24th, 2009 at 12:15 am

Evil Dead is awesome, but no mention of the sequels evil dead 2 and army of darkness.

Well, I gotta save material for future editions!

If I did, say, The Evil Dead Trilogy instead of just the first movie, then that’s one long article instead of three shorter ones. I average 1,500-2,000 words and it takes me anywhere from 1-6 hours to crank one of these out – I definitely don’t want to spend 12+ hours writing.

I’m sure I’ll catch shit for this, but I’ve never seen Evil Dead 2 or 3. Lambast away, I’ll get to it eventually. Geez.

Minty Says:
July 24th, 2009 at 9:19 am

I recommend putting The Serpent and the Rainbow on the review list, if only because I can’t wait to see how you trash Bill Pullman assuming the “Girl Running Around Screaming in Her Underwear” cliché.


CCO Says:
July 25th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Here’s a book you may like: Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia.

Here’s the opening sentence:
On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window.

Yep, then our hero goes on to get a job killing monsters.

I always appreciate suggestions from my readership and I’ll be sure to check those out in the future.

Once again, I have no idea as to what I’m doing next week. I can’t believe that I’ve been doing Voodoo Farming and staying on schedule for a whole two months! (I’m terrible with stuff like that.)

Before I go, I wanted to issue an apology to my readers. I had VF 6 and 7 prepared way ahead of time, but skippy was in the middle of a move and he apparently forgot to inform Michiel that VF goes up on Thursdays. They still went up anyway and I apologize for the delay. I’m a bit to blame for not checking up with Michiel that everything’s good to go. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next week!


Ihmhi is a developer for Fortress Forever, a free, fast paced Team Fortress mod for Half-Life 2.