Ultimate Ghosts n Goblins
Ghosts N Goblins (or GnG if you prefer) went down in history many moons ago as possibly the most difficult, frustrating and curiously addictive game ever made. There wasn't anything complex about the game, you simply scrolled along a linear path in 2D and either killed or dodged numerous nasties. Simple you may think, but for gamers throughout the land it became known as the challenge with no margin for error. Every jump had to be timed to perfection or you were lost down a bottomless pit and had to start the whole level again. Countless joysticks and controllers were executed by annoyed players who were inches from a finish line, stopped at the last moment by a zombie arising from the earth under their feet!
You really needed to put in the hours to get anywhere, an almost sadistic level of dedication is required so many gamers chewed it for a while and then spat it out. Everyone who perservered to savour the flavour received the occasional uber-satisfaction of completing a stage - swinging arms and yelps of joy all round before sitting back down for more precision gaming.
The PSP version follows in the same vein but certainly brings Sir Arthur and his foes into the new millenium as Ultimate GnG has been given a full makeover - and not in a disturbing Channel 5 kind of way. All the familiar basics are still there but it's been polished buffed and pimped to make the most of what is a really restricting game engine. You still carefully guide Sir Arthur in his pants and armour along a 2D landscape but there's a few 3D elements incorporated to add a bit more life. Quality graphics, colours and playful design are well suited to the handheld console so you won't feel let down by a lack of effort from the Development team. Incidently, it's a team headed by the original creator and hence why the resurrection of a game 2 decades old feels very much the same.
A greater range of weapons to collect and more emphasis on power-ups adds a sparkle to the undead platform and gives you a fractionally larger chance of surviving longer. Just being able to survive more than 2 touches from an enemy feels like a privilage! The extra ammunition and magic make the game more entertaining and a bit easier but you still need to be on the ball at all times as you never know when the next ghoul will pop up or ledge will disintegrate. Unlocking secret chests and exploring hidden areas of the level also add a greater depth to the game, warp staffs are particular worth tracking down to save you starting from the beginning of a level after death. Arthur's even able to grab ledges, block attacks and dash out of harms way which all adds to your chances of progression.
It's good to see they stuck to the original concept of a platform game with an amusing theme and a challenging difficulty level. It would have been easy to go along the lines of MediEvil and make it all 3D free roaming which is popular with the masses. Instead, the niche market which GnG has dominated in the past is opened again and a gauntlet laid down. A selection of difficulty level means those of us who don't like to spend an evening of gaming with gritted teeth and temples boiling can have a good crack at a joyous platform game with a cheeky sense of humour.
Overall it's a good re-birth of a classic arcade game and is likely to win over a whole new batch of masocists with its demanding and frustrating gameplay.
7.5 out of 10