I've taken a different approach to selecting the video game to review this time around.  Instead of continuing with a well known horror movie franchise, I've selected Ghosts 'n Goblins, a game considered to be one of the most difficult NES titles ever released.

This game was not published by *deep breath* LJN, another first for this review series. It was published by Capcom, one of my favorite game developers.  They're best known for the Street Fighter and Mega Man series, along with a horror franchise you might have heard of....Resident Evil. Although most people have played this Ghost 'n Goblins on the NES, it's actually a port from the arcade version that was released a year prior.

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

Developer: Micronics

Publisher: Capcom

Release: November 1986

This game caught my eye after years of hearing that it's one of the most difficult games on the NES. Naturally my gaming competitiveness came out and I had to try it for myself. The story starts off with a knight and a princess enjoying some "alone time" in the cemetery. A red winged demon swoops in and takes the princess away from our hero, holding her captive in what appears to be a castle on the mountain in the background. The hero then jumps into a suit of armor and proceeds in the direction of the castle.

The game begins as a typical side scrolling adventure, requiring you to continue to the right of your screen. I instantly came face to face with zombies that are by no means your slower than average decayed cadavers. I could not find myself taking them for granted; they would often rise from the ground in both directions. With that in mind I had to keep a strong sense of my surroundings.

My hero has a large silver suit of armor and starts out with a javelin. There are five weapons in all, including the javelin, a dagger, flame, axe and the cross. The game seems to favor ranged attacks, as every weapon is launched at the enemy, most featuring a unique quality. For example, when the flame is tossed it comes with a slight arc. When it lands, it stays on the ground for a brief time burning any potential enemies that decide to cross it's path. The javelin that I mentioned earlier comes out a bit quicker in a straight line, but lacks the area of effect damage that the flame has.

Part of the reason this is considered one of the most difficult NES games is due to the fact that the hero can only take two hits before he dies. You have three lives in total and getting hit for the first time knocks your armor off, stripping you down to your red underwear. Is there anything more redeeming then taking on zombies, gargoyles, dragons, ogres and goblins in your underwear?

Adding to the stress felt while playing this game is the fact that there is a timer running as well. The enemies can become overwhelming and trying to avoid enemies while also being quick about it results in one stressful experience. Not making it to the checkpoint within two minutes results in the hero turning into a pile of bones. I was relieved to find out that dying takes you back to the last reached checkpoint, instead of starting back at the beginning of the level. There seems to be about 3-5 checkpoints per level and there are 7 levels including the final battle with Lucifer. The levels range from a cemetery to caves to a town and an almost hell-like area with fire burning up from the ground.

Just like most side scrollers, when reaching the end of the levels you'll meet up with a boss to do battle in order to gain rights to the next level. There are some really tough bosses, but I found some of the normal enemies to be more difficult than the bosses. In particular, there is a red demon that you'll find sitting around and when you are about to approach him, he will spread his wings and fly. His movement pattern can be very frustrating to say the least. He will stay up high and away from attacks until he feels you are vulnerable enough to swoop down and attack. When he does this you want to quickly react and attack him. There is only a small window of opportunity to hit him so you have to make it count. With the two hit and your dead rule I easily found this enemy the most frustrating in the game.

There are items found throughout the game that aid you in your adventure to find the lost princess. Items such as bags of money give you 500 points, while the time extension disk will add 30 seconds to your timer. The most useful item I found was armor, which adds an extra hit point to your character. While there are some useful items, I had problems with the items system in most cases. There are items that are just completely negative like turning you into a frog and a time decrease disk. The positive items I mentioned above are almost completely useless (money bags) or are extremely rare to find (armor). The developers decided not to cut you any slack in this game.

Challenges are always fun, but just keep in mind that quick reflexes and loads of patience is needed to get through this game. It's not a big game, but with the countless restarts you will surely find yourself playing this for hours before it's beat; should you have the nerve to continue. I say this because you have to beat the game twice before you get the true ending of the game. The first play through is considered an illusion devised by Satan. For some, once would be enough. For the more determined gamers out there, you will have to go through it again to get the real ending to the game.

Despite the difficulty of this game, I found it to be a long lost gem. The game itself was very basic, but I felt it didn't hamper my experience with it. It delivered on a lot of things I come to expect in a game from this era. I have to say that Ghosts 'n Goblins lives up to the hype as being one of the toughest NES games out there. If you don't believe me, find a way to play this bad boy and be ready for a mind boggling experience in difficulty.