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Oct. 3 2006
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins - PSP Review
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OK, this screen isn't too exciting.
If you were a gamer in the late 1980's (that's around the 8 and 16-bit era) then in all likelihood you would have, the very least, heard of Capcom's Ghouls and Ghosts and Ghosts and Goblins games which appeared in the arcades and on multiple home consoles including the Super Nintendo. They were platforming games in the purest sense of the word where precision jumping and targeting were the order of the day. In recent years we've seen Maximo and it's sequel on the PS2 - both respectable titles - but moving to 3D gameplay rather then the 2D side scrolling originals. So what's the story for Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins then...

Arthurís heroic battle with the underworld was finally over and the entrance to the realm was sealed. So he thought. Time passes and unknowing to mankind, the dark lord has awaken from his slumber and kidnaps the princess in an effort to conquer the human world. Arthur must set off for the evil forest, the gateway to the underworld, to save the princess from imminent doom and keep the devil as well as his minions at bay.

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This one is a bit better.
To be honest, the story takes a back seat to the action in this game. Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins retains the 2D side-scrolling style of the originals, but does so with some fantastic 3D effects and visuals - essentially this is a 2.5D side-scroller as some would call it. Arthur can perform his old moves - run, jump, fire weapons - but he has been given a couple of new abilities including new attacks, the ability to hang onto ledges, dashing across the screen and double jumps. These new features help ensure that this game is brought into the current era in terms of gameplay.

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Now these are gorgeous graphics.
It must be said that the action in Ultimate Ghouls n' Ghosts is relentless. It's not uncommon to see up to a dozen enemies on screen at once. What's more even if you clear a screen and decide to take a break - don't expect to. More enemies will respawn, and you'll soon be surrounded again. The game has evolved from previous iterations. There are now platforms that appear and disappear, traps to avoid and a series of bosses - from the small and weak to those that tower over you. Each is stunningly detailed and created and will take quite a beating.

Ultimately there are few problems with this title. The biggest in terms of gameplay is the controls. Making Arthur jump is hard, especially if you only want him to jump across a small amount (onto a grave, or across to a ledge almost directly above). This isn't too dissimilar to the older versions, but it is something Capcom should have looked at prior to release especially given the more fluid controls in more recent games.

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Pure, platforming, joy.
The difficulty is also pretty high - completing this game without a couple of continues is nigh on impossible, but the new save system makes it possible to continue at any point, while a teleport system allows you to return and replay previously passed levels to collect more power-ups. The developers have also included three difficulty modes, the easiest of which should allow even novice gamers to get through the game - albeit with a few difficult moments.

When I heard that Capcom were updating one of their classic series, I expected them to give the game a fresh lick of paint, perhaps the odd cut-scene here and there too. What we've got is an entirely new game, with entirely new graphics that set very high standards on the PSP. In fact the animation is solid, the backgrounds stunningly detailed, enemies varied and the effects stellar. There is the occasional frame rate drop, but those that remember the originals will be pleased to hear this game is no where near as bad. Another area where the game shines is in the enemy design. While there are plenty of similarities to the originals Capcom have included several new enemies - and bosses. Some of these are a sight to behold.

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Time to find some armour.
Audio is probably Ultimate Ghost n' Goblins weakest aspect. The music is atmospheric enough and includes plenty of homageís to the original games, but it's the effects and speech, or lack thereof, that disappoints. The effects sound a bit too tinny, and limited in their range. Most disappointing however is that while everything has been given a big boost, the developers have failed to include speech - even during the cut scenes. I would have hoped that they could have replaced the, rather limited, text with actual voiceovers. Sadly they haven't, and it seems like one of the few missed opportunities.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins is just so much more then I expected. I knew the graphics would be good, but the game has ended up being one of the best titles to showcase the PSP's abilities. This is a tough game, but if you're up for a challenge then this is definitely a game to add to your collection. Chalk this one up as one of the best reinventions of an old series of all time.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSSensational. Capcom have retained the old style, but freshened it up.
SOUNDMusic is good, the effects average, but no speech disappoints.
GAMEPLAYPure, classic, hardcore platform gaming. Some small control issues.
VALUEPretty tough - especially on the hardest difficulty. Tonnes to discover.
OVERALLUltimately we could not have asked for a better remake then Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins. This is a stunning title that is a showcase for what the PSP is capable of. Some more tweaking of the controls, and voiceovers could have made this even better!

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