This platform arcade game is the lesser-known sequel to the fairly popular 1985 arcade game Ghosts'n Goblins. While the first in the series captured my imagination, this one blew it away and then some, and to this day remains my favorite platform-style game of all time and gets a rare 10/10 from me.
The music is great and eerie and the effects suit the mood well. Better yet, the graphics are stunning for its time and look much more organic than most other platformers, with elements like hills and inclines and things that generally don't look at all like repeated tiles or flat platforms. Even the color schemes are expertly chosen; one particular area featured a beautiful combination of tundra-colored grass flowing on faint violet rocky ground that was simply beautiful to look at.
The stage design is extraordinarily well conceived, with the player having to face quicksand, wind, icy slopes and the like as part of the landscape, and often being pitted against his or her own instincts in order to survive. One particular stage features earthquakes that change the shape of the ground as you walk on it, with the ground threatening to go at any time. Another stage puts you on a gigantic platform that continuously scrolls upwards while you dodge flying minions and descending platforms. The monsters themselves are cleverly designed as well, such as the multi-jointed 'blood vines' that grow out of the ground and flay wildly around, the 'skeletal dragons' whose indestructible bodies slither around and block your line of fire, and the bouncing rock turtles that randomly stop bouncing when you least expect it forcing you to slam on the brakes or die. Many monsters are nicely integrated with the environment, such as the immobile statues whose tongues slither in and out of their gigantic mouths and threaten to suck you in, and the falling plant-like platforms that you must jump off at the last minute before they swallow you whole. The weapon arsenal is creatively designed; you can obtain a discus-type of weapon that hovers up and down slopes, a torch that sets fire to the patch of ground wherever it lands; fairly standard 'linear' weapons round up the arsenal. Every weapon can be powered-up if the knight finds the special golden armor, and every weapon can even be fired upwards or downwards for more control than previously possible. The standard armor, as in this game's precursor, falls off the knight when it takes a hit, leaving him running around in his skivvies.
The game is just the right length, maintaining it's creativity all the way through. I found the game quite challenging but at just the right level for great replayability, although it is generally quite difficult and was too much of a coin-chomper for most people in the arcades. The only way I personally ever finished the game was using an emulator. My main gripe (**** SPOILER ****) of the game is that when you first reach the last stage in the game, you are told that you must return to the beginning of the game in order to pick up a special weapon that will help you defeat the final boss. This basically forces the player to finish the entire game twice, although the special weapon (looking quite like a psychedelic ice cream cone) kicks a** and makes it easier to finish the game the second time around.
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