IMG_9001If you're a child of 80's video games like me, few games likely bring back more traumatic memories of horrifying difficulty than Ghosts 'n Goblins. While the game was originally released in arcades in 1985, it wasn't until 1986 that Ghosts 'n Goblins cursed the NES with its presence and quickly grew in fame as one of the most difficult games of all time. Over the years there have been many sequels, ports, and remakes of the game with the most recent being Ghosts 'n Goblins Gold Knights [App Store] for the iPhone.

So what has changed over the years? Well, the most noticeable thing are the sprite-based graphics from days of old have been replaced with a 2.5D world with all kind of new animations and environmental effects. It's hard to say how much this improves the game though, as the textures are low resolution, the animations appear to be almost intentionally ridiculous, and what's worse is the game doesn't run very smoothly even on my iPhone 3GS.


The difficulty has been significantly decreased from the original. You can now absorb multiple hits from enemies before dying, and there are a whole array of additional weapons and power ups to be found in the game. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the challenge in the game now comes from negotiating the inherent lack of precision in the virtual D-Pad controls. Similar to how we felt about Earthworm Jim, if your memories of Ghosts 'n Goblins involve a physical D-Pad, you will likely have an uncomfortably awkward adjustment period of missing jumps and falling in to pits.

Because of the increased life bar and chests with power-ups littering the game, the only real threat that the monsters you come across pose is knocking you backwards in to a pit. At the end of each level there's a boss, but the gimmick of each boss only amounts to dodging different things. Levels feature multiple check points, and it seems like there's always a checkpoint just before a boss so if you don't beat them the first time you will almost assuredly beat them the second.

There is an in-game store where you can buy access to various cheats for 99¢ each. These cheats range from infinite lives to stronger armor and weapons. Unfortunately, there's no "don't fall in pits constantly" cheat you can buy, so none of them seem really that useful. Since after you die you're able to select the last level you were on and start from that point, even having infinite lives doesn't help that much.

Video by AppBank

Despite the game's many flaws, it's still Ghosts 'n Goblins. Everything from the map scrolling across the screen between deaths to your guy running around in his underwear when you take enough damage to lose your armor is in place. If you're into nostalgia, Ghosts 'n Goblins does deliver but, otherwise, the iPhone version of the game can't really stand on its own. If this is the first you've heard of Ghosts 'n Goblins, you'd probably be better off playing it on a real console with a real d-pad.

App Store Link: Ghosts 'n Goblins Gold Knights, $2.99

TouchArcade Rating

  • akira01

    " Similar to how we felt about Earthworm Jim,"

    I have absolutely no problem with the Dpad in EJ. And i'm not alone in the same case if you read the forums.
    And i have no problems with this game too..

  • Bulk Slash

    Yeah, I think the review nailed it. It's a fun game if you played the originals but if you've never heard of it you'd probably wonder what the fuss is about. I've finished it twice now, once with Arthur and once with Lancelot, sadly the ending is a bit of a let down, I don't know if that's because I bought and used some of the cheats or if there's some sort of secret to get a better ending. It seems like there might be an extra character to unlock, but I've no idea how. Perhaps it's been rushed out and things will be added with a patch?

    I stupidly bought the cheats before playing the game, if I'd known it was so easy I wouldn't have bothered. I thought I was protecting my iPhone from being flung across the room by buying some power-ups! 😉

    I don't know why the graphics look so pixellated, it seems they're drawing everything in software rather than using the hardware to accelerate it. That's likely why it's a bit slow and sluggish and also why the textures look a bit rubbish. I'm not sure why they made the game that way unless they plan to release it on other mobile phones and didn't want to write something proprietary to the iPhone hardware...

  • Stanley

    I mentioned the slight slowness in one of the previous posts and its not just Touch Arcade but also IGN mention the same thing, its pretty obvious its been slowed down on purpose to compensate for the touch controls, you won't really notice it unless you've played Ghosts N Goblins on other platforms. Its not a bad game but it does come across as a rushed release, I'd rather spend more money but get a better game.

  • Ghoul

    I liked ghosts n goblins. I loved ghouls n ghosts.

  • Jparmand

    I was a big fan of the original game on arcade machine.
    So I feel disapointed with this one. Animation of the characters are simply ridiculous. Game is not smooth at all on my 3GS.
    Still play with the true game with mame4iphone ! Much more nice and smooth !

  • Ramu-Chan

    Looks like they've turned the bilinear filtering off, hence, pixelated texture maps.

    I have Ultimate Ghosts and Goblins on my PSPGo, and it not only runs smoothly, but also plays great on the real d-pad and buttons. It's clearly a game which is never going to work properly on a touch screen.

    I wish devs would make games FOR the iPhone, instead of just porting games to the iPhone with no thought if they will actually work or not. The iPhone should be getting the likes of Phoenix Wright and Zak and Wiki from Capcom instead of hardcore arcade titles like Ghosts and Goblins.

    • spiffyone

      Well, they DID make this game "for the iPhone/touch". It's an iPhone/touch original game in the overall Ghosts 'n Goblins series. It's not a port of any game in the series, but an all new made-for-iPhone/touch release.

      But I think I get what you're saying. What you're saying is that they should develop games that are more tailored to the platform. Point and click adventure games, like Zak & Wiki, or the Ace Attorney series, do seem better fits...if you don't think outside the box a little.

      I think Capcom did try to make this game "work" on the platform, albeit in a half thought fashion. Rather than build the game around the platform's strengths, they instead tried to compensate for it's weaknesses by dumbing the game down. They needn't have done that, actually, or just focused on that primarily as they seem to have done.

      And I still maintain that onscreen virtual dpads and buttons are NOT necessary for most of these types of games. The "big" devs like Capcom need to stop looking to Gameloft for platform appropriate controls and start looking to the smaller devs and indie devs like the ones behind games like Gold Miner Joe and Bounce On for ideas on platform appropriateness in terms of control interface.

  • MrMuesli

    I enjoyed the 'Ultimate' version for the PSP, however one thing niggles me with Ghosts 'n Goblins in general. All those blind jumps (never fun), hoping that below the screen lies a platform and not a gaping crevasse with no way out of it after you have used up your jump quota! I know that messing with a classics controls formula is a bit taboo, but in this case I feel instead of stubbornly holding onto the way it was, maybe this would have been a nice opportunity to add a more Mario style of movement.

  • Dylan

    I did enjoy the original NES versoin(albeit with the frusterations of difficulty at times). I was excited to see what would come to be here. I am not too excited after playing it a bit unfortunately. What I think would be a really ingenious idea would be to remake G&G but in a format that resembles "Otogi" (PS2). I think that could make for one hell of a new twist on the G&G franchise! Interacting with the enemies and or LARGE bosses in that type of format and feel would scare the crap out of me. In a good way!! Someone should definitely do this!!

    • spiffyone

      The closest you'll come to something like that is playing Maximo on PS2. Maximo (also developed by Capcom, btw) is basically Ghosts 'n Goblins in 3D. Same type of story, same type of feel, even same level of difficulty. It was one of the earlier PS2 games. In fact, it's actually a blue back release, meaning it's on CD rather than DVD (remember when Sony was hawking dual optical disc support for the games?). If you don't have that game in your PS2 library, you should seek it out. Very fun and very overlooked game.

  • HJoe

    Normally I do not like iphone games with a virtual D-pad but I haven't any problem with this game. Compared to other games there are not so many control issues due to the decreased difficulty of G&G. The level selection gives you the possibilty to play some quick rounds which is not possible with other games in the series. And - come on - would you really want to play a die hard game on the iPhone ?

    I like this game. It is certainly not as good as the original Ghosts 'n Goblins or Ghouls 'n Ghosts games but a nice add-on to the franchise. If you are really a fan of the franchise you should try it especially for this low price (compared to other G&G games).

  • uni


  • Elsic1975a

    Just got it, played it, and beat it. The graphics are terrible and incredibly muddy and dreary, making it hard at times to see where you're going. The Genesis version was smoother, brighter, and better designed, to say nothing of the SNES game. There's virtually no character to any of the enemies or to Arthur/Lancelot. The polygons are roughly on par with a PS1 launch game, which is weak compared to what we've seen the iPhone do. Your character has too many frames of animation for falling or climbing on/off of ladders, and it feels like he's moving uphill through frozen molasses. Controls aren't as responsive as other platformers (notably Castle of Magic), and Capcom needs to consider either buying another company's control scheme or reworking the whole thing from the ground up. The game itself is a complete cakewalk without cheats, and took just over an hour to beat on the first playthrough for me. Music is good, but isn't as memorable as the 16-bit iterations. The 'ending' is a pathetic cliffhanger, setting up another episode or DLC.

    If Capcom wants to make the sequel or DLC levels so that they actually sell, they need to:
    1) Sharpen up the graphics. 2D, 3D, it doesn't matter, but this mess is inexcusable. The game needs backgrounds, characters need more detail, and the entire screen needs brighter, richer colors, a la Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Maximo.
    2) Edit the frames of animation for the characters, and speed up the gameplay.
    3) Fix the controls; lean more for Castle of Magic, and less for Sonic the Hedgehog.
    4) Pull the camera back a hair and put a few more enemies on the screen. Put some real thought into the enemies and their patterns. The game actually needs to be harder, which is a first for this series.

  • http://NA Joe Jackson

    I have heard there is a novel called "Lancashire Hotpot" written by Robin Drinkall. The first 15 pages are available for free on

    It is my understanding the book is partly based on a true story in Lancashire.
    The main plot involves a private detective from Preston called Charlie Fleetwood. He has been hired by a firm of lawyers in Manchester to investigate the theft of some valuable Faberge jewellery at Slaidburn Hall.

    Charlie Fleetwood and his partner Jeremy Worden soon realise someone is manipulating events to suit their own agenda.

    The novel takes the reader through the picturesque landscape of Lancashire including Lytham, Whitewell, Chipping, Manchester and Preston.

    I will not spoil the ending but I can disclose the reader will be left wondering if "Lancashire Hotpot" is actually a story within a story about a real psychological parallel world.

    Robin has written another book on Osteoporosis in Denmark. It has been described as the best patient friendly information book on non-compliance of medicine available. The Lancashire Hotpot is his first novel and the plot is 100% believable.