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Ultimate Ghosts 'n' Goblins

Rock hard, but ready to rock, even after all these years

Ever been drawn into one of those really nerdy arguments about who's the most hardcore gamer? If you have, one of the games that's bound to have entered the conversation is the ancient arcade classic Ghosts 'n' Goblins, a rock hard platform romp that permanently had kids gathered round it, most of them trying to look dead cool by tugging away on Silk Cuts at the same time.

The thing which gets retro-fetishists all sweaty is the fact that it was so damned hard (that, and its lovely sidescrolling, comical monster mashing). So if someone ever tells you they beat the arcade game for less than a quid in silver, they're talking out of their arse. Needless to say, Ultimate Ghosts 'n' Goblins takes the crusty old favourite and gives it a modern update to make it look more at home on PSP, but it hasn't gone soft over the years. Thankfully, the urge to go 3D has been resisted, so what we get is a bigger, bolder interpretation of the original.


King Arthur is the long standing hero of the series, and he returns to do battle here against a dark lord who's gone and kidnapped a feeble princess (is there any other kind?). At least Ghosts 'n' Goblins did the 'damsel in dire distress' plot before the stampede of copycat games, so it can be excused if it sounds uninspired.

Everything is delivered with a dollop of tongue-incheek humour, so it rarely feels dull or rehashed (Arthur is often reduced to prancing around in his comedy boxer shorts, or being turned into a defenceless grasshopper, chicken or fat lass).

That comic relief also helps to calm you down when you feel like hurling your PSP at the nearest wall, because Ultimate Ghosts 'n' Goblins is infuriatingly difficult at times. Battling through the colourful and branching levels, you'll barely have any time at all to appreciate the finer points of Arthur's environment because something angry and dangerous is headed for him at all times. It really is a battle to stay alive, especially on the very first play. It must have cost punters an absolute bomb when the original was in the arcades.

Thankfully, the difficulty has been offset by the inclusion of regular checkpoints and some new moves for Arthur - the ability to hang from ledges gives some welcome leeway when jumps are mistimed, and a double tap on the D-pad makes him dash. It's great, simplistic, old-school adventuring, but fiendish with it. Crap gamers: you have been warned.

The verdict

If you are 28 years old, you'll have a retro-orgasm which will result in a 1986 inspired climax.

  • Great levels, clever enemies
  • New moves make things easier
  • It's still bloody hard though
  • It's based on a 21-year-old game
PlayStation Portable