Ghosts ĎN Goblins - Home Computer Versions
GíNG on the 16 bit keyboarded machines is unique in that these ports were released in early 1990, a whole three years after the 8 bit versions and get this, just after the computer release of Ghouls 'N Ghosts! Unlike Ghouls though, these versions of the original game were not by US Gold, who had now swiped the rights to recreate Capcom games at home, but rather the group that had just lost those rights, Elite. Shame really. In any case, to coincide with the re-release of the 8 bit ports of Ghosts ĎN Goblins came brand new 16 bit versions and boy, were they good! (Well, one of them was anyway!)
(Format: Commodore Amiga 500 and compatibles, UK Release date: January 1990, Publisher: Elite, Programmer: P. Frankish, Sound: Mark Cooksey)
Thereís not much I can say about this one. Why? BECAUSE ITíS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! Yes, thatís right, folks. If anyone said you couldnít play an arcade perfect rendition of GíNG at home until MAME came along... well, they would have been right I guess. However, the Amiga version is extremely close to the real thing indeed! Just look at these graphics! Theyíre almost identical!
A few things are different here and there most notably in the color department, but the coin opís graphics have been very closely studied indeed! Thankfully, the visuals are only the tip of the ice palace. In action, itís even better! Elite must have played the arcade game to death to have come out with such a close conversion as this one. This is why the smarter kids owned an Amiga, folks. This is why it took off so much in Europe. Heck, this is why I owned one! Amongst the vast amount of disappointing arcade conversions, there would be one or two perfect translations that truly showed what the Amiga could do and boy, does GíNG do that!
This effort certainly shows up US Goldís disappointing rendition of Ghouls. Not that it was awful or anything but weíre now only left to wonder just how much better Ghouls ĎN Ghosts might have been on this machine if the joystick junkies at Elite had been handed the wheel so to speak (or worn the armour... handed the javelin... took on the demons... Iíll shut up now...)
An interesting little fact is that in both the Amiga and ST versions of GĎNG, Mark Cooksey, the music man behind the unique track on the C64 has returned! This time, with the superior technology in front of him, heís wisely recreated the original arcade tunes. (Heís even thrown in the cool little jingle that everyone seems to love during the map bit after Arthur has lost a life! Hoorah!) I believe the only piece of music that is missing here is the end guardian track but I guess you canít have everything. Whilst Iím being the critic, the only other really bad thing Iíve noticed about the Amiga GíNG is the sprite collision. It isnít terrible or anything but I know for a fact I grazed shoulders with some of the zombies in the graveyard scene. This slight error actually benefits the player and means that the game isnít quite as evil as the coin op. You get plenty of lives too so it shows that Elite actually took some time to play test the thing! Actually, it looks like theyíve ate, slept and drank GíNG! Forget the NES port, let me sum this up for you by saying that Iíve seen all the original ports of this game now and this is easily the best. Such a shame it was so rare.
Perfection (Pros) -
If you play the Amiga game and get on high score table, enter Ď)!(í followed by the ĎENDí option to quit the table. Now not only will you be granted infinite lives but Arthur will be invincible (though he can still lose his armour and youíll still die by falling in a pit). To activate the exact same cheat on the Atari ST version, simply type ĎDELBOYí on the options / title screen (apparently, this works on earlier versions of the Amiga GíNG as well!).
If you really canít get through the arcade version and want to see the end of the game, I recommend you try the cheat mode using the Amiga version since it really is the next best thing and you donít have to finish the game twice (be warned though, Amiga emulation isnít exactly perfect yet). Alternatively, click here to see the ending of the Amiga GíNG!
(Format: Atari ST, UK Release date: January 1990, Publisher: Elite, Programmer: Michael Delves, Sound: Mark Cooksey)
A lot of Atari ST and Amiga games were exactly the same, usually because they had been developed on Atariís slightly inferior machine. Thankfully, this is not the case here. But whilst it was never going to be as good as the Amiga game, the ST version is still very good indeed. In fact, I thought it was superb... until I reached Astarothís castle that is, but more about that in a second. The first thing I noticed about this one was its overall cheaper feel when put next to its Amiga likeness. The play area is smaller because main sprites are bigger though they do still look a lot like their coin op counterparts. Still, Iím not sure what was going on when they were recreating the sprites for the Red Destroyer and Unicorn / Cyclopes (whatever you wanna call him :)) but I wish someone could inform me just why they are only ever facing right.
I was particularly impressed with the sound in this conversion (again, nice one, Mark Cooksey!). Especially taking into consideration that whilst graphically, the ST was almost up there with the Amiga, sound wise, it was nowhere near as good. GíNG is actually a good example of this since, unlike on the Amiga, in the ST game only the main tune is faithfully reproduced, but thatís good enough for me.
What isnít good enough for me is what happens after youíve defeated the second Chinese dragon just after the bridge scene. One of the following three possible answers is correct...
A) Arthur continues his quest to the death as he finds himself in Astarothís castle, just as he should.
B) Astaroth appears and in a cruel twist of fate whisks our hero back to the graveyard scene! What an evil fiend!
C) Arthur finds himself in the castle facing Astaroth and... he doesnít do anything. He just stands there as the princess rushes to our hero and the game is over.
Click here to see which one it is. I still canít believe it. This isnít a Commodore 64, nor was it put together in 1986! Why are there missing stages and who do I mail bomb?!
Other small bits and bobs missing include the map of Arthurís progress and forgive me if Iím wrong (or very, very unlucky) but I have still yet to get extra armour after losing Arthurís attire. Also, there are a few loading interruptions, a particularly awkward one separating the graveyard and the forest, but in conclusion, Iíd say itís still pretty decent.
Coming Soon: Games based on GíNG one way or another! And the bizarre and almost blasphemous IBM PC version!
- Steve Halfpenny
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