Ghosts’N Goblins: The Most Difficult NES Game Ever?

Ghosts'N Goblins NES.png
The most difficult game of all time?

Right, we’re going to go nerdy on you all today and write about this NES game from 1985. Compared to the modern industry, everything was all rather primitive back in the ’80s.

Technology didn’t allow games to be particularly long (the original Super Mario Bros., for instance, can be completed in 40 minutes, whilst the latest, Super Mario 3D World, lasts for over 20 hours) so to make up for this shortcoming developers upped difficulty levels.

This artificially made games appear longer by employing tactics such as: borderline impossible boss battles, cryptic puzzles, maddening jumps, or a maniacally complex array of enemies. Today, we’re looking at one such devious example.

Ghosts’N Goblins

Some developers lost it entirely and produced titles so hard they couldn’t be completed, meaning many games were simply abandoned by exasperated kids. To put this into perspective, the first level of Ghosts ‘n Goblins (given a clear run with no enemies) could be completed in 40 seconds.

When played normally, though, it’s a totally different kettle of jam. Some of the more modest gamers have admitted they can’t get past the first stage. Anyone really determined could spend an hour on their first go and they wouldn’t get far. Sounds odd? Indeed.

Putting it mildly, Capcom’s Ghosts ‘N Goblins is one of the most difficult video games in history. Behind its innocuous 8 bit era looks lies a game almost incomprehensible in its challenge. Our esteemed editor, Mr. Wapojif, played this in the late ’80s and gave up in dismay. All these years on he was able to download it from the Wii U’s eShop for £2 to see if things really were as insanely difficult as he remembered.

After consistent efforts he’s made it to the fourth stage, but the barrage of enemies is beyond belief. Considering gaming in the ’80s was primarily a niche pursuit for young boys such as Mr. Wapojif (contemporary gaming is now mainstream and most titles are much easier), with hindsight it appears bizarre developers could make things so ridiculous. This isn’t to say Ghosts ‘n Goblins is bad – it’s pretty good! It’s simply idiotically frustrating.

Many swearwords have been fired in Ghost ‘n Goblins’ direction, and with good reason… but if you’re up to the challenge, it’s right there on the Wii U eShop. We dare you! You’ll also be able to play it once the Nintendo Classic Mini NES is released in November 2016. Yikes.

Angry Video Game Nerd

Anyone familiar with the Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN) on YouTube may well have seen his epic 17 minute rant about the preposterous nature of Ghosts ‘N Goblins, but we thought we’d introduce him to you (along with the game) so you can get a better understanding of the horrors of Ghosts’N Goblins.


    • It’s well worth an effort. The main problem is the Red Devil enemies, they’re extremely difficult to kill. I haven’t worked out a good method to take them out, it’s just about hoping for the best. On top of everything there’s a 3 minute time limit for each level, so you have to rush. Manic stuff.


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