Why Ghouls'N Ghosts is the Hardest SNES Game Ever!

Posted by Steven Collier on Oct. 23rd, 2015

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is toughest SNES game ever made. It’s loaded with all the usual death traps, bottomless pits, and unrelenting swarms of enemies, but for anyone who owned an NES that's just par for course. What made Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts so brutal was the mind games it constantly played on anyone who dared to play it.

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Gets Your Hopes up High

From the very start of the game, players are given the chance to choose from a variety of weapons with which to combat the forces of darkness. As a bonus, each of these weapons becomes much stronger every time you upgrade your armor. Grab a few power ups and you’ll be a veritable juggernaut of justice. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, guess again! This is all just to lull you into a false sense of security.

All or Nothing, In Your Underwear

Unlike most games, your power doesn’t gradually decrease every time you take a hit. Oh no, not in Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts! It’s all or nothing. One mistake, one hit, will cost you everything and leave you scrambling around the level in nothing more than your Skivvies. This will happen a lot, and it plunges even the most hardened of gamers into a state of constant paranoia. In this game, the tables can and will turn at any moment.

The Wrong Weapon?

But, let’s say a player beats the odds and overcomes the game’s insane difficulty. Chances are it took weeks of dedicated practice to reach the final level and slay The Devil, who is naturally the final boss of this game. Getting to this point is a monumental task. So, how does Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts reward the player for their heroic undertaking? Great question. See for yourself:

Turns out you didn’t use the correct item to kill Satan. Not that you could have, since it’s only available during the second half of the game. Yes, you read that right. The second half.

I didn't win? I'm Only Half Way?

It’s here that Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts does something so cruel that it boggles the mind: it dumps you back at the start of the very first level and demands that you play through the entire game again to get the true ending. A game like this is hard enough the first time through, without forcing players to tackle it all over again in the same sitting. The frustration of realizing you’re required to march through every level again is probably the single greatest fake-out in gaming history.

It's also that exact moment that makes Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts the hardest game for the SNES. When a game straight up tells you everything you've fought for up until now has been futile, and then asks you to find the strength to pick up your controller and venture forth once more, that's a kind of difficult that's in league of its own. It's different from other games, because it toys with the player on a personal, psychological level. And it hits hard.

It's Worth The Pain

However, to the developers’ credit, if you were dedicated, skilled, or just angry enough to go round two with Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, it was possible to beat. There was a reward for your continued efforts. And the trials you endured getting there made victory all the sweeter.

Even today, completing Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts in its entirety is a mark of distinction amongst gamers. It’s a feat of which few can boast, and boast proudly. Because, if you can look past its unforgiving difficulty and sadistic trick ending, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a great game. That's why so many people fell in love with it and made it one of Capcom's best selling titles of all time.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a game that's more about the jorney than the destination. Yes, it's hard. But, unlike lesser titles, it is fair. When you die, you know it was because of your mistakes. And knowing that you can learn from those mistakes to progress a little further with every fresh attempt is what makes this game so addictive. Well, that and the fact that it's just plain fun to run around smiting pixelated demons.

In all honesty, I’ve never managed to beat Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but that has never diminished the fun I’ve enjoyed in trying to vanquish this 16-bit classic year after year. If you’re looking for a serious challenge, or just a fantastic action game, I can think of few titles I could more heartily recommend. Looking for a few scary creepy games? Shop Spooky Retro games today.

Then again, I already admitted that I've yet to beat this game. Maybe that makes me a little biased when I describe its difficulty. Is this the hardest game ever released for the SNES, or do you think there's another game deserving of that title? Let me know in the comments.

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