I’ve done the unforgivable: I lowered the difficulty in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection because I wasn’t getting anywhere close to beating the first level. But now, after finally doing so, I have zero motivation to keep playing.
I was beyond excited to get my hands on Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection when it landed on Switch two weeks ago. I’ve always loved Capcom’s classic platforming series, as much for its satisfying jump-and-shoot gameplay as the mind-numbing difficulty, and the new entry was super enticing personally for its divisive pop-up book aesthetics. That’s not to say I had ever actually beaten a Ghosts ‘n Goblins game, of course, but I started Resurrection fully committed to seeing the credits roll.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection offers up four difficulty levels. Legend is the closest to classic gameplay (two hits to die, few checkpoints) and thus the hardest, followed by Knight, Squire, and Page, which increasingly improve your defenses, decrease the amount of enemies, and add more checkpoints to the lengthy stages. Wanting an experience as close to the old games as possible, I selected Legend without a second thought.
Big mistake. What followed was two weeks of unbearable torture. I spent several hours a day with Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, learning the enemy patterns and item drops of the game’s first level, but could never quite make it to the mid-stage checkpoint. My breaking point came in matching up against the Red Arremer, a nimble, flying enemy that’s known for being the franchise’s biggest jerk and even got its own series in 1990.
No matter how many times I made it to the demonic asshole I just couldn’t seem to get past him. I knew how to find the best armor before the battle. I knew the monster’s patterns. I knew when to dodge and when to attack. The only problem was that my body couldn’t keep up with my mind. It was the first time in my life that my physical reflexes gave out on me in a video game (well, except for getting my butt handed to me in Street Fighter, of course), and it was devastating. I debated giving up on the game altogether until the solution hit me like a tumbling gravestone:
“Lower the difficulty, dummy!”
Of course! Why was I torturing myself with this hard-ass game when I could make it (and my life) easier and still enjoy the moment-to-moment gameplay? I immediately started a new save file, hovering over the Knight difficulty before eventually settling on Squire. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection had forced me to be realistic with myself, and I knew I could probably use the extra health and checkpoints. Soon after, I was breezing through the first level, using the knowledge Legend had given me to defeat everything that stood in my way. And then, before I knew it, I was standing over the corpse of the graveyard boss.
Despite achieving something weeks in the making, I didn’t celebrate. It didn’t feel right. The victory, in my mind, was hollow. I hadn’t allowed my frustration with the difficulty to keep me from playing Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, but now, I was well and truly done. I haven’t touched the game since. If I can’t beat it at the level I want, my broken brain tells me there’s no point in returning.
The discussion surrounding accessibility in gaming is a meaningful one, especially when it comes to challenge and difficulty. I don’t begrudge anyone who needs to play hard games at a slower or easier pace for whatever reason, even if I personally love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with killing a particularly hard Dark Souls boss or solving a late-game puzzle in The Witness. We all get something different from video games, and it’s important that developers do everything they can to provide options that increase the number of people who can play. But, as with most things in my life, I rarely afford myself the same compassion and understanding I extend to others.
I don’t know what to make of my reaction to Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. Maybe, sometime in the future, I’ll get over whatever is making me feel less than and finally play more of the game. I think the worst part of my mental block is that it’s a very good game that I would love to explore. I just don’t need the added frustration in my life right now when everything else seems so bleak.