Saturday, August 6, 2016

Central City Census - August 2016

With July's Central City Census closed, we now turn toward the poll's results.

Asking which eighth gen platform has the most appealing, best exclusives to the SPC community and passersby, it was a close one! The Nintendo 3DS barely eked out both the Wii U and PlayStation 4. The 3DS had 11 votes, while the Wii U had 9, and PS4 with 8. Sadly, the Xbox One and PlayStation Vita both added up to zero percent of the vote.

This month, we're talking Pokemon GO. The Central City Census asks if you are still playing, pending you ever were! The Census closes on September 5th!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Ratchet & Clank (PS4) Review

Time for the first review of August, and boy, is it for a game that I've been hankering to play for months now. It's the 2016 reboot of a PlayStation franchise that began in 2002. It's Ratchet & Clank on the PlayStation 4, and here is the SuperPhillip Central verdict.

Ratchet & Clank Rebooted

The PlayStation 4 is starting to really get its first party presence down immensely this year. With both Uncharted 4 and this new Ratchet & Clank game, things are finally getting quite exciting with Sony's first party offerings. Ratchet & Clank is without question my favorite first party game that the PlayStation provides. Its blend of third-person shooting action, platforming, and humor usually always makes me smile.

After multiple entries in the series, a new movie has released, and the game based off this movie takes the Ratchet & Clank series back to square one, doing a remixed retelling of the 2002 original game. Mixing things up considerably while presenting the fine, fun, and familiar gameplay fans like myself have come to expect from Insomniac's series, Ratchet & Clank as a reboot is sublimely done, and it's one of the best games of 2016 so far.

Our tale begins with Ratchet, a lombax, who spends his days on Planet Veldin, helping out old Grim at his garage. Upon hearing about the Galactic Rangers holding tryouts nearby, Ratchet races over to show his best to the head of the Rangers, the egocentric and slightly eccentric Captain Qwark. Upon getting the cold shoulder by Qwark, Ratchet mopes around the garage until a fallen spacecraft crashes nearby, containing a mild-mannered robot named Clank. The two quickly get along, and Clank informs Ratchet that the nefarious Chairman Drek has a plan in store to reek evil across the galaxy. With Clank in tow, Ratchet leaves his home, Veldin, starting the events that follow, leading to Ratchet joining up with the Galactic Rangers and doing his best to foil Drek's plans.

Ratchet & Clank's story features gorgeous cut-scenes full of the series's trademark humor and wit. The characters, down to the one-off characters, exude personality and charm. Those expecting the same retelling of the original Ratchet & Clank on PlayStation 2 from 2002 will see a brand-new tale, based off the movie that released earlier this year. The game expertly weaves in scenes from the movie while bringing enough exclusive narrative content to make for a riveting tale, even if you've already seen the film.

What isn't too terribly different is that Ratchet & Clank plays like any other game in the series, but that's definitely a good thing. The heavily and finely honed run and gun gameplay that the franchise is known for is here and accounted for, while bringing lots of new enhancements to make for a better experience for players. For instance, in past Ratchet & Clank games, gadgets like the Swingshot took a spot in players' quick select menu. This meant that to use the Swingshot, the gadget used to cross chasms like a grappling hook, had to be selected each time you wanted to use it. In this new game, the Swingshot, or any other necessary gadget, is equipped automatically when you're nearby the target to use it on. Now, this doesn't work well 100%, as it's a pain when you're in the middle of a battle, and you're nearby a Swingshot target, because instead of firing your weapon (which is the same button as your gadget button), you might use the Swingshot by mistake.

Old locations like Planet Novalis feel new again in this reboot.
The original Ratchet & Clank by today's standards, especially compared to more modern games in the series, much less its subsequent sequels on the PS2, feels rather dated. The lack of being able to strafe while firing was a big oversight, but this PlayStation 4 reboot features this ability, making aiming and shooting at a foe while keeping your attention focused on them easy. You don't have to worry about changing Ratchet's direction while he (hopefully) dodges, evades, and jumps over enemy shots and attacks.

Another enhancement to this reboot of Ratchet & Clank that the 2002 original lacked is the ability to level up the various guns Ratchet utilizes throughout his adventure. As you move on from planet to planet, the inventory of in-stock weapons at the Gadgeton vendor, a vendor that is located at multiple locations in each of the game's areas, increases, offering new weapons to purchase with the bolts dropped from enemies and found in crates. These weapons range from multiple fire handguns to more powerful weapons like rocket launchers and grenades, to more innovative weapons like the Groovitron, which launches a disco ball, forcing any nearby enemy to break into dance while Ratchet can pick them off. Then there's the old standby Mr. Zurkon, a mobile hovering robotic sentry that backs Ratchet up for a brief period of time, launching miniature missiles into foes all the while taunting foes.

Sandsharks? Kill 'em with fire with the Pyrocitor! 
Repeatedly using guns while making sure Ratchet's shots hit their intended target slowly levels a given gun up. When it gains enough experience, it levels up, making it stronger. In the main game you can build up a weapon to level five. Raritanium, an ultra powerful and strong ore, dropped occasionally by fallen enemies and located in hidden ore mounds, can be used at Gadgetron vendors to upgrade weapons. This can be used to increase the ammo count of a weapon, how many bolts enemies dropped when defeated by said weapon, and countless other benefits and bonuses.

In the original game, Planet Batalia was a rain-drenched battleground. Here, it's all iced over.
The level design of Ratchet & Clank is comparable to past games in the series. Many locales will feel familiar to players of the original game. Some locations are near exact compared to the 2002 original, while others have gotten a great overhaul. Each planet generally has at least two objectives to complete that are mandatory to progress. Each objective generally opens up another planet for the lombax and robot duo to venture to. There are usually two main paths to take on a planet, with each having Ratchet reach a different objective. The paths themselves have a strong sense of linearity to them, but the amount of secrets that are held when you go off the beaten path is immense. From Gold Bolts, the main hidden collectable in the game, which unlock cheats for players to use, as well as Holo Cards, a new collectable introduced to the series, there are a lot of goodies to be found for the exploring types.

Holo Cards can be found in packs as well as dropped by defeated foes. These each depict a character, weapon, enemy, or setting from the Ratchet & Clank series. Collecting a set, a trio of themed cards, unlocks new bonuses for the player, such as an increased chance for enemies to drop more Holo Cards or Raritanium, or increased bolts.

Two enemy forces fighting against each other? Let 'em fight.
Early Ratchet & Clank games became a slog to replay at certain points due to having to play as Clank. In the original Ratchet & Clank, sections where you only played as Clank were tedious, as you had to command robots to do tasks that took some time to do while you watched from a distance. In this PS4 reboot, these sections have been replaced. Clank still interacts with other robots, but this time he can carry them and transform them into one of three forms: a Power Bot, that charges conduits to open doors; a Spring Bot, used to bounce to higher platforms; and a Bridge Bot, used to anchor to specific spots to create bridges for Clank to cross. Later levels with Clank on his lonesome feature using a combination of the three to solve increasingly more challenging environmental puzzles. These sequences also play much more quickly than in the early Ratchet & Clank games, making repeated play-throughs much less of a hindrance.

Speaking of repeated play-throughs, after beating the main campaign of Ratchet & Clank, which will take about six or seven hours depending on your skill level, the option to play Challenge Mode is unlocked. This starts you from the beginning of the game with all of Ratchet's current weapons at the current levels, and current maximum health. Not only is there a bolt multiplier now in play, ever increasing up to give up 20 times the regular amount of bolts as players continually defeat enemies without taking damage themselves, but now earned weapons can level up to 10. However, the means to acquire the ability to get weapons past level 5 has changed. Earning specific Holo Card sets unlocks the ability to buy stronger versions of Ratchet's weapons at a Gadgetron vendor. When a more powerful version of a weapon is earned, the player can then level up the weapon more, all the way to level 10.

A planet so hostile that even the birds want to harm old Ratchet.
I always assumed that people who were clamoring and claiming that Ratchet & Clank on PS4 looks like a Pixar film in video game form were heavily exaggerating the graphics of the game. Seeing how well everything animates, how crisp and well detailed character models and environments look, and viewing it all in a silky smooth frame-rate has me convinced otherwise. Ratchet & Clank is one of the most beautiful games I've ever seen, cartoon-y or not. The environments are jaw-dropping, the level of detail is immense, and the immaculate attention to creating a believable fictional cartoon world is amazing.

Screenshots like this are easy to ogle at their beauty, but just wait until you see it in motion!
The sound also delights, offering wonderfully done voice acting that walks the line between a cartoon and a drama without falling too much onto either side of the equation. The music is bombastic, accentuating the action at every conceivable moment. It all adds up to a presentation that absolutely floored me.

Ratchet & Clank's 2016 reboot is a stunning display of action-centric platforming gameplay and high octane visuals. It's a game whose pace seldom dulls or lessens, always bringing something creative into the fold whether conceptually or gameplay-wise. The team of Ratchet and Clank have rarely looked, played, and felt as good as they do with this year's impressive romp. Some very minor camera and control issues mar the experience just slightly, but overall, Ratchet and Clank's latest is one of their best adventures together, and it makes me look forward to where they head to next.

[SPC Says: A]

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Best Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Sixteen


  • Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
  • Bayonetta (Wii U, PS3, 360)
  • Devil May Cry 3 (PS2)
  • The Wonderful 101 (Wii U)
  • Chrono Trigger (SNES, DS)

They're baaaaaack~! After fifteen previous parts (that's 75 boss battles so far!), Best Boss Battles in Gaming History is back for another round of great boss fights that exemplify fantastic design, genuine creativity, a unique hook, or are just plain fun to fight! After you've checked out the bosses featured on this sixteenth installment, feel free to peruse past lists, conveniently located below!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six 
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part Fourteen
Part Fifteen

Since the following list has spoilers, check it out after the break!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Greatness Comes in Threes: Best Trilogies in Gaming - Part Three

It's the third day of August and the third day of the work week-- what a perfect time to bring back an article series celebrating its third entry about the best gaming trilogies!

The trilogy-- in movies it's a common occurrence with hugely successful blockbusters whether it's Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, or Back to the Future. Trilogies are also pretty common in gaming as well, but at the same token, an actual good trilogy is a completely different matter. This new article series details some of the very best trilogies that our hobby and industry have been able to create in its much shorter lifespan. Check out parts one and two to see the past trilogies mentioned in this article series.

The Batman Arkham Trilogy:

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360, PC)
Batman: Arkham City (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC)
Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, XB1, PC)

Rocksteady made a name for itself by creating one of the first truly masterful Batman games, much more a truly masterful superhero game, with Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game felt somewhat like a Metroid-structured game with new gadgets allowing Batman to access new portions of the titular asylum, where the inmates indeed ran it. Batman: Arkham City opened up things with a large open world to explore, as well as keeping multiple dungeon-like indoor areas available as well. Lastly, Batman: Arkham Knight, released last year, took the series to a larger open world area, complete with Batmobile. The tale told by the Arkham series is one that tells one of the greater Batman stories in the video game medium. Controlling Batman felt fast and fluid, taking out henchmen and other malcontents could be done with ease and finesse, and you really felt like you were the Dark Knight throughout all three games. While Arkham Origins is also an excellent entry, a prequel to Rocksteady's games, its story isn't as important to the overall Arkham trilogy, nor was it developed by Rocksteady. Hence why it's not included.

The Gears of War Trilogy:

Gears of War (360)
Gears of War 2 (360)
Gears of War 3 (360)

Epic Games came off the wild success of the Unreal Tournament series with a new franchise for the Xbox brand, Gears of War. Taking the already revolutionary third-person shooting gameplay from Resident Evil 4 and somehow revolutionizing it further with a highly remarkable cover-and-shoot mechanic, the Gears of War trilogy is something macabre and marvelous to behold. From running, gunning, and taking up cover, to shooting a Locust into submission before tearing into them with a chainsaw, the brutality available to players was exceptional. The popcorn movie blockbuster-like story across the three games saw your crew of four buff and gruff soldiers sticking it to the Locust horde all the while spouting off smooth one-liners. The other piece to Gears of War's success as a series is the incredible multiplayer, though it did hit a bit of a snag with the second game. However, Gears 3 brought things back to how they should be with addicting and visceral multiplayer action goodness for all.

The Mass Effect Trilogy:

Mass Effect (PS3, 360, PC)
Mass Effect 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
Mass Effect 3 (PS3, 360, PC)

Despite all of the arguments both founded and not about the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy, that by no means ruins the entire time many of us spent with the three games in the Mass Effect series. Filled to the brim with different character classes, races, planets, areas to explore, and lore that would give other sci-fi series like Star Trek a run for their money, Mass Effect brought players into its universe and grabbed them, never letting go until long after Mass Effect 3's credits rolled. From the engaging third-person shooting gameplay to the RPG-like customization for your own specially crafted character, Mass Effect as a series is a wonderful one. Again, the trilogy might not have ended on the highest of notes, but that doesn't detract from the overall greatness that the Mass Effect trilogy has and will continue to endure for (console) generations to come.

The Jak and Daxter Trilogy:

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)
Jak II (PS2)
Jak 3 (PS2)

This trilogy is an interesting one. Despite having a formula and tone set for the original Jak and Daxter, after The Precursor Legacy, Naughty Dog went for a much darker angle with Jak II. In essence, it was very tryhard and almost embarrassing to see. That said, while the original Jak and Daxter was a 3D collectathon like a Super Mario 64 or a Banjo-Kazooie, Jak II took the series to an open world, darker setting where instead of attacking with Jak and Daxter's limbs, Jak used weaponry such as guns, turning the platformer series into a third-person shooter with platforming elements. Jak 3 ended the trilogy with a great capstone to the story, and it was a more polished and less frustrating game. While I would have preferred that Naughty Dog not lose the narrative on what makes a platformer fun, the Jak and Daxter trilogy is a fun one despite the tonal shift the series saw.

The LittleBigPlanet Trilogy:

LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3)

Play, Create, and Share-- that is the mantra and motto of the LittleBigPlanet series. The first LittleBigPlanet game was such an exciting prospect, and it turned out to be really good execution-wise by Media Molecule. Not only were the worlds fun to explore, but the ability to create one's own levels and creations and share them with the world was added to the longevity of the game. Though the creation tools took some learning to create masterpieces, being able to craft your own designs whether levels or enemies was stupendous. LittleBigPlanet 2 added even more creation options with it being my favorite of the trilogy. Finally, LittleBigPlanet 3 released a couple of years ago on both the PS3 and the PS4, though under the care of a new developer. New characters and level types were included, but so were unwanted glitches and bugs that I think still permeate throughout both versions of the game. SuperPhillip Central has yet to review the third installment, but don't worry, dear gadders, it's coming!

The Original Mario Party Trilogy:

Mario Party (N64)
Mario Party 2 (N64)
Mario Party 3 (N64)

While all of the other trilogies on this list are trilogies by story, Mario Party's trilogy is based on being on the same system, the original party machine, the Nintendo 64. Call it an unofficial trilogy! Mario Party brought Nintendo 64 gamers and party-goers multiple boards and a multitude of mini-games for four players either in a battle royal, 2 vs. 2, or 1 vs. 3 form. Many mini-games would see a second time in the spotlight with Mario Party 2, such as crowd favorite Bumper Balls. Thankfully, with the sequels of Mario Party, the need to turn the control stick of the N64 controller was long gone, which meant no more blisters on palms or thumbs due to super fast spinning of the stick! Mario Party 2 also brought costumes into the forefront, while Mario Party 3 introduced new characters to play as. All in all, my favorite Mario Party games still remain the first trio. What about you?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review Round-Up - July 2016

It was hot like Hell outside this past month, so why not play a game that partially takes place IN Hell?
That's what DOOM was for, SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month for July.
It's the start of a new month! I hope you guys' July was a fantastic one! It was pretty nice here on SuperPhillip Central despite Central City being very hot outside. That just meant I could have an excuse to spend time indoors and play some games for review. Hence, the Review Round-Up for July 2016!

This month was special because it was the month where I covered my first PlayStation 4-exclusive game, Killzone: Shadow Fall! It gunned for a great score, and received a B- for its trouble. Then, Tearaway: Unfolded, another PS4 exclusive, was covered, crafting its way to a B. Following that was SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month for July, DOOM, going through Hell and back to get an impressive A- score. Moving on from that great shooter, Trine: Enchanted Edition once again was reviewed, but this time it was its PS4 port, earning a B+. Finally, Mighty No. 9 surprised me with its gameplay quality, though everything else was pretty disappointing for how much the budget of the game was. It got an average C score, as did Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins, the lone retro review of the month.

Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) - B-
Tearaway: Unfolded (PS4) - B
DOOM (PS4, XB1, PC) - A-
Trine: Enchanted Edition (PS4) - B+
Mighty No. 9 (Multi) - C
Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins (PSP) - C

Likewise, the other featured game this past month, Mighty No. 9, was one that
some players felt like was FROM Hell, but not this reviewer!

Monday, August 1, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Four JRPGs and A Tense Thriller Walk Into A Bar... Edition

Welcome to a new work week here at SuperPhillip Central, and if you've been a fan and reader of the site for a while, then you know that most every Monday (unless it's a Tuesday, but who's keeping track of that anyway?) SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs adds five more fantastic video game songs to its ever expanding collection of tunes!

This week we're going on a JRPG adventure together. Well, save for a 999 VGM thrown in for good measure. We start things off with a smooth song from Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, before jumping into the world of Grandia II with a killer battle theme. The off the wall goodness of the Wii's eccentric RPG Opoona is then featured, followed by a swift shift in tone with 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. Finally, the Xbox 360 exclusive The Last Remnant carves up a mean battle theme to wrap things up!

Click on each VGM volume name to listen to that given song. And catch up on past VGM volumes with the VGM Database. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1196. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (PS2) - Spider's String the Second Movement

Let's start this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with a dungeon song that sounds more like something out of the Metal Gear Solid series than a Shin Megami Tensei game! Spider's String the Second Movement slowly builds suspense throughout its bass line and string accompaniment before rocking out with glorious electric guitar goodness. A great song from a great, if not overlooked, PS2 game.

v1197. Grandia II (DC, PS2) - Battle Theme

Time for battle! This normal battle theme from the Dreamcast and then PlayStation 2 RPG Grandia II sports a nostalgic sound with its synth instruments and electric guitar. Its very late '90s and early '00s, and that makes sense since the game originally came out in 2000 for the Dreamcast before releasing two years later on the PS2.

v1198. Opoona (Wii) - Fonthene

Opoona is a JRPG unlike any other, a perfect fit for the expanded audience of the Wii. The game featured short and stock characters, and the controls were as simple as pie. Opoona used the nunchuk controller part of the Wii Remote/Nunchuk combo exclusively, making for easy-to-learn but tough-to-master combat. Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics and Valkyria Chronicles fame penned the many excellent compositions of this overlooked Wii RPG.

v1199. 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (DS) - Chill and Rigor

Now, we're going to change the tone of this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs real quick here! The final chapter of the Zero Escape series released on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita a couple of months ago, gripping players to the very end of its intense and mysterious story. However, all sagas have to start somewhere, and the Nintendo DS's 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors was the beginning of this creepy story-based series. Chill and Rigor is a haunting piano tune, perfect for the mood 999 exudes.

v1200. The Last Remnant (360) - Sword Sparks

Time for battle... again! Sword Sparks is the main battle theme for the Xbox 360 exclusive The Last Remnant. The game by Square Enix launched worldwide on the system on November 20, 2008. This was back when Microsoft had a focus on Japan and desired nothing more than to push its current Xbox console, the 360, into as many Japanese homes as possible by providing an immense lineup of exclusive JRPGs. Sadly, even with a strong repertoire of games to excite Japanese gamers, the Xbox brand is DOA pretty much in the land of the rising sun.

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon (3DS) Alola Forms and Z-Moves Reveal Trailer

As promised by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo, a new trailer full of announcements is here for Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. From new Alola forms of familiar Pokémon to brand-new, ultra-powerful Z-Moves, this trailer is packed to the gills with goodness!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ultimate Ghosts 'N Goblins (PSP) Retro Review

The final review of the month of July is a retro review for a PlayStation Portable game, a re-imagining of the Ghosts 'n Goblins series from 2006. It's Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins, and here is my review.

Fun for all the right reasons, challenging for all the wrong reasons.

When the PlayStation Portable originally came out, Capcom was one of the biggest third-party proponents to the system, releasing everything from Mega Man to Monster Hunter on the system. As the success of its titles wasn't to the publisher's liking on the PSP, Capcom soon invested much less game-wise to the system. However, before just contributing loads of Monster Hunter games on the PSP, Capcom released a new version of its classic Ghosts 'n Goblins series in the form of Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins. While an overall worthwhile game to play, Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins shows that a developer can stray too close to antiquated old school sensibilities.

One of the biggest problems with Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins is how controlling Arthur feels as antiquated as back in the '80s and '90s. Arthur's jumps are extremely stiff, not even allowing the player to control the undead-slaying knight while in midair. This makes for an amazingly frustrating experience, especially as there are many times when precision jumping is required. Furthermore, Arthur can only attack in four directions whereas enemies can in from all 360 degrees. Arthur's movement is slow and prodding, even when he attacks, and while it's nice that Capcom decided to stay true to the Ghosts 'n Goblins series' roots, this would have been one area where improving the controls to something out of the year this PSP sequel was released instead of back in the '80s would have been very much appreciated. Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins is always difficult as a game, as you're ambushed constantly by hordes of monsters; it didn't need to be artificially more frustrating because of its controls.

Yikes. This doesn't look like it is going to end well for Arthur.
Thankfully, this edition of Ghosts 'n Goblins comes complete with multiple difficulties for beginners as well as those who hates themselves. Novice/Standard mode gives you a number of lives to use, multiple hits to your armor, and the ability to re-spawn nearby from where you die, whether if you take damage while Arthur is in his skivvies or fall into one of the many bottomless pits in the game. Meanwhile, Ultimate mode is a nightmare-level difficulty where no matter what level of armor Arthur is wearing, one hit results in him breaking out into his boxers, and death means you have to start back at the beginning of the level you're currently in. Novice and Standard modes are recommended for all players, as there is still a great level of challenge posed. The inclusion of a helpful save system, allowing you to save your progress after each level, gives this hard game more semblance of fairness.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins has the boxer-toting knight Arthur setting out on a quest to take down the kidnapper of a princess, a nefarious emperor of the Dark Realm. The tale is as simple as "beat the big bad, save the princess", and the narrative doesn't expand from the opening cutscene, but that is just fine for a game of the platforming genre, especially one hearkening back to the classics.

Starting off on his quest, Arthur has a suit of armor, the ability to jump, and an unlimited arsenal of lances to throw. Upon coming in contact with an enemy, Arthur's armor falls into a pile off his body, revealing nothing but him in his vulnerable heart-covered boxers. Taking damage then results in Arthur turning into a skeleton and falling down into a collection of bones. However, there are multiple levels of armor to be collected, granting Arthur the ability to be hit more than once before entering his skivvies. In addition to that, the ability to double jump is earned early on in the game, a feature that you won't know how you lived without after getting it.

Even just down to his heart-covered skivvies, Arthur is brave against the forces of evil.
Besides using a myriad of sharp, pointy lances, Arthur can grab a wide assortment of weapons. When one is picked up, the weapon Arthur currently has is replaced. These range from old standbys like daggers and bombs to new weapons like rose whips and scythes that fly in a boomerang pattern, allowing Arthur to scoop up faraway items in the process.

From lances to whips, Arthur's arsenal can be ever-changing.
The five worlds of Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins throw the book at you in terms of challenge, sights, and obstacles. From venturing through the traditional Ghosts 'n Goblins-style graveyard teeming with the undead to exploring the inner workings of a castle, full of moving platforms and deteriorating staircases, Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins keeps you on your toes.

The initial time it takes to reach the final level for players will take but a couple of hours or so. Then, the game throws a wrench into things, making note that if you haven't collected 21 gold rings, a collectable that most players would think nothing of on their initial journey through the game, you aren't getting through the final door to face the game's boss. This results in you being thrown back to the beginning of the game, tasked with not only acquiring 21 gold rings (there are over 30 to collect, and collecting all of them gives you the best ending of the game), but acquiring various spells hidden in levels to acquire many of these hidden rings.

This can make for a tedious time for some players, as the idea of playing through the same levels repeatedly, picking up new spells and rings might not be the most appealing. Plus, many rings and spells are hidden in secret treasure chests that only trigger and spawn upon touching a specific space in a given level. Unless you're a masochist, very determined and unrelenting, you'll most likely need to take up a walk-through posted somewhere on the Web to find the locations of all the hidden "goodies" to be found in Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins.

One thing I haven't yet mentioned regarding Arthur's most recent adventure is that of the boss battles. These feats of bravery and strength have you taking on demonic entities both small and large, each with their own patterns to be on the look out for. Predictable, yes, but challenging all the same.

Speaking of bosses, this bony baddie is the first Arthur comes up against.
The presentation of Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins features 3D models and environments, bringing a sense of depth to the visuals. The amount of detail in the environments and levels is astonishing, and it's all done without looking or being too busy. The performance of the game is solid, offering seldom occurrences of slowdown. Meanwhile, the music features glorious remixed music from past Ghosts 'n Goblins games as well as all-new arrangements. Overall, Capcom went all out with the presentation of Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins.

Without question, if you're a lover of immensely hard old school games, Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins will give you lots to love and lots of monsters to maul. What it won't give you is tight platforming, controls that aren't stiff, jumps where you can always see where you're going to land, enjoyment from playing the same levels over and over again, and an easy time of things. This is where some gamers might absolutely love Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins for these things while others will only get the cold shoulder.

[SPC Says: C]