by Phil Warren
Why: Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts is an affront to humanity. Generally accepted as one of the hardest games ever made, it gives you the luxury of playing out the fever-dream of a madman, where realistic jump physics, no save points, a haplessly waddling protagonist, and two-hits-til-you’re-dead seem wholly appropriate. You play as King Arthur, of legend, who somehow has developed a beef with Satan, and then you strap in and learn the important lesson that life’s just not fair. It ground me up and spit me out as child, but this time things will go differently.
How long HAS it been: ~19-20 years
What was it like then: When I was young, my parents would let me rent a game for the SNES every weekend, in exchange for mowing the lawn and whatever yardwork was required. Around 1991 and 1992, Nintendo was shoveling out crapware, and it was difficult to determine what games were actually games, and what were just cruel jokes where the consumer was the punchline. As an 8 year old, I had no way of recognizing that the game with the knight fighting zombies was just such a joke. Hell, as an adult I think I’d still gravitate towards the box art that suggested I kill zombies.
I’ll never forget popping that cartridge into my Super Nintendo, and having my spirits shattered like an eggshell prophylactic. (Did that simile work? I feel like it worked. Yeaaaaaah, simile.) I played for hours the first day, and never got past the first half of the first level. I played for hours the second day, and still couldn’t even fathom beating the first level. Only by the end of the weekend had I even glimpsed the beginning of the second level. I’d mowed the lawn AND weed-wacked for this?! All I had gotten out of it was an OCD-like drive to memorize every detail of everything ever, an addiction to Shasta, and a burning hatred for ghouls and/or ghosts.
What is it like now? I took the time to track down the original cartridge. I spent a week steeling myself, training and meditating for the unrelenting challenge to come. I enlisted the help of a cohort, a young woman with the reflexes and instinct to slay whatever forces are thrown our way. With home-popped popping corn and a determination unparalleled by most SNES gamers, we were ready. Read more »
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