Ultimate Ghosts 'N Goblins

Prepare yourselves. Old school goodness is about to make a return on your PSP in the form of Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins, Capcom's latest endeavor for the system. Of course, I've been saying that for awhile about the company now. Their games Mega Man Maverick Hunter X, Mega Man: Powered Up, and Capcom Classic Collection Remixed have all had some kind of old-school label attached to them. Ultimate, however, looks to be a game that truly lives up to its name.

Once again, Arthur finds his girlfriend in great peril, and he now has to face all new demonic terrors in an effort to rescue her. This time, however, the gameplay's seen a couple of interesting changes. First off, the game has a "hit" system that actually works with a life bar. Arthur can now take a few different hits instead of just an impact to lose his armor and then one for his death. He can actually power up his armor multiple times to give his weapons more power as well. And when he is killed (which, trust me, will be OFTEN in this game), he restarts right back at the point where he got bumped off, which will be a saving grace for those who were frustrated by going back to the beginning.

The graphics are surreal. You've got a 2-D-styled game that embraces the old-playing style of previous Ghosts games, but then you have 3-D graphics that really bring out the best details seen yet in the series. It's almost like a 2.5-D experience, similar to that of the Klonoa games from Konami. There are various tricks here, however, as well as level design that will literally have you jumping all over the place, defeating enemies and seeking out the right path. Throughout the game, you'll encounter a series of crazy boss battles, ranging from a large snake with a hungry appetite to a demon that doesn't mind shooting down fireballs at you. And that's just the mid-level bosses.

The game's power-up system is just part of the new additions. There's also new weapons, including a powerful new blade that can cut through the toughest enemies and an awesome vine whip that lets you snap away at enemies Castlevania style. The game also features a wonderful soundtrack similar to the old games, but well suited for the PSP's purposes. Players can also choose from various difficulty levels, ranging from novice (for the easy) to ultimate (for the hardcore players). Players can revisit saved stages at any time, so they can go back through a level to try and complete it better, as well as pick up items they may have missed.

The only thing missing from Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins is a taste of the classics that inspired this chapter. It would've been cool for Capcom to include the first three Ghosts games as bonus items, or maybe even mini-versions of them. But I suppose they'll save those releases for the forthcoming Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded, due out later this year. What matter is that we have a new Ghosts game to play at all, and it's looking pretty damn fantastic. Look for a review of this game at the beginning of next month. And prepare yourselves for old-school glory!