The latest in the long-running Goblins series, and a surprisingly solid game considering the platform’s reputation, Ghosts and Goblins – Gold Knights once again finds our hero Arthur out to rescue maidens from the forces of the Ghoul Realm. But Arthur has a new ally in what is essentially the same story of fighting monsters, Lancelot.
The graphics are quite good for an iOS game, with plenty of intricate details and well-designed stages throughout. Highlights include the familiar gigantic bosses at the end of each level. They are as massive and imposing as the series has always demonstrated. Basic enemies are the typical zombies, skeletons, and giant plants.
The music is familiar, with the classic Ghosts theme present in the first stage as if to welcome us back to familiar territory years later. It's a fitting tribute, which makes it decidedly unfitting that the rest of the game has completely generic music.
Sound effects are functional but often feel muted, perhaps a limitation of the platform. The best part is hearing the death throes of the bosses as you triumph in each tense encounter, which makes for a deeply satisfying experience.
Gameplay is the familiar action formula, with our hero making his way across multi-tiered stages ending in a fearsome encounter all for the sake of a key that oddly continues to be " for coming in"? What else would a key be for exactly?
The big change in Gold Knights is the addition of Lancelot. He is functionally similar to Arthur but his ability to jump on enemies to inflict damage is quite a nice surprise. While he does suffer from decreased damage as a result, you'll easily be stomping foes to dust that you'll hardly notice. It's a simple change that serves to make the experience quite different.
A concern might be in the touch controls. I was skeptical when I first started the game, thinking that touch based gestures would not be sufficient for the level of precision one needs to succeed in this series. Gamers who have been raised on controllers will take some time to get adjusted, but you will persevere when a game’s as good as this one. It’s really just a matter of adjusting your timing and you’ll do just fine. It’s too bad that the controls overall are as finicky as the series has always had. There were a few times where I inavertedly jumped into a pit due to overestimating the momentum that carries the player after a double jump. It’s a minor quibble, but be aware of it to avoid frustration throughout the levels.
Even with control troubles, the difficulty has been lessened for many possible reasons. While the navigation is still imprecise, there are far fewer enemy projectile attacks (perhaps due to the smaller iPhone screen?) and environmental traps such as collapsing land or background hazards. Our heroes also can take a few more hits before they are in their underwear, and with checkpoints a plenty, action fans will welcome the lighter challenge. There are plenty of ways to make a game tough and the classic series was often unfair, so it’s nice to see a better balance. Regardless magic attacks with the Gold Armor will still destroy your foes. Don’t lose that commodity if you get your hands on it!
For the hardcore fans, there are additional difficulty modes called Boxer and Skeleton Mode, in which you start in your underwear, so think one hit deaths. The more interesting extra is Skeleton Mode because it is exactly what it sounds like. Your character is now a skeleton and you die in one hit. The big difference from Boxer Mode is that your gait is a bit slower understandably and you can only throw bones for a weapon, limiting your attack variety. A nice bonus.
Overall, Gold Knights is great fun for series veterans and it is they who most appreciate this somewhat strategic action platformer. It's mostly familiar, but we wouldn't have it any other way. And the best part of is, and I don’t think these will be spoilers, is that you don’t have to play the game TWICE to get the ending!
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