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File:GnG Stage1 NES Secret1.png

Ghosts 'n Goblins (known in Japan as Makaimura, "Demon World Village") is Capcom's infamously Nintendo Hard Action Game platformer from the 8-bit era that pits intrepid Knight In (and occasionally Out Of) Shining Armor Arthur against endless hordes of undead, demons, Goddamned Bats, and the titular ghosts and goblins in a quest to save his sweetie, Princess Prin-Prin, with only two Hit Points to his name. As with a great many games of its time, its first appearance was in arcades, followed by ports to home platforms, including the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, and NES. Later on, it appeared in updated form on the Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and PlayStation, and in 2007 was released on the Wii Virtual Console.

The game received sequels in Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Daimakaimura in Japan) for arcades and the Sega Genesis, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts for the SNES, Makaimura for Wonderswan (yes that's really its title), Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins for the PSP, and Ghosts'n Goblins: Gold Knights for the iOS. Also inspired a separate series comprised of Gargoyle's Quest for the Game Boy, Gargoyle's Quest II for the NES, and Demon's Crest for the SNES.

Compare the Maximo series, which is a spiritual successor/spin-off.

Arthur himself has made an out-series appearances in Namco X Capcom, as well as the Marvel vs. Capcom series (Assist Character in the first game, then full-blown playable in the third) The Red Arremer is also a Bonus Boss (AND HOW!) in SNK vs. Capcom SVC Chaos. Red Arremer (Firebrand From Gargoyle's quest) was added in the Updated Rerelease, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where he has special dialogue with Arthur.

Tropes used in Ghosts 'n Goblins include:
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: In Stage 3 of Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the screen scrolls hazards downward, eventually coming to a ceiling that crushes everything (unless you escape to the right).
  • After Boss Recovery: Defeat the boss in underwear to get back your armor.
  • All There in the Manual: A particularly infamous example, as most of the story related stuff about the game, including the fact that Arthur was the sole survivor of a bunch of knights and wizards who tried to battle Astaroth (or as he was known at the time, King Gondias), that the princess had been present to treat Arthur's wounds from said battle (hence why he was in his underwear in the opening) the princess's name, and the fact that the statues were petrified villagers can only be found in Micom BASIC #40's coverage of the game.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite
  • A Winner Is You: "Congraturation. This story is happy end. Thank you. Being the wise and courageour knight that you are you feel strongth welling. In your body. Return to starting point. Challenge again!" ...which is followed by the Game Over screen.
  • Baleful Polymorph: A magician who likes to hide in treasure chests does this if you don't kill him fast enough.
  • Blade on a Stick: Arthur's default weapon is a Lance.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: Especially pronounced in the NES port, though the arcade original has some gaffs too.
  • Boss Rush: In the sixth stage of Ghosts 'n Goblins, the bosses from the previous stages show up again.
  • Bottomless Pits: Not nearly as common as in most other platformers that use them, but they're definitely there.
  • Bowdlerise: Lucifer and Samael, the final bosses in Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts respectively, were renamed Loki and Sardius respectively (except in the arcade version of the former, where he was still called Lucifer).
  • Cap: In the original game, there can be no more than three zombies on the screen at a time. Other enemies have similar caps.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: Bosses like to explode in that manner in Ghouls n' Ghosts.
  • Check Point: Only works on death or when you insert 25 cents within 10 seconds.
  • Clean Dub Name: In the console ports of Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Lucifer was renamed Loki in the localized versions, while Samael became Sardius in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
  • Clown Car Grave: The zombies just keep... on... coming. Forever. And they're not the only ones.
  • Crazy Prepared: According to the ending of Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Arthur had spent three years improving his weapons because he knew the demon world would be restored eventually. Not that it did him much good...
  • Degraded Boss:
    • Happens to some of the bosses. For example, the Shielder in Ghouls 'n Ghosts shows up in the penultimate stage, but only as a head and an arm mounted on the wall.
    • Astaroth, the final boss of the original game, shows up in all later installments as the penultimate boss.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
  • Directionally Solid Platforms
  • Double Jump: Arthur gets the ability to do this in Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts. It does not make the game any easier.
  • Dual Boss: In the first game, the bosses of the second stage are twin versions of the cyclops from the first stage. Likewise, the boss of the sixth stage are twin versions of Satan, the flying devil boss from the fifth stage.
  • Dub Name Change: The official name of Arthur's beloved is "Princess Prin-Prin" (as displayed in the ending of Ghouls 'n Ghosts), although some of the earlier localizations renamed her into "Princess Tamara" (in the Genesis version) or "Princess Guinevere" (in the SNES version, a reference to King Arthur's own beloved). However, most official documentation (even for the Japanese releases) don't even bother mentioning her name at all and simply refer to her as "The Princess" (though it is to be noted that the Micom BASIC #40 section covering the game did list her as Guinevere).
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Not in the SNES version. She actually makes it worse.
  • Expy: Knight Arthur is technically not King Arthur, but just some knight who happens to be named Arthur. And the princess he's saving is officially called "Prin-Prin", but has undergone a few name changes between different localizations.
  • Fake Longevity: You'll have to play through the game twice to see the true ending. This applies to every installment of the series.
  • Floating Platforms
  • Goofy Print Underwear: If Arthur takes a hit while armored, his armor falls off, revealing strawberry-print undies (though merchandise and cameos often depict them as hearts). If Arthur takes a hit while in this state, he gets Stripped to the Bone.
    • Arthur instead has vertical stripes in the Wonderswan game.
  • Goomba Stomp: Mostly absent from the series, but Lancelot can do it in Gold Knights.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Your player collision area in the first three games is rather small compared to the player sprite.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Arthur's basic attack is to fling an endless number of lances from nowhere. Other weapons have similarly plucked-from-thin-air projectiles.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: In Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Super, random treasure chests can somehow materialize from thin air.
  • Jump Physics: Present but not highly distinguishable. Jumping from foothold to precarious foothold isn't as big a part of gameplay in Ghosts 'n Goblins as it is in some other platformers, and Arthur's jump isn't all that much more controllable than a real-life jump.
    • Commodore 64 wouldn't allow jumping over a tombstone if you were right against it; you needed a single pace back before jumping over. The "good" versions don't have this quirk.
    • Also see Double Jump above.
  • The Legions of Hell: Most enemies are, in one way or another, fighting for the Devil himself.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: Starts with the original, lasts all the way through Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins, and becomes Arthur's theme for Namco X Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
  • New Game+: The page quote kicks it off.
  • Nintendo Hard: THE VERY DEFINITION OF NINTENDO HARD. Only the Ninja Gaiden series and Battletoads come anywhere near in difficulty to this series. And unlike other series, this game has continued to be this hard in all its incarnations. The last game of the series (for the PSP) actually has a life bar and you start right where you died and it's STILL hard as hell.
    • This applies more to the NES port, where you're fighting low framerate and poor collision detection. The arcade original is significantly easier.
      • The NES port is also glitchy as hell - in the last level, if a red demon flies off the screen, do not thank your lucky stars. It will soon SPAWN OUT OF THE WALL and destroy your face.
    • C64 port as well. While the Red Arremer is much easier to dodge, some other enemies are much more difficult to make up this loss.
  • One Bullet At a Time: Varies depending on the weapon. e.g. you can only have two lances on screen at a time, but up to three daggers.
  • Perfect Play AI: The Red Arremer comes close.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The torch and the axe in the first game. Made more insidious in some versions because the Power-Ups appear in a specific order — you have to pick up the worthless torch before the (very, very good) sword will appear. Later games made all Power-Ups random, although they include many more let downs, too.
  • Recurring Boss: The original game has significantly fewer distinct boss types than there are levels.
    • Also Astaroth comes back in every game, even when he's not the Big Bad anymore.
  • Satan: The recurring Big Bad of the series is Astaroth, and Satan is his lackey. In Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the Big Bad is Lucifer (Loki in the American Genesis version). In Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the final boss Sardius is called Samael in Japan. These are all separate entities. And in Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins, Astaroth is still there as the Final Boss, but there's a True Final Boss after him: Hades.
    • There's also a demon bee boss named Beelzebub, which is sometimes another name for Satan.
  • Save the Princess: Every game is about Arthur rescuing Princess Prin Prin. Even in the second game, where she's killed by Lucifer, it's Arthur's goal to rescue her soul and bring her back to life.
  • Spin-Off: The main series spawned the Gargoyle's Quest trilogy, a spinoff series starring Red Arremer/Firebrand, one of the enemies from Ghosts 'n Goblins. And in those games, Lucifer from Ghouls 'N Ghosts (cleverly renamed to Rushifell in English) is your Worthy Opponent, but not actually your enemy.
  • Spiritual Successor: Maximo: Ghosts To Glory is technically not part of the series, but was very obviously inspired by it. Medievil too.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The numerous small pools of water in Arthur's path might as well be filled with lava or Spikes of Doom. Averted in Makaimura for Wonderswan, where Arthur actually can swim.
  • Theme Naming: Some of the members of the Red Arremer family are themed after playing cards, with Red Arremer King in Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Red Arremer Ace in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and Red Arremer Joker in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts Advance. Now where's Queen and Jack?
  • Timed Mission
  • The Unfought: Satan appears in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, where he abducts Prin-Prin in the game's opening sequence, but he never actually fights the player as an enemy.
  • Unwinnable: The NES version had some bosses immune to some attacks. If you got the wrong item, you can't even get the screen saying you didn't get the shield.
    • The fourth boss in Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a stationary slug. It can become this if Arthur happens to be carrying the short-range broadsword.
  • Updated Rerelease: Goku Makaimura Kai for Goku Makaimura (Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins), which includes the original game and a revised mode that drops the RPG elements for a more Arcade-like experience (sadly, it's Japan-only).
    • The Game Boy Advance port of Super Ghouls n' Ghosts could also count as this. It includes an all-new "arranged mode" with branching paths and new levels.
  • Wall Master: Some enemies appear uncomfortably close.
  • Womb Level: The fourth level in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is called "The Ghoul's Stomach". It's appropriately spooky.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Prin-Prin.
  • Younger Than They Look: According to Arthur's bio in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, "Though he looks like an old man, he's really only 28 years old."
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: THIS ROOM IS AN ILLUSION AND IS A TRAP DEVISUT BY SATAN. GO AHEAD DAUNTLESSLY! MAKE RAPID PROGRES! . After defeating the Ghost 'n Goblins' Final Boss, Arthur is forced to replay the entire game, on a harder difficulty level --of all things-- to get the genuine end.