Kickstarter Interview: Welcome retro gaming and challenge into your heart with Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Demon World
People often like to credit Battletoads as the ‘difficult as hell’ game to beat back in the Nintendo Entertainment System days. While I’m not disagreeing (f@#$ Battletoads), I recall getting pretty far in that game. My wall for the NES was always, ALWAYS Ghosts N’ Goblins. Not only did I play it religiously, I was horrible at it. Curse those red devils ... curse them with every fiber of my existence! To say the game is hard is a pure understatement. All I’m going to say is level 6. Sure, beating the game is one of those gamer lifetime achievements, but I would have been okay beating level 6 just once; what a nightmare.
I had the opportunity to interview Monty Singleton, who is trying to Kickstart Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Demon World. No, this isn’t a game with a suspiciously familiar title – this team of sadists, Phantasm Studios, wants to create a modern version of the classic Ghosts ‘N Goblins. It has been over 22 years since the franchise’s last console release, and they have decided it is time to return gamers to that nostalgic level of frustration that could only be imitated by re-familiarizing yourself with that sort of challenge and heartache.
If you’re reading this and assume that I loathe this idea, you’re absolutely wrong. If Monty and his team are sadists, I’m the masochist on the other end that can’t wait to get his hands on it. Nothing is more rewarding than beating something that is classically difficult. I am totally down for a new, updated, and equally difficult version of the classics – especially those which I was too unskilled to beat back in the day.
Here’s the beauty: Capcom has actually agreed to review to project to allow licensing. While nothing is promised, they will make this game regardless of whether Capcom allows it or not. If approval is denied, they’ll just have to make some artistic altercations. I strongly suggest you check out the video below, their Kickstarter page, as well as the interview. If you’re a retro gamer from that frustratingly difficult era or a lover of extremely challenging sidescrollers, you will want to back this.
What exactly is Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Demon World?
It is an “80s retro” inspired game that has just finished pre-development and we are trying to fully develop it as a proposal to Capcom as a Ghosts ‘N Goblins sequel. If it had an arcade poster, this would be printed on it:
“All the bodies throughout history have been buried in the world’s tallest peak, Graveyard Mountain. All but one man has fallen into darkness as the dead have risen. Become King Arthur and descend 4,000 miles into the core of Demon World, destroy Lucifer, and save the princess.”
Where did the idea for Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Demon World stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?
Though I hit Utah’s only good retro arcade Atomic about once a week to solve this problem, I never could think of a way to revive the dead arcade scene and shrinking console scene. Then, OUYA came along and showed me they were blending the best of tablet/phone qualities with the best qualities of a console. 100% credit goes to OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman. Her inspirational story was the genesis of this project. Someone who had no console making experience could take an idea and a year later have a console for sale in Gamestop iS MIND BLOWING. If that’s possible, anything is possible. Then, they announced their “Free The Games Fund” in August where they match development costs as a way to find the next big game. Consoles need a hit game to be successful. The combination of the two gave me the courage to approach major publishers as a way to find a potential hit for them and then do a Kickstarter to fund it. OUYA gamers love console gaming and they love retro gaming. After doing some research, I was blown away by how many of my favorite retro games haven’t been reimagined for today’s consoles. Piracy or legal emulators, that’s it. So, I contacted Capcom and they were the only studio cool enough to welcome a proposal. Ghosts ‘N Goblins is my favorite arcade game, and I didn’t originally ask the hottest girl to the Prom. But, nobody else would even respond to my emails. Ironically, the hottest girl was also the nicest!
Where there any other video game influences other than the original Ghosts ‘N Goblins for this project?
Yes, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Ultimate Ghosts ‘N Goblins, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Wii U.
There is a focus on playing this game from start to finish without dedicating endless hours to it, what other classic themes and values are you focusing on for this project?
The difficulty level will be just as high. The music will be minimalistic like the classic games, no huge symphonies here. The game play will be your classic 2D run-and-gunner game play though the graphics will be 3D. The weapons will be the same with some surprises. A lot of new bosses, but plenty of zombies, skeletons, man eating plants, and quick short devils. It will look and play like an updated Ghouls ‘n Ghosts rather than a Resident Evil. We like our horror fun for children like Halloween. The #1 goal is to make it feel like a Tokuro Fujiwara creation without it actually being one. You will start in a graveyard jumping tombstones but instead of ascending to beat Lucifer, you will be descending into the bottom of the earth to destroy Lucifer. Arthur will lose his armor and dive to the bottom of some layers similar to Mario.
What do you mean by ‘wanting to make gaming physically social again?'
We want to bring family video game night back to the living room. That means creating games both parents and their children will love, ordering pizza and soda, and spending one night a week together beating a game where everyone is looking at one screen. No virtual tablet/phone “walls” where four people are all playing four different games at once. If we are successful, I’m going to put a whole marketing campaign behind this concept. We have many friends who’s wives get upset when they play video games with friends! We are going to convince them otherwise. Family vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, date night….video game night. Corporations create family traditions all the time. Rudolph was created by Sears! Ever wonder why Cinco de Mayo is so popular in America now? Anheuser-Bush and Miller Company.
Is the ever looming Capcom review stressful or are you confident you can still make the game you want regardless?
If we can get the funding, we can make a game that will be an “offer they can’t refuse.” If they do make us rename the game, it will still be an amazing Halloween themed game. But, Ghosts ‘N Goblins fans have already waited 22 years for a new console game, my mission here is to change that. I will be very upset if another 22 years has to pass. We have waited long enough.
How is the process of deciding what aspects to keep retro and what to modernize?
It’s basically redrawing the old graphics with modern tools and giving more detail to the animation. 99% cosmetic. Polishing up the best of the old games so it doesn’t look 8 bit, but it plays like an 8 bit game.
The Ghosts ‘N Goblins series is known for its difficulty, will you keep the legend going?
Absolutely. I’ve already told Joe (one of our game designers) that he needs to practice more because the difficulty level is as essential as Arthur and Lucifer.
When I think of Ghosts ‘N Goblins, I always remember that main theme song and level advancement jingle, if Capcom approves your submission will you be able to keep variants of these?
I’m going to do everything I can to make this happen. It’s not a Ghosts ‘N Goblins game without those two songs. This is a #1 priority for keeping the retro flavor.
Do you plan on getting Ghosts ‘N Goblins: Demon World on Steam Greenlight? Can fans help?
Once the game is published, I’m going to try to convince Capcom to put the game anywhere there is a physical controller. Wherever CAPCOM games can be found is where Demon World will be. Steam Greenlight is like Netflix for video games, and I love Netflix. I love what Steam Greenlight is doing. If I can get this to happen, I’ll be contacting backers to help me make a case to Capcom as to why this is a great idea.
Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ