Publisher: Dolores Ent.
Genre: Action & Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita, PC
Audience: E for Everyone
Release Date: 14/2/2019
Price: £8.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
Ghoulboy is a retro-inspired style action platformer that combines the action-RPG genre with hack ‘n’ slash gameplay.
2D action, heroic characters, gloomy environments, demonic bosses, these all seem to excite players a lot. Pixels will be combined with other cool retro elements and the result will certainly be something that will meet the needs of Nintendo Switch gamers.
Once in-game, users will get to control a heroic character who will often be seen throwing a spear to create additional platforms. To boot, puzzle and combat elements will further enhance the experience. You wouldn’t want to miss out on it. With the gold that you collect, you can increase your health level, your arsenal of weapons to be thrown away.
Slay as many monsters as you can, collect loot, avoid dangerous traps and defeat menacing bosses.
Ghoulboy brings back the look and feel of the very best classic retro platformers from the ’90s, introducing refreshed and engaging gameplay mechanics. If you miss platformers from the 16-bit era, and think games nowadays aren’t that good anymore, think twice! Ghoulboy is for you.
It’s a little known fact, but I am a sucker for the Castlevania games. So, whenever I see a 2D platformer that features a hero brandishing what appears to be a whip, plus a secondary weapon, I am immediately intrigued. Ghoulboy, from developer Redro Games, was one such title that jumped out to me in the Castlevania sense. While not without its faults, Ghoulboy does an admirable job of trying to encapsulate what makes old-school action platformers great.
Gameplay and Replayability
Ghoulboy is a 2D throwback to the light-hearted horror-themed action games of the early ’90s. It plays like a cross between Super Mario Bros. and the first Castlevania on the NES. The story revolves around guiding a courageous little boy in a horned helmet known as Ghoulboy across Halloween themed levels. Throughout those levels, you will leap from platform to platform, solve a few simple puzzles, fight the occasional boss, and face-off against many different types of monsters like skeletons and ghouls.
The levels are cleverly designed and enjoyable to play for the most part. You will have access to three primary weapons: your starting weapon which is a knife, a sword, and then my favourite the long mace. You can purchase an upgraded weapon with collected in-game money from the main menu for better striking power and range. It’s strange to have to go to the main menu to upgrade, but it’s not much of a hindrance.
Ghoulboy is divided into different acts with 4 levels in each. Aside from the display at the beginning of the act, there is no other way to tell which level you are on if one loses track or stops and continues later. Each act is designed with a unique setting, but without a level, select screen and no ability to go back to previous levels, playing the game can feel somewhat disorienting in terms of knowing where your progress is.
Enemy design and placement are just like an early NES title with enemies appearing randomly and often. Some enemies can be attacked with a throwing weapon without getting close enough to trigger their AI, while others are placed on a platform above the player that is still within range of a swinging sword attack. There are also enemies that will home in on you but will noticeably be limited in how far they can move from their spawn point allowing you to stand just outside of it. The boss battles are hardly memorable with easy, simple movement patterns and attacks that can be countered only by merely jumping.
Looks and Sounds
I appreciated the chiptunes soundtrack with some catchy melodies harkening back to the games of old, and the sound effects were archetypal of 8-bit adventure titles. There’s nothing truly memorable about the music, but it accomplishes the goal of being like a retro experience. Graphically, Ghoulboy looks just like a game from the 8-bit generation and even has different filters you can cycle through from the menu to provide an even more in-depth old-school experience.
Controlling Ghoulboy is just like any retro platformer with being able to double-jump and use weapons. I found the controls to feel too floaty and not as fluid as I would like, but it was still adequate for allowing me to make difficult jumps. As you play, you’ll acquire different secondary weapons to use, and one, in particular, is extremely useful for accessing secret areas and helping with platforming. The spear can be thrown into walls and used as an additional platform, so long as you have them in your inventory. This was a neat concept that added more exploration and platforming elements to Ghoulboy.
Overall, Ghoulboy is a fun retro-inspired action platformer that you will enjoy if you appreciate old-school platformers but isn’t without many little faults. While Ghoulboy does have some minor glitches with maybe an enemy or money getting stuck in the level geometry, or platforms not appearing where they should, there is still a competent game here. I would like to see what the developer can create next and iron out all the little hindrances that detract from the overall experience.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Ghoulboy on the Nintendo Switch eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Ghoulboy-1510136.html#Overview