Tag Archives: Maximo


games i regret super_ghouls_n_ghosts

Starting out, I had only a few games for the Super Nintendo, my first home console. Back then, unlike today, games were scarce and limited, gifts given to you by loved ones every X number of months or purchased via the savings you had from doing daily chores over the summer, and so you played what you had, over and over and over, because they were the only digital entertainment you had. Hopefully your friends had different titles to try out. Well, you also played Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past over and over again because they were fantastic, constantly surprising and rewarding, beyond fun to this day. More to the topic at hand, I played Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts over and over again because it was frustratingly difficult.

You control the knight Arthur, who is entrusted to rescue the princess from a bunch of evil demons. Yup, game plots back then were as straightforward as they get, often with men saving a woman in peril, whether that man was a plumber, young boy, or legendary warrior. Anyways, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts‘ antagonist is the Emperor Sardius, who has kidnapped the princess in order to obtain the whereabouts of the Goddess’ Bracelet, the only weapon in existence capable of destroying himself. Kind of like a Horcrux, I guess. Hmm. I didn’t know about that last tidbit, but seeing as I never got really far along in this mighty quest, that makes plenty of sense.

For those that know not, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is an action platformer, with a good focus on both action and platforming. Health is represented by Arthur’s suit of armor, which can be upgraded a bunch of times. Whenever an enemy deals damage, the armor lessons, falls apart, all the way down to having our heroic hero running around and tossing lances in only his boxer shorts. It’s humorless, but works really well to visually show how much more damage you can take before buying the farm. Oh, and Arthur can double jump, which was not as common as you think back then. Other than that, it’s all about moving and reaching the end, killing every demon or demon-created enemy in your way.

The big thing I remember about Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is that, just like in DuckTales, treasure chests are hidden and can only be accessed by moving through certain specific areas of the screen, causing them to appear. Thankfully, since I sucked at saving the princess, I got pretty good at knowing where many of the hidden areas were in the first few levels.

Years later, after piling this game up with a bunch of others and trading it in for some credit towards a PlayStation, I snagged a copy of Maximo: Ghosts to Glory for the PlayStation 2. It is based on the same universe and features original character designs by Japanese illustrator Susumu Matsushita. Despite having an albeit punishing save system, the game is still as grueling to get through, but I’m once again halfway decent at the opening few levels, as I just keep replaying them from time to time.

Evidently, to get the true ending and ruin the rest of Emperor Sardius’ days, one must complete Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts twice. In a row. I’m sure it’s been done. I’m sure all I have to do is type some words into the YouTube search box and I’ll see what I want to see. That said, I prefer living in ignorance, remaining a child in his bedroom, twisting the SNES controller in my sweaty palms, screaming at the TV, “This game is impossible!” before popping back over to causing chaos in Sim City. I know it’s not, but Arthur’s journey is not a walk through the park. It’s a walk through a skeleton-laden park that hates you. Now double that feat and keep your clothes on the entire time. No thanks.

Sure, I like playing that opening level a whole bunch, but maybe, in the end, this is actually one game I don’t regret trading in.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

The slow death of videogame manuals

At the end of April 2010, Ubisoft announced it was no longer printing videogame manuals as part of a green initiative to save paper and reduce the publisher’s carbon footprint. Good for them! Boo for us that actually like manuals (in other words, me) and not just for nostalgia’s sake. This is a first for the industry, with no other publisher following suit just yet, but while I can see the pros and cons in this action, I also know that, ultimately, videogame manuals are going the way of the dinosaur.

Thankfully, there’s a site called Replacement Docs, which allows you to download manuals of many, many games, some bereft and others not. The archive is well worth scouring. Do check it out.

Right. So I like videogame manuals. I like them a lot. Some nostalgia points slip into this factoring in that, during both the middle school and high school days, I used to get dropped off at the mall, buy an SNES or PS1 game with allowance money/job money, and then sit in a predetermined meeting area until my mother came to pick me up. I’d use this time wisely by devouring the game’s manual page by page, word by word, image by image. Some times I even read the manual more than once. Trap Gunner comes to mind instantly, and after reading about the game for 20 minutes, I just couldn’t wait to get home and play. At that point, I felt like, thanks to the manual, I was more than prepared for whatever the game was going to throw at me.

And even though nowadays we have extensive previews and reviews online, on-screen button prompts, and in-game opening tutorials, the straightforwardness of “training” yourself page after page feels much more natural. You usually see a picture of the control scheme, some plot background details, learning the menus, maybe some pages devoted to key characters, and so on. Also, some tips and tricks are only mentioned in the manual, like how to crouch in Maximo, a game I bought used and without a manual, leading me down a dark and destined-for-failure path until the Internet told me what I was doing wrong. Thanks, Internet, you big manual yourself.

Also, brand new manuals smell, and you know it. Sure, it’s an acquired taste much like a new car or a really old bookstore, but I tell you this, and I tell you this in all seriousness…it’s a smell I’m going to miss. Ripping off the plastic sealing and stickers to crack open the case and give the game manual its first breath into this world is truly a great feeling. So is taking it out and fanning yourself with it during the summer months. I kid on that front, but I love videogame manuals so much that when I bought Fallout 3: Game of the Year edition back in November 2009, I still read the manual front to end before popping the game disc into my Xbox 360 despite waiting over 12 months to get the game. I think that says something.

Will have to look through my collection later for some examples of great and not-so-great videogame manuals. Cause some are truly a waste of paper, but others…well, they’ve got personality. And do more than just tell us how to play the game; they show us what it’s all about.