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Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I realize that it’s somewhat unfair to compare these two games when one is 30 years older than the other. But the similarities between these two games warrant a closer comparison between the old school and the recent trend in retro-themed games in video game development. And these two games are similar enough on the surface to be used as test subjects.

GAME #1 – GHOSTS ‘N GOBLINS (1995, Capcom)

(From Wikipedia):

Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a platform game where the player controls a knight names Sir Arthur, who must defeat zombies, ogres, demons, cyclops, dragons, and other monsters in order to rescue Princess Prin Prin (nice name BTW), who has been kidnapped by Satan… Along the way the player can pick up new weapons, bonuses and extra suits of armor that can help in this task.

GAME #2 – MALDITA CASTILLA (2012, Locomalito)

(Based on Wikipedia entry):

Maldita Castilla is a platform game where the player controls a knight named Don Ramiro tasked by the king to end a demonic nightmare that looms over the Kingdom of Castilla. Along the way the player can pick up new weapons, bonus items, and shields that can help in this task.

Aside from the main objectives, the games are almost identical in terms of the style of game play. Let’s go ahead and dig in a little bit deeper to see what other similarities we can uncover.


Both games are brutally difficult, and have a well-earned reputation as being some of the most difficult games to complete. The enemies and boss battles are relentless, and even the most grizzled of video game veterans will find the going a bit tough. The bosses, although tough, can be beaten
with a lot of practice, and a little luck. When you factor in the knock-back effect, and the sometimes finicky jumping elements found in both games, the level of difficulty really goes up. One difference worth noting at this point is the number of hits it takes to achieve death. In Ghosts ‘n Goblins Sir Arthur dies after 2 hits (the first knocks him out of his armor, the second reduces him to a pile of bones), while in Maldita Castilla our hero is given 3 hits (represented by hearts) per life. As such, death seems to be easier to achieve in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, mathematically making it more difficult to make it all the way through each stage.


Honestly it’s not fair to compare graphics from games that came almost 30 years apart. That being said, Maldita Castilla was purposely designed with the intent of looking like a game from the same era as Ghosts ‘n Goblins, so I think it is fair at least make a few general observations.

Maldita Castilla (left) and Ghosts 'n Goblins side by side.

Super Ghosts 'N Ghouls (SNES) screenshot

When you see screen shots side by side of the two games, it’s apparent that Maldita Castilla has a darker look, and that shading and texture design was maximized. In fact I would say it’s more fair to compare it to the SNES game Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts than it is to the original NES game. Even though I feel like Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the SNES has better graphics than Maldita Castilla, the latter is still very well done, and is a great example of a retro-themed game.


Both games offer the player an action packed, side-scrolling, platform adventure. Controls are for the most part responsive, and smooth, and it does not require any amount of time to learn the basic game mechanics of run, jump, and shoot.

The most notable game-play differences are as follows:

Multi-directional shooting – Maldita Castilla offers the ability to shoot in 4 directions; left, right, up, and down (while jumping). It would have been nice to have the 4 diagonal directions included, but it sure makes regular combat and boss battles a lot easier. By comparison, Ghosts ‘n Goblins only had the ability to shoot left and right, making things a lot more difficult.

Double-Jump – This ability is absent from both Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and from Maldita Castilla. Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the other hand, did use a double-jump feature, one that would have really improved the overall gameplay in both the aforementioned titles.

Continues – Simply put, both Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Maldita Castilla provide the player with an unlimited number of continues, so there is no advantage to hand out for this category. Also, neither game has any kind of save feature available, so if you are going to beat them, you have to do it in a single sitting, or at least refrain from powering off the game.


As with the graphics, it’s not a fair comparison when you consider the age gap between the two games. Both games offer basic musical scores that complement the action on the screen, but neither is exceptionally noteworthy save for a few tracks. I would say that the edge would probably go to Maldita Castilla based on the more complex and variety of melodies found in the game.


Both games offer a pretty decent variety of enemies and bosses, but I would say that the overall winner has to go to Maldita Castilla. There is always something new with each stage, and I have yet to see enemies repeated. Also, the bosses in Maldita Castilla are unique, and are borrowed from all kinds of mythical stories and legends. Among them are a Manticore, Nuberu, a Don Quixote based boss, and even a two-headed vulture. 

Maldita Castilla is also the winner when it comes to the variety of stage designs. Along with the traditional left to right stages, the game also has our hero travelling up or down a series of platforms
to reach the top of a tower, or the bottom of a deep chasm, only to battle it out with one of the aforementioned bosses that guard or inhabit these domains.


While both games deliver a challenging game experience, both games also provide enough in terms of frustration that you will find yourself stepping away from them to prevent things from becoming
broken. Yes, both games are hard as hell, and both of them will require a lot of patience in order to complete. I will admit, that at the time of this writing, I have yet to complete either game in their entirety, including Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts.

For whatever reason I find myself coming back to Maldita Castilla with a better overall attitude. I have stopped playing Ghosts ‘n Goblins so many times in the past, and have to mentally prepare myself to pick it up and play it again when I find myself wanting to experience it.  Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a good game, don’t get me wrong, but the level of frustration it provides really deals the death blow in terms of replay value.

If you enjoyed either Ghosts ‘n Goblins or its successor Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, then there is no reason that you shouldn’t get Maldita Castilla. The game is currently free, and can be downloaded from the developer’s website (  Be sure to also check out the other free titles that are also available from this fine independent developer.