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Video Game / Ghosts 'n Goblins

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The text that appears when you beat the game the first time

Ghosts 'n Goblins (known in Japanese as Makaimura, "Demon World Village") is a Hellishly-hard Platform Game from the 8-bit era, created by Capcom. It pits intrepid Knight in (and very frequently out of) Shining Armor Arthur against endless hordes of undead, demons, 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 many great titles of the time, it began as a quarter-muncher in arcades. It was followed by ports to various home platforms, including the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, 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 arcade game is tough enough, but the Micronics port for the NES is miserably hard and riddled with glitches. Yet people still seem to love it.

Sequels, spinoffs, and cameos

The game received sequels in Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Daimakaimura, "Great Demon World Village" in Japanese) for arcades and the Sega Genesis, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (Choumakaimura, "Super Demon World Village") for the SNES, Makaimura for WonderSwan, Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins (Gokumakaimura, "Extreme Demon World Village") for the PSP, and Ghosts'n Goblins: Gold Knights and Gold Knights II (Makaimura: Kishi Retsuden, Demon World Village: Knight Chronicles) for iOS. These tend to include more projectiles and armor upgrades for Arthur, while maintaining the series' trademark difficulty, i.e. he loses all of his items if struck. After a whole decade of no new games in the series or its spinoffs, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection (Kaettekita Makaimura, “Return of Demon World Village”) was revealed for the Nintendo Switch at the end of 2020 and released in February 2021, returning to 2D graphics and combining aspects of several of the original games into one package.

It spawned a spin-off series starring a Red Arremer named Firebrand, loosely known as Gargoyle's Quest. The first game, Gargoyle's Quest (Red Arremer: Makaimura Gaiden), is a rare example of an Action RPG for the Game Boy. Gargoyle's Quest II (Red Arremer II) is a direct sequel for the NES. Demon's Crest (Demon's Blazon: Makaimura Monshou-hen, "Demon World Village Crest Chapter") for the SNES seemed to take inspiration from Mega Man X, with Firebrand morphing into new gargoyles with varying strengths and weaknesses (similar to X's armor upgrades). Demon's Crest came and went without any fanfare, but today is it considered one of the most underrated gems for the console.

In 1996, a Japan-only spinoff/crossover entitled Arthur to Astaroth no Nazomakaimura: Incredible Toons was released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn that, as the title implies, sees Arthur and Astaroth replacing Sid and Al from the The Incredible Machine's sequel, Incredible Toons.

Compare the Maximo duology (Ghosts to Glory and Army of Zin), which is a spiritual successor/spin-off starring an underwear-clad hero.

Arthur himself has made an out-series appearances in Namco × Capcom and its sequel, Project × Zone, (playable in the former, Assist Character in the latter) as well as the Marvel vs. Capcom series (Assist Character in the first game, then full-blown playable in the third and fourth). Arthur is also a playable character in Cannon Spike.

The Red Arremer is an SNK Boss in SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos. Red Arremer (specifically Firebrand from Gargoyle's Quest) appears in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, where he has unique dialog with Arthur.

A costume based on Arthur appears as Downloadable Content in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while Arthur himself appears as a Spirit initially for players who have save data of Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection and added for all players afterwards.

The series made its Teppen (2019) debut with the 16th expansion, Super Spooky Village, where Arthur, The Princess, Astaroth, and many other demons appear as unit cards using their designs from Resurrection. The series has since continued to make cameos in other expansions afterwards.


  • 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 a boss in underwear to get back your armor.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Arthur's throwing arm varies depending on which direction he's facing.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Resurrection has a number of factors that make this entry more accessible:
    • One that's so simple yet so fundamental is a selection of difficulties. Legend difficulty is the entry that's most on par with the NES game. The difficulties further down the line give Arthur more hit points before he bites it (showing off various levels of Clothing Damage in the process), having fewer and slower enemies, and having more checkpoints.
    • Regardless of the difficulty, you have infinite lives/continues, and you can shut the game off and continue at the stage where you were at (which is to be expected of a modern video game release, even one that emulates a classic Nintendo Hard one). In contrast, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts gives you only six continues before making you start over the whole game, and has no save feature.
    • The collectible Umbral Bees can be exchanged for upgrades, and those investments can be rescinded freely (starting with the farthest upgrade in the branch), encouraging the player to try out various upgrades without having to worry about committing to certain builds.
    • The death to retry issue described in Fake Longevity is fully fixed. The game no longer takes a few seconds to show you the map before letting to retry; instead, the retry menu simply shows a picture of the map without interrupting the player.
  • Art Evolution: After 35 years of gaming history Arthur gets a little update to his otherwise consistent design, in Resurrection Arthur sports a little crown when out of armor, that likely makes him closer to the King Arthur legend in this iteration, or he is officially declared royalty by being romantically involved with Prin-Prin.
  • Ascended Meme: In Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection, the challenge for reaching the game's true ending is named "Congraturation" note .
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, all bosses can only be damaged by shooting them in the head.
  • Badass Cape: The Golden Armor in Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Super replaced the cape with a feathery helmet accoutrement.
  • Bladder of Steel: Simply putting a Save option on the SNES version would have made it a lot less frustrating. Fortunately the digital download ports on the later Nintendo systems have save states in the form of the home functions.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The NES version is full of this, as evidenced by the quote at the top of the page. The arcade version isn't quite as bad; it still has the same mangled grammar and syntax, but at least everything is spelled correctly. Resurrection gives a little nod towards the series old mangled English days, in a otherwise grammar accurate game released in 2021, the perk for clearing the True Ending route is aptly called "Congraturation".
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins introduces shields which will unfortunately break after a number of hits. It is possible to obtain an unbreakable shield from a witch though, after which anything block-able can be stopped with impunity.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Arthur can put on armour to protect himself from enemy attacks. He's a One-Hit-Point Wonder otherwise.
  • Boring, but Practical: The lance and the dagger are the simplest weapons in the series: the former is your default weapon, letting Arthur throw up to two large projectiles in a straight line, and the latter works the same but has a smaller hitbox, flies faster, and allows three projectiles on screen. They're well-balanced for every situation, and make up for a lack of coverage (which can often be a downside for other weapons that have odd flight paths) with easy spammability for killing enemies fast.
  • Book Ends: Resurrection starts with Arthur enjoying a little time for himself, in his undies, on a hill, enjoying the view before demons come wrecking havoc and kidnapping Prin-Prin. The true ending has Arthur go back to the same hill, as he goes back to his undies and resumes his good time of resting, with peace restored and Prin-Prin rescued.
  • Boss Remix: The boss themes in Ghosts 'n Goblins and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts are remixes of the themes of the levels leading up to them (although the boss remixes for Stages 3 and 5 of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts use the level music from Stages 5 and 3, respectively).
  • 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).
  • Breakable Power-Up: Upgrading Arthur's armor allows him to access spells and magical versions of the basic weapons. It doesn't make the armor any more durable however, and a single hit will break the armor and downgrade his weapon to basic.
  • Breakout Character: The Red Arremer enemy proved so popular that a member of the species would go on to star in his own spinoff series.
  • Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff": The one-horned cyclops/oni bosses in the first game are known in the manual as "Unicorns", a name normally used for a very different mythical creature.
  • Cap: In the original game, there can be no more than three zombies on the screen at a time. Other enemies have similar caps.
  • Checkpoint: Only works on death or when you insert 25 cents and then press START within 10 seconds.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Don't think that unlimited continues in certain console installments will save you; stage 5 on the NES version of Ghosts 'n Goblins is entirely devoid of checkpoints, so whether you lose a life or continue from a game over, it's always back from the start of the stage for you.
  • Chest Monster:
    • Breaking open a treasure chest in the games that have them can spawn a magician enemy, who will quickly fire a Forced Transformation spell and vanish if you don't kill it instantly.
    • Mimics show up in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts and hide inside discolored treasure boxes. It's not a convincing disguise since most real chests have to be spawned and aren't lying around in the open.
  • 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.
  • Cognizant Limbs: The hydra boss in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts has three heads. You have to destroy them all.
  • Covers Always Lie: The box and cartridge art for the Gameboy Color port of Ghosts 'n Goblins has a mimic on it, a monster from Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.
  • 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...
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Prin Prin is kidnapped in every single game she appears. Technically she gets killed off in Ghouls 'n Ghosts, but since Arthur is fighting to save her soul from Lucifer and restore her back to life, it essentially amounts to the same thing. It's a wonder why she never takes exception to it and evolves into Royals Who Actually Do Something territory.
  • Darker and Edgier: Ghosts 'n Goblins just sufficed with fighting spooky monsters and rescuing the princess. Ghouls 'n Ghosts starts with said princess being murdered before Arthur's very eyes, while surrounded by the bodies of a demon invasion's latest victims. And while both games start off in graveyards, the second game is much more explicit about what the demons are doing to everyone in their path what with all the bones and decayed (non-Gorn-y) bodies strewn about. It says something that the sequel's logo spills blood, a good sign of what's in store despite still having some cartoony wackiness.
    • Resurrection portrays more horrific renditions of many demonic beings in the series, compared to the somewhat cartoonish designs from all versions prior; Astaroth is a shining example of it, the game has his most terrifying design in the entire series by far.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: With the exceptions of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts and the arcade entries outside free play mode, every game in the series technically has infinite lives/continues. Even if the game has a Game Over screen and you reach it, you are allowed to retry at the beginning of the level where you lost.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • The Unicorn (two in certain versions) and Dragon show in the final level of Ghosts 'n Goblins as part of a tiny Boss Rush after being fought at the end of earlier levels.
    • 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 either a late-game boss or a mere Elite Mook! You even get to fight two at once in the Genesis version of Ghouls 'n Ghosts!
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: Ghouls 'n Ghosts lets you aim up and down, but not diagonally. However, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts has the crossbow which shoots diagonally upward.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the first game alone you kill the king of demons by beating him over the head with a shield. You continue to regularly knock out ancient evils throughout the series.
  • Difficulty by Region:
    • The American release of the original game has the mercy of Meaningless Lives, but the Japanese version has no visible continue option (you have to use controller commands when pressing start).
    • The American release of Ghouls 'n Ghosts has armor appear more commonly in chests, less HP for bosses, and more checkpoints per level. However, this comes with a trade-off: since every boss now has a checkpoint before it, you can't get Gold Armor or change weapons before the battle, and since Ohme in Stage 4 requires a ranged weapon, if you get there with the Sword it's unbeatable.
  • Double Jump: Arthur gets the ability to jump in mid-air in Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts. It does not make the game any easier, mostly due to it being trick to use (both of Arthur's jumps are subject to his stiff Jump Physics, and most of the harder platforming areas exploit this).
  • 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".
    • The North American NES manual names the final boss as simply "The Devil", which causes a bit of confusion as there's also Satan. A Nintendo guidebook names him "Lucifer" (not to be confused with the one in Ghouls 'N Ghosts). His actual name, and the one used in later installments, is Astaroth.
    • Lucifer is renamed "Loki" in the Sega Genesis version of Ghouls 'N Ghosts; possibly to avoid outrage from Moral Guardians.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Playing Resurrection on the Page difficulty will make the player invincible for the rest of the game, but it will not allow you to see the True Ending. The game even warns you about this when you start a new game.
  • Enemy Roll Call: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts does this with a computer controlling Arthur, revealing the enemy in question, and then fading the background out and showing the enemy's name.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Such a system is incorporated into the Master System port of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, where treasure chests may open a door to a screen where Arthur can choose to upgrade his equipment. Choosing to upgrade the helmet unlocks more magic, upgrading the armour will increase his health, and upgrading his boots increases his movement speed and jump height.
  • Event Flag: Interesting case in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts; playing through the game normally, you can't advance to the final boss chamber unless you have the Goddess Bracelet. However, if you use the stage select code and start at the boss chamber, Sardius can be defeated with the lance.
  • Every 10,000 Points:
    • By default, the Arcade version of the first title gives you extra lives at 20,000 points, 70,000 points, and for every 70,000 points thereafter.
    • In the Arcade version of Ghouls 'n Ghosts (on its default DIP switch settings), you get an extra life at 30,000 points, 60,000 points, and every 70,000 points after that.
  • Fake Difficulty: The main reason the games are difficult is because Arthur controls like crap and basically everything outsteps him without even trying.
  • Fake Longevity:
    • You'll have to play through the game twice to see the true ending. This applies to every installment of the series (save for the Arrange Mode on the Game Boy Advance Port of Super Ghouls n' Ghosts).
    • Also, if you reach the End-Of-Game Baddie with any weapon other than the shield, you'll be sent back two levels to find it.
    • Losing a life to getting back into the game in the original: 13 seconds. Getting a game over to getting back into the game: 24 seconds. Considering how hard the game is, this adds a lot of playtime to the game and make it seem much longer than it actually is, and most of the other games have similar death delays.
  • Forced Transformation: A magician who likes to hide in treasure chests casts magic that turns you into many different things depending on game/armor status, including a girl, duck and seal that all can't attack, and an old man that can... but slowly. Another transformation is a bee whose "flying" hitbox can actually be beneficial and allow you to walk across lava. In the first game, the magician hides in grave stones and turns Arthur into a frog.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The ultimate spell you need to access and beat the Final Boss of each game is underpowered gameplay-wise.
  • 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.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Most of the series' challenge comes from the tricky platforming and dangerous enemy placement throughout the stages. The bosses are typically much easier so long as you have a good weapon and/or any kind of armor.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • Your player collision area in the first three games is rather small compared to the player sprite.
    • Related, and surprisingly in your favor, is that Satan's sweeping attack usually can't hit you if you're ducking. Knowledge of this makes it a much easier affair to deal with it.
    • On the other hand, due to some mistake in the Sega Genesis version of Ghouls 'n Ghosts fireballs have hitboxes that often don’t match the sprite at all.
  • 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.
  • I Have Many Names: Astaroth is often called "The Devil" in manuals, Hades in the GBC port, and Gondiaz in early Japanese materials.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts has fire level that include Floating Platforms with conveyor belts made of bones.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: In Ghouls 'n Ghosts and Super, random treasure chests can somehow materialize from thin air, appearing in set places when Arthur passes over a certain part of the background.
  • Item Amplifier: In the sequel Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, picking up turquoise and golden armor gives your weapons more power and for the latter, the ability to charge up your attacks.
  • 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.
    • The Commodore 64 port of the original 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.
  • Kamaitachi: Among the first enemies Sir Arthur faces in the Ghouls 'n Ghosts are kamaitachi, depicted as small floating creatures with scythes that turn into tornados.
  • Lag Cancel: The original arcade version of Ghosts 'n Goblins has this (and you'll need it). Arthur is normally very sluggish, and he'll usually take a while to get up from a crouch, but you can alleviate this by tapping up on the stick. You can also boost his rate of fire by tapping forward after you fire.
  • 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 both the Namco × Capcom/Project × Zone and Marvel vs. Capcom series.
  • Lift of Doom: Ghouls 'n Ghosts level 3 - the first half requires dodging spiked platforms, before the player need to rush to the right in order to avoid the rest of the ceiling.
  • Mascot Mook: The Red Arremer, a flying demon that appears in every game of the series and is nearly as well-known as Arthur himself, to the point of getting a spin-off and fighting game appearances. Unusually for this trope (but fitting for the kind of game that Ghosts 'n Goblins is), Red Arremers are the toughest recurring enemy in the series rather than The Goomba.
  • Meaningless Lives: One of the few mercies of the series is that you have effectively unlimited tries as long as the system is on, as getting a game over doesn't reset your checkpoint and there are usually infinite continues. While Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts attempts to have limited continues, you have to be actively trying in order to run out, since you get more of them by collecting the common money bags.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The flyers and instruction cards for the original arcade game simply calls the main character "The Knight". The name Arthur wasn't introduced until the Famicom/NES version. Also, depending on your sources, the Princess is either called Tamara or Guinevere, or she isn't named at all (which tends to be the case in the games) with Prin-Prin being named as such only once in-game, for Super Ghouls n' Ghosts.
  • New Game Plus: Beating most of the games on a second loop is necessary to see the true ending.
  • New Skill as Reward: In Resurrection, the reward for collecting and returning all the Umbral Bees to the Umbral Tree is a bonus skill that turns Arthur into a Red Arremer.
  • Nintendo Hard: The games are widely regarded as some of the hardest games ever made, for reasons such as the protagonist's poor mobility, devious enemy placement and tricky platforming sections.
  • One Bullet at a Time: Varies depending on the weapon. For example, you can only have two lances on screen at a time, but up to three daggers.
  • Plot Coupons: In Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins, there are 33 golden rings scattered throughout the levels; you must find them all in order to reach the Final Boss.
  • Not Completely Useless: In Resurrection, Emboulden I seems to be the least useful early game spell since it doesn't take enough hits to handle large enemy waves any better than normal weapons and other spells do, and immediately breaks upon touching fire. While the upgraded version Emboulden II is overtly useful, even the base form has some hidden utility:
    • While the boulder is being formed, it gives Arthur the typical spell startup invincibility and also a decently-sized close-up hitbox, which means the defense starts earlier than it looks.
    • While it's not good against an aggressive enemy wave, it makes getting past a row of consecutive guillotines much easier, since it could tank a hit.
    • Even though it immediately breaks upon touching fire, Arthur is given invincibility and may jump out of the fire, which means he can cross the fire without extinguishing it. Why does that matter? It's because during the second loop, there is one unavoidable fire trap that spawns a Red Arremer if the fire goes out, and Emboulden is the only way to pass without triggering that trap.
  • Poison Mushroom: Be wary of certain yashichis and high-value point pickups that spawn in the open in Ghosts 'n Goblins, as they can respectively take away your stage time or turn you into a frog.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • The torch and the axe in the first game are far less effective than the spear the player starts the game with, due to having odd flight angles and low fire rates. Made more insidious in some versions because the Power-Ups appear in a specific order — the torch will appear before the (very, very good) knife/dagger will appear. Later games made all Power-Ups random, although they include many more let downs, too.
    • The Bow's upgrade with the Magic and Gold Armors fires three shots instead of two, and the shots home in on enemies. The problem is you can only fire one set of shots at a time, so if even one flaming arrow is still on screen, you can't fire again. This can prove to be a major, even fatal, problem if the homing arrow starts flying in a circle and refuses to either leave the screen or track the enemy gunning for you.
      • By extension, the bow's "Seek Magic" spell which...reveals hidden chests in the vicinity. It's only situationally useful as by the time you can cast it, you already have the Gold Armor, so its only help is in either providing the upgraded shield or a replacement should you have already lost it. Otherwise, it hardly serves the player much more purpose as by that point, the spawn rate of traps and magicians in the chest increase significantly. The only other major use would be in helping the player potentially find a more desired weapon if it spawns from one of the chests.
  • Random Number God: You can't trust memorization against some of the series' tougher foes like the Red Arremers. They'll zig when you swear they would've zagged.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • The original game has significantly fewer distinct boss types than there are levels.
    • Astaroth comes back in every game, even when he's not the Big Bad anymore.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: Arthur's goal is an Orphean one in the second game (still Save the Princess, however, because that's who he wants to rescue).
  • Satan: He is around here somewhere, but it hard to say who he is. 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 Japanese. 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. Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection eliminated some confusion by renaming Satan Mephisto, but it is still hard to actually say who the resident Devil is.
  • 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.
  • Single-Use Shield: In Ghosts 'n Goblins and its sequels, the player character's armor disappears after one hit, but they do have the benefit of starting each next stage/new life with armor equipped. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts also offers a red shield powerup which shows up only when wearing the golden armor, but can block one projectile attack (or two if it's upgraded to blue).
  • Shoot the Bullet: The shield weapon has a short range, but it can destroy enemy projectiles.
  • Spin-Off: The main series spawned the Gargoyle's Quest trilogy, a spin-off series starring Red Arremer/Firebrand, one of the enemies from Ghosts 'n Goblins. And in those games, Lucifer from Ghouls 'N Ghosts (renamed to Rushifell in English) is your Worthy Opponent, but not actually your enemy.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: In level 4 of Super Ghould 'n Ghosts, steam is emitted from some of the background objects.
  • Stock Money Bag: The series takes place in a medieval setting. Despite that, dollar bags are found for Scoring Points (and in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, getting extra continues).
  • Stripped to the Bone: Arthur's death animation has him reduced to a skeleton and then falling apart into a pile of bones.
  • 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. Queen and Jack are excluded.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Arthur throws all his weapons, including melee ones such as axes and lances. The Sword in Ghouls 'n Ghosts is an aversion, being the first melee weapon in the franchise.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: These games are practically built on this. One particularly shameless example comes in Super's first level, where at one point a tidal wave suddenly appears and kills Arthur by destroying the ground...except for three specific parts of it, and you can only see the parts that weren't destroyed after you die.
  • 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.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The games get a lot easier if you can hold onto the best weapons and obtain the stronger armors, which let you cast powerful charged spells and give you a shield to block certain projectiles. If you lose your golden armor by taking a hit (or can't keep the regular armor for long enough to find it) and/or bump into a bad weapon, it can take several lifes to recover.
  • Unwinnable:
    • The NES version had some bosses immune to some attacks. If you had 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 with weak points that need to be hit by firing downward. It can become this if Arthur happens to be carrying the short-range broadsword.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • 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.
    • The Gameboy Advance port of Super Ghouls n' Ghosts includes an all-new "arranged mode" with branching paths and new levels.
  • Video Game Remake: Resurrection can be seen as a partial remake since it heavily calls back to the first two entries in the series with its selection of enemies and locations, and having no double-jumping. However, there are many new weapons and spells for Arthur, and the True Final Boss is Hades from Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins.
  • Waterfront Boss Battle: The second boss of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the Kraken, is fought from a tiny raft.
  • Weaponized Offspring: In Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the boss of the first stage is a giant bird which spits eggs out of its mouth which hatch into smaller, groundbound bird monsters which attack you.
  • Weird Crossover: The Japanese-only game Arthur to Astaroth no Nazomakaimura: Incredible Toons, released for the Saturn and Playstation in 1996, demonstrates what happens when you subject Ghosts 'n' Goblins characters to the puzzle antics of Sid & Al's Incredible Toons.
  • A Winner Is You: The first game, typical retro game ending, followed by the Game Over screen in the NES version.
  • Womb Level: The fourth level in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is called "The Ghoul's Stomach." (Also known as "The Demon's Insides" 魔物の腹 in Japanese). It's appropriately spooky. Doubles as both a Gimmick Level in its first section with the changing gravity and heavy use of sprite rotation in both sections, and an Auto-Scrolling Level in its second where you board swinging platforms and avoid deadly gas spewing from demonic viscera. The autoscrolling is justified since you're inside a demon. This stage is followed up with an ice world.
  • 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 Ghosts 'n Goblins Final Boss, Arthur is forced to replay the entire game, on a harder difficulty level, to get the genuine end. This is a tradition kept for the later games, with the second loops adding special weapons that Arthur needs to carry to the end to fight the True Final Boss. Averted in Resurrection, as you do rescue the princess in the first cycle, though saving the whole kingdom requires a second loop.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: The first boss in the NES version, even by first boss standards. It only has one attack: shooting fireballs. You can duck under those fireballs. Crouch, fire away, done.

Alternative Title(s): Ghosts And Goblins