I can’t believe it’s been a month already since Capcom’s quirkiest arcade series, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, came back from the dead. The critical response was all over the place, as you might expect from such a niche. I loved it though, and y’all can peep my review from last month to see why.
Interview: How Ghosts ‘n Goblins was Resurrected
Besides the fact I had a great time with Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, I was still pretty shook it even exists. And because of how much heart, soul and art was clearly put in, I had so many questions. Luckily, I had the opportunity to reach out to Capcom and see if I could get them answered.
I heard back from Capcom’s Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, Chief Producer on Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. There’s only so much you can get from an email interview, but that’s the nature of A) the format and B) international communication during a pandemic.
Navigating around those limitations (generally try to ask no more than ten questions for example) is why I get paid the Gamer Bucks. Check out the interview in full below, and a little bit of reflection at the end.
Lucas White, Prima Games: If you include things like Maximo and Gargoyle’s Quest/Demon’s Crest, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection has closed the largest gap between releases in the series’ history. Can you speak to the circumstances when this project was just getting started?
Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, Chief Producer: Last year marked 35 years since the release of the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Recently, we’ve noticed an increasing number of players who enjoy this kind of classic gameplay, and we have seen many new games that provide this kind of experience.
In celebration of the series’ 35th anniversary, we wanted to create another opportunity for people to enjoy Ghosts ‘n Goblins once again, so we planned the production of this game with the original director of the series, Tokuro Fujiwara (President of Whoopee Camp).
What about deciding on a “reboot” of sorts? Were there many other ideas before the team settled on this?
Hirabayashi: Honestly, there really weren’t any other ideas. For Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, we did our best to respect the simple controls that fans who have experienced past Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles would enjoy.
We also wanted this to be a title where those adults could play with their children. Ultimately, the team worked hard to deliver an experience that Director Tokuro Fujiwara had always envisioned: a title that would transcend generations.
The art style is definitely something that stands out. Can you speak to specific style/artists/historic/media influences, if any?
Hirabayashi: The concept of a "moving picture scroll" was very important in the creation of this work. However, if I had to choose a point of inspiration, it would probably be the illustrations from various picture books from around the world.
Our goal for the setting of the game was a “horror theme park”-like world that is simultaneously frightening and comical. This storybook style was very effective in expressing the warmth and tone that we were trying to deliver. I hope players are struck by the breadth and potential of what a 2D game is capable of.
The shading in particular is really distinct. How was that created?
Hirabayashi: The shading was vaguely decided upon by Director Tokura Fujiwara before development began. However, it wasn’t until the end of the prototyping phase that it really came together through trial and error.
Saying Resurrection is difficult is one thing, but each level really has one or more bespoke challenges. What fueled the level design? Was there a framework or series of pillars the team used as boundaries, or was the process more organic?
Hirabayashi: We believe there are two main hallmarks of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. One is the concept of a “horror theme park” which the stages are based off of. Another is the sense of accomplishment players experience when overcoming difficult challenges through their own efforts.
Before beginning development on each stage, Director Tokuro Fujiwara drew up the designs of the 2D map and explained the framework, game gimmick concepts and enemies to the team.
So far the critical response has been mostly positive, but with a variety of scores nonetheless. How does Capcom and the team feel about the launch so far?
Hirabayashi: Seeing all the comments on social media and the livestreams of the game after launch, we’re happy and honored to see people are taking on these new challenges, overcoming hardships and achieving that sense of accomplishment we set out to deliver.
In keeping with the tradition of the series, this game delivers a very difficult challenge. However, we hope players know this title offers much more outside of this ultimate difficulty.
Hirabayashi: We have prepared multiple difficulty modes to suit everyone's level of proficiency, so we encourage players to start with the difficulty mode that suits them best. We hope all players will be able to achieve their own sense of accomplishment through Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection.
Over the years, as the indie scene has grown and challenging games became more popular, you can easily pick and choose which parts of which games were directly inspired by Ghosts ‘n Goblins. In turn, did any specific games or trends from the past five to ten years influence Resurrection in any way?
Hirabayashi: Other than past Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles, there were no other titles that we looked at for inspiration. Of course, I'm very happy to see players are accepting highly challenging games nowadays, which means diversity in games is still alive and well.
Does anyone on the team have specific parts of the game they’re particularly proud of, and want to draw extra attention to?
Hirabayashi: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection incorporates many new magic spells and skills, giving you the freedom to discover your own play style and overcome stages in your own unique way.
If you get stuck on a stage, you can always go back to the stage select screen to acquire or replace magic or skills from the Umbral Tree. This may help you find a new path to overcome challenges.
Finally, any advice or words of encouragement for those who may be trying the series out for the first time, and have no idea what they’re getting into?
Hirabayashi: We believe Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a title that will satisfy longtime fans who experienced Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles back in the day, as well as new players who are experiencing the series for the first time.
In Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, we prepared multiple difficulty modes to match the proficiency level of various player types. We hope you will choose the difficulty level that suits you best.
We also want to encourage players to try out the new support characters (The Three Wise Guys) in the game’s two-player co-op mode. These support characters are new to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series and we hope that parents and children, couples and friends will enjoy playing together.
From these answers, I think the most important takeaway is how much control was given to Tokuro Fujiwara, the Ghosts 'n Goblins OG. This man hasn't worked at Capcom for years, but stepped out of his consultancy work to direct Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection.
There's a sense of reverence here, and it seems like everyone just stepped back and brought his ideas to life. I'm trying to read in-between the lines a bit, of course, but that's the feeling I get. It's like Ghosts 'n Goblins is such a specific kind of game, making one without Fujiwara steering the ship would just be unheard of.
I already touched in my review on how well-balanced Resurrection's difficulty settings are. But my second takeaway is how Hirayabashi mentioned children multiple times. Ghosts 'n Goblins isn't a series the average current gaming child is going to know much about, unless they stumble across it.
So the effort here in making the game feel good to play for more than just adults and/or nerds like me seems to have really shaped those new features. It reminds me of my son, who tried Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts just because it's on the Switch's SNES app. He was so into it despite the challenge, he had no problem pushing through with the rewind feature.
Related: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection Review | He that would play GnG for pleasure would go to Hell for a pastime
There's an appeal to Ghosts 'n Goblins, the way it looks, sounds and feels, that has never been replicated. It's the mixture of horror and comedy, difficulty and balance, creativity and history. It's nice to feel like the folks at Capcom recognize this, and organized Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection accordingly.
I hope our readers also appreciate this extra context for one of 2021's strangest game releases so far, or at least had fun reading and maybe checking out the game. I'd also like to thank the folks at Capcom and the PR homie who helped make this interview happen. Shout outs all around.