Ghoulboy tells the story of the titular character who goes on a mission to rescue his kidnapped father. On his mission to save his fatherly figure, our little hero comes a great evil that is full of evil intent. So Ghoulboy not has to save his papa, but also save the world from a mysterious evil. Will he succeed?

Ghoulboy is a 2D platformer where you need to reach the end of each level without dying. Levels will be filled with enemies, traps, and pits that will be out to get you. As you progress through the game, you can collect coins and jewels. You can upgrade your main weapon twice; once in-game when going through one of the levels and the strongest weapon can be purchased in the shop accessible via the main menu screen. You can also double jump to reach high areas or do tricky jumps to avoid plummeting to your death. Thankfully, your character has a health bar that can be refilled by picking food items dropped by enemies or at the shop you’ll find throughout each level.

One of the game’s fun aspects is the addition of sub-weapons. While the variety is pretty low: single knife, two knives, and a lance. While the former two have the basic use of being thrown at enemies at a distance, the lance can also be used as a platform to reach higher areas that you can’t reach while double jumping. It’s a neat little trick that can help players get out of a tricky situation given the number of spikes and hazardous surfaces.

Ghoulboy has two main flaws. The first is the hit collision system. On more occasions than I can remember, I would hit certain enemies and my hit would not register, and subsequently, that left me wide open to being hit and suffering unwarranted damage. The other main issue and that seems to be the case with multiple developers, is that some areas you can’t see down so you can’t tell if you’re falling on a platform or to your death. It’s another nuisance that can cause preventable death and can make players lose progress because once you’re game over, you start at the beginning of the level, not the checkpoint. Another really idiotic thing is that they mapped the Y and B button for menuing. This can not only accidentally cause players to quit when in the Pause menu, but when shopping during a level if you move the selector to Close and press Y, it will actually waste one sub-weapon. And guess what? If you’re refilled your health at the shopkeeper and accidentally press Y again while your health is full, you’ll lose money by paying for absolutely nothing.

Ghoulboy is a 2-D 16bit pixelated visual experience with a colorful presentation set against a dark, moody background that is somewhat reminiscent of the Ghosts n’ Goblins series which is a visual style we don’t seem to see very often as of late. Enemy variety is decent but nothing really outstanding. The soundtrack is a brooding chiptune score that mixes well with the semi-spooky premise of the game; definitely one of the better indie soundtracks I’ve heard in recent memory.

While it’s not something special, Ghoulboy is a fun and challenging 2D experience that fans of the genre should definitely check out. Combat is easy to master, the platforming is overall solid and presents a decent, albeit not an insurmountable challenge at times. If you can get acclimated to the questionable button mapping for menuing without making too many mistakes or wasting money when your health or sub-weapon are full, Ghoulboy will give you a taste of gaming in the 90s.

Overall
  • 70%
    CX Score - 70%
70%

Summary

Pros

  • Fun platformer

Cons

  • Questionable hit detection
  • Questionable button mapping for menu-ing
  • Can’t see down so never know if you’re about to lose health or die

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