Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection revived the series’ vicious, challenging difficulty for 2021. However, it did so while offering different options that make it more approachable (but no less difficult) for players of varying skill levels. Siliconera spoke with Chief Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi to talk about what went into developing the game’s many difficulty modes and its co-op. He also discussed what goes into designing a faithful remake/re-imagining.
Joel Couture, Siliconera: Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection, while unmistakably ruthless in its challenges, offers many different difficulty options that open it up for all manner of skill levels. What drew you to make this game more accessible?
Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, Chief Producer: Director Tokuro Fujiwara and the rest of our team believe that an important aspect of this series is the sense of accomplishment that players experience by overcoming challenges through their own efforts. Every player has a different level of familiarity and experience with the series, but we want all players to feel an equal sense of accomplishment when they pick up this game. For that reason, we prepared a selection of difficulty modes.
What thoughts go into balancing challenge in a game? How do you tweak it so that it appeals to a variety of skill levels? How do you keep things from getting too hard when, as developers, you know the game inside and out?
Hirabayashi: Director Fujiwara was very particular about refining the game up until the very last minute. I was always impressed with how he was able to balance the obstacles and make them accommodating to different players’ skill levels. He would think about the various scenarios and consider how players would strategize to overcome challenges. The intention was to keep the game challenging, while also finding ways to encourage players to leverage the various magic, skills, and weapons at their disposal to overcome the hurdles.
Aside from micro-level adjustments, the development team also incorporated additional features and modes to ensure Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a fun experience for all types of players. For example, players can select from multiple difficulty modes including Squire, Knight, and Legend. Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection also introduces two-player local co-op, which is designed to give players a new sense of enjoyment and a way to experience the game with friends and family.
The Magic Metronome lets players further tweak their game. What made you want to add this extra element to control how players work through the game?
Hirabayashi: The idea of the Magic Metronome was brought up early on in the development process. For us, we see this feature as benefiting multiple kinds of players. Experienced players can use the fast speed to satisfy their hunger for additional challenge, while newer players can use the slow speed to gain more familiarity with the game.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection features some complex, interesting boss battles. What thoughts went into designing them? In designing their abilities and attacks to push players to play skillfully?
Hirabayashi: The bosses in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection first appeared in the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins or its sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Since Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection is a reboot of these two classic titles, we started with the original boss designs and incorporated additional ideas to make more use of the characteristics of each boss.
In terms of our concept and design philosophy, our aim was to respect the original titles while making enhancements that we felt players would appreciate.
Likewise, its stages are carefully crafted to ensure players are always feeling challenged. What thoughts go into designing truly difficult stage? In planning jumps, enemy layouts, etc.
Hirabayashi: There are two major concepts that are at the core of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. The first is a “horror theme park”-like feeling that inspired a lot of our unique stage designs. The second is about creating obstacles that can provide players with a sense of accomplishment when they overcome them.
I don’t think there is a single strategy we used to encourage players to want to try again and again. However, I do think it’s important for these challenges to make the player think, “What if I try this?” or “Maybe this will work.”
Magic adds something new to Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. What were the thoughts behind its inclusion? How did you decide on what powers to give to Arthur?
Hirabayashi: The decision to incorporate magic and skills was decided at the beginning of the game’s development, with the hope that players would enjoy the game while honing their own play style. Although past Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles have had magic that was tied to weapons, this is the first Ghosts ‘n Goblins title that introduces a skill tree where players can choose the magic and skills they want to acquire.
With magic and skills, we’ve made it so that you can return ones that have been previously unlocked and choose new ones. We made this design decision to allow players to act accordingly if they determine different magic abilities are better suited for certain stages.
Each of the powers given to Arthur are unique. Some of them already existed within the series while others are newly introduced in Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. We hope players try them out and discover which abilities fit their play styles best.
Co-op was a surprising inclusion in the game. What made you want to add a co-op element?
Hirabayashi: The Ghosts ‘n Goblins series has been loved for 35 years, and the people who enjoyed it back then may have children of their own now. So, we thought a co-op mode would be a wonderful addition to the series, allowing people of all ages to enjoy this title.
We were excited this would be the first title in the series where players could enjoy the game with a friend or a loved one. However, it was also a challenge for us, since we weren’t sure how people would react toward the idea of overcoming obstacles with another player.
What made you make the second player into the Three Wise Guys instead of a regular character? Why give them those abilities instead of just making a second Arthur? And why did you give them those specific powers?
Hirabayashi: The Three Wise Guys are actually Arthur’s ancestors. Since these characters are meant to help Arthur on his journey, we felt this was the most suitable role.
We didn’t want to make the second character’s abilities the same as Arthur’s because our intention was always to make this a “support” character. Additionally, this is a story about Arthur saving the princess, so we wanted the player to enjoy the game through this narrative. With co-op mode, we wanted to deliver an experience where the support players had unique skills that are meant to support Arthur through his adventure.
Were there any memorable silly or fun moments that came up in its development? With the development team?
Hirabayashi: One of the most memorable moments was when Director Fujiwara told me that the pattern on Arthur’s boxers in the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins was actually strawberries, not hearts.
At first, I thought maybe they switched between hearts and strawberries for each new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game. When I heard during the development process that it had always been a strawberry pattern, I remember thinking, “I didn’t know that!”
You’ve worked on some solid, impressive remakes/re-imaginings (Resident Evil 2 and Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection). What do you feel is important to do when you’re remaking/reimagining a beloved game or series from the past? What does a remake/reimagining need to be successful?
Hirabayashi: I don’t have an eloquent answer for what it takes to make a successful remake. However, I can speak on a few things that I did for both Resident Evil 2 and Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection.
First, I made an effort to understand the thoughts of the players who loved the original work and IP. I also tried remembering what I personally enjoyed about the original titles. It was also important to try to understand the memorable points of the original work or IP.
From there, the question becomes whether or not we can apply those learnings and thoughts without destroying the foundation of the game, even when making a new interpretation or arrangement. With both games, I’m really proud of the work we did and I hope players enjoy the new experiences we created.
Ghosts n’ Goblins Resurrection is available now on the Nintendo Switch. It will be releasing on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 1, 2021.