Many hardcore gamers must be sadomasochistic. I don't know how else to explain why so many people consider Capcom's Ghosts 'n Goblins as one of the "best games ever" (includingthisverysite). Sure, it's a decent platformer, but it's hard as hell. So hard you want to break your controller, smash your console and eat the cartridge. And just when you think it can't get any harder, it makes you do the whole thing over again. Did you know the Japanese title of Ghost 'n Goblins is "Makaimura," which can be translated as 'hellish village'? I found that so appropriate that today I'm checking out this the devise WonderSwan port.
Despite the lack of color, Maikaimura is an impressive looking port. The graphics are sharp and clear, and the animation is very good. The music is mediocre at best and the same can be said for the sound effects. That is, if you compare the audio with other 16-bit versions of the game. For a WonderSwan title, the sound is actually pretty decent -- more proof that there's something wrong with the WonderSwan's sound chip. The control is accurate, though timing your jumps can be a bit tricky and it is annoying your protagonist can't shoot in multiple directions.
Makaimura starts even more shocking than other incarnations of Ghosts 'n Goblins. In the first screen zombies do not just rise from their graves, as in other editions. Instead, flying coffins appear, from which the zombies attack Sir Arthur. There are three difficulty settings (easy, normal and hard), but two strikes always kill you. The first hit makes you lose your amor, the second hit makes you lose a life. It's hard and can get really frustrating, especially if you're an impatient gamer.
Since it's a platform game, there isn't much text in Makaimura. The title screen also shows the title in Latin letters -- above the title in Japanese letters. The actual full title of the game is Makaimura for WonderSwan, in case you forgot what handheld you have in your hands. Also, the one and only main option screen is in English. However, in that option screen there's also an option called 'Library', in which you find books with tips and information on your encountered enemies and weapons. Unfortunately, that's all in Japanese.
Overall, Makaimura is a good WonderSwan game and can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what language you read. But especially those who want their game to be a challenge will like it. Or everyone that always wanted to play Ghosts 'n Goblins in black and white.