Ghosts'n Goblins is a platform game where the player controls a knight, named Sir Arthur, who must defeat zombies, ogres, demons, cyclopes, dragons, and other monsters in order to rescue Princess Prin Prin, who has been kidnapped by Satan, King of Demon World. Along the way the player can pick up new weapons, bonuses and extra suits of armor that can help in this task. The game is often considered very difficult by arcade standards and is commonly regarded as one of the most difficult games ever released. The game is considered by Gametrailers.com to be the world's second most difficult game ever made. The player can only be hit twice before losing a life (the first hit takes away Arthur's armor, and the player must continue on in his underwear until completing the level, or finding replacement armor). If the player loses a life, he is returned to the start of the level, or the halfway point if he has managed to get that far. Furthermore, each life can only last a certain length of time (generally around three minutes), the clock being reset at the start of a level. If the clock does run out, the player instantly loses that life. After defeating the final boss, but only with the cross weapon (if the player does not have the cross weapon, they will be prompted that it is needed to defeat the boss and restart at the beginning of level 5 and must repeat round 5 and 6 again regardless if the weapon is obtained immediately or not) for the first time the player is informed that the battle was "a trap devised by Satan". The player is then forced to replay the entire game on a higher difficulty level before finally reaching the genuine final battle.
The Commodore 64 version, released in 1986, is known for its music by Mark Cooksey, which borrows from Frédéric Chopin's Prelude No. 20. Due to the limited resources on the Commodore 64, it was somewhat different than the arcade version. It only features the Graveyard and Forest, The Ice Palace, The Floating Platforms and Firebridge and The Caves in that order. The player also starts the game with five lives. The demon that kidnapped the princess replaces Astaroth in the title screen. Additionally, the cyclops (or "Unicorn") is the boss of levels one to three, and the dragon is the final boss.
A version for the Commodore Amiga was released in 1990. While the advanced hardware of the Amiga allowed an almost perfect conversion of the arcade game, it failed to emulate the success of the Commodore 64 version. The player starts the game with six lives and no music is played unless the Amiga was equipped with at least 1 Megabyte of RAM. The standard configuration of an Amiga 500 was 512 Kilobytes.
The NES version of Ghosts'n Goblins was rated the 129th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list. It was also a best seller for the NES, selling more than 1 million units.Ghosts n' Goblins is often cited as an example of one of the hardest games of all time to beat, due to its high level of difficulty and the fact you must play through the game twice in order to fight the final boss.