Do you think a bad ending can ruin an otherwise good game? I do. Ever play Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch? My whole family is a bunch of raving mad Studio Ghibli fans and when Ni No Kuni came out we jumped on this RPG. I took the controls as my wife and kids helped guide me along. We had a blast watching all the great cut scenes and story sequences. I would read out the dialogue in various voices (Arrrr, I’m Mr. Drippy!) and the beauty of the game just made us feel like we were watching another one of their great movies. The game was great, albeit juuuuuuust a little wordy.
That set the stage for the ending. We were determined to defeat the White Witch! We prepped all our magic, items, and determination and fought her head on! We fought valiantly and lost a few times but then…FINALLY…we did it! HUZZAH! We have defeated the White Whit–what’s this? The game’s not over yet? But the game is literally called Wrath of the White Witch! OK, let’s carry on I guess…we’re in this big tower now, walking all around…these enemies are tough, oh man…(days go by)…alright, it’s time to fight Gallus! WE SHALL DEFEAT HIM! We lost. Again! Lost. Again! Lost. Again! WE WIN!!! WE’VE DONE IT!!!! Gallus is dead and we beat the ga–WHAT? It’s still going?! But Mr. Drippy said this was the end! AGGGHHH….
By the time we beat the weird inhuman form of I don’t even recall what they called the thing, the game had been ruined and ended on a dull note. We’d spent an extra few days to get past it. I remember just looking up online how to beat that final boss because I just wanted the game to be over. It was sad, really. The tone and dialogue of the game had led us to believe we were done so much earlier.
The bad ending left a memorable, sour impression on us.
Super Ghouls and Ghosts
Super Ghouls and Ghosts is the outstanding SNES sequel to the original Ghosts and Goblins on the NES. If you’re familiar with the original, you know that the game was terribly difficult and had a gimmick where, after seemingly beating it, you had to do it all over again. Why? Oh, you were dreaming all along. DREAMING?! It took me 10 hours to get through it all and I had to leave my console on the whole time because there’s no password system and you say I was dreaming?!?!?!
So you play through the game again. I think it was a harder difficulty, but it’s actually easier because you’ve just gone through all the stages and are quite experienced by this point. So you’ll race through the game pretty quickly and get to the final stage again. The trick this time is you have to beat Satan (the final boss) with a particular weapon. A crappy weapon called the cross. (It looks like a shield really.)
It’s not overly difficult to beat the boss with this weapon, but the frustration comes from the fact that if you fail then you will restart the level with this lame weapon still in hand. And you absolutely cannot get past the level and all its enemies with it. So, you have to grab a new weapon which is actually a randomized event. What you really want is the knife. (“Get the Knife!”) You may have to kill yourself several times because Ghosts and Goblins is filled with (ludicrously) horrible weapons that nobody in their right mind would want to use. When you finally get a competent weapon, then you can go again. Towards the end of the level, you get the cross again and rinse and repeat until you can finally beat the boss.
Luckily, you get infinite lives…so that’s nice.
Fast forward to Super Ghouls and Ghosts and the game experience is very similar. Tough as nails and then you get to the end and, yep, you have to do it all over again. But, this time the game designers got a little too clever about the reason why…
The Horrible, No-Good Ending
My theory about the ending of Super Ghouls and Ghosts is that its creators decided that it-was-all-a-dream was a lame plot twist in the first game. Keep in mind, they’re only making you repeat the whole game to artificially lengthen it with no effort. But, to call it a dream is silly. So, this time they decided to work in a more serious reason to replay it all.
Ready for this? So, your girlfriend tells you that you cannot defeat the final boss (well, not really the final boss, there’s a final final boss you need to worry about, too) with something called the Goddess Bracelet. Good to know! But, oh, she hid it. So, you need to play the whole game again from the beginning, find it, and use it to defeat Sardius.
Where is the Goddess Bracelet? She’s not telling you.
I don’t know what people did back in the day, but I immediately looked it up. Which is lame, because this is a platformer, not an RPG, and there shouldn’t be a reason to look things up. Basically, you need to find the bronze armor, which is only available in a chest if you still have your original armor. Then, you need to find the gold armor, and it’s only available if you’re wearing the bronze armor. Then, you will find the Goddess Bracelet in a random chest if you’re lucky. At no point can you take a hit in this sequence or you can’t get the weapon.
Well, luckily, you don’t have to find it along the way…you can get it at any time. Which is basically going to be the final level because OH MY GOD THIS WEAPON IS SHIT. It has a short range, fires one beam at a time, and isn’t super powerful. Shouldn’t this hard-to-find weapon that you need to kill the boss be really powerful as in one-hit-and-he’s-dead powerful? Would that be too easy? Heck no! Remember, you’re being made to go through the whole game all over again! No, in fact, you have to hit the final boss the same number of times with this Goddess Bracelet piece of shit. And it will be even harder because it’s so inferior of a weapon!
When I played through the game, I tried a hundred-million times to beat the boss with this thing and simply couldn’t do it. It takes forever to hit him the 30 times you need to hit him. On top of that, you can only take 2 hits or you’re dead. On top of that, when you do kill him, he resurrects into a second more powerful form that you HAVE TO HIT 30 TIMES AGAIN! Oh, and did I mention you have to double jump to hit him because the weapon doesn’t have the range of the other weapons in the game? OH AND DID I MENTION YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE WHOLE LEVEL TO GET TO HIM EACH TIME AND YOU HAVE A TIME LIMIT?!
Now, I don’t pride myself for a whole heck of a lot, but one thing I do pride myself on is being a heckuva platform gamer. I love twitch games and the harder they are the better! I’ve beaten Ghosts and Goblins, Ninja Gaiden, Contra (without the code), Contra: Hard Corps…I just love em. So, eventually I’d beat this one too, right?
And you know what? After several hours of trying, leaving my poor SNES running for a few days, I quit. Why? Because what the designers had done was artificially, and poorly, made the game incredibly difficult to beat. On top of that, it made no sense. The game tells you that you need the Goddess Bracelet to beat Sardius. In fact, you don’t. Any weapon works on the final final boss because, if you use a game code to warp to the last level, you can simply beat him with your Javelin. Tell me again how special the Goddess Bracelet is?!
Here’s a run-through of that last level. This guy is clearly an expert and even he is barely able to beat the boss in time.
Much like so many movies (The Happening), sometimes game creators just lose their creative juice when it comes to endings. It’s a real shame, too, because I absolutely loved this game. Yet, my lasting impression will be that of a cheap, artificially difficult ending that got me so frustrated I just quit. I never got the satisfaction of a credits screen. I could’ve beaten it given many beatdowns, but the game no longer felt like a game anymore. It was no longer fun. I didn’t even want to play it anymore. And that’s how I’ll remember it.
Boo on you, Capcom. Boo on you. And boo to games with bad endings.