Ghost Rider Review
Ghost Rider for the GBA is a visually intense, fun beat-'em-up that totally gets what the character is all about.
By Frank Provo on February 22, 2007 at 9:28AM PST
Fans of the skeletal biker with the flaming skull and ridiculous chains will likely enjoy Ghost Rider for the Game Boy Advance. It's an intense side-scrolling beat-'em-up that lets you use the titular character's fists, chains, and hellfire against the likes of Lilith, Scarecrow, Mephisto, and their many demonic thugs throughout 25 lavish levels. The game doesn't bring anything new to the beat-'em-up genre, but it is nevertheless a solid brawler that provides an excellent portrayal of everyone's favorite spirit of vengeance.
Two-thirds of the game's levels take place in side-scrolling environments where criminals and monsters constantly rush into view as you make your way along the path. These fodder enemies can block and attack, and they do a good job of surrounding Ghost Rider, but they're usually no match for all of the attacks you're able to perform. You can unleash various punches and lash out with Ghost Rider's chains by pressing different combinations of the buttons and D pad, as well as grab enemies directly to express mail knuckle sandwiches to their faces. Some attacks were directly lifted from the comic books, such as the ability to pull enemies closer using the character's chains, or the ability to send them back to hell by performing the penance stare. New enemies are introduced every five levels or so, some levels have alternative paths you can take, and there's usually a giant boss creature waiting at the end of each level. In addition to the health and mana orbs that enemies leave behind, they also release soul orbs that you can collect and use to buy new attacks or upgrade existing ones. Gaining new attacks every couple of levels really helps stave off the feeling of repetitiveness that often develops while playing through a beat-'em-up.
The remaining levels are first-person motorcycle stages that will seem familiar to anyone who's played Road Rash. Your job in them is to make it to the end of a twisty highway populated with angry armed bikers without running out of health. When you pursue a group of evil bikers, they'll attack using shotguns and baseball bats. In response, you can hurl hellfire orbs from a distance or swing Ghost Rider's chains to hurt them up close. While all of this is going on, you also need to take care to dodge junk situated in the road. Ghost Rider often has to chase down demons with his bike in the comic books, so the inclusion of these bike levels adds another layer of authenticity to the game's portrayal of the character. Even if you're not a fan of the character, you'll probably appreciate the break from the lengthy fisticuffs levels that the occasional bike stage provides.
In terms of look and feel, Ghost Rider for the GBA does an excellent job of bringing the character's world to life. The side-scrolling stages have multiple layers of scrolling and flaunt sexy visual effects that are seldom seen in GBA games. In Mephisto's realm, for example, there's a persistent transparent haze, and the walls and flowing lava in the distance appear to waver in the extreme heat. The first-person viewpoint in the bike stages is also rather impressive, even if it is just the same trick developers have been using since the Super NES and Genesis days to fake a semblance of 3D. Ghost Rider looks just like he does in the comics, and he has a diverse selection of visually flamboyant attacks. The flames on his hands, head, and chains are animated, such that they constantly flare and sway in response to everything you do. There's rarely a dull moment, since new enemies are constantly appearing to replace the ones that you knock out. While there aren't a whole bunch of different sound effects, all of the smacks and groans that accompany attacks are sufficiently meaty. The music, meanwhile, is intricately orchestrated, moody, and fits the action perfectly.
Followers of the character's comic exploits will further appreciate the rogues' gallery of bosses distributed throughout the game, which includes the likes of Vengeance, Lilith, and Mephisto, just to name a few. One of the static scenes between levels even features a brief cameo by Blade, the vampire hunter. Characters in the game are drawn so that they look like they do in comic books, although for some wacky reason, they're drawn to resemble the actors from the recent motion picture in the scenes that appear between levels. Fortunately, the movie likenesses don't seem out of place.
All told, Ghost Rider for the GBA is a fun, visually-stunning beat-'em-up that totally captures the essence of the character it's based on. And, at 20 dollars, the price is right.
- Leave Blank
- Fun comic book-style fisticuffs
- Motorcycle stages offer a nice break from fighting levels
- Side-scrolling levels employ some sweet visual effects
- 25 lengthy levels and plenty of upgrades to buy
- Button mashing isn't the most original design concept
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First off: Ghost Rider was not a bad movie. I was skeptical, too, especially after Nicholas Cage�s riveting performance in the Wicker Man (�KILLING ME WON�T BRING BACK YOUR GODDAMN HONEY!�) but it�s a fun flick that doesn�t take itself too seriously. No Batman Begins , but good. Second off: Even if Ghost Rider was as bad as everyone thought it would be, it wouldn�t have much bearing on the game�s worth. The plot takes place after the movie. New characters are introduced, old ones are downplayed. Nicholas Cage doesn�t do voice acting, and the Johnny Blaze that shows here doesn�t look at all like him. So no beef. Now, this would typically be the part of the review where I go into the history of Ghost Rider and tell you just why he�s so damn awesome. But I�m passing on the former, because telling it takes too long, and most people don�t care, anyway. And I�m passing on the latter, since Ghost Rider rides a motorcycle, has a skull for a head, wears a leather jacket with spikes, is engulfed in unquenchable hellfire, and makes the corrupt relive their sordid crimes - from their victim�s point of view. That sells itself, and it�s kind of funny, really - the two best things about Ghost Rider are the motorcycle and the guy who rides it. When Ghost Rider�s on his motorcycle, the game goes for a Road Rash From Hell approach. You�ve got Ghost Rider, tearing up the road down the highway to hell. A streak of fire following in his wake, motorcycle roaring, demons swirling about him. They come at him from the side, he whips them away with his chain. They pass him in the front, he blows them away with balls of flame. And if they�re stupid enough to stand in his way, he just runs them over. It�s frenetic, kinetic, hectic experience; Ghost Rider pulls off daredevil jumps, slides under obstacles, blazes through anything and everything and looks so damn good doing it. You really get the feeling you�re riding this accursed engine, you really see the flames lapping at your wheels as you fly over the chasms of hell, you really hear the screams and howls and wails of the demons chasing after you, and it can really drive you wild. Which makes it such a shame that it�s treated it more like a minigame than anything else. I�m not saying Ghost Rider�s time on foot is a total loss - it reminds me a bit too much of Devil May Cry 3 , but, given the similar Satanic subject matter, that can�t be helped. It plays out like some damned beat-em-up; Ghost Rider beats demons of every shape and size around with his bony fist, he wraps them up in his flaming chains and slams them to and fro, he unleashes his dreadful Penance Stare and engulfs them in the searing inferno of the pit. He even picks them off from afar with fiery blasts of his shotgun, taking the souls of his fallen enemies and using them for ammo. It�s sinfully sweet, and you will enjoy it, and you�ll dispatch the Devil�s minions with glee and gusto. But after, a few chapters pass and once you fall into the swing of things, you realize�there�s just not much variety here. Demons. Big demons. Bat demons. Ninja demons. They can be fun to fight, they come in different flavors, they each require different strategies to defeat. But once you fall into the rhythm, things slow down. You travel here, get ambushed, you travel there, get ambushed again. You maybe solve a simple puzzle, you move on. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat; more enemies, more button-mashing, more reaped souls. It just wears away after a while, and while the occasional motorcycle minigame helps break the monotony, you can�t help but wish you spent more time on the open road. You�ll be wading your way through waves of demons, burning them to the ground, and the whole time you�ll be wishing you could just call in your ride flatten them beneath your scorching wheels, laughing all the way. The game makes up for it. Tries to. It gives you rather well-drawn comic pages for cut scenes, voiced by Sam Elliot himself, of The Big Lebowski fame (I keep expecting to refer to Ghost Rider as �The Dude�) It gives you updates of classic enemies, like the sultry succubus Lilith and Ghost Rider�s rival rider, Vengeance. There are things to enjoy here, for new fans and old ones alike. Just don�t expect it last too long. Ghost Rider�s flame burns so long as the blood of the innocent is spilled. His game isn�t so lucky.
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Ghost Rider – Review
Psp playstation 2 xbox, review by sitri.
Vengance Flows Through My Body!!!
- Rating: 9
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I'm an enormous nerd when it comes to the more ridiculous and obscure corners of the Marvel Comics universe. Well, not enormous in that sense (I'm actually reasonably svelte for a thirty-something man who plays games for a living) but, having already completed Ultimate Alliance on the Xbox, I did buy it again on the 360 just so I could play as Moon Knight .
And yet, even with my childlike devotion to the crap superheroes that nobody else likes, I still can't bring myself to give a toss about Ghost Rider. I think it's because from his flaming skull head, to his flaming skull chains, to his flaming skull motorbike he's not even all that interesting or quirky. He's just the biro doodles from some 12-year-old Iron Maiden fan's schoolbook, a leathery gothicky cliché too obvious and silly even for my dubious tastes.
So you can probably imagine my unfettered glee when I discovered that the new (apparently rubbish) Nicolas Cage Ghost Rider movie has spawned a last-gen action game. Woot.
Well, to be fair, this second-tier offering is far from being the worst Marvel game. Heck, it's not even the worst superhero game. It is, however, a pretty tiresome riff on the vastly superior God of War, just without the exquisite pacing, eye-popping spectacle or sense of steadily escalating awe.
Did God of War have flaming skull motorbike levels that cribbed from Road Rash though? No. So it's not all one-sided.
The story follows Johnny Blaze, a stuntman who sells his soul to Mephisto in order to save his father but gets diddled on the deal, transforming into the Ghost Rider and blah blah blah. What really matters is that you have a blazing skull, an adorably growly voice and must follow painfully linear levels, smashing the atoms of demonic bad guys and occasionally smashing the atoms of slightly larger demonic boss bad guys.
You have your trusty flaming skull chain to do the majority of your smashing, but there's also a shotgun - presumably featuring some further combination of flame and skull motifs, I don't know - you never get a close look at it. All can be upgraded Onimusha-style by collecting the souls and other glowy-floaty stuff that comes out of defeated bad guys, while new combos and moves can also be purchased using this supernatural currency. The shopkeeper is played with avuncular gruffness by a slumming Sam Elliot, who is also in the movie and thus forms just about the only tangible connection betwixt game and film.
It's all just about acceptable, if you pretend that there have been no other games like this ever before, with the obligatory amounts of ultra-violence and rankings based on how efficiently you slaughtered your way through each section. There are even lots of unlockables, including Snipes-a-like vamp-hunter Blade as a playable character.
What it doesn't have is any trace of imagination or ambition.
The environments, which may have been impressive seven years ago, are lifeless and flat. Despite multiple nooks and crannies, the game won't let you even jump over the bar of a desert inn. Areas that, in any other game, would be a sure fire clue to the presence of secrets are simply window dressing here. Fragile objects are immune to your flailing chains, except the random few that aren't. Barrels and crates mostly. These shatter, rather originally, to produce more power-ups. And this 'just enough to get by' aesthetic applies to the gameplay as well.
There are, for instance, maybe a dozen enemy types in the whole game. You get one new foe in each major new section, and drudgery sets in before you've even been playing for an hour. The game cheekily pads itself out by making you play certain sections twice, once on the way in and again and the way out, but you just keep plodding along, whipping your chains around and around. It's sort of diverting in the sense that it involves moving colours, lights and noise though it's never engaging. You never once feel impressed or surprised or excited by the next development. It's always more of the same heaped on top of more of the same.
The occasional motorbike levels go some way to lifting the mood, though that's mostly because they're short, fast and extremely stupid. The bike controls are tight enough to allow for a few displays of genuine skill, there are ample opportunities to make outrageous jumps or slide under obstacles and a dash of enjoyable ragdoll physics means that even your fatal crashes are rather amusing.
These race-and-chase sections only make up maybe 20 percent of the game though, and there are more serious problems lurking under the hood of the on-foot combat. Unlike many of the games it so studiously apes, starting a combo means triggering an animation sequence that can't be stopped. Once you start whirling in one direction, Ghost Rider is out of your control until he finishes his attack or takes a hit. Hardly the sort of thing that ruins an entire game but it does mean that any attempts to simply react to a change in circumstance are always going to be clumsy at best.
The camera, which follows you at an uncomfortably tight distance, often leaves unseen foes off-screen. Unseen foes that fire projectiles at you. Projectiles that you won't see coming. Another minor annoyance to be added to the slowly growing pile. Instead of allowing you to exert even a small amount of camera control, the right stick is instead used for a completely pointless rolling move which, more often than not, tumbles you right into one of the unseen off-screen enemies. Health, rather hilariously, comes in the form of fires which are absorbed by Ghost Rider's blazing noggin. It's also scarce and, as almost all of your attacks involve fire, makes you wonder why you can't absorb health from those.
By the time the game introduces hulking semi-boss monsters that unleash unblockable radial attacks, progress becomes even more of a trial. There are even creatures guarded by magical shields, which can only be broken by levelling-up your combo meter to a certain point. Trouble is, your combo meter requires you to deliver a non-stop barrage of varied attacks without taking any hits yourself. Even with the off-screen projectiles and unstoppable attacks it's still possible, just time-consuming and pretty much devoid of fun.
And despite this litany of small irritants and quirks, the game remains alarmingly easy. You have unlimited attempts at any single section, while the game is so generous with the power-ups that you should be able to max out all your combos, health and weapons before you reach the halfway stage. All told, a reasonably skilled player can romp through the whole thing in about four hours - and you'll probably be stifling a yawn for at least three and a half of them.
If you have the sort of disposable income that allows you to spend thirty quid on a short-lived and rather bland diversion, or if you have an intensely adolescent fondness for flames, skulls and chains, then I dare say you'll find Ghost Rider to be 'not that bad'. And it's not. Not in the grand scheme of things. But nor is it the sort of game that deserves your time, money or a score higher than five. Besides, Moon Knight could totally beat Ghost Rider in a fight.
Work on an assembly line can't be fun: the same dreary motions, minute after minute, hour after hour, with only lunch and daydreaming of a better life to break up the monotony.
Yet faced with the alternate task of playing Ghost Rider , your newfound sense of perspective would probably have you waking up early, eager to be the first to clock in to join the chicken packing line.
That's because Ghost Rider , a loose adaptation of the recent Hollywood interpretation of Marvel's hero, is an exceptionally dull affair – which is surprising given that you're tasked with whipping, punching and blasting demons back to their seedy underworld den. You'd normally expect that to be more fun than, say, inserting the circuit board into an LCD set.
Immediate impressions of the Story mode are favourable. Control of the main character is pleasingly fast and fluid, and this extends to the combat system, which consists of little more than light and heavy attacks, backed by jump, roll, block and grab functions (only used once enemies are stunned).
It sounds restrictive but a healthy number of combos are possible, as long as you've 'purchased' them using skulls earned from completing missions. The 'shop' screen appears at the end of each of the 40 missions, and in addition to extra moves also tempts you by offering the ability to boost other key attributes such as your health gauge, as well as less crucial (though nevertheless welcome) bonus unlockables such as concept artwork, developer interview footage and even a selection of Ghost Rider comics.
The depth of the character progression system evident from your first shop visit is as encouraging as the responsiveness and pace of the combat experienced during the first stage, which, as with most of the others, at some three minutes is well-suited to short burst play. But by the time you've reached the end of the third level the optimism is likely to have been replaced by growing concern.
You see, like some devilish curse, Ghost Rider is the definition of repetitiveness: you enter an area, trigger a cut-scene detailing the creatures you're about to face, despatch them, find the checkpoint, trigger more enemies and so on, until no one but yourself is left standing. New adversaries come along but it doesn't matter whether you're fighting ghouls in a village square or demon ninjas on an industrial cargo lift – the sensation is exactly the same.
And that in itself wouldn't be such an issue if your opponents provided something resembling an engaging and therefore rewarding challenge, but alas they are almost without exception brainless, characterless drones that are effortlessly dealt with.
True, there is some variety in the way you can tackle them. In addition to the standard moves, you have access to a shotgun and further actions resulting from Spirit and Link Charge gauges. When full, the former enables Retribution, which sees you inhabit a parallel plane in which you become stronger and faster than your enemies (as well as being able to perform the soul-sucking Penance Stare by grabbing one of the lumbering opponents), while the latter unleashes a devastating attack on anyone within its blast radius.
Still, they're hardly enough to save the game, which is presumably why you'll also find a dynamic 'borrowed' from other games that involves collecting the souls of fallen enemies. You can't actually swap these for goodies, although reaching a predetermined number will gain you one of the three bonus achievements associated with each stage – and achievements mean extra skulls, which mean better shopping.
Ultimately, these challenges (others tend to focus on a time limit or simple tasks such as not using block throughout a level) may seem like an additional layer, but as with the extra moves they do little to further engage the player. There is a plot, not that you'll care much for it given how lightly it figures, and how it seemingly has no bearing on what you're doing, while the action is simply too uninspiring and the game so lacking in character to keep any interest going.
A perfect indication of this can be seen in the way the Hell Cycle sections – which see the protagonist mount his trademark flaming ride – utterly fail to inject variety or spice up the disappointingly bland experience. Even when played on their own in Challenge mode – or against fellow PSP owners in Multiplayer – they decidedly do not to excite.
On paper, being able to slice through hellspawn while sliding under an obstacle, performing gravity-teasing jumps and shooting enemies to smithereens may sound like fun but here it's not; you just end up spending most of your time bouncing from one side of the scenery to the next while having to repeat increasingly tricky sections.
Further frustration comes courtesy of the on-foot sections, where opponents have no qualms about attacking you off-screen, giving you little fighting chance to block their advance. Or, as often happens, they simply disappear because of being positioned between you and the camera – a credible attempt at combat clarity that in practice just ends up being annoying.
Yet not as infuriating as encountering yet another film licence no doubt severely hampered by the time restraints of hitting the shop shelves alongside the cinematic release.
You can detect potential in some of Ghost Rider 's elements – and even take an educated guess as to which areas the developer was forced to cut corners with – but the absurd level of repetition combined with its dreary execution are overwhelming. It's 'assembly line' gaming, and that proves to be as much fun as it sounds.
The new Ghost Rider has been revealed, and it's a well-known Marvel villain
There's a new Spirit of Vengeance in town, and it's a villain Marvel fans will recognize
Marvel has been teasing that a known villain will soon take over as a new Spirit of Vengeance in the upcoming Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance limited series, and now the publisher has revealed the villain who will take up the mantle: the Hood.
For readers of writer Benjamin Percy's recent Ghost Rider volume, this won't be a total surprise, as the Hood appeared as an antagonist 2023's Ghost Rider Annual #1. Now, he's going to become the new Spirit of Vengeance as Johnny Blaze is cast into hell.
Along with the announcement, Marvel has revealed Juan Ferreyra's cover of Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance #2 as well as series artist Danny Kim's design for the Hood as the Spirit of Vengeance.
"Armed with a demonic cloak and dark mystical abilities, Parker Robbins’ undying lust for more power and fortune has made one of the Marvel Universe’s dangerous threats," reads Marvel's official announcement. "Now with the Spirit of Vengeance claiming what’s left of his soul, there’s no stopping his bloody takeover of the criminal underworld. By the time Johnny Blaze is able to claw his way back from the abyss to reclaim the Spirit of Vengeance, it’ll be far too late!"
Parker Robbins, AKA The Hood, was created in 2002's The Hood #1 by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artists Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell. A low level criminal in New York City, Robbins rises through the ranks to become a supervillain when he gains possession of a demonic cloak and boots that allow him to turn invisible and walk on air. The Hood will be the villain of Marvel Studios ' upcoming Ironheart streaming series, played by Anthony Ramos.
"Some villains you know all too well. Doctor Doom. Thanos. Mephisto. But I find it especially fun to bring the lesser known baddies out of the shadows and give them a shot at a starring role. That's what I did with Omega Red during X Lives of Wolverine/X Deaths of Wolverine - and that's what I'm doing now with Ghost Rider," Percy states in the announcement.
"The Hood wants a taste of the big time. And he's made a deal with the devil to help him on his way. This is what happens when the Spirit of Vengeance is stripped from Johnny Blaze and grafted on to a character who has no moral compass. An epic crime saga - flavored with horror - awaits readers in Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance."
Ghost Rider: Final Vengeance #1 goes on sale March 13, followed by #2 on April 18.
Ghost Rider is one of the best supernatural superheroes of all time.
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I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)
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