Ghosts’n DJ’s, spin that record – First Sip Review
Ghost’n DJ’s is an old-school action platformer developed and published by Dr. Kucho! Games. A satirical take on modern music and entertainment filtered through an ’80s lens.
The main character of Ghosts’n DJ’s is Dr. Kucho. That’s right the same Dr. Kucho from Dr. Kucho Games. He is also a prolific veteran of the house music scene so you can tell this game was a labor of love for him. In the universe of the game, Kucho’s beloved music style is being corrupted by untalented superstars who gain popularity through previously existing fame and a lot of money. With this evil “Money” (what is it? where can I get some?) these fake DJ’s hire Ghost producers to make music they can release under their names. But the Ghost Producers are now producing ghosts too. So Kucho needs to go and save music and the world by defeating the ghosts, the fake DJ’s and finding “The Template” that is being used to make all music sound the same.
It’s a very silly and fun idea that takes a sad amount of inspiration from the real world. The character names are pretty funny and it took me a while but I worked them all out without looking anything up. Considering I’m not too focused on that music scene that’s a pretty good sign of a job well done.
Ghosts’n DJ’s uses a retro 16-Bit art style and it looks fantastic. The level of detail in the characters and levels is fairly mindblowing. After looking up what the real guy looks like I’m happy to report that the in-game Kucho sprite is a pretty spot-on version. Enemies are also well-designed and look fairly like their real-world counterpoints, albeit with more devil horns, wings are other demonic additions.
The animation is quite smooth, especially with the way the enemies move. And your standard attack which flings items around bounces around satisfyingly. There are some parts of stages that look sort of like dead ends but Dr. Kucho very wisely added some pointing hands that give you an idea where to go.
Overall, it’s a very nice looking game, that really evokes the spirit of the classic SNES games. It even has a nice CRT filter to recreate the 80’s feel further.
Naturally as a game about music you’d expect the music to be a strong point. And it is. There are two game scores you can select from, and you can change it mid-level too. The default one being Dr. Kucho!’s orchestral score, which gives you a nice adventure feel. And then an electronic deadmau5 option. While deadmau5 did not compose anything specifically for the game as far as I can tell. He did provide permission for a few of his tracks to be used. One of the reasons why I lean toward deadmau5 not composing anything specifically is that regardless of the soundtrack option the death tune is always in the orchestral style. It does sound somewhat out of place when you have the electronic score but it still sounds good and doesn’t break immersion too much.
Sound-effects are retro and designed based on classic 8 bit YM2203 and MOS6581 sound chips. Which means they sound authentic and fit quite well. An overall solid sound design all round.
Gameplay much like the name of the game is heavily inspired by Ghosts’n Goblins. Kucho’s run cycle and especially his jump mimics the classic Sir Arthur’s signature moves. Similarly, Kucho can collect items for either points, health or other weapons that function slightly differently to the default one. However, unlike the medieval weapons of Sir Arther, Kucho uses music-based items such as cassette tapes and cd-roms. Unfortunately, the ones I found barely felt different from each other let alone the default weapon. The CD’s had a straighter arc and longer distance, but the cassettes felt like a downgrade from the default weapon as they have the same arc but you only throw one instead of a few. Truth be told, I don’t know what the default weapon is.
Sometimes you can find deadmau5’s trademark mask, which has a dual effect of giving you invincibility until knocked off (it can be picked up again) and giving you access to a powerful rainbow trail cat weapon. It makes the game a lot easier but still not easy.
Levels involve running, jumping, climbing ladders and killing a ton of enemies. I assume you need to get to a specific place to finish a level, I found a diner and the screen then reset but I’m not sure if it was the end of level because it just continued on after it.
That 80’s difficulty
The rating I gave the gameplay was my attempt to be objective. Because personally I hate a lot of the things the game does, but I don’t they are poorly implemented or inherently bad. The game uses the 80’s gaming mantra of, if the game is going to be short then make it super hard. While a lot of the reasoning behind this in the past was memory limitations, a lot of people who grew up on punishing ultra-hard games grew to love the challenge. And Ghosts’n DJ’s has that challenge. Unlike the similarly retro-inspired hard game Awesome Pea 2 where precision jumps are the order of the day. G’nD follows the G’nG template of enemies spawning everywhere all the time. If you stand in an area for too long the screen will fill with enemies. Because they are demons they can just warp in anywhere.
Because of this, I found most of the deaths I experienced to feel really cheap. After all, it’s not my fault I couldn’t anticipate an enemy spawning right in front of me when I’m trying to climb a ladder. I played on the easiest difficulty and still had a ton of trouble making progress.
Fans of the classic 80’s SNES games and especially Ghosts’n Goblins should have a lot to enjoy in Ghosts’n DJ’s. The game is funny, well-made, looks great, sounds great and has that old-school punishing gameplay in spades. It’s obvious from the time I spent with the game that Dr. Kucho! loves Ghosts’n Goblins and music. If you share his tastes then you’re sure to love this game. But if you like to take your time with a game, clearing out areas and exploring you might want to steer clear. I don’t think I’ll go back to it but the game is Free on Steam so it might be best to just try it out for yourself.
In Coffee Terms
It’s like a classic black coffee made by a fan of classic blends. It’s made in a nice looking mug but the actual recipe hasn’t had anything new added to it. If you loved the bitter taste of a pitch-black coffee then try it out, after all, it’s free.
Ghosts’n DJ’s Links
Ghosts'N DJ's Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.