Retro Game of the Day! Ghosts 'n Goblins
Ghosts 'n Goblins by Capcom, released to arcades way back in 1985. A classic amongst classics, for several reasons, but one stands head-and-shoulders above the rest - this game is hard. Sadly, it's kind of a cliche to reference the game's difficulty level whenever it is mentioned, but I suppose this is for a reason..
I'd suspect, like myself, that most folks who are familiar with Ghosts n Goblins remember it as one of the earliest releases available on the NES. That's right - it was one of Capcom's original trifecta of releases, appearing alongside Commando and 1942. Commando was a decent enough game, if limited and short. 1942 was.... well, it was 1942. But GnG was something altogether different. I have a feeling that they were a little late to their own party somehow, I believe this title release around the same time Super Mario Bros, the game which popularized the Platformer style of game play. In many ways GnG was a superior product, though I suspect between the darker theme and much harder difficulty, they resigned themselves to "forgettable status" unfortunately..
Here's how the game works - it's a platformer (simple enough!), just proceed to the right to clear a stage. Armed with a throwing spear, you can swap out for several other kinds of weapons (fire, knives, etc), each with their own pros and cons. For HP you are alloweda single hit, after which you lose your armor and run around nearly naked. get hit again and you're gone back to the last level point (halfway or begin). And that's really all there was to it! The game was very well-put together with clever and engaging design - considering how early it appeared on the NES, it was a fairly good-looking (and sounding) title.
GnG is a tough sale - most people speak of it in harsh whispers, the brand really never received the love it deserved. It paid more than a passing resemblance to Castlevania when that originally released, though that game has gone on to much larger fame (and several more sequels) that GnG. I'll chalk it up as Capcom not really ever having much idea of what to do with the brand, they've shopped it around the block a bit (PS2, PSP, most recently) but any hope this series had of continuing a once-fairly-rich tradition really withered away several years ago, by now.
I got to give it credit though - even back in those Dark Ages, this game was captivating and very impressive- overall it was quite fun, certainly ambitious, and absolutely a game worth it's weight in years. I think Capcom's history as a whole could have played out quite differently were it not for this game's existence