Maldita Castilla

By: Derek Yu

On: December 13th, 2012

Maldita Castilla, by Locomalito

Like Hydorah before it, Locomalito’s Maldita Castilla stays very close to its inspirations, in this case the venerated platformer series Ghosts n’ Goblins. From the overall look to the invariable jump, you’ll feel very much like you’ve stepped into the greaves of Arthur’s Spanish cousin.

So how does it stack up to its forebears? I’ve played through the game once and I think that it’s a mixed bag, although one worth trying if you enjoyed the GnG games. Compared to the best of that series (Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, and Ultimate Ghosts n’ Goblins), Maldita Castilla lacks variety and charm. The rather dreary mythological theme doesn’t quite compare to Capcom’s colorful fantasy world, and while many of the levels will have you cursing like you’re playing a Ghosts game, they’re also more one-dimensional.

None of this is to say that Maldita Castilla is a bad game, only that it sticks so closely to its source material and falls a bit short in comparison. As I said, it’s still worth your time… but perhaps more as a highly-polished fan game than something that stands alone. As reminiscent of Gradius as Hydorah was, it was still enough of a mélange as to feel unique (the branching stage design and limited save concept also helped separate it).

  • Nae

    Derek, I disagree you opinion. I haven’t been never a fan of G&G (yes, I have played all the games), and while Maldita Castilla is “more or less” the same, I prefer some of the details of Maldita Castilla, like the NO respawning of enemies, or stages like the caves one.

    A really good game :)

  • Derek Yu

    Fair enough! Thanks for offering a counter-opinion. :)

  • Erektionsgehabe

    I also Tend to disagree with you, Derek. This game offers charming music and visuals, a nice variety of enemies, and almost each stage and boss is carefully build around some unique theme. It feels very polished and throws in thoughtful secrets and achievements – asking you to play the game again. Even the difficulty is done the right way. This is one of the best free-to-play pure action jump’n runs i have played so far and holds itself quite well, compared to the original series. And i’m a big fan of the original series. Who cares if something is “original”(there aren’t many high-quality G&G-clones anyway)as long it is great to play. There is one thing, which could have been done easily more interesting, though: The weapon system.

  • Ronald Schröder

    I also tend to disagree with you, Derek. This game offers charming music
    and visuals, a nice variety of enemies, and almost each stage and boss
    is carefully build around some unique theme. It feels very polished and
    throws in thoughtful secrets and achievements – asking you to play the
    game again. Even the difficulty is done the right way.

    This is one of the best free-to-play pure action jump’n runs i have played so far and
    holds itself quite well, compared to the original series. And i’m a big
    fan of the original series.

    Who cares if something is “original”(there
    aren’t many high-quality G&G-clones anyway), as long as it’s great to

    There is one thing though, which could have been done easily more
    interesting: The weapon system.

  • Derek Yu

    I don’t think you said anything in disagreement with my post, unless you actually meant that the game is as good as Ghouls n’ Ghosts.

    MC is a good game, especially for a two-man effort. But with all of its similarities to GnG it begs for comparison and just doesn’t reach those heights, imo. Watch a longplay of Ghouls n’ Ghosts and you’ll see the difference immediately:

    The levels are much more dynamic and varied. And if you’ve played them, you’ll know that they’re more fun, as well.

  • Cool Opinion Bro

    I also disagree with Derek.
    Also when you thought you could belittle Earthworm Jim.
    Your opinions clearly have no value.

  • Ronald Schröder

    You have a point here. But regarding the bosses, MC is superior. I never liked how most bosses in Ghouls&Ghosts and Super Ghouls&Ghosts are merely pushovers. To me this was a waste of potential, as the bosses were acutally quite cool in their ideas and appearances.

    And yes: I misinterpreted your post(while i still think, your review appears somewhat too negative, given the overall quality of MC), as my goal wasn’t to say MC is better as a G&G game other than the very first one.

  • Erik

    I played Maldita Castilla through to the end. With G&G I never even played through the first level. Just saying…

  • Paul Jones

    Derek, in my humble opinion, this game is absolutely brilliant by its own. It has new characters, music, enemies, levels and gameplay. Yes, I agree with you: it has the same platform system and movements like Makaimura (GnG) series, but this is not enough to say that “the game is a high polished fan game” at all. You can find games like ‘Double Dragon extreme’ or ‘Streets of Rage remake’ with the same characters, sprites, and storyline like the original ones. They rip off all stuff from the source. MC is original, hard and very enjoyable. Just like Hydorah. They have their own universe and ambience. They are NEW games with oldschool style. And thanks God if more like these are coming in the future.

  • pfaffian

    I quite liked the spanish theme. My only real complaint is it doesn’t have some sort of save function. Even though it’s not that long, I don’t have the patience to complete games like this in one sitting any more.

  • Anonymous

    Let me offer my own review….

    I am a BIG fan of Locomalito, one of the best indie groups out there. So I was thrilled to find this one was finally out (I played it to the end, but got bad ending so far). It was almost up to the expectations. I found the blend of artistic skills, great inspiration, and love+dedication one can expect from the great Spanish group (or, in practice, guy). That blend never fails to deliver really great games, small bright pieces of art making you happy you have a PC, and being great fun to play.


    There’s a little downside. Not the one Derek suggest: au contrair, Castilla Matilda is packed with charm, variety (NPCs, secrets, interesting bosses and all), and lots of good ideas. IMO the department where it falls (just a bit) short is in the *gameplay*.

    First, the character you control feels a bit wooden. It might be the low speed, the slow reaction times, the very limited number of bullets, which are also very slow, the (almost totally) uncontrollable jump, or the fact that you are unable to fly past a rope without grappling into it… There are all deliberate design choices, and they do have their motivations: one is faithfulness to the genre, no doubt (but even the original GnG was a little smoother and controllable). Anther one, is that it makes you feel like you are encumbered by a big, heavy armor, which is what the hero is. And sure, the game is (hard but) well balanced and only ever throws challenges at you which can be faced with your clumsy, slow, heavy and control-challenged hero. However, it might have been pushed too far. At the end of the day it is not too fun to play with such a character. I think it is a lot more compelling to control characters which are smoother, faster, nimbler, immediately responsive, and with higher firerates. At the end of the day, Castilla doesn’t make you want to play another time after a game (unlike, say, the masterpiece of Locomalito: Hydorah).

    Second, savegames. Locomalito invented a great, unprecedented, genial mechanisms of saved-games, which avoids the common downsides of saved-games… then used it only once (in Hydorah). That sounds a bit like a waste to me. Especially considering that Matilda Castilla, which doesn’t use any savegame at all, seems in need of one badly. Sure, again: faithfulness to the GnG spirit, and all. But, again, the price might have been too high. You need to have a couple of hours of free time (!) if you want to play this game, otherwise it is not wise to even start. A pity.


    A final note from the artistic point of view: this game features really great, top-notch pixel art, which shines even more with the nice pixel renderings (not as nice as, say, the marvellous “you have to win the game”, but nice). The game is worth playing for that alone. However, I wish it had smoother animations with more sprites in them. Walk cycles are like just three frames, most animations just two (even the original GnG had more)- I envision how good it would have been doubling that figure . But I understand it is really a great achievement as it is.

  • Paul Hubans

    I knew this was Locomalito as soon as I saw the screenshot. +1 for having a signature style!

  • Paul Hubans

    Wow, I never played that version of G&G but damn that looks awesome…

  • Ronald Schröder

    Well, it’s very much in the spirit of the G&G-series, so you should get used to feeling “stiff”.

    This stiffness has several very valid game-philosophies behind it. Philosophies like: Jumping and shooting like crazy is not an option to get past danger the easy way, you have to have some sort of thought, to be careful and your ability to use every skill of your character is of utter importance. Also, this way it’s much easier to design enemys and stages, which actually feel different from one another.

    A score-based game, which easily can be cleared in 50 minutes and offers a formidable difficulty(to render even replays still interesting), isn’t in a dire need for a save system. As games are about being played – not so much about being cleared. If you don’t have fun in surviving tricky situations, you shouldn’t play a game like this in the first place.

  • Sebastian Alvarez

    I really enjoyed this game and appreciate the enemies staying true to their textbook form when it comes to the depictions in mythology. So I was wondering why you wrote that it was one dimensional and how it lacked charm. I have played the ghouls and ghosts you linked to and I also really enjoyed it as well but it just has a different theme, one darker in mood than the other.

  • Anthony Flack

    My only disagreement is that you don’t rate the original Ghosts n Goblins as the true high point of the series.

  • Derek Yu

    Well, I think there is a range… and imo Maldita Castilla is closer to a fan game than an original game. Of course, all games borrow a little something from other games, but to say that this is just an “old-school” style is a little irresponsible – had another Japanese company released MC in the arcades around the time of GnG it would definitely raise eyebrows for its similarities.

    Demon Front/Metal Slug is maybe a good analogy:

    Demon Front doesn’t actually rip a damn thing from Metal Slug and even adds some new stuff like little pets that follow you around… but it still can’t escape the shadow of Metal Slug. It just “feels” like Metal Slug all the way around. But not quite as good.

    Anyway, I’m a fan of Locomalito and would also like to see more oldschool arcade-style games made. I’d just prefer that they were more original. Because why not? Locomalito’s obviously got the skill and knowledge to make something that would truly stand out in an 80’s/90’s arcade.

  • Derek Yu

    You mean Ghosts n’ Goblins, right? Try playing Ghouls n’ Ghosts, because Maldita Castilla borrows a ton from Ghouls n’ Ghosts, the first level in particular. It wouldn’t make any sense to not play GnG if you like MC.

  • Derek Yu

    Ghouls n’ Ghosts’s levels are shorter but are much more dense and dynamic in terms of enemies, obstacles, and background elements. Compare the beginnings of both games, for example… in the first part of GnG you encounter mass graves, crucifixes, trees filled with vultures, plants that spit skulls, guillotines (including a GIANT one), a rickety bridge that falls out from underneath you, a wind-swept area with whirling sickle creatures, chests with not only weapons but also magic armors and magicians, vomiting pigmen, etc., all within the space that MC introduces a handful of very basic enemies and not much more!

    And what I mean by dynamism is that GnG often throws a lot of stuff at you at the same time, forcing you to make a lot of interesting decisions about how to deal with them. Whereas in MC you’re usually facing (more simply-patterned) enemies and obstacles separately (in groups of two at most) and there’s a lot more dead space in between these encounters.

  • Sebastian Alvarez

    Okay, this makes a lot of sense. Cool, I agree with your points and it gave me a new perspective but I still think this one had its own type of charm with the horse carriage scene and the wizard battle which I felt were different. Either way thanks for clearing that up, great points.

  • Erik

    I think you’re judging this waaaay too much in comparison with the G&G series, and you’re obviously doing it as a G&G hardcore vet at that. The thing is that G&G may be super-satisfying for the few people skilled enough to complete even the first level, let alone the whole game, but for the rest of us G&G are niche games. Too hard and frustrating to bother with. Locomalito has taken the formula and made it appealing in 2012 when gamers are a *lot* less forgiving. That in itself deserves cred in my opinion.

    And the colorful fantasy world Capcom created looks more garish than stylish to my eyes, especially in the later levels. But tastes differ…

  • Carlos

    I have played it for a few hours, and I like that it has a lot of hidden secrets that you’ll likely miss on the first playrounds.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree. I too can see the motivations behind the “stiffness”, and I also tried reporting them in my “review” above (I’m probably just not very clear in my writing).

    It is just that it has (maybe) been pushed just a tad too far, and that, I suspect, makes MC a little less fun and addictive that it could have otherwise been.

    I still love the game.

  • Anonymous

    Ghouls and Ghost (which I finished) has more stuff in it but it’s more chaotic and clashy (both in terms of content, colors, style). A good game, but I remember considering the original Ghost’n’Goblin (which I also finished) clearly superior. Stuff like the powerful magic armors in Ghouls and Ghost looked quite out of place and ruining the atmosphere; so was its graphical style, all shiny and cartoony and colorful. Packed with stuff but a bit clumsy. Looked like a mixture of GnG and WonderBoy.

    MC is even more on the side of Ghost’n’Goblin: very sober, yes, but very neat, every detail at its place and in-theme. It does has its own arsenal of cool ideas (the NPCs, the alternatives in the story, the twists in the plot like the torch…), but, differently from Ghouls and Ghost, these were ideas fits very well in the theme.

    To appreciate better which is the targeted style and theme, don’t forget to have a look at the super-beautiful instruction manual

    The final image, with the arcade cabinet in the medioeval setting, is a masterpiece on its own. I think that says it all.

  • a guest

    So, did anybody found…


    …the 5 tear gems yet? I’m stuck at 4 and I don’t want to have yet another sterile go and get the same ending again. Non-obvious secrets I found, so far: (a) the breakable wall at stage I, the one with the coat-of-arms, concealing the 1st tear-gem. (b) the long tour in the castle to get the optional key in the bedroom, and access the locked cellar room at the bottom with another tear-gem in it. (c) a secret book found firing upward at the burning library level, the “best book ever”, apparently doing nothing (not even pts). (d) the tear-gem in the dark cave, found by the detour going up the lane and then left over the giant skeleton and all the way to the chest (f) the small invisible jumping creatures in the dark cave, revealed by breaking the wall to the far right, collecting the orb behind it, and walking almost all the way back; apparently they don’t do anything either (not even pts). Another tear gem is in clear sight in the windmill level, and can’t be missed. This makes four of them. Where’s the fifth?

    If you know, I would appreciate to be told a suggestion rather than the solution straight.

  • Paul Jones

    Exactly! MC has its own universe and story. Derek, I strongly recommend you playing the game until the end (good ending if possible) and you will have a clear overall idea. I think this game is ‘honest’ and of course borrows some mechanics and movements of GnG, but we have to consider it as a homage.

  • Paul Jones

    Read the user’s manual. Take a deep look into the illustrations.

  • Derek Yu

    Wow, that instruction manual is beautiful.

    I think I will give a good ending run a go. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more this time around. (Not to say I didn’t enjoy it my first time – just that I didn’t enjoy it as much as GnG.)

  • same guest as before

    Thank you a lot Paul! Both for helping, and for doing so without spoiling the fun! I’m not sure I got it, but I know what to try next!

  • same guest, only frustrated

    No luck. I imagined that you were referring to the fact that Moura seemed to be portrayed with the gem in her necklace, but after another 2 lost hours of play I didn’t find anything near, or on, Maura (before or after killing her); nor in her garderobe, just before her. Same ending again.

    A bit frustrated now. :-(

    Usually I like bits of puzzle in my arcades here each single attempt costs hours of effort. Thanks anyway.

  • Derek Yu

    I know where the tear is and I still don’t understand Paul’s hint.

    Here’s another one: look closely at the breakable wall where you found the first tear. That should give you a clue about how to find the last one.

  • Carlos

    There are many non-obvious secrets I’ve found, but I don’t know if telling them too early will spoil the fun in finding them, so I’ll only spoil the one I find the most useless. If you duck for a few seconds under the unholy altar in the cauldron level, you’ll lose a heart. There are other places in the game in which ducking for a few seconds uncover useful secrets, but I’ll left them for you to discover.

  • Dan Abnormal

    Wow, Derek got many disagreement. I think Maldita Castilla is very atmospherics and very charming. I like it a lot. When I see this post, I kinda surprised because of Derek’s opinion is a bit negative. But everybody has a opinion for a reason. I never play Ghouls n’ Ghosts before. I’ll give Ghouls n’ Ghosts a try and may be I’ll understand Derek’s point of view.

  • The same guest again

    Thank you a lot, Carlos, Paul Jones, and Derek Yu.

    I think now I’ve what it takes to give in another go (which is great fun, after all).

    You gave me a collection of hints which, as it turns out, I needed to get unstuck (individual hints were not enough, it must be that I suck at this)… and yet didn’t spoil it for me. Great! I think I know what to look for (for the second time, but this time it could be it).

  • same guest as before


    I didn’t solve it yet but now I suspect that the hint by Paul was probably referred to the pose of the monk in the the illustration featuring the beheading carnage, in the big illustration. (don’t tell me if I’m right)

  • Erik

    Cool, I’ll check it out.

  • Austin Wilburn

    Oh god the PTSD. Thanks for re-starting the recurring nightmares, Derek.

  • Javier Jiménez

    Compare Capcom the best developer of arcade machines of all time with Locomalito,I don’t think it’s fair.Nonetheless I agree that there are some very similar things in MC copied from G&G.

  • Paul Hubans

    I played this game on the train, only a couple levels in. It’s pretty damn good, probably one of the best games posted on here in a while, IMO, but I’m a bit biased because I’m a sucker for polished retro games that get it right. I’m looking forward to beating this!

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    That thing is a decision in design by Locomalito. He pretends always to offer moments that are unique, hand-coded and not use repetitive behaviour or assets. I my opinion, I prefer Ghouls and Ghosts style with a lot of dynamic moments. But I can appreciate too the uniqueness of some Maldita Castilla moments (man, some enemies are used only once in all the game!). As I said, it is a design decision of the author, so it is a very different game from Ghost’n’Co in that sense.

    And, well, Hydorah was made in two years, Maldita Castilla in one year more or less… the thing is you can spend years and years making a gem like Hydorag or Cave Story, or you can spend less time and produce a great game indeed. Ghost’n’Co have far more time invested and far more developers. So I think the comparison can’t be done.

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    In my opinion Ghouls is the best of the series.

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    Everybody copies. Give me your favorite game, I will tell to whom it copies.

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    Another more strong hint: all crosses are important in the game.

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    I disagree a lot about the movement of Don Ramiro. The control is perfect, the jumps are almost controllable in a way to make the things difficult and get satisfaction solving difficult jumps.

    And really, you don’t want complete control in air in this kind of games, believe me. The worst Castlevanias are the ones where you can control the jump.

    The jump Ghost’n’Co style is the best for this games because you can jump ahead, turn around, and shoot to a enemy mid air. That moments are brilliant.

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    And… you feel the movement is stiff? Go play, any 3D game where movement or jumping are ugly as shit.

  • Arucard

    Not my complete favorite, but let’s give this a try. How about, Katamari Damacy? I know of some that copied from it, but…

  • Dario Fas Marin

    Great game, beautiful, atmospheric buuut… the vertical stages are a really pain that unbalances playability heavily and turns the pleasant general retro-arcade-hardcore-kill-kill-and-die experience in a frustating-Megaman-fall-again-can’t-shoot-the-fecking-faces-an-avoid-enemies game that can exasperate most of people and turn the pretty hard game into a nightmare..

    The ending… buy the locomalito manual! ;) I felt a little disappointed the first time by the “bad ending”, but it was far more painful on the G&G arcade. Anyway, this is clearly the GOTY of 2011!

    PD- Nobody felt like playing a Castlevania? I was trying to hit candles most of time :P

  • Ruber Eaglenest

    Marble Madness + … but it is not your favorite. Bah, half jocking… :)

  • Arucard

    Yeah, my favorite is probably still Symphony, and everyone knows exactly what that copied from. Still, it’s fine to have inspiration from other ideas as long as you have at least some of your own. I think Locomalito does that pretty well.

  • Jarhead

    Seems cool.