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Harder Better Harder Harder: Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts (SNES)
I'm terrible at intros so let's jump right in.
Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts' first stage is... well, it's hard to categorize. It's generally considered a graveyard, and the title of its music on the OST is even "Haunted Graveyard", but... there's nothing in the visual design of the level to indicate that it's a graveyard, aside from the coffins and zombies. Unlike the first levels of the previous Makaimura games, it's not entirely clear what Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts' first stage is supposed to be. In fact, looked at objectively it's a bit of an aesthetic mishmash - coffins, dead trees, skulls, oceans, vines. But somehow it all works, and I'm not even really sure why.
Anyway, when you first pick up the controller you'll probably feel compelled to move right, since hey - it's a platformer. Upon doing so, the screen begins to shake with a very cool SPC earthquake sound, and the terrain shifts, the flat ground in front of you becoming a hill. This happens a lot over the course of this first stage, and it really does a lot to make the level feel a lot more dynamic than it is - the terrain before the earthquakes doesn't really affect much since it changes immediately, but it does require you to change your strategy on the fly - a valuable skill in Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, with some of the more complex and unpredictable elements later on. Anyway, in front of you is... some sort of pillar. I'm not really sure what this is supposed to be, maybe a cross-section of a wall that extends past the "front" of the screen? Either way, it's too tall to clear with a jump. This is the clever way that Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts introduces its new (to the series) double jump mechanic - you're not under much pressure at this point, and failing to clear the pillar doesn't really do much harm.
Incidentally, the way the double jump in this game works is worthy of note - much like a Belmont, when Arthur jumps he is locked into his jump arc - but double jumping allows you to change it once. At this point the mechanics aren't too relevant, but even later in this same stage you'll need to carefully alter your arc to reach platforms.
Upon jumping on top of the pillar, there are two things a first-time player would do to proceed. Some might revel in their newfound jumping freedom and leap to the right to proceed through the stage - in which case the stage continues as normal. Others, however, might simply continue to hold right, dropping off of the pillar - and revealing a treasure chest on top.
Treasure chests are hidden all throughout Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts' stages, and are revealed by simply passing over certain areas of the level - often in midair, forcing you to take a leap of faith, or at seeming dead ends. Attacking them enough causes them to break open, revealing a variety of things (there are a series of tables determining the contents of the chests, which can be memorized with experience) - in this case, if it's the first chest you've found and you've yet to take damage, a new weapon.
And here the addiction begins.