Years ago, a noted video game scholar, delving deep into the deeply encoded psychosexual messages inherit in the 8-bit era, tried to find what video game was The Opposite of Sex. To anyone who was not an ignoramus on the golden era of our culture, the answer was obvious. However, the video game industry has not become the multi-gajillion, Columbian trade unionist murdering behemoth it is by handing people sugar coated lessons on celibacy. It has done so by channeling the fears and aspirations of millions of young men who live in a culture where they are bombarded with pornographic dreams of Euphoria yet are economically unable to compete in a world where the Doritoes, ratty couches and suburban basements they surround themselves with are all made by slave labor in Mexico. In other words, the video game is just dripping with subliminated fantasies. But of all games churned out by non-unionized Guatemalan bit jockeys, which one has best succeeded in revealing, and yet concealing the frustrated sexuality of our once-great nation?
The answer of course, is Ghosts'n'Goblins, as well as its many execrable sequels, each one more difficult, and more garishly frightening than the last. Each game in the G'n'G repertoire involves a knight, Arthur, fighting his way through demon hordes to rescue yet another captured princess. The captured sentence has an incorrect verb: "fighting", which suggests there is some type of equality or possibility to the contest. Actually, Arthur just dies. The captured princess, spirited far away by a demon, represents the object of desire/frustration by Arthur, who represents the ego of the male gamer. Late Capitalism, and its insistence on economic viability as a prequel to mating, has sequestered the female figure far away. In order to capture her, the protagonist must futilely sharpen his skills to survive in a world that wants him dead. This world is not just a representative of the capitalist capture of sexuality, it is a representative of an innate fear of sexuality. Many of the levels feature the sea, as well as scenes of fetidness and decay. While the death principle is overwhelmingly present in the demons and ghosts that attack, they are a twisted version of the feminine life principle that the man can not hope to capture. There are also a series of sequences where the protagonist must enter a tunnel that is supposed to present the gut of a fearsome beast, but which obviously represents another biological tunnel. This environ twists and turns, and is, like everything in the world of Ghosts'n'Goblins, deadly. The feminine is incomprehensible and deadly.
Against the twisted, invincible defenses of late capitalism and the female principle, our hero is seemingly well armed, starting with an obviously phallic lance and a suit of armor. Through the collection of treasure chests, our hero can collect and upgrade his weaponry, and eventually get a gold suit of armor, which allows him to release his martial prowess in a single burst of ejaculatory energy. However, just as with any ejaculatory event, once Arthur releases his phallic dragon of power, he becomes winded and powerless, and enemies jump on him. And despite Arthur's great energy, the Reichian armor he gathers does not protect him: a single hit from one of the many enemies reduces him to his naked body, with the male physique seeming ridiculous and ugly without the armor of technophallocracy. The male body is then ridiculed as something weak and ridiculous, and very vulnerable, because another blow reduces Arthur to a pile of bones.
If Arthur is to win through the layers and layers of obstacles and enemies, and defeats the final boss...he finds not the consumation of his libido, but rather the message that he must undertake his quest again. Just as the matriarchy's message to men is that even if they were to completely follow the code of femininity that is laid out as a promise of sexual release, they can be arbitrarily punished at any time, so Arthur learns that despite his best efforts to win affection in a late capitalist society that finds him useless, he must undertake his deadly quest again.
And that is why this game is truly pretty much the same thing as sex.