In all its 35 years of existence, we’ve never seen this classic Nintendo Famicom/NES game being played quite like this.

Just last week, three of our reporters disappeared from their desks to go play Super Mario Bros. on the company Famicom/NES.

Despite it being a two-player alternating game, they’d figured out a clever way for the three of them to play it as a co-op game together, by giving each person sole responsibility for hitting only one of the buttons on the controller.

▼ One person on the left takes charge of the character’s movements with the D-pad, while another hits the B/attack button and another takes charge of the A/jump button.

It turned out to be a lot harder, and a lot more fun, than they thought it would be, so this week, they decided to have another go at it, this time turning their attention to a different two-player alternating Famicom game: Makaimura, or Ghosts’n Goblins as it’s known overseas. 

Makaimaura was released for the Famicom on 13 June 1986, making this year its 35th anniversary, so this trip down memory lane was a fitting way for our three reporters to mark the milestone. So let’s get right to it and take a look at our players, shall we?

▼ In charge of the directional movements for the character of Arthur on the D-pad today we have Seiji Nakazawa

▼ The B/attack button will be under the finger of Yoshio, founder of SoraNews24 and everyone’s most favourite boss, ever.

▼ And the A/Jump button will be under the control of Editor-in-Chief Go Hatori.

Ghosts’n Goblins is notorious for being extremely difficult, even for a single player, so our brave trio knew that dividing the controls between them was going to make this even more difficult. Still, they were happy to take on the challenge, aiming high by planning to defeat all the enemies in their path, including those pesky Arremers, aggressive demons that love to swoop at you from any direction, which contribute a lot to the difficulty of the game.

▼ Ready, Set…Play!

As soon as they hit the start button the game began…and our three players immediately started shouting at each other.

Yoshio: “Whoo hoo! My attack button plays a lead role this time!!”

Seiji: “Hey, I can’t move! I can’t move! There’s too much lance throwing!”

Go: “Behind you! Behind you! He’s coming from behind!!”

▼ And then they were dead.

While they knew this game was going to be a challenge, all three of them didn’t expect to die so quickly. Refusing to be defeated, they put their heads together to review what had happened and re-plan their strategy.

Seiji: “I couldn’t move because there was too much lance throwing!”

Yoshio: “I’m sorry. I was just so happy to be able to throw things right from the start…”

Go: “Let’s try Stop & Go.”

Go explained his idea for Stop & Go as a way to fix the problem of Seiji not being able to move the character while the lance is being thrown. Basically, the game makes a sound whenever a zombie springs up, so when that sound is heard, Seiji should stop, allow Yoshio to lance all the zombies that have sprung up, and then Seiji would proceed again.

Yoshio and Seiji really liked this idea, so they restarted the game and employed Operation Stop & Go. To their surprise, it worked an absolute treat, moving them forward through the level bit by bit, gradually stretching their gameplay from a few seconds out to over a minute, and then to a point where they spotted…

▼ An Arremer!

Hearts pounding with excitement, Seiji moved Arthur back and forth, Go attempted to make him jump up and down, and Yoshio held his breath in fear of making the wrong move.

▼ And then, in a couple of seconds, Arthur was dead.

Still unwilling to give up, our one-player trio decided to fight the Arremer one more time, and when it appeared, they felt much more prepared.

Seiji moved Arthur back and forth furiously while Go pounded that jump button like his life depended on it, even rising out of his chair as if to start jumping himself. There were squeals of fear and excitement as Arthur jumped back and forth, narrowly avoiding the Arremer’s fireballs with surprising dexterity until…

▼ Arthur was hit by the demon one too many times, and disappeared unceremoniously into the earth below.

Rather than being disappointed, our gamers found themselves laughing uncontrollably over what they’d been through. Their shared experience of hope, fear, excitement, and ultimately failure, was such a rejuvenating, bonding experience that game-controller-sharing ought to be a part of team-building days at all companies.

▼ Nintendo could incorporate this team activity into their recruitment plan for potential employees, maybe using this giant controller.

▼ Because you just don’t get this same sense of joy when playing a game alone.

▼ Click here to see their gameplay in action — be warned, things get loud, though!

At the end of it all, our team may not have gotten anywhere near the ultimate goal of saving Princess PrinPrin, but that doesn’t mean they hadn’t achieved success. They’d laughed, communicated, strategised and executed a plan together, but most of all, they enjoyed every second of it. And if that’s the true beauty of gaming, then our team of losers really are winners, after all!

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[ Read in Japanese ]