Welcome to Ghoulhaven Hall, the haunted mansion you will be adventuring through in Rare’s first Xbox game called Grabbed by the Ghoulies. In Grabbed by the Ghoulies you take the role of Cooper, a young man that has to save his girlfriend and ultimately other prisoners from the grasps of Baron Von Ghoul, the owner of Ghoulhaven Hall.
This story is helped along by animated comic book style pages which are cool but they don’t really help the story itself. It is the basic girlfriend kidnapped and you have to beat the bad guy theme which we have all seen a million times before. Plus, there are no spoken words in the game, so you have to read all the dialog. This made Grabbed by the Ghoulies feel like a Nintendo 64 cartridge game that didn’t have enough room on the cartridge for the voices rather than an Xbox game. With the Xbox DVD disc format and the hard drive it would have been nice to hear the adventure spelled out with a spooky narrative and voice actors.
During your adventure you will encounter comical cartoon style fire and ninja imps, zombies, skeletons, pirates, spiders, mummies, vampires and other scary creatures that you have to exterminate. You battle these creatures by kicking and punching them with the right analog stick which is different than most other adventure games. Actually, the only time you use the standard Xbox controller buttons is when you hit A to pick up weapons or when you get scared and have to hit the X, Y, A, and B buttons in a certain sequence to become un-frightened. You also use the right analog stick to use the weapons that you pick up, which include fire extinguishers, water guns, chairs, bottles, cheeseburgers, brooms, pool tables, garlic shooting guns, barrels, and more. When using the water gun and other gun weapons the game reminds me a lot of Luigi’s Mansion for Nintendo GameCube, since it also had you moving your character around with the left analog stick and aiming your weapon with your right.
Actually, Grabbed by the Ghoulies reminds me a lot of Luigi’s Mansion with the cartoon and comical creatures, use of both analog sticks, and the haunted mansion theme. Both games also have the same problem, which is repetitive gameplay. This is probably partially related to the limited moves available when using only the two analog sticks for moving and fighting and no jump button. The controls work well after you get used to them in both games but are limited. Luigi’s Mansion and Grabbed by the Ghoulies also both have you entering a room and killing all the baddies and then entering another room and killing all those baddies. Rinse and repeat and this is your main objective of both games. They are both fun for a while but after a few hours of play they begin to get stale. This might also be why both games are short. I beat the main Grabbed by the Ghoulies game in about 8 or 9 hours. This was not a problem to me since I only have limited game playing time, but if someone spent $40.00 expecting to be entertained for 20 to 40 hours they will be very disappointed.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies does have mini-games that you unlock by collecting Bonus Books found in the main game. These mini-games have you going back to the rooms you beat in the main game to try to accomplish certain bonus challenges. If you do well enough you will be rewarded with trophies and other extras but I don’t know if these mini-games will hold your interest that much longer after you beat the main game.
The game may be short and repetitive sometimes but you won’t mind looking at the graphics while you play. The haunted mansion comes alive with colorful cartoon graphics that are not cel-shaded like a lot of cartoon games lately, but have a style of their own. The characters and creatures are original looking and more funny than scary, so the game is good for everyone of all ages. The rooms are well furnished and have plenty to look at and break to try to find secret power-ups and other hidden items. The special effects of the weapons are also well done and really make it fun to use them on your foes. The only issue I have with the graphics is that the camera sometimes gets into a spot where you can’t see what is going on. This was especially annoying when battling the final boss of the game. You can adjust the camera angle with the right and left trigger buttons but you have enough things to worry about and don’t need to be trying to move the camera while fighting and trying to stay alive.
Speaking of the final boss, Rare needed to balance the gameplay in Grabbed by the Ghoulies a lot better. It took me a little over 6 hours to get to the final boss and at least 2 hours to beat him. I had to start over and over again in the same end boss room until I finally figured out how to maybe beat him. Then, even when I did beat the final boss it was more luck than skill. I hate the type of game that makes it easy to get to the end-boss but impossible to beat them. Why not make the whole game get progressively harder and the end-boss easier instead of making the end-boss impossible to beat to extend the play time of the game? This really frustrated me and will probably frustrate you also if you play Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
At least while I was battling the end-boss and the other ghouls in the game I was treated to great sound effects and music that fit the theme perfectly. You will hear eerie music played on harps, chimes, and organs along with other instruments. Basically, if you have listened to any Halloween audio CD you know what I am talking about. The ghouls also have great sound effects when you hit them and when they hit you. From moans and laughs to shattering vases and water squirting out of water guns all the sound effects fit perfectly and really make the game feel solid. I just wish Rare would have spent a little more time and recorded actual voices for the characters as mentioned above. Hearing grunts and moans to tell the story while reading all the dialog is a little weak.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a good first effort for Rare on Xbox and hopefully their other upcoming Xbox games will be better now that they have gotten used to programming for the Xbox. Grabbed by the Ghoulies isn’t a horrible game but with the limited control scheme provided by the dual analog control configuration it makes it hard to do more than they did with the game. The animated comic book cut-scenes are cool but would have been a lot better with actual spoken voices. The graphics and sound are up to Rare’s standards, I just wish the rest of the game was also. Grabbed by the Ghoulies is definitely worth renting but don’t expect a really long experience if you buy it.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.