Grabbed By The Ghoulies
Ever wonder what it's like to operate a traveling carnival attraction? This haunted house has enough hokey Halloween music and kids screaming at unscary crap to scare any dropout back to night school. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Grabbed by the Ghoulies' campi-ness and simple fights are fun at first. Intuitive and precise analog controls let you mash monsters instead of buttons, and you can use whatever household object is at hand to keep the encroaching bogeymen at bay. Once you've broken your hundredth chair over the head of a hunchback, however, you'll fiend for something, anything else to do. The routine never really changes, only the rules. So instead of clearing out a roomful of creeps, you'll have to kill 'em within a time limit, in a certain order, or without getting hit. Somewhere along the line, you'll have had so much of the gobbledygook, the 10-cent scares, and senselessly doing the same thing disguised as something else, that all the fancy effects your Xbox can muster won't keep you from feeling like a carny.
I sure hope Microsoft didn't pony up the big bucks to purchase hotshot developer Rare in order to publish stuff like this. Admittedly, Ghoulies looks fantastic--the wonderfully detailed rooms (packed with oodles of breakable junk) handily show off the Xbox's graphical prowess. But gameplaywise, this is a disaster. The ultralimited combat gets stale after an hour, but thankfully, you're already about a fourth of the way through the mercifully short game by then. Factor in horribly dippy voice samples and you've got yet another reason to avoid this exercise in annoyance.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies ranks right up there with Halo and Metal Gear Solid 2 in that they are all, in fact, games. Neither particularly fun nor frightening, the glossy-looking Ghoulies features dull, turn-off-your-brain brawling wherein players tap (or, if you're lazy, hold down) the right analog stick to make young hero Cooper punch, kick, or slam whatever monster happens to be near him...again and again. Expect sticker shock from Ghoulies, but little else.
Download Grabbed By The Ghoulies
Grabbed By The Ghoulies, at first glance, might not appear to be the sort of game one would want to buy. The cheesy cover art has 'kids game'? written all over it. And once you play, you will be dismayed to find there is no actual voice acting, leaving a massive gaping hole in the normal video game experience. In spite of that, I've got to say there is merit to this game, just not in heaping great quantities.
First, like any good arcade title, especially one built for kids, there's stuff to destroy and unlockables to be found. Each room of the haunted mansion has a special book that'll open bonus challenges, which in turn unlock special things. In addition to finding all of these little books, you'll also be able to interact with the environment in one of three different ways. You can smash stuff, use objects as weaponry, and occasionally grab a piece of furniture with which to do some damage. In between scenes of destroying things and beating up the baddies, you'll occasionally encounter 'scares' that require you to quickly press a series of buttons (ala Dragon's Lair) to overcome the fright.
As for the fighting, think Blade 2, only done properly. You fight with the right analog stick, and while you can tap it for your effects, it works just as well to hold it down, and launch your character into a combo. Handling this, moving, and changing the position of the camera can be a little tiresome, but it doesn't take much getting used to. Once you pickup a weapon that has the ability to shoot, you'll be able to fire by holding down the right analog stick, which can be physically painful, as you need to tap the weapon slowly or it will fire again. This is a real headache when you've got the squirt gun, which only damages one specific type of creature. You'll fight endless hordes of 'ghoulies' in this game, frequently requiring you to defeat them in some specific fashion or destroy a certain type of ghoulie before moving on.
All said, as kid's games go, this one isn't that bad. It has some control issues, as it can be a pain to handle, and there's no voice acting of any kind, but it's still suitable for a kid. On top of that, the game explores some good new gameplay techniques, like fighting with the right analog stick. Even with the innovations, there is still enough holding the game back from greatness.
In this frantically paced action-puzzler, you're a young lad in a big, cartoony haunted house crawling with creepy spiders, chattering skeletons, and other kitschy halloweenies. Luckily, you know how to swing a mean couch--and anything else you can get your hands on, from hamburgers to soda-can guns--to take out the baddies and move to the next room. While the cheesy atmosphere probably won't scare you, you'll have to stave off your character's fear by tapping button combinations during shockingly hokey events. Is this the type of game that grabs you by the ghoulies and doesn't let go? Our magic 8-ball says, ‘Don't count on it."
By now, you know the word "ghoulies" over in Britain means cojones (except it's spelled "goolies"), but did you know that the striped-sweatered, personality-free hero of this saccharine horror romp has more than a set of family jewels to protect? Like secrets--and lots of 'em.
100 Rare Books
Every one of the game's 100 rooms has a rare bonus book to collect before you leave. Missed one? You can't go back until you finish the chapter! Ack! Remember to search for a book before you access in-game cinemas (since they sometimes sweep you to the next room without a pause for you to grab the book) and don't forget to grab a book each time you enter a room; a new one will appear each time. The Grand Hallway, for example, is entered nine times throughout the game and adds nine bonus books to your collection. If you missed a book, replay the chapter from the Features menu to get another chance to grab it.
Why the hell are you collecting dozens of blue bonus books? To unlock the first 20 extra challenges, that's why! Each challenge is a minigame with a score to beat. Every five books you collect unlocks one challenge. Earn a gold or higher medal on all 20 challenges to access the insanity of the 21st challenge, in which you play the game again as Amber, with only 10 health and no soups! The reward for completing this section is so fantastic that we've been asked not to reveal it!
Now, about these extra challenges. We've figured out the scores you need to collect bronze, silver, gold, and platinum medals for each challenge (see chart). As you can see, the platinum scores are sometimes maddeningly difficult! Keep at it, Cooper!
An interesting look into the production of the game, the Ghouly Gallery is your reward for earning platinum medals in challenges. Each time you earn one of those elusive medals, one page of the gallery is unlocked. Great! And finally, you'll receive a ranking at the end of the game, but don't fret if it's crappy. It doesn't unlock anything.