|a game by||Digital Eclipse Software|
|Platforms:||Playstation 2, GBA|
|Editor Rating:||5/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||7.2/10 - 5 votes|
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|See also:||Movie-based Games|
When producing a licenced game, as a developer the script is very much laid out in front of you. Your goal is to follow the plot of the movie, represent all the key moments of the story, have some gimmicks and mechanics that make the game fun to play and then top it off with an aesthetic that does the subject matter justice. On paper, it looks like a task that should be easier than making a brand new IP from scratch. Yet licenced games have garnered a reputation for being the most hit and miss games in existence. As we look at Monster house, another attempt to galvanise the licenced game market, we see just why this genre has garnered this reputation
The game plays similarly to other licenced titles such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Over the Hedge or Ratatouille. The third-person approach, the simple mechanics and the cel-shaded aesthetic do nothing to push the boat out in terms of performance but the sound quality, the tense atmosphere and the Tim Burton style art direction all culminate to make this game look interesting, at least at face value.
True to The Source
The game doesn’t aim to make this a spin-off from the movie, nor does it wish to rewrite or dilute the script of the movie. To the game’s credit, it decides to remain true to the subject matter, showcasing all the key moments within the movie, creating a tense atmosphere that represents the events of the motion picture well and delivering a genuine cast of voice actors from the movie that only adds to the overall authenticity of the project.
The art direction deserves some praise as well. Although the visuals are by no means spectacular. In fact, for the time of release they were rather safe in terms of details. However, the environments are initially rather intriguing and really make the player feel part of the adventure. It is a shame though that as the game progresses that these assets are recycled to pad out events.
One thing a licenced game needs to be is accessible. These titles will often be aimed at kids that want to play as their on-screen heroes and don’t have the same gaming experience as weathered players. Monster House decides that this isn’t a priority and makes a set of controls that are obnoxious and obtuse. The camera angles are enough to give you motion sickness, the lock-on system is extremely hard to use and there are a series of quick-time events that are ridiculously harsh, even for an adult player with reasonable reaction times.
The controls aren’t all bad as the gun mechanics work reasonably well, making combat easy to navigate. However, being able to engage in combat doesn’t mean that it’s fun. The enemies are repetitive and offer little in terms of challenge to defeat. Once you work out how to beat one, you can beat them all. As a whole, the mechanics and controls make the game a chore and that’s not what light and breezy licenced games need.
The one aspect of this game that truly is up there with the best games of the time is the sound quality. Not only does the musical score and sound effects absolutely capture the themes and events on screen. The audio is also delivered in a stunning 3D surround sound manner. Which means that those moments where tension is building are really palpable. That’s not to say that it rescues the poor gameplay in these moments, but at least it makes it worth seeing to the end. This won’t take you long though, as the game only runs for about four hours.
They’ve Created a Monster
While this game does have its high points, it has more than its fair share of low points and frustrations. The mechanics are poorly constructed, the assets are recycled, the combat is boring and the game is laughably short.
Yes, in its favour it has great sound quality and handles the subject matter of the movie well with genuine voice acting to boot but it seems that the developers put far to much focus into making this game a tense and atmospheric affair and forgot to actually make the game fun. We suggest you avoid the monster that is Monster House.
- Great 3D audio and musical score.
- Genuine voice acting
- Stays true to movies plot
- Horrible controls and camera angles
- Combat is boring
- Assets are constantly recycled