Grabbed by Ghoulies

Review

posted 10/28/2003 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: Xbox
Grabbed by the Ghoulies is the first title from Rare since they were purchased by Microsoft. Rare created such Nintendo classics as Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong Country but with their purchase by Microsoft they will be turning out Xbox games from here on out. Sucks if you own a Gamecube but fantastic if you own an Xbox.

When I first got my hands on Grabbed by the Ghoulies at E3 this year, I was impressed with the style of the game. It had some excellent art direction, sound, and a great sense of humor. The only problem I had was with the controls as they were a bit awkward but I didn’t have much time to get used to them due to an appointment. Several months later the review copy lands on my door and I find that my concerns were unfounded.

The game is tailored for a younger audience (the game is ESRB rated E) but that shouldn’t prevent adults from at least renting the game. The style and sense of humor in the game are excellent and open to all ages (I was reminded of the old Looney Tunes cartoons that had a first layer of humor for children and a deeper subtext for adults to enjoy). Rare has done an excellent job of creating a game that is accessible by many different audiences.

The plot for Grabbed by the Ghoulies isn’t exactly original (and the game treats it as such). You play Cooper, a young man who is out exploring the wilderness with his friend Amber. It starts to rain and they are forced to take refuge in a spooky mansion, almost as soon as they get there, Amber is taken by the mansion’s ghoulies and it’s your job, as Cooper, to rescue her and defeat Baron Von Ghoul, the owner of the mansion.

In order to find Amber, you must search all 50 of the rooms in the mansion, battling various ghoulies along the way. Each room contains a challenge involving ghoulies of some sort. Usually, it involves you issuing them a beat-down but there are exceptions. There is a nice variety to the challenges. In some, you're required to eliminate all of the ghoulies in a room, one particular type of ghoulie, avoid being hit by the ghoulies, or kill off the ghoulies in a certain order. Each type of mission is well explained the first time you come across a certain kind of challenge so there isn’t a lot of confusion as to what you are supposed to do. Some challeges are timed and, if you miss the time, the Grim Reaper shows up to put a little more pressure on you (one touch and you lose all of your energy).

At the heart of the game are the ghoulies themselves. Rare has done an exceptional job of coming up with a colorful menagerie of creatures for you to fight against. You will battle against imps, vampire chickens, hunchbacks, haunted doors, and many other fiendish creatures. Each ghoulie has it’s own personality and not all can be dispatched by standard melee. My favorite ghoulies have to be the Ninja imps, which are standard imps with mad karate skills. You know you have good enemies when you find yourself laughing at them as much as cursing them. Rare has also provided the game with possibly the funniest Grim Reaper ever put into a game (you have to love a character that plays air guitar).
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