Full Review: Ghouls n' Ghosts? I wish!
Like many video games freaks out there, I have always been a big Rareware fan. Why you say? They were responsible for great games over the last two decades like Donkey Kong Country (of Super Nintendo fame), Perfect Dark, Goldeneye (both million sellers for the N64), and so many others. Many of Rare's biggest titles were made popular on a Nintendo game system but times have changed. Now that Microsoft brought Rare from Nintendo, Xbox owners now get the opportunity to play some exclusive games from this legendary producer. Grabbed by the Ghoulies here is Rare's introduction to the Xbox family. It's a comedic/horror trip through a haunted mansion as you try to rescue your girlfriend from an evil and crazed Baron. The game features an interesting control system where you use the analog stick to attack, the game supports some cool looking visuals, and you try out tons of weapons to beat these rotten Ghoulies into submission. So how is Rare's first Xbox game? Be afraid, that's what I'll say.
In the game you play the role of an average young man named Cooper. One dark and gloomy night, Cooper and his girlfriend Amber were trying to get home but they got lost on the way after Cooper's short cut didn't work. Amber then notices an old mansion and the two decide to go inside so they can get out of the rain. Before the two even get in the place though, Amber gets abducted by a couple of ghosts (or Ghoulies) and is quickly taken away in the house. Cooper must now enter the rundown house of horrors to save Amber and other kidnapped kids from a demented madman. Just imagine the story here is a cross between a Scooby Doo and or a Goosebumps and you should get the idea what Grabbed by the Ghoulies is all about.
Cooper's mission to save Amber isn't as easy as it sounds (in a matter of speaking anyway) because each door in the place is well guarded by deadly vines. You have no choice but to find a way to go room to room of the giant mansion, and each room has certain conditions that have to be completed as well. Not everyone in the house is out to get you, and some of the hired help may want to assist Cooper, so be sure you listen to some of their useful advice.
Since Cooper is pretty much your average joe, he really doesn't have any special talents to really attack at these super natural creeps, so he just does whatever it takes to fight his way through the hordes of demons to save his sweet heart. In a strange change of place from the usual 3D platformer, you use the Right Analog stick to throw various punches, kicks, uppercuts, and even flying elbows. Cooper can also pick up lots of things lying around the rooms if it has a grab icon next to it. There are tons of unusual objects that can be used as weapons like wooden chairs, hamburgers, and hundreds more to show these Ghoulies that you mean business. Most rooms even have some useful but temporary power ups and if you don't see any lying around then why not destroy some of the furniture and see what you can find? Sometimes using a gun loaded with soda pops isn't enough because if Cooper gets caught off guard by a sneaky monster or trap, you'll have to calm him down in a hurry by tapping the proper buttons or you'll lose some important health.
These controls are very easy to learn because you only have to worry about a few buttons here. The camera can be a problem at times though as many obstacles can block your view of the action. I remember one time when I was fighting a bunch of annoying little Ninja Imps in a Greenhouse and the grass kept on getting in the way. You want to know what the worst part about that scene though, there was this great looking girl (in a cute looking school girl outfit by the way, heh heh) trapped and tied up in the plants and I couldn't even save her because I had no key. I then found out you can't save any of the prisoners until late in the game. How dumb is that? That really got me pretty mad because nothing progresses a story then rescuing a damsel in distress and I felt really bad just having to leave them there but I really had no choice.
That brings us to how the game looks. The graphics are very impressive for what it is, a dark yet cartoon-like adventure. The character designs are a little on the dull side but at least they have a good deal of animations plus these backgrounds have a lot of detail as well. As a side note: anybody remember the game Banjo Kazooie for the Nintendo 64? I do and Rare certainly doesn't want you to forget either because many characters from that game are all over the place whether they make cameos in wall pictures and other things. Even the evil Imps look like the Jingo creatures from the Banjo games.
GBTG's sounds however, are not nearly as good as the colourful graphics. Not only is the music overly goofy and forgettable (except for that odd title track) but the characters all speak in groans and stupid catch phases during the intermissions. This idea would have passed for a game like Banjo Kazooie since that was on a low memory cartridge based system, but don't forget that game is over five years old now and the Xbox could do so much more.