Rare's Grabbed by the Ghoulies is the legendary developer's first effort on the Xbox and we're happy to report that the game is a winner. With instantly accessible controls, simple play mechanics and addictive gameplay, it's an immediately appealing title. The gorgeous cel-shaded graphics are impressive with colorful environments fluid character animation. The game never gets boring because there are tons of ghoulies to battle along with an impressive arsenal of humorous and inventive weapons to use. Additionally, players can unlock numerous mini-games which adds to the game's replay value immensely. This is a highly polished and flawlessly designed title that's biggest problem is its lack of challenge. However, it's extremely entertaining and fun while it lasts and Grabbed by the Ghoulies is definitely on you'll want to grab yourself.
At first glance, Grabbed by the Ghoulies might seem to be a throwaway title for the Xbox, given its kiddie appearance and light-hearted approach. It's especially true given the older demographic and more adult oriented titles that the Xbox has become known for. This couldn't be more wrong, since the game defies expectations and offers a lot of fun for the dollar. While the game will obviously appeal to younger gamers, it will also appeal to older players. Despite the horror theme, Grabbed by the Ghoulies isn't bloody or grisly and feels more like a cartoon than Resident Evil The game begins as Cooper and his girlfriend find themselves lost on a dark and stormy night. They arrive at a scary mansion called Ghoulhaven Hall, when a mysterious group of ghoulies suddenly abducts Cooper's girlfriend. Nervously, Cooper enters the haunted mansion to rescue his girlfriend and uncover the mystery behind Ghoulhaven Hall and the evil Baron's sinister plans. As he enters the first room, he sees her tied to a chair when a group of ghoulies suddenly surrounds him. Using his fists and legs, he fights off the intial group of ghoulies, when she drops through the floor. At this point, a mysterious butler appears to offer him advice and clues about the somewhat scary goings on inside the mansion.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies has a simple gameplay interface, but offers plenty of challenge and variety. Controlling Cooper is incredibly simple, you use the left analog stick to move and the right one to use your weapons. Pressing down on the R button will also let you pick up one of the temporary weapons. You can also manually move the camera using the L and R shift buttons.. Likewise, the combat system is fairly simple and easy to understand requiring very little effort. These simple controls work to the game's advantage and its near-instant accessibility means that players of all ages and skills can enjoy the game. In the game, players can pick up a variety of soup can power-ups and use them to fight off the ghoulies. However, some of the soup cans offer nasty surprises and can lead to health loss, reversed controls, or other unexpected effects. Most weapons can be used many times but a few like the flamethrowers have limited firepower. During his adventure through Ghoulhaven Hall, Cooper will face off against a variety of different ghoulies. He fight many types of Ghoulies including Skeletons, Vampires, Fire Nympths, Zombies and Mummies to possessed chairs, ninjas and even ghostly pirates. There are more than 25 different types of enemies in the game and each one attacks differently so you have to stay on alert. Making them more dangerous, the ghoulies typically attack Cooper simultaneously. This can be devastating, but he can stun a few close ones when he's surrounded to increase his chances. Some of the Ghoulies are quite strong and can hit Cooper with powerful attacks. Others can electrocute and stun him for a short period, leaving him defenseless.
Whenever the ghoulies hit Cooper, he loses energy and when his heart icon reaches zero, the level ends. However, you have unlimited lives, which makes progression easier. During the game, Cooper can pick up a number of items including health and weapons, plus special power-ups that lend him advanced abilities for a short period of time. These can be found by defeating enemies or destroying objects in the mansion, as well some can be found by talking to some of the other characters in the game. There are also several areas in the game where the action switches to a first person perspective. As you walk, a monster will suddenly jump out at you, giving you a scare. These are called "Shock moments" and make Cooper lose health the longer they last. However, by following the code and pressing a sequence of buttons displayed onscreen these moments end. It's important to end these as fast as possible, since he's vulnerable to attack when he's frightened and nearby enemies can inflict twice the damage. These shocks add tension to the game without making it excessively scary. While the game unfolds in a linear fashion, the levels themselves can be quite tricky with hidden areas and surprises, so you'll need to explore each room in the mansion thoroughly if you want to find all the objects. You can also go back to the levels after you've completed them to find more hidden areas, and later on, to rescue the hostages held captive by the evil Baron.
You can't progress to the next room until Cooper completes the requirements such as destroying all the enemies, killing all the ones of a single type, or finding a hidden powerup. There are also several timed missions, where you have to kill all the foes on a level or else face off against the reaper. Each room can also feature several waves of ghoulies that you have to beat before you can advance. In many rooms, you'll face different types of enemies at the same time, adding to the challenge while reducing the monotony. Players have several ways to battle the ghoulies, and can attack either from a distance or close up. Using the special weapons against certain types of enemies makes the battles a piece of cake. In some rooms, there are some ghoulies you may not have to battle at all, and have to sneak past instead. In addition to battling enemies, Cooper can explore each level and smash objects to find power-ups and other items. However, the ghoulies can hide inside these objects as well, so be careful. In order to unlock the mini-games, Cooper has to collect the magic books that are hidden on each level.
Rare has quite a reputation for turning out brilliantly designed games that are also quite pleasing and the lushly animation and design in Grabbed by the Ghoulies is no exception. From a visual standpoint, Xbox owners should find much to enjoy in the game's pitch-perfect aesthetics. It's definitely going to appeal to younger gamers, and it's more charming than terrifying, even the most threatening enemies have a cute appearance that makes them instantly appealing. The brightly colored cel-shaded design lends the game a humorous appearance. The action moves along at a fast clip with fluid and lively character animation that makes for an exciting and often hilarious adventure. The overall game design looks fantastic with colorful environments rich in detail and style while offering plenty of freedom. There's a lot of variety in the rooms as well, which makes the adventure quite exciting. Adding to Grabbed by the Ghoulies' comic tone, the plot unfolds as pages in a storybook, with pages turning between levels. This cool effect works nicely with the cel-shaded graphics to give the game a consistent feel throughout. The sound effects and music fit the mood of the game perfectly with well-done voice-overs adding to the highly-polished production values. For a first attempt, this accomplished and beautiful title's easily one of the best-looking Xbox titles to date.
difficult to find fault with a game that's as polished and accessible as Grabbed
by the Ghoulies. The game's difficulty isn't too terribly high and most
experienced players should be able to tear through it in a few days. The
mini-games add some replay value to the game, however and extends the game's
shelf life substantially. While it won't last as long as it could have, the game
is a complete joy to play while you're playing it. The wide variety of enemies,
puzzles and weapons is excellent, making for an addictive adventure with instant
appeal. While the gameplay is fun, the intuitive and responsive controls make
playing through the game an absolute joy. This is definitely a solid effort from
Rare, displaying polished design and gameplay throughout. You can tell instantly
that the game has been developed with a lot of care and attention to detail. Few
games come together as seamlessly as this one. Grabbed by the Ghoulies is an
outstanding effort that reaffirms Rare's place as one of gaming's best
developers. The combination of fun and challenge makes this highly recommended
for players of all ages.