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Grabbed by the Ghoulies

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is Rare’s latest game exclusive for the XBOX entertainment system. At first glance I thought that this game was just for kids, which a lot of people seem to think, but beneath its child like appearance is a game that even the oldest of gamers will honor as a classic horror treat.The control scheme of Grabbed by the Ghoulies is ingenious, one directional pad moves, and you point the other one in the direction you want to attack and that’s pretty much it! The triggers rotate the camera like any good 3D game, and the A button picks up weapons. Simple yet executed to perfection! You don’t have to worry about button combinations or combos, you just get to enjoy solid game mechanics.The graphics in Ghoulies make it a perfect representation of a Halloween special or a Saturday morning cartoon series and it is quite f**ing. The cell shaded characters and environments give it a quality that you would expect from a Disney cartoon. Ghoulies stars a hilarious cast of farting zombies, cowardly skeletons, imps, mummies and more. Each monster has its own reactions to what is going on in the game, if you kill an imp all of the other imps stop what they are doing and go “awww” to morn the loss of one of their friends. Every time you meet a new character they do a little introduction (I still laugh every time they show the skeletons for the first time).The environments are amazingly detailed, and most are fully interactive. Give a skeleton the old drop kick and he’ll go flying back into a clock, which will then burst open with a “SRPONG” noise and fall apart. Grab a chair and clobber an imp with it sending him flying back into a trophy case which then crashes and breaks in half spilling trophies on the floor around it.Weapons are lying around everywhere in the least expected places. A good example of this is fighting an army of undead pirates in a dining hall, where there is a feast set out for them to munch. You can throw hamburgers and bottles of wine at them, or swing a big ol’ leg of lamb at them. Knocking them back causes them to drop their sword which you can pick up and then use. Weapons are just about everywhere in the game to aid you in your efforts to rescue your girlfriend. At one point I had to remind myself that was indeed my mission and not to see just how many skeletons I could explode.The main story mode is told in a story book fashion, set up by chapters to give it a very friendly feel. You follow the path of Cooper setting out to rescue his abducted girlfriend. There are a series of plot twists throughout that keep you wanting to find out what happens next.The gameplay is as follows: enter a room, the door locks behind you, and you are given a goal, i.e. kill all of the imps, and they set some restrictions like use only weapons or don’t break anything, etc. Once you complete the current goal, the door to the next area unlocks and you can proceed. Breaking the rules causes death to come out and hunt you down and he will instantly kill you if he catches you. He then proceeds to rip on his scythe like an electric guitar! The combination of goals and “rules” makes for some very challenging situations, I did almost break my controller a couple of times, but once you finally finish that goal you were stuck on so long it makes it all that much sweeter to finish it.Though the main story is a bit short, clocking it took me 8 hours my first time through, the meat of the game after that is a series of challenges that you unlock by collecting “Rare Books” which are hidden through out the game – there is one in every room. There are a lot of these, most of which you will be going back through the game to find. The challenges are really where you spend the most time trying to get the coveted platinum on all of them. These range from seeing how many imps you can “thwomp” in a given period of time to seeing how long you can avoid death. You are rated on your performance with bronze, silver, gold and platinum medals, and the better you do, the more bonus materials you unlock. There are also plenty of unlockables which I won’t get into here; I’ll let you find them yourselves.Personally, I would have liked to have seen a longer main story. The challenges take a long time to earn platinum medals, but I would have liked to run around in the world of Ghoulies a little bit longer – call me selfish. Also I would have like to seen more monsters, just because the ones that are in there are so well done, with animations and personalities of their very own.Grabbed by the Ghoulies is destined to be a treasure among gamers. If you are looking for a fun game that the whole family can enjoy then you must have this title. As far as this game being just for kids I would have to disagree. This is a game for all ages. Having played the game all the way through three times now, I find it very addicting to bash hordes of helpless skeletons and imps with a pool cue, book, soda gun, or my bare fists. Call it therapeutic or malicious, but either way, it’s a lot of fun!The game took me back to the days when gameplay was solid. This is definitely a title that will be replayed over and over as the years pass. Most likely, it will become a yearly event around Halloween – what could be better? I just have to remember to hand out candy!

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