Grabbed by the Ghoulies(Giant Bomb|Wikipedia) is the first title developed by Rare and published by Microsoft after Microsoft purchased the studio. Even though I never owned an Xbox during it’s original run, I remember being aware of this game and how important to both Microsoft and Rare it was. That partnership has, well, soured over time with Rare devoting most of it’s time to Kinect titles in the sunset years of the Xbox 360 and not creating creative new properties like it had done from its inception. Not all of these properties worked or were good, but they were almost always different than what was normally on the market.
Enough about history, lets get into the game at hand. Grabbed by the Ghoulies is meant to be appropriate for younger audiences and I feel that it mostly succeeds in this. It isn’t too hard and while it does have a spooky vibe, the art style takes away any edge. The game is a basic brawler with a strange control scheme. You attack in the direction that you hold the right analog stick. Camera controls, which are normally the right analog stick, are moved to the triggers. This works fairly well, but I never got used to it in my hour with the game. I’m sure over time it becomes a non-issue. You can pick up and attack with items in the environment. You move room to room through a haunted mansion, where the basic game play loop is this: go into a room, the doors lock, fight enemies or find and item to unlock the door, then go to the next room. I didn’t get bored with this during my time with the game, but I can see this basic formula wearing thin 3 or 4 hours in.
The graphics look quite nice, with a cel shaded appearance. I think this helps most games age gracefully, and this is no exception. Other than some textures being low res (par for the course in 2003), the graphics look fine even by today’s standards. The music is fitting, very whimsical and spooky sounding, and sound effects fit right in. Even though this is clearly a kids game, I found myself having quite a bit of fun with it.
Other than the main story, there are separate challenges that you can unlock by finding collectibles in your play through of the main game – it’s nice to see this as it adds some replay value to a game that is relatively short.
Verdict: Play again! This was pretty fun and is apparently fairly short – I think I’ll play this around Halloween this year and who knows, maybe I’ll finish it that time.
Images courtesy of Giant Bomb