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Platform: Xbox

Genre: Platformer

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: Rare

ETA: Q4 2003

 

Related Links:

Review: Starfox Adventures (GC)

Review: Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64)

Review: Banjo-Tooie (N64)

Classic: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES)

 

 

 

 

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Grabbed by the Ghoulies

 

grabbed by the ghoulies xbox preview          grabbed by the ghoulies xbox preview

 

When I nabbed a first glance at the upcoming Xbox-exclusive action-adventure title, Grabbed by the Ghoulies (GBTG), one of the great games starring supernatural creatures and beings from the 16-bit era on the SNES, Zombies Ate My Neighbors (ZAMN), came immediately to mind. In ZAMN, you squared off against all kinds of zombies, mummies, and other ghoulish groupies hell-bent on offing your neighbors in plenty of B-movie-style, tongue-in-cheek action. It was up to you playing as either Zeke or Julie (or both together, if you had another gamer around) to save the day. One great feature in your ghoul-busting adventuring was the ability to use items as weapons that you wouldn’t ever think as usable weaponry such as exploding soda pop cans and fire extinguishers.

 

GBTG has some of the features that made ZAMN such a great gaming experience. The game is being touted as a humorous action-adventure taking place in a spirit-possessed house chock-full of ghoulish creatures. As the lead character Cooper, it’s your mission to rescue your girlfriend from the clutches of the evil denizens of a haunted house, Ghoulahaven Hall. Succeed in rescuing her, and you reap the rewards due a hero. Fail, and you (as well as her) won’t leave Ghoulahaven Hall ever again. Not exactly the same premise, but it sounds a little like the GameCube release Luigi’s Mansion.

 

Instead of Luigi’s ghostly vacuum, however, you’ll be able to use all kinds of objects in the Hall to defeat the baddies. Just like ZAMN, many items you wouldn’t think of as traditional gaming weapons can be used including chairs, pictures, and yes even the ZAMN-inspired soda pop cans and fire extinguishers. Although the mood of the survival-horror / action-adventure game will be lighthearted, there are plenty of unexpected scares promised a la the classic scene from the original Resident Evil of the mutated dogs leaping through the hall windows. Graphically, GBTG will be beautifully cel-shaded in a manner reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the GameCube.

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The game is being developed by Rare, the wunderkind developers responsible for a slew of classic Nintendo titles, including Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Donkey Kong Country, Perfect Dark, and the best of them all, GoldenEye. When Rare was being sold off by Nintendo last year, it was an easy and swift decision for Microsoft in deciding to purchase and add Rare to its stable of development houses and make all future Rare titles Xbox-exclusive.

 

Here are all the ghastly details about GBTG from Microsoft and Rare:

 

Ghoulies galore: More than 25 types of ghoulies will keep you on your toes, including vampires, zombies, mummies, skeletons, haunted furniture, and many more. Each ghoulie has its own movement, personality, and style of attack, and they all fight dirty. Watch out, or you could be electrocuted, bitten, burned, cursed, thrown around, and even vomited on.

 

Super-scary surprises: Spine-tingling events will happen without warning to test your resolve and reactions, such as faces appearing in windows, ghostly figures and disembodied heads materializing from thin air, and ghoulies leaping out from almost anywhere. Avoid these scares to keep young Cooper in control, or risk being overwhelmed by debilitating fear or fainting.

 

Wide variety of weapons: More than 100 household objects at your disposal to use as weapons. Bash ghoulies with chairs, pool cues, tables, pictures, and nearly anything else you can find in the house. For example, you can take on vampires with a garlic-firing blunderbuss, and douse Fire Imps with a fire extinguisher. You can also look to the downtrodden staff of Ghoulahaven Hall to get a variety of weapons for battling the ghoulies, such as pop cans that can be shaken up and thrown like exploding grenades.

 

Sophisticated, yet simple, gameplay: Featuring an easy pick-up-and-play style, GBTG offers something for gamers at all skill levels. The gameplay basics are easy to grasp quickly; then you can refine and improve your fighting strategy as you progress through the game.

 

grabbed by the ghoulies xbox preview          grabbed by the ghoulies xbox preview

 

While the promise of the long-awaited sequel to Perfect Dark is rumored to finally see the perfect light of day next spring, Xbox owners will have to fill the Rare void with the three developer’s projects that will be available first: Kameo: Elements of Power, Conker: Live and Uncut, and GBTG. Rare received a tepid response to its showing of GBTG at E3 2003, probably having more to do with the attendees’ disappointment of not getting a taste of the next Perfect Dark than based on GBTG itself. Rare’s reputation is on the line with its first titles to hit the Xbox. Do they still have the GoldenEye touch in creating great games?

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(June 29, 2003)

 

 

 

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