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Grabbed by the Ghoulies

Developer: Rare | Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 10/21/03 | Genre: Action

October is a month of ghosts and goblins. In the past, Sony has tried to capitalize on that by releasing titles like Medieval. Microsoft is also trying their hand at creating a fun and spooky title with the release of Grabbed by the Ghoulies. This also marks the first game that Rare has developed for the Xbox. The popular developer was purchased by Microsoft when Nintendo decided to not renew their contract. The first fruits of Rare's new relationship with MS produce a lighthearted adventure that will provide fun� at least for a few hours.

The journey begins when Cooper and his girlfriend are caught in a rainstorm. They are trying to locate some shelter and they come across a creepy looking mansion. Cooper wants to continue on to the town that is down the road but his girlfriend insists that they go inside. Soon after this, the girlfriend is captured and Cooper must come to her rescue.

Instead of having normal cinemas, they are told using cinemas and still pictures inside a story book. This is a refreshing change of pace from what I have come to expect in these type of games.

After entering the mansion, you will be instructed what to do by a butler. I am unsure just why the butler is hanging around this haunted mansion� however, he does provide you with a tutorial on the gameplay and gives you information on what to do next. Just about every single thing done in the game is performed by the right analog stick and the A and B buttons. So a tutorial isn't really needed though. The combat in Ghoulies is very similar to what Sony is doing with Rise to Honor. Players move the right analog stick in the direction they want to attack in. No locking on to enemies is required... Just start moving that right analog stick and you will start beating up your opponents. Players also use the A button to pick up items and the B button to discard of items. You will also need to rotate the camera around with the L and R should buttons.

The gameplay is divided up into scenarios. Each level has several to play through. These scenarios are usually pretty short and normally have an objective to destroy all of the enemies within the room. This can sometimes vary from room to room though. You will be told of the specific objectives for each room as you enter them. Also, your health can be increased or decreased in the room. Hidden somewhere within each room is a �Rare book.� For every five of these that you uncover, a new mini-game will be open up to you from your main menu. This is completely optional but adds some extra replay value to the game.

Visually, Grabbed by the Ghoulies looks really good. The game has a very comical look to it. The lighting effects are very nice and all of the monsters are done very well. One of my favorite things about the game is how the monsters react to cooper. For example, a big group of Ghoulies will come out to attack Cooper. As Cooper you start kicking the enemies into submission. The other monsters will quickly cease their �gruesome� monster act and begin to act scared and may run.

There are over a hundred rooms to travel through in Grabbed by the Ghoulies. But you may find that the gameplay gets to be a bit old after a while. For the most part, this title is a simple action game that has great animated graphics. If you are looking for a shallow action game with a comical Halloween theme, this is worth a look. For the gamer looking for a deeper experience, a weekend rental may be all the time you need with it though. Whether you buy or rent, give Grabbed by the Ghoulies a look. It may be a bit shallow, but it still has that Rare charm and is a sign of things that will be coming, from the company, to the Xbox in the future.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 10/31/03
ESRB Details: Violence
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Screenshots for Grabbed by the Ghoulies

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