By ArbitraryWater 7 Comments
Soooo... I finally reformatted my computer with the hope that it'd stop being difficult. Thus far, my wish has been granted, though reinstalling 11GB games sure is a time-consuming process. I salvaged most of the documents and save files that mattered, so at some point I'll be able to continue where I left off in regards to Quest for Glory 2 and The Witcher 2. But why talk about potentially good games when I could talk about certainly bad games? That's what I'm here for, at any rate.
I continue to go down a long, dark road with no light at the end.
Hey guys, remember Rare? Makers of fine 2D and 3D platformers, overrated but important first person shooters and easily the best Kart Racer on the N64, they're responsible for a good chunk of my childhood, especially back when the N64 is the only console I owned. Then... they
made Star Fox Adventures were sold to Microsoft and I could no longer care, because I didn't own an Xbox the first. I had a 360 when the fantastic Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts came out and I will continue to call it one of my favorite games of this console generation, but it sold poorly and now whatever remains of the studio is doomed to make Kinect games for the rest of its pitiful existence. Now maybe it's time to fill in those gaps, especially since I'm on a self-loathing kick right now and have noticed a significant increase in the number of bad games I've played this year. I played and enjoyed that Conker remake last year, but that was because the N64 version is far more expensive and rare (hilarious pun) than its Original Xbox counterpart, but I digress. Now, here I am, $13 poorer in monetary means and and significantly poorer in spirit. Why? Because Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a game I paid money for. That was a mistake.
Released in October 2003, Grabbed by the Ghoulies' legacy will probably be as the butt of a bunch of pretty hilarious self-aware jokes in Nuts and Bolts. That seems about right, because the game itself isn't much to talk about (which is why this blog is a bit of a short one). Whereas last week's punching bag (Devil May Cry 2) is at least sort of interesting in the ways that it is bad, Grabbed by the Ghoulies is just kind of a brief, shallow non-entity that would have been better served as a 30 minute minigame in Banjo-Tooie rather than a full retail title. As a guy named Cooper who wants to save his girlfriend from spooky mansion, it's a pretty simple setup rivaling Luigi's Mansion, though with far more potential racism involved. The structure of the game consists of entering a room and killing the bad guys therein by pointing the right stick in their general direction and hoping that everything dies. Ok, there are powerups and some enemies need to be killed in specific ways, but in general I'd ascribe very little depth or nuance to the combat on its own. The developers clearly knew that, so another core mechanic of the game is that each room starts you with variably health and a handful of stipulations such as "Don't use weapons", "Kill everything within the alotted time" or "Don't kill two of the same enemy in a row". Failing one of these sub-objectives causes the reaper to appear, and if he touches you it's a one-hit kill. If he touches you. You can outrun him and his touch can kill enemies that wander in his path, so in some cases it's almost beneficial to screw up these objectives. It's not like you're losing much progress if you die or anything.
And... that's about it, aside from the part where there is a hidden book in each room and for every 5 books a challenge level is unlocked (all leading to a particularly devious final challenge where you have to finish the entire game again in one sitting with only 10 health per room) I won't deny that the game has some of that Rareware charm with the Grant Kirkhope soundtrack or the number of goofy double-entendres going on, but this all feels like it was at some point intended to be far deeper and more involved than it actually is, something that seems super obvious when the anticlimactic final 20 minutes of the game roll around and I asked myself "That's it?". I'd actually be really interested in reading about the development of this game for that reason, but somehow I doubt this particular title is going to be the subject of many retrospectives when every other game that Rare has made is probably more deserving.
And now I'm probably off to play Kameo next, with the assumption that it will have to be better than this particular gem. And after that...? Who knows? I don't. Maybe back to Chrono Cross. Maybe The Last Remnant. Maybe I'll do something with my life! No. Probably not. I'll probably just play video games.