Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a 3D beat-em-up designed to take advantage of strategy as you play as Cooper who must rescue his girlfriend Amber from the clutches of Baron Von Ghoul and the haunted mansion known as Ghoulhaven Hall. Levels are completed by defeating enemies through the various rooms of the house while abiding by the conditions, which include altered hit points, defeating one or more types of ghoulies and avoiding damaging the house to prevent having the Grim Reaper show up. The game's development began as a Gamecube title, however once Rare became a part of Microsoft Game Studios, the game was ported over to the Xbox console.
The game is backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 and was released on the system's online storefront on February 16, 2009. On October 24, 2017, it was made backwards compatible with the Xbox One. An earlier emulation of the game was used for the Xbox One compilation Rare Replay on August 4, 2015.
Cooper and Amber fight through a fierce storm in the middle of the night, and in a dark and haunting forest no less! Suddenly they come across a mansion that Amber wishes to enter to get out of the rain. However the house doesn't seem to be on the map they're using to travel, Cooper isn't exactly fond of the idea and the house looks tacky to him at best. Baron Von Ghoul overhears their conversation and decides to capture Amber and lure Cooper inside. Now Cooper must fight through the monster-infested mansion in order to get Amber back and get on the road again to safety.
Control and Powerups
Grabbed by the Ghoulies offers a dual-stick control scheme in which the player uses the right analog stick to combat enemies. Tapping the stick can make Cooper jab in any direction and holding the thumbstick will unleash a stronger attack. Cooper can also make use of most of the furniture, decorations, food and other items to combat enemies. Every now and then the player will be able to equip a weapon such as a water gun or a candle to deal with specific enemies. Holding the stick down lets Cooper fire his weapon while tapping the stick makes him swing his weapon as a club. Cooper can also make use of soup cans left by one of the characters to change his status; ranging from super speed, stronger weapons, one hit kills, instantly completing a challenge and more. However, there are also soup cans that can cause a negative effect, such as leaving you with limited health or slowing your speed down.
The game also includes Quick Time Events which occur whenever Cooper comes across something that scares him. These Quick-time events will focus on the source of the scare, prompting the player to enter a combination of buttons to recover from shock and avoid taking damage.
The Grim Reaper
During the game, the player will come across several rooms which require certain challenges to be completed before the player is able to move onto the next area. However, if some challenges, such as those requiring the player to only hit certain ghoulies, only use a certain attack method, beat a certain number of ghoulies in a time limit etc are broken, then the Grim Reaper will be summoned. The Grim Reaper will float towards the player with an outstretched finger which will instantly kill anything it touches. He can be knocked down by other ghoulies or objects, but he does not have any hit points and will get up and continue to follow the player until they are dead, or they have managed to escape the room. If the Grim Reaper manages to kill anyone in the room, he will use his scythe to play a signature electric guitar solo.
The requirements of challenges appear in the top left corner of the screen, and as soon as a challenge is broken or completed, it is removed from the HUD. In this way, the Grim Reaper is not as simple as an instant death mechanic normally would be, as he can actually help players in dire situations. For example, if a player needs to defeat several ghoulies but is low on health and doesn't want to risk being damaged and killed by the ghoulies, they can break one of the room's challenges and summon the Reaper, then use the Reaper's help to kill off all of the required ghoulies before escaping the room.
Throughout the game are books with Rare's logo on the front. Collecting 5 of them unlocks a bonus challenge stage which the player can complete on a separate menu screen outside of the main game. Trophies are awarded to the player depending on the level of their performance within the challenge, and if the player collects all 100 of the Rare books scattered through the game and earns a platinum trophy from each, they will unlock a brand new bonus challenge, "Challenge 21", notorious for being one of the most difficult tasks in a game by Rare. The challenge involves playing through the entire game again as Cooper's girlfriend, Amber, while restricting the player to10 hitpoints throughout the entire game and no access to any of Ma Soupswill's restoration soups.