Review: Monster High: Ghoul Spirit for DS

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Monster High: Ghoul Spirit

Title: Monster High: Ghoul Spirit
Price: $29.99
System: DS
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher (Developer): THQ (THQ)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Pros: The more popular characters are there, plenty of activities (even if most of them aren’t all that fun) and it has an appropriate story.
Cons: Severely limited customization options, awkward controls, poor graphics, social decisions don’t really affect anything and mini games are so easy they border on pointless.
Overall Score: One thumb sideways and one thumb down; 66; D; * 1/2 out of 5

I know now how Roger Ebert feels when he reviews a Twilight movie.

Monster High: Ghoul Spirit is not meant for me. Although I appreciate the idea of a high school filled with undead students, I have to quit paying attention when they worry more about filling their brains than eating them. But you don’t have to be within a game’s target demographic to know if it’s good, and Monster High: Ghoul Spirit for Nintendo DS is not good.

Take, for instance, the character creation. You don’t have to be a tweenaged girl to know a game centered around popularity and fashion should provide a lot of character customization options. Ghoul Spirit does not. You can choose from two outfits. Two. I have a better selection of Shonen Knife concert t-shirts. You get a third outfit for the big dance at the end and thankfully that’s only a few short hours of gameplay away, or you’d never make it there.

Monster High: Ghoul Spirit

Prepare for forced social interaction! You can’t refuse.

So, from the onset Ghoul Spirit is a missed opportunity, seemingly developed by a team that has no appreciation for its target audience. For another example, consider the character interaction. The game centers around fetch quests to help out the familiar characters of the toy line. You’re asked if you want to help, which could set up some interesting social situations. What happens if you decide not to help Clawdeen get a hair cut? You don’t get to find out. If you decide to not help, the characters just wait for your to change your mind, which you’ll have to do because you otherwise can’t progress.

Pretty much all of the missions are just a matter of running around the high school to gather items, and even this isn’t done right because of awkward controls and camera angles. Getting from the gym to the cafeteria shouldn’t a chore for a man my age, but trying to get to the right door makes it feel like the game screen and the map aren’t even connected. And although the screen captures included here aren’t of the highest quality, they’re not actually far off from the graphics of the game itself, which seem more in line with what you’d expect from a GameBoy Advance release.

An early one.

Monster High: Ghoul Spirit

High school is infinitely more fun than ghoul school.

Various mini-games are interspersed, and although some provide a decent break, most are completely pointless. One of the early ones, for example, tasks you with helping to change light bulbs. You do this by pulling down a rope. That’s it. Touch the stylus to the top of the screen and drag down. Who thought that would be fun? Oh, wait…but you have to do it three times. Concentrate, young girls! You can do it if you just believe in yourself!

Gamers with a Nintendo DSi get the added benefit of being able to take a picture of themselves or their friends and “ghoulifying” the photos with Monster High accessories and ears and such. It’s a fun touch, but it also feels like an afterthought. I’ve reviewed apps that do this for the iPhone, and they’ve all done a better job.

I don’t care how heavily your child is into the Monster High toy line, I can’t recommend this game. Spend this money on a Spectra Vondergeist doll with pet ferret, rather than pick up a game that wasn’t seemingly developed by a team with so much contempt for the source material.

You can also try the Wii version, if that’s an option for you. I haven’t reviewed it (A man can only take so much teenage zombie girl drama!), but it has to be better than this. Real high school was better than this.

Site [Monster High: Ghoul Spirit]

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