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Game Guys review - Hotel Transylvania

5:07 PM, Oct 2, 2012   |    comments
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  • 'Hotel Transylvania' from GameMill Entertainment.
  • 'Hotel Transylvania' from GameMill Entertainment.
    

In the spirit of classic rock band The Eagles, "Welcome to Hotel Transylvania."

Based upon the Sony Entertainment major motion picture of the same name, the Nintendo 3DS game Hotel Transylvania is a traditional platformer where the player controls Mavis (Dracula's daughter), who is on the cusp of her 118th birthday celebration.  Oh, and there's something about saving her human boyfriend, Jonathan, from becoming the main course.  The story feels, in a word, rushed -- which is a great way to describe the game as a whole.

Players will find themselves inundated with various fetch quests, and her willingness to do the hotel's various guests' bidding really makes one wonder just how high of a priority saving Jonathan is.  The game follows pretty much the same formula from the first minute to the final, with Maven finding out what one of the other characters need, finding it (a relatively easy feat since the location of each thing is highlighted on the 3DS' lower-screen map), and, typically, returning to whomever from which the quest originated.  This formulaic wash-rinse-repeat gameplay structure gets old fast, as does having to run through the same sections of the hotel over and over again.

Venturing through the same rooms over and over again (and, honestly, those that are new) yield very little challenge for the player.  While there are hidden gems to be collected, expanding Maven's life bar meter should enough be gathered, this adds literally nothing to the game since the player is given literally unlimited lives.  Should Maven fell to any of the (usually) simple to defeat enemies or fall down a pit, she'll simply re-spawn with full health so the player can try again.  Developer WayForward could probably argue that this type of game mechanic is designed so younger players don't get discouraged while playing, but many of today's adult gamers played Super Mario Bros. and it's three lives and turned out just fine.  This kind don't-let-the-player-experience-failure attitude to game development is something that WayForward should feel ashamed of.

Players can expect only a couple of hours worth of play time from this title -- maybe three or four at maximum should the player actually seek out every last hidden gem (and why would they?).  Actually, the game could easily had been much, much shorter, but WayForward pads things out quite a bit too much.

Controls in this movie tie-in game are surprisingly tight.  Featuring classic side-scrolling mechanics and "Castlevania meets Mario Bros." gameplay, Maven's enemy-stomping/platform-jumping form actually comes off quite well.  Once Maven learns a few tricks, however, the controls lose their touch.  Advanced mechanics, such as Maven's wall running ability, are lessons in patience and perseverance.

To its credit, Hotel Transylvania isn't a half-bad looking 3DS game with things coming off as clean and clear.  It's unlikely, however, that any awards will be won in this category.  Overall, it comes off as a bit flat and plain -- something a game for the 3DS shouldn't come off as at all.  The game under-utilizes the handheld's 3D capabilities, delegating depth of field to little more than environmental backgrounds and a few foreground atmospheric items.  Audio-wise, Hotel Transylvania features no voice work and an uninspired soundtrack.

In an age where motion picture tie-in video game titles have been an improving market, Hotel Transylvania is a step backwards.  It's not as polished nor as intersting as other games released over the last year of two based upon silver screen presentations such as 2010's Toy Story 3: The Video Game or the recent series of games based upon the Transformers movies.  Kids who really enjoyed the movie would probably find simple initial enjoyment from the Hotel Transylvania 3DS game, but that enjoyment is likely to wane and the game will soon be relegated to nothing more than something with which to pass the time during the next family road trip.

Final Game Guys grade: D+

(GameMill Entertainment provided a copy of this game for review.)

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