Monday, November 11, 2013

Monster High: Ghoul Spirit Is Kind Of Shitty

While we were clearing out my grandmother's apartment after she moved into my aunt's house, I found a DS game called Monster High: Ghoul Spirit.

I know Monster High is some Bratz-style brand of sexy monster dolls for I guess the vast hordes of tween proto-goths who want sexy monster dolls?  Presumably the game belongs to one of my younger cousins, and I hung onto it so it wouldn't get lost and I could return it to her.  I got bored though, so I tried playing it.  It's...kind of shitty.  Not super-shitty, it's no E.T. The Extra Terrestrial or anything, but it has little to no value as a game.

I guess I should start with the most immediately obvious quality, the graphics: they kind of suck, even for a DS game.  I tried to find a decent screencap to show them properly, but the game is so boring and worthless nobody seems to have posted much about it.  I did nab this, which actually looks better than the game usually does:

Now, I can't really say the graphics are completely awful.  I mean, I've seen worse graphics.  Monster High: Ghoul Spirit is probably roughly on par with Nostalgia in that respect, or maybe even a little better than Nostalgia (Nostalgia was pretty bad).  But when this screencap example is the very highlight of the game's graphics, it's...not good.  There was one character who was supposed to look like a total mess, with bad frizzy hair and an ugly outfit and one of the quests was to get her looking nice again.  But I didn't realize that she was supposed to look like a mess until I finished that quest and her sprite transformed into the "pretty" version.  I don't know if it's because I never actually looked at her or if it's because all of the characters are so jagged and awkward I can't tell the difference between the ones that are supposed to be pretty and the ones that aren't.  I also don't know if it's something to blame on the graphics or something to blame on the character designs.  Maybe both.  Speaking of character designs, I just have to say something about the general look of the series.  I know it's not original and everyone has said it before me, but dang, these monster girls are freaking gangly.  And long.  You could probably have a literal skeleton as a character and she'd be able to share clothes with the rest of the characters because you physically cannot make them skinnier than this.  And I'm pretty sure they've all got horribly broken and deformed legs.  How does this poor thing walk on those twisty stilts?  Each girl is technically a different type of monster, but really they're all variations on the horrifying Lankyleg Ganglebeast

It's sad that those boots are the second most horrifying thing about her legs.

But I should at least try to stick to game-specific criticisms. One thing that's definitely bad in this is the map.  The school you're in is so bland-looking that it's hard to figure out where you are just by the surroundings, so I mostly used the map to get around.  Unfortunately, the map is not actually an accurate floor-plan of the school.  The game designers thought it was more important to make the school coffin-shaped on the map rather than make a map that could accurately tell you where you are.  Or, you know, make the school actually coffin-shaped, for some reason.  If that was so important to them, I don't know why they didn't just draw the map first and then design the school to its specifications, but whatever, it's a stupid game and it's obvious that nobody actually cared.  I can't tell you how many times I went into the wrong room because the map told me I was on other side of the corridor.  The school is pretty small and bland-looking, which is kind of weird.  Not really the small part, I guess, since there's only like ten students, but you'd think a trying-to-be-coffin-shaped school of monster people would look more interesting.

So it's mediocre graphics and a shitty map.  Not a great start, but it can redeem itself with the actual gameplay, right?  Maybe it's an okay game after all!  Sorry.  Not a chance.  The gameplay is crap.  The entire game is random fetch-quests and pointless busywork.  One particularly egregious example was the "storyline" (I guess? I wouldn't call it a story arc, but it's as close as this game managed to get) about how the zombie girl was kicked out of class for "mumbling" but the real problem was that the teacher doesn't understand zombie language.  Well, okay, I guess in that case you go to the headmistress and explain what happened and make sure that the problem gets documented and dealt with?  Nope!  You talk to the zombie girl instead and she tells you that she wants to make sure the teacher learns zombie language by reading a zombie language book.  So she sends you to her locker to get the zombie language book, then you bring the book to her so she can highlight the important parts, then you go find a custodian's outfit, then you bring it to her so she can change into her disguise, then you go to the "creepateria" to get a soda, then you bring it to her so she can explain the next step where you bring it to the classroom and pour it on the floor so she can clean it up as...a distraction, I think?  For some reason it is vitally important that you find a custodian's outfit for the zombie girl and then pour a soda on the ground.  Then you go into the empty classroom and leave the book on the desk.  That's it, right?  The end of the quest?  Nope!  Next you get a text message from somebody else, so you go find them and they tell you to go find the audiobook of the book you just left on the teacher's desk.  So you bring them the audiobook, and they tell you to go put it in the teacher's headphones.  Or mp3 player.  Apparently the two are interchangeable.  So you go do that, and wonder why you're wasting your time like this.  Then you go leave that on the teacher's desk.  But you're not done yet!  You get another text, and suddenly someone else has an idea!  You should make a potion that magically makes people understand languages!  So you go all over school collecting the potion ingredients (I think -- I vaguely remember doing something like this, but I'm not entirely sure. I tried to double-check by looking up a walkthrough, but none seem to exist, and I'm certainly not going to play the game again just to check, so let's just assume I'm remembering correctly), then you have to go to the Mad Science Lab to make some sort of potion with them, then you have to find whoever sent you on this quest so you can give them the potion so they can drug the teacher with it and the teacher will suddenly know the zombie language and everything will be solved!  For the third time!  That was very long and complicated, wasn't it?  Basically, you do a fetch-quest to fix the problem, but you're immediately sent on a second, completely unnecessary part to the fetch-quest to solve the same problem you just solved, then the final part of the fetch quest is to render the first two needlessly long fetch-quests unnecessary by using a potion to make the teacher understand zombie without needing either the book or the audiobook.  What the hell.  That was a waste of a waste of my time.

I feel like I've wasted your time just making you read that, so here is a hopefully useful "life hack" to try and make up for it.

There's a relationships element to the game, too.  I don't see the point of it, though.  You seem to max out every character's affection for you by completing the quests, and since the quests are the only things to do in the game, you don't have any other options.  You can't progress and do another quest until you've finished the one you're on (or at least I think so, this is another thing I only half-remember) and there aren't extra things to do like give gifts or anything.  So basically, play the game in the only way you can and you'll automatically max everything out and win the popularity contest at the end of the game.  Yaaaaay.  If that's how it works, why bother keeping track of affection at all?

Overall it was a tremendously dull game.  In fact, it was so boring that I forgot I was writing this post three-quarters of the way through and left it in my drafts for like, a year, until I found and finished it today.  I've since given the game back so I can't replay it to familiarize myself with it again to have anything fun to say at the end of the post.  Instead, I'll just point out how the series has desecrated The Phantom Of The Opera by having a character named Operetta, who is somehow the Phantom's teenage daughter from the Deep South, complete with a Southern American accent and obsession with .... ugh ... country music.  Not that there's anything inherently wrong with country music, until you try to mix it up with the fucking Phantom.  She is the single worst interpretation of anything related to Phantom of the Opera.  Just look at it, it's horrifying.


No comments:

Post a Comment