Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D is a rhythm game published by Natsume in the US, and is the sequel to the WiiWare title, Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix, with the only difference being that this title was originally released in retail form in Europe during March 2012, before then becoming available on the eShop earlier this year thanks to Fun Box Media. Cubed3 takes a trip down to Monsterville to see if this title is as groovy as it makes itself out to be.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D begins with players watching the leading character putting herself in a bit of a predicament. Gabrielle sneezes, a sneeze so powerful that it knocks her soul right out of her body, leaving her empty remains to be discovered by her mother. Meanwhile, Gabrielle is advised by her pet cat to visit Monsterville, which sets the stage for the rest of the game.
In order to return to her body, Gabrielle is told by a young witch that she must find a partner to perform the Ghostly Groove - a dance that has the ability to scare the living and grant the player with Screams, which are used to help Gabrielle get back to the land of the living and to also buy new outfits for her to wear.
The gameplay in Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D feels like a hybrid of Elite Beat Agents and the WarioWare series. Icons appear on the top screen and a circle will slowly close in on them, and when the circle is closest to the icon, players must tap the Touch Screen with the stylus and sometimes slide it across to follow a set path indicated on the top screen. There is also a swiping mechanic to pluck Screams from the ground introduced as the gamer progresses. It's all fairly simple really as, unlike Elite Beat Agents, players can tap anywhere on the lower screen and the moves will still be pulled off as long as the timing is correct, rather like in Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.
Where does WarioWare come into this though? Well, there are short breaks in these dance sequences known as Thriller Time that basically play out like a micro-game found in the aforementioned series. Players are given a vague description of what to do and then they must carry out that task, which nets them even more Screams. As well as dance sequences, there are also a few simple mini-games to give the game a bit of variety.
Whilst the gameplay may sound fun - which it can be, especially near the end of the game - actually getting control of Gabrielle is tedious and players have to endure heaps of dialogue just to get to it. The dialogue is quite amusing, but it's unnecessary and it drags on for far too long, merely being used to add some extra padding to the game to disguise the fact that it's relatively short. Text can be sped up by holding the X or Y button, but it still takes several minutes to get to the actual gameplay and in fact, the gameplay sequences are probably far shorter than the long-winded intermission between them.
After each dance sequence is completed, players will be awarded with new clothes and accessories that they can buy and then dress Gabrielle up with. Whilst this is purely for aesthetic purposes, the character designs are cute and colourful and the simple mechanics definitely cater to a younger audience. With that being said though, younger children are bound to get frustrated by the oodles of dialogue, which is far too stretched out.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D features some cute and colourful art, most notably the beautifully crafted character models that are pleasing on the eyes. The gameplay, whilst simple, can also be quite fun, especially for a younger audience. It's just a shame that the developer added so much unwanted filler content for a game whose target audience is primarily children.
Rhythm-based gameplay, which may remind some of Elite Beat Agents plus mini-games that feel somewhat similar to those found in the WarioWare series.
Perhaps one of the strongest factors in Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D are the cute and colourful character models, which are easy on the eyes. Other than that, the backdrops are fairly simple, but do not cause any issues whilst playing the game.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D features both original music and also includes works of some classical composers, such as: Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi. Not a bad selection of tracks, but it would be nice to have some more included.
Featured in the game is a short campaign, which lasts about three or so hours, padded with unnecessary and long-winded dialogue that the game would do fine without. Although the dialogue can be quite quirky and amusing, it drags on for far too long and results in a lack of gameplay, which is unfortunate.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D is not a bad game, but it falls short of being a great game due to its long dialogue sequences that can be easily identified as unnecessary padding. If the developer had included the option to skip these tedious sections, or perhaps compress them to a minute or so, it would pass for being a decent downloadable title. However, as it stands, the game doesn't feature too much in terms of content to warrant its release as a retail title or current asking price of £12.59 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.