Monster House (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 16.08.2006 9

Recently we have been treated to a batch of movie tie-in titles that have surprised up all by not being anywhere near as bad as previous licensed efforts. Now comes THQ's Monster House on the GameCube. But can the game lift itself above the mire that is the movie?

The game follows the movie perfectly, although in all honesty it probably reveals a bit too much from the start of the film. The game quickly flits over the information about Old Man Nebbercracker and how the scary neighbour is actually held prisoner by the house (something not found out until towards the end of the film – major spoiler? Maybe not, but still a spoiler nonetheless). Anyway, the three children that star in the Columbia Pictures movie – DJ, Chowder and Jenny, all make their appearance here, trapped in the Monster House. Your aim? Guide them through and try to escape…simple as that.

Thankfully you are not subjected to sub-par visuals throughout, with the in-game characters faithfully representing their silver-screen counterparts. The main problem, however, is with the damn camera that spins around like crazy at times, especially when you have locked on to an enemy to try and despatch it! This really drags the game down when it happens, but until it does younger children will indeed be sat on the edges of their seats thanks to clever lighting and visual tricks. The same goes for the audio, which really adds to the eerie atmosphere, making you feel like you are indeed deep within an monstrous abode, plus the voice acting is extremely strong throughout (in fact, the script here seems tighter than the film itself…*ahem*).

Screenshot for Monster House on GameCube

As for the game itself, you constantly switch between each of the three characters as you progress through the house, trying to find your route to freedom. Each one of the three has a water gun that has an infinite supply of H2O, with it running low after firing, then allowing you to constantly filling up merely by repeatedly tapping the appropriate button. This is ideal for a children's title, or else proceedings would be too difficult. Other than the gun, they can all either kick or swing their weapon around to smash objects around them to uncover various items (soda cans for health, arcade tokens for a special sub-game called 'Thou Art Dead', and so on) and even use a secondary weapon whenever necessary (water balloons for Chowder, a stun-camera for DJ and Jenny's slingshot).

The game plays basically like a watered-down version of Resident Evil 4, with elements of Luigi's Mansion thrown in for good measure. In fact, you could even liken it to 'Silent Hill for Kids' in places, I suppose. You creep around the deadly silent house, walking past what appear to be normal, inanimate chairs, lamps, televisions, etc. Yet should you bump into something, walk through bright lights being shone into the rooms you pass through, or dare to spray water at the wrong object, all hell lets loose. Suddenly chairs will start juddering toward you, TVs will sprout arms and start flailing them at you and those old fashioned lamps will go crazy, lunching at you and shooting out trails of electricity in your direction. Things can get very jumpy, very quickly and the action really heats up the further into the adventure you go. There is a manual lock-on ability, which comes in extremely handy. However, sometimes this becomes an automatic, computer-controlled function that takes all the usefulness away and becomes somewhat of a major hindrance as you desperately try to attack the enemy directly behind you, but cannot since your aim is locked on something further away, but in front of you.

Screenshot for Monster House on GameCube

Other than the intense action, there are psychological elements mixed in as when you pass through a doorway, for instance, the camera will pan back slightly and you will see a brief glimpse of something quickly scuttling past behind you, making the character mutter a fearful comment and leave you wondering what will jump out at you round the next corner. And things DO jump out at you, with reflex button presses required at specific moments, just as in RE4, with long branches crashing through windows to grab at you, or ventilation ducts swinging down from the ceiling to suck you up and you rapidly having to press whatever button combination appears on-screen.

This is complemented by the puzzle side of the game, whereby you must drag boxes round rooms to find hidden ledges, uncover secret keys deep within the house, figure out how to break through certain doorways, and so on, as well as dastardly boss battles that leave you puzzled at times for how to overcome the main bad guy. For 1.) a children's game, and 2.) a movie tie-in, developer Artificial Mind & Movement has done amazingly well to not only capture the feel of the film, but meld it together with elements from the best in the scare videogame genre to produce a game that is not only great for children, but not so terrible for us grown-ups!

Screenshot for Monster House on GameCube

But, being more of a child-orientated title, its length is extremely questionable. Okay, one or two bosses may have general gamers perplexed for a short while, but in essence if it takes more than eight-to-ten hours to complete for a veteran gamer, you should be disappointed in yourself! Working your way through each level is pretty straightforward, with little deviation possible, meaning that the linearity leads you toward the end of the game pretty hastily. The major benefit is the inclusion of hidden arcade tokens and little monkeys, the latter of which opens up art from the film. The former, on the other hand, is much more worthwhile, with the arcade tokens being used for 'Thou Art Dead', a great old-school platform game that is reminiscent of Ghouls 'N Ghosts or Castlevania from the days of the NES. In fact, it could be described as a gothic Super Mario Bros. This one certainly is not for the younger children, so should your little brother have Monster House, grab the chance to try this piece of retro goodness out.

Screenshot for Monster House on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

And so we have yet another pleasant surprise – a movie-based game that does not disappoint like most of the cheap cash-ins we are normally used to. The developer really has strived to present a worthy product and succeeded in almost every way!

Developer

A2M

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This actually had me stumped at one point because of an annoyingly hard boss! :eek:

Very surprising, as I though this would be the usual movie tie-in standard...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Sounds pretty fun - must be the summer of the good movie tie ins! Quite a compliment to be compared to RE4 as well. Nice work, Adam.

I can't believe it.

And yes: To be compared to RE4 and stand it - my compliments. (I still don't buy this *g*)

I find your lack of faith disturbing!

It looks quite fun actually...

Yeah, don't go buying this thinking that anyone above the age of about 12 will really get much value out of it, i.e. if I'd had to buy it I'd have been dissapointed (because it's so short)...BUT, my 12-year-old brother would LOVE it to bits :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Please stop talking of RE4 brings back fond memories and you will make me complete it again for like the 10th time


Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

I never had time to complete RE4 due to all my other reviewing duties...Feel pity for me! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Worst game I ever played....EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A monster is any of a large number of legendary creatures which appear in mythology, legend, or horror fiction.
Melvin
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