|System: DS, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Scholastic Media||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Elastic||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 07, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
Remember Goosebumps, kids? The spooky novellas of R.L. Stine have an almost cult status among young readers. Pseudo-scary, a tad controversial, and a whole lot of campy, this frightful franchise is still churning with Stines latest Goosebumps HorrorLand series. Now, Goosebumps comes to DS for a mini-game romp in support of the latest books. Will this adventure offer fun frights for fans, or does this rollercoaster run off its rails?
In the small town of Anywhere, U.S.A. lives a young boy who one day discovers that a ticket to the HorrorLand theme park has been left for him on his doorstep. When he attempts to tear up the ticket in disinterest, the ticket miraculously reforms itself. His friend also receives one of these mysterious invitations, and in their curiosity, they make for the theme park of horrors to investigate.
Though HorrorLand is little more than a mini-game collection, there is a story here; its shallow and cheesy, yet everything Goosebumps fans have come to know and love. When your character, simply known as you, gives his ticket to the HorrorLand attendant, the attendant rips the ticket into pieces and it disperses throughout the park. Though at first you and your pal, Nate, find entertainment within the gates of HorrorLand, it soon becomes evident that to stay would mean your doom. However, only by finding and piecing together your park ticket can you escape from this theme park of terror.
The story moves along at a nice pace, and connecting bits of plot are sewn together to make for an entertaining adventure. Again, its shallow in the extreme, but Goosebumps fans who get it will likely have fun from start to finish.
The game is broken up into five different park areas, with six mini-games per area. Youll begin in the Carnival of Screams, and by playing through various mini-games, youll progress the story and gain access to new areas of the park. Each mini-game costs a certain number of tokens to enter, and you can find tokens hidden throughout each area of the park. The objects that contain tokens regenerate over time, so having enough money to partake in the minis is never an issue.
However, you will need to prove your bravery before moving on, so doing well and scoring high in mini-games is essential to your progress. HorrorLand attendants act as gate keepers for each of the mini-games as well as the other areas of the park, and only when youve proven your ability to withstand the terrors of each mini-game will you gain access to other elements of HorrorLand.
Youre scored for your performance in each mini-game and can receive a bronze, silver, or gold fright depending upon your level of success. Each mini-game has a fright-level requirement as well, so youll often be unable to play certain games until earning enough frights to enter. The same goes for other areas of the park. As you earn enough frights, youll gain access to other areas and their respective mini-game. With each area of HorrorLand you gain access to, youll delve a bit further into the games plot. Additionally, there are contextual mini-games boss mini-games, if you will and they also play a role in your progression of the story.
There are 30 mini-games in total, and though a handful are throwaways, a surprising number of them are well-crafted and truly fun to play through. However, quite a few of the games are recycled, and though they often differ in appearance and premise, the execution is the same. The main issue we had, though, was the fright requirement in HorrorLand. Again, the only way to gain access to other areas of the park and new mini-games is to earn enough frights. Some games, though, are extremely difficult or just arent very much fun to play, and it becomes frustrating at various stages throughout the game to progress the story.