• Kids and adults alike love spooky things.  The latest release of the animated movie Hotel Transylvania was directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, known for his work on the animated shows Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack.  The movie received favorable reviews from families but much worse reception from critics.  The same might apply to the video game on 3DS that shares its name.

    Movie tie-in games have created a separate standard for themselves.  Most games encounter rushed production, indefinite parameters, and small teams.  In most cases, movie tie-in games fall back on the tried and true format of platformers, which is what happens in the case of Hotel Transylvania.  The game garners some comparisons to Castlevania, which are most likely due to the supernatural castle atmosphere and genre of game.  Level advancement harkens also to that found within titles like Castlevania and Metroid.

    The player begins the story as the movie’s protagonist Mavis. A teenage girl who is the daughter of Dracula.  Dracula runs the resort for monsters, but apparently there are still many dangers found within the castle.  Mavis’ human friend is in danger, so this sets the pace for the small amounts of game plot.  The levels of the platformer are rooms within the castle, and they work both forwards and backwards.  This is due to the game not having a linear map progression.  Progress is measured in small tasks performed for various family members throughout the castle.

    The plot is thin, which is pretty common in many games geared toward children or based on movies.  Story and level progression are based on micro fetch quests which send the player to different rooms.  Expect to visit the same rooms in a varied order after acquiring new powers.  The levels, while accessible from many different starting points and potentially created with the style of older games in mind, can grow repetitive after the fourth or fifth time of passing through a corridor or stairwell.  The bulk of game enemies become available in early gameplay, which can add to the stale feel of levels, as well.  Instead of finishing a room and being done with it as most games treat levels, there are places within rooms that are only available after gaining specific powers.  These powers include the ability to freeze enemies or run up walls.  Remembering and unlocking these hidden areas later in the game serves as a majority of the fun and challenge, which is where this game shares the most in common with its predecessors.

    Since the game takes place within the same castle, the appearance is mostly unchanging.  The 3D options are fine, but they offer very little to the game.  There is really not much difference in playing the game with 3D turned on due to the shallow depth.  Considering the game is in a 2D side-scroller setting, this is almost to be expected.  Soundwise, characters do not speak, and you’ll likely grow tired of hearing the same moans and groans from the seldomly changing minions.  The music works well with the atmosphere, though.

    Controls are fluid and accurate enough, though the oversized main character creates the added challenge of sometimes navigating past enemies on more than one level at the same time.  Levels are not particularly hard for older kids or adults, but for younger children, there may be many requests for help.  The main issue here is that while the movie attempts to provide entertainment for younger and older children, the game only offers one difficulty level.  Carrying on through levels is not as intuitive as most games that contain multiple exploration options.  This might be novel for older children but frustrating for less experienced gamers.

    Movie tie-in games do not often sit at the forefront of praiseworthy games, and if this sounds like I’m making excuses for the game, I’m not.  As a throwback side-scroller, this game has some issues with repetitive level design and sound variety.  There were no major bugs or glitches that I encountered, but the story was nearly as absent.  This game can be recommended for children who are fans of the movie, but it doesn’t seem to carry much intrigue as a stand-alone.  I’m not even certain how much it would add to the overall Hotel Transylvania experience for fans.

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    The TotallyGN Verdict
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    • Exploratory gameplay does its best to recapture the expansive levels from earlier titles.
    • 3D sets it apart from other games in its genre.
    • Lack of variety in levels can drag out playing experience.

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    Summary:

    Hotel Transylvania 3D doesn’t set itself apart from the movie or the movie game genre due to underwhelming level design and supporting gameplay elements that are as barebones as the skeletal minions.

    [note class=”alignright”]5[/note]
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    • Format: 3DS
    • Developer: WayForward
    • Publisher: GameMill
    • Release Date: September 18, 2012

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