Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix Review
Posted by Jacob Crites
Don't give up the ghost
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix. You really only have to read the title to figure out who the intended audience is for this game: younger gamers. Kids.
And that's not intended to be a jab, by the way; gamers often use the “kids’ game” moniker as a way of implying shallow game design, but that's not an entirely fair generalisation. Titles targeting children are meant to be charming, instantly accessible and fun, and in that regard Ghostly Groove is a reasonably successful, if oddly out-of-season, attempt to capture younger audiences.
It employs the sort of Lewis Carroll, unconventional logic that makes children's entertainment such an interesting medium. Quite unlike mature titles such as Red Dead Redemption or Call of Duty, zombies are good guys in this game; the noble inhabitants of Monster Town. A mysterious, frightening beast scared them all away, however, and it’s your job as Gabrielle, the town's only human resident, to pull the town back together. Nothing, as Gabrielle points out, attracts Zombies like a killer dance routine, so you and your vampire companion, Vlad, have no choice but to bust some moves.
As thoroughly silly as all that is, we couldn't help but be somewhat charmed by it, especially as dance games arguably don't need any sense of context to be successful anyway. Thankfully the actual “dance” mechanics work just fine, though with some niggling issues.
The dancing basically comes down to holding the Wii Remote in your dominant hand and mimicking all of Gabrielle's dance moves. If she's swinging her arms and cha-cha-ing back and forth, then that's what you do, and little on-screen prompts scroll across the bottom of the screen so you know when she's about to switch routines. It works almost flawlessly, but it's clear that the developers took a few shortcuts to get to that point. The controller vibrates with the beat of the song to help you keep the rhythm, and it won't take the most quick-witted of gamers to figure out that all the game really needs you to do is to shake the Wii Remote on the beat. Obviously there's not much fun in that, but it's still somewhat disappointing to realise that you could have gotten the same, if not a better score, on the dance routine by putting in less effort.
For kids just looking for an excuse to dance themselves clean, though, this probably isn't an issue, especially when played with a few other friends. What is a bit of an issue is the lack of a licensed soundtrack, however, because the original tunes on display here, while not terrible, are pretty unmemorable. They all sound like b-sides to some kind of Luigi's Mansion dance-remix project - those of you familiar with the Gamecube title can take that as you will.
In addition to the dancing, there's a surprising amount of customisation options for Gabrielle; after each song you'll be rewarded with a few new accessories depending on the quality of your performance, and using the option menu you can apply these accessories to the ghastly girl as you see fit. Bows, hair colour, skin colour, eye colour and different outfits can all be customised, which adds a certain level of personalisation and replay value to the game.
At 500 Wii Points, Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix is a safe bet for parents looking for an affordable, quality dance game to keep their kids entertained. It's easy to cheat and the soundtrack is lacking, but the game's nonsensical charms mostly outweigh its faults.