(DSiWare)

Game Review

Halloween: Trick or Treat Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

It's the Great Disappointment, Charlie Brown!

Holiday-specific games are nothing new to Nintendo's download services, but developers just don't seem interested in providing much for your money. Just take a look at the scores for Happy Holidays: Halloween, Happy Holidays: Christmas, Just Sing! Christmas Songs or the immortal Fireplacing. Rather than produce a quality gaming experience that complements the feelings and traditions associated with the holiday, we're asked to shell out money for games just because they have something — anything — to do with the season.

Halloween: Trick or Treat shambles along mindlessly in the tradition of those games mentioned above, hoping to trick a few people into buying it because it's named after a holiday. It's a buggy, boring, braindead mess of a game that's going to make you wish you spent your time playing with the guts of a rotting pumpkin instead, and we're putting that politely. This game is terrible.

The plot is that Mike and Sally are going trick-or-treating, and... sorry, we shouldn't have typed an "and" there, because there's nothing else. Mike and Sally are going trick-or-treating. You, for whatever reason, are expected to spend your day tapping blindly around on your DS while they do so.

Our problems with the game begin with the visuals. In particular, the character designs. Mike and Sally are, quite simply, the most hideous human beings who have ever lived. Their frozen, cold expressions suggest not children excited about the holiday, but corpses improperly preserved by a mortician who isn't all that good at his job. Their dead eyes stare soullessly at you while you fight to concentrate on a game you wish you never bought in the first place, and they hover like unsettling gargoyles over every scene and sequence.

The bulk of the game consists around single-screen pixel hunts. Mike and Sally have lists of things to find in each scene — don't ask us why — and you tap each hidden item as you see them. While this may not sound like the most exciting premise to begin with, the game's execution only makes it worse.

As there are so many hidden objects packed into every scene, and as there is no punishment for tapping something that is not a hidden object, the easiest and fastest way to play is to tap everything on every scene. This might be considered something of a cheat, but since the game doesn't seem to care if you play it this way, neither do we.

In fact, if you'd like to experience all the fun of Halloween: Trick or Treat without spending the money, just dig out an old magazine and find a full-page advertisement. Tap your stylus on every object you see. Congratulations! You win!

The muddy visuals are also a huge problem, as they even further discourage a legitimate hunt for the item by making everything so terribly pixellated and dull. It's difficult to tell a steering wheel from a wagon wheel, for example, so why not just tap both? Ugly graphics are always disappointing, but in a game that's built around the concept of identifying finding specific objects, that's unforgivable.

There also seems to be a problem with the game detecting taps in the first place. In one scene we tapped on a Bigfoot-looking creature, and nothing happened. That's fine, but when the scene refused to end we looked at the list of items to find and one of them was Bigfoot. We then tapped Bigfoot again and, still, nothing happened. We assumed we must have tapped the wrong Bigfoot so we scanned the area for another, found none, and frustratedly tapped Bigfoot a third time, which all of a sudden counted as finding him. This was just the earliest occurrence of such a bug that plagued us through the entire game, and it gets particularly frustrating when you know you're tapping repeatedly on the toffee apple you were asked to find and the game won't react to what you're doing.

If you have trouble finding any of the objects, you have an infinite supply of hints that you can use by pressing Select. Only by "hint" the game means "direct, unmissable indication of exactly where the item is." Fun.

Once you've finished tapping everything in sight — sometimes several times — the scene will end, and Mike and/or Sally will skulk creepily into view to congratulate you and make you wish you could throw a towel over their horrible faces. They will also ask you to play a mini-game, which is intended to break up the action a bit. "Action," of course, being a term used with exceptional generosity in this case.

The mini-games are impossible to lose, and they consist of such challenges as solving puzzles on the bottom screen whose solutions are displayed clearly on the top screen. Needless to say, they're a real blast.

Typically these mini-games are presented as part of the narrative. Mike and/or his pod-person sister will see something that inspires further investigation, and that investigation is your puzzle. Later on, however, all pretense is dropped and puzzles just appear on the screen without any attempt at explanation at all. Perhaps the developer was afraid it wouldn't hit its Halloween deadline if it took the time to add another scene in which Mike pointed at something and said, "Hey, look at this!"

The music isn't bad, but you're bound to become tired of the game's only song before you're even through the second puzzle. The story, as it is, is next to non-existent, and it consists entirely of the kids repeatedly saying, "that was fun. Now let's check out this room over here."

We're not sure who was meant to enjoy this game. Small children will be bored by the repetitive, static gameplay, and they wouldn't recognise most of the items on Mike and Sally's list anyway. Anyone older will correctly see this as a pointless money-grab and keep walking.

Perhaps, just perhaps, at a much lower price point it would have been a passable novelty. As it stands, though, it's just another addition to the pile of holiday games that seem to think strategic release dates are more important than good ideas, competent execution, or even simple beta testing.

Happy Halloween, indeed.

Conclusion

Halloween: Trick or Treat is simply mishandled on every possible level. From the muddy visuals to the abysmal character designs to the downright insulting and unresponsive gameplay, it's hard to imagine anyone getting much enjoyment out of this. Charlie Brown notoriously got nothing but rocks when he went trick-or-treating. It could have been much worse, though, Charlie; you could have got this game.

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User Comments (39)

NintyMan

#10

NintyMan said:

Sounds like there's a better chance of the Great Pumpkin showing up then someone enjoying this game. It's a wonder you didn't demand to sue.

Chris720

#12

Chris720 said:

Wow... I'd like to see what Virtual Playground have to say about this... didn't like the look of it either. Also, I'm sorry but the "girl" looks exactly like the boy... o_O

Tare

#16

Tare said:

Makes me wonder how these developers got the Dev kit to begin with

6ch6ris6

#19

6ch6ris6 said:

the trailer in the e-shop is the most boring trailer i have EVER seen for a video game!
i cant believe i watched the whole thing.

ROFLMAO @17metalmario
xD

bonesy91

#21

bonesy91 said:

and here I was hoping for a legit "Trick or Treat" Game for the DS.

You know? one with old style graphics, you walk around your neighborhood getting candy, using said candy to upgrade your costume. and then by the end of the night the costume contest is held and judging by how much candy you earned for an awesome costume you would Win the contest. Which would unlock new neighborhoods...

"Sigh" but no.

Ikalpo

#22

Ikalpo said:

"It's the great dissapointment charlie brown!"
Oh god no. Oh GO-
This should be good. :D

grumblegrumble

#25

grumblegrumble said:

Wow! A 1 is pretty low! Not very many games get a "1" lol ;) Anything that cashes in on a once a year holiday by it's name alone is usually a huge letdown!

Capt_N

#27

Capt_N said:

Someone should tell these devs, who don't even try to make a mediocre game for DSiWare, "You better cut it out right now, or I'll pound you!". In keeping w/ the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" theme of comments.

Edit: @Philip J Reed: You always get a rock.

Victoria

#30

Victoria said:

The cover art creeps me out everywhere it pops up - here and on the e-shop. It's just wrong, but considering the game it comes with, it now makes sense.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#31

Philip_J_Reed said:

Disappointment? You mean you thought this might have been good?

We want every game to be good!

TKOWL

#33

TKOWL said:

That last line is classic. I love your reviews, Mr. Brutus, unfortunately, you always seem to be stuck with the crap :O

HanuKwanzMasBif

#34

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

I didn't know the price... I was all like... "at least it's just 2 bucks..." but then
OH NO WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU PUBLISHER.
I COULD MAKE A BETTER GAME THAN THIS AND I KNOW BARELY ANYTHING ABOUT PROGRAMMING
SERIOUSLY PUBLISHER
@Sir_Dragoon
That's because he's the best at criticizing games.

bboy2970

#35

bboy2970 said:

I think the reviewer should consider a career in comedy because that review was totally hilarious! Sad about the game but at least it gave me a yuck or 2 for today :) Oh and I agree that those characters are very VERY odd looking. I believe its the same exact face with a different body and hair o_O

paperskyx

#37

paperskyx said:

"We then tapped Bigfoot again and, still, nothing happened. We assumed we must have tapped the wrong Bigfoot so we scanned the area for another, found none, and frustratedly tapped Bigfoot a third time, which all of a sudden counted as finding him."
This makes me picture two people holding the stylus together and doing those actions.. Why do you need to say "we" for everything? o_0

Anyway, this game sounds terrible. I hate seasonal games anyway.

NovemberJoy

#38

NovemberJoy said:

Maybe they should've made this free. It would be a time-waster(I dare not say it would be a decent time-waster)and a freebie, which might give it some credibility. For $8, this is one of the worst things you can buy from DsiWare. Fantasy Slots:Adventure Slots And Games and Flashlight(not to mention Discolight)are at least cheaper than this put together.

DemonnPrincess

#39

DemonnPrincess said:

I have the vampire one, and it's the same thing. I dunno about this one, the vampire one is funner, but I've never played this one so I can't say anything bad about it...hmm...

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