Game Review

Hotel Transylvania Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Stab it with your steely knives

Released as an obvious tie-in with the movie of the same name, Hotel Transylvania aims to provide an experience evocative of some classic Castlevania titles, particularly the DS games and that influential masterpiece Symphony of the Night.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that, as with many movie tie-ins, Hotel Transylvania is a rushed product. Positively bursting with potential, it's disappointing to find that the gameplay consists of running back and forth through the same set of rooms until the game abruptly ends, which it likely will likely before you've invested even three hours in it.

The adventure — as we shall diplomatically call it — stars Mavis, Dracula's daughter, whose 118th birthday party provides the context for the game. She explores the Hotel Transylvania, finding hidden gems, meeting with the guests, and unlocking abilities along the way, each of which allows her to reach previously inaccessible areas and items.

By the time one turns 118 life must feel pretty repetitive. At least, this game sure does. The action consists of finding a character who is marked on your map, talking to them to find out what they need, and then walking to the other end of the map to find whatever it is. Once you find the item you walk all the way back and return it.

This is a genuine waste of the Castlevania-inspired layout of the game. Whereas those better titles provide tasks and unlock abilities at regular intervals to imbue the circular progression with a sense of forward progression, Hotel Transylvania just has you moving back and forth through the same rooms, hopping the same pits, and wondering when you'll get to do something new. The fact that nearly every one of your tasks has to do with retrieving an item from a group of wolf pups just heightens the sense of monotony; it's the same task every time.

The Symphony of the Night homage is clearly deliberate, right down to the style of the map, the game-opening sprint to the castle, and even some of the abilities you'll be able to use, such as the mist form and bat form. Additionally you explore classic clocktower, catacombs and cathedral areas, all of which call to mind the vastly superior game, and highlight just how much is missing from this one.

As many times as you have to traverse the same rooms in the same way, there's no variation to keep you engaged. While you can choose to collect hidden gems to extend your life meter, there's no real purpose to this as dying just causes you to spawn again at the entrance to the room. No new traps appear to test your new abilities, the enemies don't get more difficult or varied, and the guests don't do anything interesting or different as the game progresses; they simply vanish when you've finished their fetch quest.

It's never a good feeling when you invest an hour in a game and notice that your save file is already marked with 50% completion, but that's what happens here in Hotel Transylvania. The endless backtracking and fetching feels like it might be building toward a development in the game that sets you free of your training wheels at last, but it never comes. The game ends when the developers run out of reasons to send you back through the same rooms again, and that's it.

If you choose to seek out all of the gems, you're looking at around three hours' worth of playtime. If you don't, and we wouldn't blame you, you'll get much less. That's bad enough, and the fact that even such a short game feels padded beyond its breaking point makes it that much worse.

The graphics are a bit flat and lifeless, with little or no animation apart from the protagonist and the enemies she stomps. The music is decent, but it gets quickly repetitive. The controls are tight when it comes to simple movement, but fall apart when it comes to unlocked abilities. The "stare" abilities are sluggish and almost guarantee you'll get hit while it takes effect, and wall-running is an exercise in needless frustration.

When it comes to Hotel Transylvania, let's just say we have reservations...and not the kind that the hotel would appreciate.


Hotel Transylvania had strong potential to overcome the stigma of movie tie-in games, but with clumsy controls, repetitive gameplay, and a front-to-back experience lasting less than three hours, it's difficult to see it as anything more than a well-intentioned cash in. If we had to describe this game in two words, we'd pick "squandered potential". If we only had one word, we'd pick "no".

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User Comments (40)



bboy2970 said:

Not surprising. The only movie tie-in game that I've ever played that was actually quite good and not complete garbage was Alice in Wonderland on DS.



Salnax said:

I'm actually surprised. The trailer for this was promising. Oh well... I guess there are no thing as good surprises.



technotreegrass said:

I at least give them some credit for not being a mini-game compilation like almost every movie tie-in for the Wii and DS, but I expected the game to be shovelware all the same.



RupeeClock said:

That's such a shame, I had high hopes for this when I saw the trailer, and that it was developed by WayForward.

They seemed to put considerable care into the animations too.



rayword45 said:

Damnit Genndy Tartakovsky, it's good that the movie is doing well, but both this and the movie are crap.

Buy the rights to Sym-Bionic Titan and finish the damn series already.



Firejonie said:

WayForward, I'm disappointed in you. They better not screw up Adventure Time like this.



KAHN said:

" Positively bursting with potential, it's disappointing to find that the gameplay consists of running back and forth through the same set of rooms until the game abruptly ends, which it likely will likely before you've invested even three hours in it."
hey philip, found an error!



Stuffgamer1 said:

It's true...regardless of WayForward's good reputation, even they get rushed through the licensed game development process from time to time. I should think the Adventure Time game would come out better simply because it's (to the best of my knowledge) not a timed release with a related product. That almost always guarantees a better game, after all. Either that, or the movie makers have to let the game makers in on the creative process much earlier than they usually do.



Jukilum said:

@Stuffgamer1 "Either that, or the movie makers have to let the game makers in on the creative process much earlier than they usually do."

Which Pixar did for Toy Story 3 and Cars 2.



WingedSnagret said:

What, a bad movie tie-in!? This is unbelievable!

But seriously, yet another terrible game based on a movie...



Bulbousaur said:

God damn it, and I thought it would be at least somewhat decent with Wayforward developing it...



Bluewind098 said:

What a shame. Still though not all movie tie-ins are bad like what about The Spongebob Squarepants movie game?



TheDreamingHawk said:

The first three harry potter gamecube games were amazing, but those are the only good movie games I have played



Lunapplebloom said:

Wayforward was making this? I never saw this game coming until now. Since it was them making it, I thought maybe it could have been like Thor was to me, surprisingly fun. Guess I'll have to pass.

@Bluewind098 I notice your new here, so welcome to Nintendolife! Have a nice stay.



Lunapplebloom said:

@Bluewind098 I was that way as well. Now is as good a time as any. See you around the site. (and brohoof)

Also just read the text picture on the front page, Great Hotel California reference Chicken.



WarioPower said:

Well, when have movie games ever been good (except for the 007 and star wars series)?



Ganmaku said:

That's disappointing. Anything Genndy Tartakovsky related always gets me geeked.



Capt_N said:

^But they were probably on a tight time schedule, that they couldn't control.



R-L-A-George said:

At some point, companies need to realize; Bad games do at some point effect movies, especially if its pre-box office releases.



HaastMK7 said:

i don't like movies that get turned into games, unless it is a good game

good review



47drift said:

This movie was stupendous and I had high hopes for the game. Disappointing!



Big-Timer said:

i never saw the movie but i hope i can get the game if it has it on the wii i would want that more but the movie i am gonna see after my birthday im looking forward to watching the movie ans playing the game.



shania2012 said:

Loved the movie love the game I love ganes like mario and this game. But there should be a walk through or help option cus Im stuck Ice unlocked 3 ofher powers but I cant find dracula in the stair well I ve been everywhere Im stuck.

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