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Monster High: New Ghoul in School

Score: 71%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Little Orbit
Developer: Torus Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Mini-Games/ Family

Graphics & Sound:

Monster High: New Ghoul in School is a game about the spooky and fashionable school of Monster High. Itís hard to be completely new to this franchise unless you have avoided the toy aisles for the last few years. Just in case, however, the quick rundown is that werewolves, ghosts, dragons, and all manner of monsters and legends walk the halls of the schools. Itís a franchise that has been around for a while, but itís still a refreshing take on girlsí dolls, which are typically more about classic beauty and princesses. For those that appreciate a good pun, the Monster High universe is packed with them. If youíre dead-icated, you can get a spot on the Fearleading Squad at school and you go home to sleep in your Dreadroom. Yep, George Takei has got to be a huge fan.

With that in mind, itís a good thing New Ghoul in School handles at least the character models well. The character generator is not extensive, but there are a number of monster races, hair, clothing, and skin tones to choose from. Unfortunately, you canít choose a male character as the protagonist, which is odd when you see lots of guys walking the halls.

The gameís backgrounds look decent, with colorful halls and ghoulish touches like coffin lockers. Thereís not too much in the way of lighting effects, which does flatten everything out a bit. Of course, everyone in Monster High is dressed to the nines in a variety of different clothes and hairstyles. It is interesting to scout out the many different monsters and their styles as you walk the halls.

The sound is hit or miss, unfortunately. Some voice actors are much better than others. Some have you wishing you could mute some characters selectively. Think high-pitched voices in grating conversations that could have been done in one sentence, yet seem to keep going on and on. While there is a catchy opening song, the rest of the gameís music doesnít fare as well. Many of the background tracks start out sounding decent: pop sounding tracks with a quick beat. However, they soon become repetitive, having you wishing for something, anything, to trigger a change of music. Luckily, different times of day do seem to trigger a different set of background music tracks.


Gameplay:

Monster High: New Ghoul in School doesnít do too much new in the world of gameplay. Thereís a lot of find and fetch quests. Youíll need to talk to a lot of people as well. Admittedly, this kind of formula can work, but New Ghoul in School doesnít do much to make you feel connected or compelled to do it. Most interactions with your character are just generic "So great to see you" or "Youíll do great here" types of statements. At least itís mostly positive, but even among different characters, it feels like they all have the same voice. To be fair, the interactions you have on your phone with social media feeds and texts seem a little more creative and fun than most of the dialogue in the game, at least.

So what is the appeal? It might be an interesting ride for fans of the Monster High series, as youíll get to meet many of the main characters of the Monster High universe. Some of the characters you meet are big names in the Monster High world. Thereís Lagoona Blue, who introduces you to the student council. Thereís Spectra, the Gory Gazetteís blogger. However, Iím not sure that youíll get any new Monster High lore or interesting history from any of these interactions. They do stay pretty true to their characters, with Toralei Stripe, for example, being the mean girl were-cat of the school. The story seems to be pretty generic; Youíre new to school, you need to meet new people and find your way around, you need to solve some problems involving a school functions or some other familiar school-related problems. It all leads up to a big cheerleading - I mean - fearleading competition. This is a game where you create your own personalized Ghoul, so some story branching or personal dialogue options (that make a difference in the story) would have made a lot of sense and at least spiced things up. There are some dialogue options, but itís one of those games where youíre not going to make any big changes if you choose the "wrong" option. You might get an amusing reaction from someone if you do, but youíll ultimately have to choose the correct option to move on anyway. In the end, it doesnít really matter what you say.

Itís a pretty linear game, but you can spend some time exploring the school. There are secrets to be found all over the school such as hidden passages and secret combinations to some of the schoolís dusty old lockers. Look around and youíll find shelves that you can jump on and boxes you can push. Most rewards for uncovering these secrets are of the "skull" variety, which are little tokens you can use to purchase a variety of clothes and accessories.


Difficulty:

Monster High: New Ghoul in School can hardly be called a difficult game. You go talk to people, you walk around and find things, and thatís about it. However, some of the platforming and puzzles in the game could be a bit tricky, especially for younger players who are trying to figure out game controls. The objective indicators are another problem area, which is touched on below. These can be especially misleading and confusing, but some prudent use of the map should get you past this problem. There are a few puzzles here and there such as sliding puzzles and word scrambles as well, but none of these are too difficult given a bit of thought.

Game Mechanics:

This seems to be a recurring issue with Little Orbit games, but many things in Monster High: New Ghoul in School feel a bit rough and unpolished. Take the objective indicator, for example. The indicator will sometimes arbitrarily spin around. Luckily, this mostly seems to happen when you have multiple objectives, but then why not have multiple indicators?

Jumping mechanics feel a little imprecise as well. Itís not that you canít get to where you want to go, but for a game with a surprising emphasis on platforming sequences, this lack of precision makes it frustrating. Your character doesnít seem to have the proper "weight" either. Again, this isnít going to stop you from proceeding through the game, but it just doesnít feel polished.

I can say that the save system does work well, although this feature isnít really documented. But if you quit the game, youíll get an autosave. Itís at least something you donít have to worry too much about.

Monster High: New Ghoul in School may be a quick diversion for fans of the Monster High universe, but never really moves out of that area. The character creator and fashion options provide some creative fun, but after that, itís all linear quests. I canít say itís the most terrible thing you could do with your time, but it is a little less than exciting.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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