The Haunted Mansion
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox, PS2, GC
Publisher
TDK Mediactive
Developer
High Voltage Soft.
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Mild Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Large variety of puzzles
• Good clean fun

The Bad

• Graphics could be better
• Not overly challenging or scary
• Lock-on could be more helpful

 
Grade
B

Something strange must be going on with Disney. In the past year, they've gotten the idea to take rides from their Magic Kingdom theme park and turn them into movies loosely based on the films (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion). Then, they have games developed for release around the same time that seemly have little to nothing to do with the actual movie. With The Haunted Mansion, you don't have an Eddie Murphy lookalike but some Ichabod Crane reject to move around the place. The story, plain and simple, is that Zeke shows up at the mansion, which proves to be haunted (go figure) and he gains a magical lantern that can blast and absorb the spirits. He then is given the task to turn on the lights in the mansion and rid the evil spirits.

The core gameplay behind The Haunted Mansion isn't overly complex, but it works in the scope of the game. Zeke must find a way to turn on the lights in each and every room he enters. This might seem a mundane task, but the game throws some rather inventive puzzles at the player to make each new room a different challenge. In one room, you find yourself on a billiard table and must make the ghostly billiard player knock in all the balls on the table to proceed, while in another location you'll need to get a haunted set of plates to smash themselves against wine bottles to make a fiery path to the fireplace. This variety of puzzles makes going from one room to another worth the time.

Zeke will find himself under attack from a legion of ghosts and spiders, but in his defense, he can attack with the lantern by shooting with the Right Trigger. The Left Trigger can be used for a pretty simple lock-on. The lock-on feature, while decent, can sometimes not be as effective as you need it to be, especially when being attacked from all sides. As you progress through the game, you'll gain new magical crystals, which give you improved attacks, like a charged shot and even a bomb-like blast attack. Once you defeat the enemies and turn on the lights, you'll be charged with finding and absorbing the souls present in the room. Along with finding the souls, you can pick up a variety of items, including extra lives, tarot cards and even bottles of courage tonic (instead of a life meter you have a courage meter).

It's in collecting ghosts where the player finds the means to move forward through the game. You'll be given access to a hub area of sorts, with enchanted doors that require you to have captured a certain number of ghosts beforehand. Once you do, you can enter and capture more to gain you access to another door elsewhere.

The graphics engine for The Haunted Mansion proves to be both functional and work with the lighthearted style that the game presents. Locations are large and sport some nice visual effects without being overly impressive. The game tends to stick with the design and themes present in the real-life amusement park ride, which makes the game spooky without being scary. While character animation for Zeke is pretty smooth, you may grow tired of the pretty plain and even boring ghosts and monsters you have to deal with. This is only made worse by the fact that they're repeated excessively. The mansion itself looks good, but you probably won't be too impressed with the overall engine. Fortunately, it works well enough not to be a detriment to the game.

Both the music and sound effects prove to be just like the graphics in that they function well within the scope that the developers intended - spooky without actually being scary. Both feel like they were sampled from spooky Halloween albums (you know, the ones you can get at party stores) and lack that certain Disney quality to them. The voice acting is all right and serves well to progress the story.

If you're looking for a fun adventure in the same vein as Luigi's Mansion, The Haunted Mansion should be perfect for you. It proves to be good fun without even being too rough or challenging. Fans of Disney's more family-friendly games should really check this title out as its perfect for your collection without being too intense.

- - Vane

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