WiiWare | Legendo / Teyon | 1 Player / 2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (sideways); Classic Controller
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28th March 2011; By KnucklesSonic8
The game stars two siblings who are the guardians of the ghost world. Depending on whom you choose, the other half will get blamed for letting all the creatures roam free. You then take on the responsibility of visiting different locations to retrieve as much ghost power as you possibly can. The story is a throwaway effort to be honest, but you can't really dock off points for that. After all, this is the sort of the game that could just as easily do without one.
Gameplay is pretty straight-forward, albeit very familiar. Basically you have a line of blocks gradually rising upwards from the bottom of the playing field. Your goal is to prevent the blocks from getting that far using a line of blocks located at the top of the play area. To do that, you'll use your cursor to select the correct like-coloured blocks that will match up with the ones below. Players can use the left and right buttons on either their Wii Remote or Classic Controller to move their cursor along the aforementioned horizontal line. Under the former control scheme, pressing the 1 Button will drop whatever blocks are inside the highlighted area down below, while pressing the 2 Button will swap their placement. This can be used to get the right colours needed to continue making good matches.
The kicker is that in order to actually eliminate a series of blocks in one blow, you'll need to attach a special glowing block to the pile down below. When this happens, all the blocks of the same colour will disappear, releasing any ghosts that were hidden inside. With good planning, you can clear two different piles of blocks at the same time for a "Double!" combo or even work towards other chain bonuses. Seeing big bold letters pop up on-screen to acknowledge your skill (or luck as the case may be) is always gratifying to see. Combos and chains will, in turn, earn you more points than usual in the meter located on the right side of the screen. Once this container has been filled with enough poltergeist energy, you'll move on to the next round.
Ghost Mania features four different modes: Arcade, Puzzle, Endless and 2P Party. Arcade Mode uses the formula described above, where you'll systematically travel to a handful of stages in your quest to return all the freed ghosts to their proper dwelling place. Each location has six different stages that must be cleared before you can move onto a new area. Additionally, the amount of points required to advance increases with every passing round as does the overall difficulty.
Interestingly enough, I found the second gameplay mode to hold my attention longer. Puzzle Mode is a fun variant that has players using a limited amount of turns to clear an arrangement of blocks. More than likely you've encountered plenty of gameplay modes like this one in other match-three games, but that doesn't make this boring to play. The strategy and planning element is what makes it fun, and as you experiment with different possibilities of approaching each puzzle, it can be hard to pull yourself away from it. The puzzles themselves can be uneven at times where one puzzle will be very tricky while the next one is comparatively easy. Still, when played in short bursts, Puzzle Mode can be enjoyable.
Next is Endless Mode, which really requires no introduction. I didn't find myself drawn to this component of the game at all, but that's just me. Finally, 2P Party mode consists of three multiplayer modes that will pit you and a friend against each other in a series of fast-paced bouts. In Battle for instance, you don't have to deal with rising blocks, but as your opponent continues to clear blocks, rows will begin piling up on your end. Enduro is a survival test to see which one of you will last the longest, and in Ghost, you need to clear all of the ghosts who are hiding in the blocks on your playing field. The ability to play with a second player is definitely something that helps the value of the overall package, even if it is only meant to be a brief diversion.
I really liked the way the developers tried to make the game look very appealing in spite of the overall theme. Think creepy meets cutesy where blocky fonts, colourful text and other good stuff is incorporated to make young players feel excited about the look. I also appreciated that the music varies depending on what location you're in. I expected it to be repetitive throughout, so that was definitely nice to see.
The similarities between Ghost Mania and Bejeweled are absolutely undeniable. Beyond the different approach to gameplay, all of the modes show little originality whatsoever and feel borrowed from games before it. It even has a warp sequence that's taken straight out of Bejeweled 2! This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. If you're looking for a well-priced alternative, this will definitely serve you better than PopCap's WiiWare version of their massively-popular game. Plus, the presentation is sure to be a hit with the kids.
Ghost Mania may not be very unique or anything, but it's still much much easier to recommend than Bejeweled 2. For $5, you're really getting your money's worth. Both the Puzzle Mode and the multiplayer component alone make this worth the asking price, making this a nicely-tailored family-friendly title you should feel comfortable purchasing.
23/30 - Good
Gameplay 7/10 - Contains some unique elements, feels very borrowed from other match-three games, easy to understand, combos and chains
Presentation 8/10 - Very appealing to look at, music varies with each location you visit, nice mixture of "cute" and "creepy"
Enjoyment 3/5 - Families will especially find this enjoyable, gratifying combos, Puzzle Mode is fun but uneven at times, multiplayer helps with the value
Extra Content 5/5 - Good amount of content and value, different modes add a degree of variety, very reasonable asking price, fun multiplayer modes
Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)