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Monster High: New Ghoul in School
Score: 79%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Little Orbit
Developer: Torus Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer/ Family/ Mini-Games

Graphics & Sound:
There have been several Monster High games to date (five I believe, including this new one), but Monster High: New Ghoul in School is the first of them that I have played. New Ghoul in School is a cel-shaded game so it looks cartoonish, which is what you would expect given that it is based on a cartoon. Your characters all look pretty much exactly like they do in the cartoons. You also get to create your ghoul for this school. Sadly, you have to play as a girl. Apparently they are not accepting new guys. You do get to choose from quite a number of monsters, 12 total, including Cyclops, Dragons, Ghosts, Zombies, Vampires, and more. You can choose from 3 skin tones and three outfits. There are 17 hair style choices, but only three hair colors. The colors will vary on every hair style though, so youíre not stuck with three boring (or normal) colors.

New Ghoul in School takes place in a high school. Itís mostly normal looking, if you go to school in a gothic castle. Everything is made of stone with ivy and plants growing everywhere. Inside, the lockers are bright pink and purple. There are even paintings of creepy monsters on the wall. The whole setting is exactly what you would expect from somewhere called Monster High!

I must admit the music starts to get a bit repetitive after a while. Itís a couple of minutes looped over and over and over. Since the characters donít speak out loud, thereís nothing really to break it up other than the jingle when you collect something. I wish the characters spoke out loud. Granted, my 8 year old has done more voluntary reading while playing New Ghoul in School than she has ever done, but if she were any younger or reading at a lower level, I would have to read a lot of it to her. Iím betting there are a number of parents out there wishing that they hadnít bought New Ghoul in School simply because they are tired of narrating.


Gameplay:
Monster High: New Ghoul in School is a task-based game where you are going to roam around doing various tasks for the people that you meet. Since you are in school, these are mostly school-related things, like joining the Fearleaders and the school council. Plus you have a variety of clubs like botany, fashion, comics, and more that you can (and will) join. Personally, I liked the robotics club where you got to build a robot. You even get a rhythm game when you go to do your Fearleading routine. You also need to find things that are hidden all around the school, like spiders and pennants. Some of them are hidden in lockers, which you will need to find the codes to open. There are also coins lying around. These will let you buy new clothes, which was my 8 year oldís top priority when she first started the game. She is spending the coins as quickly as she can find them. We did also notice that there are quite a few references to Ever After High if you watch for them.

As you do your tasks, youíll notice the school day progressing from morning to lunch to after school. After you get everything done after school, you will be told to go home for the day. To go home, you go out the front gates and youíre taken to your house. At home, you will notice that you have a closet. This is where all of your clothes are stored. When you go to the closet, you have the option to tidy up or change your outfit. You will be able to change into any of the items that you own. When you are ready, you choose to go to bed to end the day. Youíll be given a bonus for each of the tasks that you accomplished during the day. When you wake up, you can change clothes again if you like and then choose to go to school, where youíll start the same thing over again.


Difficulty:
Given the target audience, the difficulty of Monster High: New Ghoul in School is about what I would expect. Thatís not to say that it is way too easy, but itís definitely not hard. You have a lot of things that you have to find and these things are hidden in various places. Sometimes youíll find that the object is on top of a shelf on one side of the room, but to get to it you have to move a box and jump on top of something on the completely opposite side of the room. Then youíll have to climb along pipes or walk across planks or some other slightly challenging method to find your way there. Iíve played a lot of platformer games in my time, so I found the game very easy. My 8 year old would have to spend a few minutes looking around to see how she might get to something specific. So far though, she has been able to get to everything on her own, which is a good thing.

Some of the puzzles that you run into might be difficult for a kid at first. The robot creation is very similar to the lock puzzle in Skylanders though, so it was easy to figure out. The rhythm game was very easy to get the hang of. All in all, if youíre looking for a challenge, this might not be the game for you, but if youíre looking to get to play in the Monster High universe, itís just the right speed. I do think that it needed a bit more to it. You can completely beat the game in under 8 hours, probably quicker if youíre not shopping a lot.


Game Mechanics:
You shouldnít have any trouble at all figuring out how to play Monster High: New Ghoul in School. You run around with the Left Stick and turn the camera with the Right Stick. (R1) seeks when you are trying to find something, like plant food. (Triangle) lets you talk to characters and interact with objects. (X) lets you jump, which you will definitely need. There is a pink arrow on the ground underneath you. If you simply follow it, you will get where you need to go. The only problem we found was that every now and then, if you had more than one task, the arrow would flip directions based on which one was closest to you at the time. This could leave you running in circles if you werenít careful, but that only happened to us once, at the very beginning. You can change which objective you want the arrow to point to by selecting a different objective on your phone.

You can check out several things at any time on your phone. Here, youíve got a map (which isnít as helpful as you would think), a list of your objectives, a list of contacts (which are the bios of students you have met), shopping for new clothes, news feed, and messages. When you first start up a game, you need to choose where to save. There are three game save slots only, so you can only have three different games (which means three different characters) at a time. New Ghoul in School does a good job of autosaving for you, which is handy when you are dealing with kids that forget to save.

All in all, I got bored of Monster High: New Ghoul in School very quickly, but my 8 year old who is addicted to Monster High kept waking up early in the morning just so she could play more. Iím still using it as a "do your chores first if you want to get to play" after 2 weeks, so I am guessing they hit their mark for the right fan. If you like Monster High, you will probably love Monster High: New Ghoul in School. Otherwise thereís probably a more interesting game out there for you.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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