It could be said that Gabrielle’s had better days. Greeted by her trusty cat Lola after her first day at Junior High, the feline’s adorably soft fur tickles her so much that she lets out an almighty sneeze. Which wouldn’t have been so much of a problem, if the gargantuan noise hadn’t resulted in the girl sneezing her soul right out of her body.
Completely oblivious to what happened, we soon learn that if ever faced with such a situation it isn’t entirely disastrous. Gabrielle’s out-of-body experience sees her granted the ability to speak to her pet cat, although unable to talk to humans. Which is problematic when her Mum’s checking up on her slumbering corpse every five minutes.
Thankfully Lola may know someone who can help, taking Gabrielle in her ghostly form to Monsterville’s resident witch, Crystal. After mistakenly interpreting her for a potion ingredient, she reveals the only cure is to gather human screams – a sort of ghoulish currency – with the “Ghostly Groove” being the perfect tool to do so after Gabrielle affirms that she couldn’t even scare a fly.
With that, the fun begins, as you’re taught the basics for your newfound scream-capturing quest. Rhythm sequences prove to be the crux of the experience, with players tapping the touch screen in time to the music whenever an alluring skull appears to visually prompt you on the 3D screen.
Precision is key here, with the game asking you to tap or trace lines in the skull’s mirrored location to score more highly – players rewarded with ratings that span between “Miss” to “Great,” which accumulate to award you an overall grade. Thriller Time sporadically interjects such dance sequences, humans wandering onto the screen as you look to scare them even further to net yourself more of their screams. Whether furiously tapping to expand a spider’s web or flinging Lola around the screen, these are welcome differentiation to an otherwise overly simplistic rhythm game. That stages are relatively short does little to rectify this, even if memory puzzles serve to switch things up.
Nevertheless, success rewards you with music tracks to listen to within the Dance Theatre, replayable stages in the game’s separate Dance Mode, and varying hairstyles, accessories and makeup that you can use to customise Gabrielle’s appearance to add that personal touch. Visit Greta’s Store and you can also purchase new clothes in exchange for your hard earned screams, even though you’re supposed to be saving them to reclaim your body.
What readily detracts is just how much dialogue is placed between stages, which, whilst an admittedly hilarious script on many an occasion, can mean that you’re sat continually reading through reams of text. Fail to score highly enough in a stage, and you can look forward to flicking through swathes of it again.
It’s a shame especially as the game’s cel-shaded aesthetic regularly delights, characters being particularly well animated throughout dance sequences that are equally matched by a frequently joyous, if not entirely groovy, soundtrack – with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons even making an appearance!?
Yet even a lovestruck vampire with bedhead can’t shrug off the feeling that Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove 3D never meets its clear potential, resulting in a half-baked experience that, whilst displaying plenty of positives, seems far too fluffed out with text in an attempt to broaden your playtime. Much lengthier gameplay portions were needed here, an area which a successive title should make a clear priority, but the game’s humour prevails to make this recommendable in some form.
Version Tested: Nintendo 3DS
Review copy provided by Funbox Media