A few weeks ago I took my daughter and her buddy to go see Hotel Transylvania on the big screen. We went in with big expectations but walked away a tad underwhelmed. Much like the big screen movie, Hotel Transylvania for the 3DS fell a little short in the expectations department. This being said it does have some enjoyable moments but not nearly enough of them to justify the purchase this holiday season.
Similar to other movie based games, Hotel Transylvania is thin on features, comes across as somewhat incomplete and offers up an experience you likely won’t come back to after the first play through. It is a platforming game and has similar characteristics to some of those older Castlevania games. However it is nowhere near as interesting or compelling an experience as Konami’s storied franchise.
Much like the movie, Hotel Transylvania storyline centers on Count Dracula’s Daughter Mavis and all the hoopla surrounding her 118th birthday. As Mavis you will spend the bulk of 3DS Hotel Transylvania experience walking, hooping, and interacting all around the various rooms and hallways of the hotel. You will encounter many characters from the movie and go on an unprecedented amount of fetch quests. Sure you will collect gems and unlock abilities along the way, but at the end of the day you will be wandering around doing a countless number of “go find this” and “bring back that” type activities in the game.
Thankfully, the game does have a map located on the lower screen which marks where you need to go. Without this map the game would be almost unbearable. So I did find the map helpful as it maintained an appropriate pace to the game. You will spend the bulk of your time travelling from room to room, jumping on top of enemies killing them in a Mario Bros type fashion and leaping from one ledge to the next. It does indeed get very repetitive very quickly. Going through the same rooms and hallways and then backtracking through them repeatedly just starts to feel old. I think I would enjoy it a little more if the combat was a little more varied and smooth but it’s not.
Jumping, wall running and freezing enemies on the surface sounds good, yet none of these mechanics run particularly smooth and none of them feel rewarding either. Enemies seem to launch at you from nowhere and judging depth can sometimes be a tricky endeavour. Hopping on top of enemies seems out of place and in no time flat I was left wishing I would play a more refined platforming experience like Rayman Origins. To say there is a lot of trial and error in Hotel Transylvania is an understatement. There are many areas where I would become incredibly frustrated and questioned how the game’s target audience would be able to proceed. Fortunately, whenever you die the game launches you right back into the room you died in so there is no need to go back too far and be forced to replay some of those tedious areas all over again.
The entire experience should only take you a few hours, and like I suggested at the top, after you have completed the game there is little reason to go back. I just don’t believe the game’s target audience will have the patience to go back and replay those levels they have already been exposed to. Endless fetch quests, collecting gems scattered about and unlocking abilities simply won’t be enough to keep you coming back.
Visually the game is not a stunner; however, it is not exactly a bad looking one either. The characters are nicely represented and look reasonably close to their big screen counterpart. The game’s levels are nicely designed and I found the colour contrast very solid. Hotel Transylvania does not push the hardware capabilities of the 3DS but it is a decent looking game nonetheless. As far as the sound is concerned, Hotel Transylvania is mostly forgettable. Sure the game’s tunes change up when you hit certain areas but for the most part they loop over and over. The absence of any voice work also hurts the experience as I would have enjoyed to hear some voice work that at least closely resembles the work from the big screen characters.
Overall, Hotel Transylvania for the 3DS comes across as your typical movie based game that remains thin on features, comes across as rushed and only exists so it can capitalize on the release of the big screen movie. In small bursts, Hotel Transylvania is tolerable, featuring some challenging platform areas forcing you to make some precise movements with the circle pad. Unfortunately, the overall experience comes up a bit short making it hard for me to recommend this game for anyone this holiday season.