I have never really understood games such as Minigore and iDracula as they both lack a story mode, and instead kept all focus on high intensity action. When I saw that Namco released a game based on the same formula as Minigore and iDracula I got really excited. Shooting undead while experiencing a story, and upgrade my character to maximise my kill count, yummy. Garters & Ghouls does a lot of things totally right, but sadly it left the blueprint for intensity and challenge on some desk somewhere. I never get those heart rushes, sweaty palms and panty breathing when playing Garters & Ghouls as iDracula and Minigore tend to give me. The problem is that Garters & Ghouls is simply too easy. There is only one difficulty level available, and on my first play through I finished the game in less than an hour, and only died twice in 25 levels. On my second play through I completed the game in 45 minutes. Not really what I expected since I have creamed many more hours out of the dual stick shooters lacking a story mode.
The story of Garters & Ghouls is ok, and you get to play as more or less dead Marie Dupois. She is good at handling her guns, and starting out with a crossbow you can’t go wrong. For each level you have to kill all enemies, and all spawn hives that enemy pour out of. Aiming is quite easy as you have unlimited ammo for the crossbow you can just blaze away. There are a host of different weapons to pick up that you have a limited ammo supply for. These just speeds up the slaughter, and I have not had to think about conserving ammo as new weapons are dropped at the same ratio as you empty your current weapon. Sure aiming at the spawn hives are hard at times as you have to hit the top part of them instead of the middle or bottom. Still just keep firing as arrows and bullets keep flying, and can kill enemies off the screen.
There are also the odd special weapons you can pick up, and use by touching an on screen button. It is seldom needed though as you never get into that kind of intense situation where a blast of lightning is needed to clear the area.
There is no variation to the gameplay at all, you kill and kill and then you kill again. Would have been nice to have a bit of variation to it all as even the boss is all about shooting the actual boss. After playing Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and heck even the Metroid games I have learnt that boss battles can be so much more than just shooting.
The music in Garters & Ghouls is really good and creates a creepy atmosphere. The sound effects are also quite good with meaty thuds as arrows penetrate undead putrid worm ridden flesh. There is iPod music support but you can’t use your own music alongside the sound effects.
The graphics in Garters & Ghouls is for the most part really good, and it tend to move along smoothly. I have experienced slowdown on the later University levels on my iPhone 3GS, and I have not tried it on a slower device. This along with reports of frequent crashes tells me that this game was a bit rushed to be out by Halloween. I got a really strange bug stopping me from buying upgrades in the shop. By entering the shop at the later levels the game booted me back to the home screen, even after restarting the iPhone and reinstalling the game. Even without being able to purchase anything for about half the game I still managed to kill everything.
There are numerous achievements that you get from killing a number of creatures as well as from not getting hurt. These can then be shared by Facebook connect. Strangely enough you don’t get to keep them after you completed the game, and instead you redo them all again. This basically means that there is little to no reason to replay the game once finished. And since one of the achievements is to max out all weapon stats of Maria I can’t complete it since I can’t enter the shop. There is no new difficulty level either to make the game more intense.
I had high hopes for Garters & Ghouls but got disappointed by the lack of challenge and intensity. Buggy performance and a generally rushed feeling overshadow the brilliant audio, crisp visuals and interesting storyline in Garters & Ghouls. At $4.99 I can’t recommend it but at a buck it would be worth it for an hour of killing stuff.