Goosebumps Horrorland Review for Nintendo DS

Goosebumps Horrorland Review for Nintendo DS

Two Tickets to Paradise

Remember Goosebumps, kids? The spooky novellas of R.L. Stine have an almost cult status among young readers. Pseudo-scary, a tad controversial, and a whole lot of campy, this frightful franchise is still churning with Stine’s latest Goosebumps HorrorLand series. Now, Goosebumps comes to DS for a mini-game romp in support of the latest books. Will this adventure offer fun frights for fans, or does this rollercoaster run off its rails?

Goosebumps Horrorland screenshot

In the small town of Anywhere, U.S.A. lives a young boy who one day discovers that a ticket to the HorrorLand theme park has been left for him on his doorstep. When he attempts to tear up the ticket in disinterest, the ticket miraculously reforms itself. His friend also receives one of these mysterious invitations, and in their curiosity, they make for the theme park of horrors to investigate.

Though HorrorLand is little more than a mini-game collection, there is a story here; it’s shallow and cheesy, yet everything Goosebumps fans have come to know and love. When your character, simply known as “you,” gives his ticket to the HorrorLand attendant, the attendant rips the ticket into pieces and it disperses throughout the park. Though at first you and your pal, Nate, find entertainment within the gates of HorrorLand, it soon becomes evident that to stay would mean your doom. However, only by finding and piecing together your park ticket can you escape from this theme park of terror.

The story moves along at a nice pace, and connecting bits of plot are sewn together to make for an entertaining adventure. Again, it’s shallow in the extreme, but Goosebumps fans who “get it” will likely have fun from start to finish.

Goosebumps Horrorland screenshot

The game is broken up into five different park areas, with six mini-games per area. You’ll begin in the Carnival of Screams, and by playing through various mini-games, you’ll progress the story and gain access to new areas of the park. Each mini-game costs a certain number of tokens to enter, and you can find tokens hidden throughout each area of the park. The objects that contain tokens regenerate over time, so having enough money to partake in the minis is never an issue.

However, you will need to prove your bravery before moving on, so doing well and scoring high in mini-games is essential to your progress. HorrorLand attendants act as gate keepers for each of the mini-games as well as the other areas of the park, and only when you’ve proven your ability to withstand the terrors of each mini-game will you gain access to other elements of HorrorLand.

Goosebumps Horrorland screenshot

You’re scored for your performance in each mini-game and can receive a bronze, silver, or gold “fright” depending upon your level of success. Each mini-game has a fright-level requirement as well, so you’ll often be unable to play certain games until earning enough frights to enter. The same goes for other areas of the park. As you earn enough frights, you’ll gain access to other areas and their respective mini-game. With each area of HorrorLand you gain access to, you’ll delve a bit further into the game’s plot. Additionally, there are contextual mini-games – boss mini-games, if you will – and they also play a role in your progression of the story.

There are 30 mini-games in total, and though a handful are throwaways, a surprising number of them are well-crafted and truly fun to play through. However, quite a few of the games are recycled, and though they often differ in appearance and premise, the execution is the same. The main issue we had, though, was the fright requirement in HorrorLand. Again, the only way to gain access to other areas of the park and new mini-games is to earn enough frights. Some games, though, are extremely difficult or just aren’t very much fun to play, and it becomes frustrating at various stages throughout the game to progress the story.

However, even with HorrorLand’s challenge barriers, the game can be completed in just a short time. Still, the presentation and fan service should prove satisfying for lovers of the Goosebumps franchise. Most of the mini-games offer a quick burst of fun, and once you’ve played through them in story mode, they’ll be unlocked for you to play in the game’s arcade. Games such as Calamity Canyon and Roller Ghoster are on par with the very best we’ve seen in any DS mini-game collection.

Goosebumps Horrorland screenshot

The presentation in HorrorLand, though a bit barren in its overall feel, offers an entertaining package. The graphics lack a bit of polish, and characters don’t look great when zoomed-in on, but as a whole, the game is fairly attractive. The art style is decidedly macabre, but it’s also playful in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way. The framerate is smooth, both when traversing the overworlds (park areas) and during each of the mini-games. There’s also a lot of variety in the appearance of each mini, and the game pays campy tribute to classic American horror flicks.

HorrorLand’s audio does a fine job as well, offering a good variety of park themes and mini-game sound effects. The aural elements exhibit a kid-friendly spookiness that fits perfectly with the whole Goosebumps vibe, and collecting tokens is oddly satisfying. There’s also a healthy dose of voice work that adds a little extra something to the game’s overall presentation.

The Goosebumps franchise has been chugging along since the early 90s, and though other series have surfaced to steal much of its thunder, there’s sure to be at least a small fan base still in place. Both the Wii and DS are already saturated with mini-game collections, but HorrorLand manages to carve out a respectable niche with its premise and gameplay progression. It’s not a game that’s going to impress on any particular level, but the collection of games are, for the most part, fun and well-crafted. Long-time fans should get a kick out of the game’s atmosphere, and anyone looking for a good time-waster might also find satisfaction in this silly, though not very scary, adventure.

Character models don’t look great up close and there’s an overall lack of polish, but the game is generally attractive and fits the Goosebumps vibe nicely. 3.8 Control
Many mini-games work surprisingly well and are a joy to play; others are hampered by poor control implementation. When traversing the park, movement of your character is easy, though there are some minor issues with collision detection. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Though there isn’t a ton of variety, the music is fitting and fun. Voice work adds a nice touch, and sound effects work well. 3.2

Play Value
A good job was done incorporating a story into what is truly just a small collection of mini-games. It won’t keep you glued for long, though, and HorrorLand likely makes for a better rental than a purchase.

3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • A true Goosebumps adventure comes to life! Start out by heading to HorrorLand, a scary theme park where the frights are fantastic.
  • Play your way through 30 different terrifying rides in five separate areas of the park, each unlockable as you gain more fright points.
  • Play through the story to reach the jaw-dropping finale, or play one of the rides for some scary fun in Arcade Mode!

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