Movie licenses hardly have the best reputation; doubly so when they are movie tie-ins. There are exceptions to this, of course: I am a big fan of the N64 era Bond games; I think that the recent Jurassic World Evolution is an excellent park management simulator: and those are only scratching the surface. Hotel Transylvania 3, though? Did anyone really expect a videogame based on an Adam Sandler vehicle to be even slightly good?
As far as first impressions go, Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard ‘s initial moments do not go well at all. The opening ‘cutscene’ is a slideshow of fast moving images that make you feel nauseous just looking at, and is only exacerbated by the dreadful dialogue. As you get dumped into the game, you are ‘treated’ to some PS2 era muddy graphics. It really sets the scene for a truly terrifyingly bad experience.
Once you take control of the protagonist, either Drac or his daughter Mavis (I chose her because I’m not playing as Adam Sandler), it quickly becomes clear that the game takes heavy inspiration from a certain underused Nintendo property. No, not Chibi Robo. No, not Golden Sun. No, not Star Fox. No, not F-Zero. Yes! Pikmin! You got it!
Pikmin is a slightly unusual choice for a movie tie in game, given that most tend to be platformers of some kind, but the game handles it pretty well. At first it is easy to dismiss the game as a lazy rip off, but the more you play of the game, the more you realise just how much it does its own thing. Quite soon into the game you find your first Impa, and it transforms into a bat – imitating the protagonist. Just beyond, lies an Impa Portal – the place you can withdraw and deposit the aforementioned Impas. A few simple puzzles later and you find another Impa Portal and a boat to leave the island before the sun rises. This is when you will notice the first big difference between Hotel Transylvania 3 and Pikmin: as you start your next day, you can choose which portal you want to start at. That’s right, these portals act as checkpoints around the island as well as places to manage your Impas. In effect, this makes backtracking less of an issue and allows for bigger islands to explore. It makes the islands feel enormous as a result, even though the maps probably aren’t that much bigger than the game it takes its inspiration from.
That’s not all though, the game introduces another couple of gameplay mechanics which Nintendo should utilise in their future games. Rather than collecting fruit and the occasional ship part, this game has you doing additional quests in addition to the main compass hunt. The Werewolf dude, for example, is trapped in sand and needs help getting out. You and your Impas can’t help with that though, so you need to track down his children so that they can rescue him. Doing so rewards you in a new Impa type, as they subsequently imitate your furry friend. It’s a rewarding diversion and I really wish there were more than one of these side missions per island.
Something else you can hunt for though is treasure. There are five treasure chests hidden in each island, and finding one rewards you with a new upgrade. It could be a damage increase for your
Pikmin Impas, a boost in the time limit, or much more. There are fifteen in total and they are mostly pretty useful. So much so that you will actively want to seek them out to aid you on your journey.
MEET THE IMPAS
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
The following four pictures are from the three main islands in the game. Can you work out which two pictures are from the same island?
It’s a good thing too that the game encourages you to hunt these additional treasures, because the game is short. Super short. There are three islands in total, each with one side quest, one boss fight, and five hidden treasures. You will need to revisit the first two islands in order to gain all the treasures, but getting 100% in the game will take you no more than five hours. With no additional challenge modes, difficulty settings, or anything, the only thing that will make you come back is simply to play it again.
If that isn’t disappointing enough, there are only a few enemy types… and the bosses are just variations of the regular enemy types. The boss fights are fun, sure, but since they are just beefed up versions of the standard enemies, they don’t feel particularly climactic. It also doesn’t help that the final boss is also easier than previous two! Variety is even worse when it comes to the islands themselves. All three look identical, with the third being the most varied by having a red filter on top of it. The puzzles get more complicated with each island, but they’re still comprised of very similar elements in indistinguishable environments.
The game certainly has its flaws, and it is definitely no Pikmin. That being said, I can’t deny that I had a blast and loved every minute of it. I very much hope that Torvus Games gets the opportunity to make a sequel or spiritual successor. I certainly feel like they could really come up with an excellent Pikmin alternative if they could expand upon what they made here. If you are fond of Nintendo’s often overlooked classic, then Hotel Transylvania 3: Monster’s Overboard may very well scratch the same itch. Certainly not worth full price, but the game is heavily discounted when it goes on sale, so perhaps wishlist it until then.