Review – Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard
There was a time in which every blockbuster movie would be released alongside a tie-in videogame. Back in the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox days, you could get games based around the dumbest of movie premises: Stallone’s Driven, The Da Vinci Code, and Halle Berry’s Catwoman for example. Heck, back in the SNES days, there was even a Home Improvement game. Even though those games were terrible, I have to confess I miss the days licensed games would be released on a nearly-daily basis. There was just something charming about playing games based around movies, something I can’t properly explain.
To my surprise, developer Torus Games and publisher Outright Games have decided to try to bring licensed games back to the console spotlight with a game based on the brand new Hotel Transylvania 3 movie. I have to say I haven’t watched the second one but really enjoyed the first one, mostly due to its nostalgic and charming animation, courtesy of Genndy Tartakovsky, the same human being who provided me with lots of childhood smiles thanks to his Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack cartoons. To my surprise, once again, I ended up quite liking this new game… with a few caveats…
Hotel Transylvania 3 for the Switch follows the movie’s plot veeeeeeery loosely. This isn’t a game set in the movie’s cruise liner. Instead, the developers have decided to divert the attention to a handful of deserted islands, with the main objective of rescuing your friends after being washed ashore. This is not a castaway story like Ys VIII, however: you can freely explore the islands during nighttime, while safely returning to the cruise liner to sleep during daytime. This is no simple adventure game, either: this game can best be described as… a Pikmin clone…
You can command little creatures known as Impas (not to be confused with the Zelda Impa) to destroy obstacles, carry objects, and defeat monsters, just like you would do in a simplified version of Pikmin. Instead of commanding dozens upon dozens of little vegetable creatures at a time, you can only command a very limited number of Impas, even though you give them orders and replenish their numbers as you would do in Nintendo’s titles. You can summon Impas with different styles and attributes, each one being more suitable for a specific labor and situation. Just like Pikmin, you have a limited amount of time to explore per day, but thankfully, you don’t have a time limit to finish the game. Since there are actually lots of secrets scattered throughout the islands, the game wants you to backtrack and explore at your own pace, improving replayability a bit.
Remember when I said there were caveats? Well, Hotel Transylvania 3 isn’t shy of issues. To start off, I have to complain a bit about the controls. While they are decent enough, your Impa command cursor feels too loose at times. The camera is also less than ideal, often times having a mind of its own. The sound department isn’t exactly bad, but it’s certainly forgettable. The soundtrack is decent but I can’t remember a single tune after turning the Switch off. The voice actors do their best to provide some decent lines, but they don’t even try to emulate their more famous counterparts. Not-Selena Gomez doesn’t sound AT ALL like Selena Gomez, for instance. Not-Adam Sandler might actually be better than the real one, though.
The biggest culprit here, however, is the graphical department. Simply put, Hotel Transylvania 3 is an UGLY game. Starting off from the non-animated intro cutscene, the game never manages to provide a decent visual experience, even though the framerate is somewhat solid. Textures are bland, the resolution is very poor and the animations are extremely disappointing, considering the fact the animation is easily the best part of the Hotel Transylvania movies.
I’m not going to try to be excessively positive, but I won’t deny the fact I had more fun with Hotel Transylvania 3 than expected. Given the fact its source material isn’t exactly Citizen Kane material, I was impressed with how the developers managed to come up with what’s essentially a simplified Pikmin clone with a somewhat original story and not just a barebones adventure game following the movie’s plot frame-by-frame. Ugly visuals and a high asking price hinder what could have been an even more enjoyable experience, but I’d say this isn’t a bad purchase if you can find it for a lower price later on, especially if you like Pikmin.
I can’t say for sure if the other versions look as poor as this one, but the graphics in the Switch versions are ugly, with poor animations, terrible textures, and an overall PS2-esque look and feel.
A simplified version of Pikmin: a mixture between third-person adventure and real-time strategy. The stick commands aren’t exactly bad, but the camera controls are subpar.
The soundtrack is decent, if not a bit forgettable. The voice actors do their best to emulate their more talented movie counterparts.
Fun Factor: 6.5
Hotel Transylvania‘s presentation might be beyond ugly, but it’s not exactly a bad game. It’s a watered-down yet accessible Pikmin clone with some exploration and a few jokes.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Reviewed on Switch.
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC.
A copy of Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard was provided by the publisher.