Garters & Ghouls Review

Namco’s made an addictively fun game that puts you in the garters of an undead hottie and lets you blast hordes of graveyard beasts with archaic weapons augmented with alchemical tonics. Is there anything more fun than mowing down a throng of shambling zombies and werewolves with 200 rounds of ammunition from a steam powered Gatling gun? But a few big technical issues and crashes have tainted the experience like the evil Thrum tainted your in-game husband, turning something wonderful into something you may want to stay away from.

The biggest strength of Garters & Ghouls is its addictive gameplay and enemy variety. You’ll be blasting spitting zombies, hulking werewolves, possessed fortune telling machines and pistol shooting mimes. It’s all done from a very capable three-quarters, top-down perspective that lets you strafe and circle to get as many enemies as possible and destroy the portals from whence they came.

Fallen ghouls will cough up powerups and new weapons frequently enough that you’ll always want to mow down the next swarm of wheezing undead. Everything looks and sounds great too, especially the creepy University stages near the end and the pathetic whimper of a werewolf as it expires (Wolfenstein’s dogs anyone?). The game’s achievements are nice little pats on the back for your undead killing prowess.

Night at the Zombie Museum.

The game really hits its stride halfway through, when the enemies increase in number and strength, as do your ways of killing them. Some tonics makes your bullets ricochet devastatingly around the room and others grant you the much needed ability to shoot both in front of and behind you. In-game upgrades help you keep up to pace with your enemies. The last levels of the game have you shredding through bookcases, chairs and scores of previously strong enemies with a barrage of bouncing bullets. It’s a fun, powerful feeling.

But something must be done about the many technical issues that hamper this great gameplay experience. We experienced three consecutive crashes when we entered into a certain upgrade store, so much so that we had to leave the rare upgrade store unused if we wanted to progress.

You know what that upgrade store crash felt like? It’s as if Pavlov rang the bell, and we, the gaming dogs, came salivating and looking for food, and then he kicked us right in our noses.

Worst of all, when you travel back past that same upgrade store, it still crashes your game if you try to enter, effectively robbing you of two chances for upgrades. If you answer a phone call on your iPhone during a stage, even a stage that you’ve cleared and are walking towards the exit, be prepared to play that whole stage again as the game resets your progress. We’ve had our game music skip, turn off when we left the game idle and the sound effects disappear when we play our iPod music. It’s all very frustrating.

Calm down, boys. She’s dead.

There are also some minor aiming and control issues. We never felt that we could completely grasp where our character was going to shoot. It’s not so bad when you have the rapid fire or spread weapons, but with the crossbow it can be bewildering, which is unforgivable in a game where all you do is shoot.

The controls are a bit unresponsive at times too. We’ve had our gartered hottie stop in her tracks too many times when our thumbs move too far away from the touchable area on the screen. And since movement while shooting is the key to survival, you may find that your greatest enemy is stopping or getting stuck on walls or objects. If you’re stationary for too long, you’re werewolf Lunchables.

In the end, Garters & Ghouls’ gameplay is satisfying and addicting, but some technical issues keep it from getting our top recommendation. If you’re going to plunk down your money for this one, just know that, like zombie Apocalypse survivors doing a supply run, it could be a violent blast, but it could also turn out badly for you.

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