I Spy Spooky Mansion
I Spy Spooky Mansion is filled with riddles and rhymes, but the real question is can you escape in time? As you enter the house the door closes behind, but if you keep your wits you’ll do just fine. Now that I’ve got the corny rhyming out of the way, we can get on with the review…sometime today. Okay seriously, that’s the last one. All bad rhymes aside, this game turned out to be surprising “I Spy” fun for the entire family.
Let me start by saying that if you are uncomfortable with exposing your children to cartoonish ghosties and the like, this game is probably not going to appeal to you. The entire game takes place inside a “Spooky Mansion” with a skeleton named Skelly as your host. I personally had no qualms about the lighthearted spookiness of the game, but this is definitely something parents will need to decide on their own. This game is similar to a Scooby Doo cartoon as far as the spooky factor goes, so that can be a gauge to help you make a decision on this game for your family. You can expect to see cartoonish renderings of ghosts, tombstones, snakes, spiders, eyeballs in jars, etc. Visually the game is put together well and is on par with other modern Wii games. The atmosphere is what you would expect from a creepy dilapidated mansion and you are given full 3D control of the viewing angle in each room. Each room is packed from floor to ceiling with fun details that all tie into the “I Spy” riddles you will be playing. The designers were very clever in the way they’ve visually integrated some of the objects into the environment so that they go almost unnoticed. Players are given freedom to explore the three story mansion right from the start. This is a nice touch and adds to the realism of the game.
The audio in the game is equally spooky and fits right in with the graphical design. The music is the right mix of fun and spooky and there are plenty of creaking doors and bumps in the night to accompany it. Players and parents can expect to hear plenty of creepy noises in the background while playing such as ghostly boo’s, wolves howling in the distance, and strange laughter from time to time. The Scooby Doo measuring stick applies here as well. The quality of the audio content impressed me. The entire dialog is voice acted and done very well. Even when the text is displayed on the screen detailing the objects to search for, players can highlight the words to have them read again. This was a thoughtful thing for the developers to include making the game more accessible for younger players who may not have strong reading abilities yet. I will warn players that you will almost certainly find yourself unable to resist rhyming sentences after playing this game. Virtually everything spoken in the I Spy Spooky Mansion is in rhyme and it will sink in to your subconscious.
The game offers a lot of initial value in terms of gameplay value but players will find replay value lacking. There are over 30 riddles to solve during the course of the game with a good assortment of mini-games as well. I Spy Spooky Mansion also holds a great deal of family multiplayer value. Up to four players can play the game simultaneously with one being the primary player and others being “helper players”. If you choose to play this game I believe you will be surprised at how much fun it is to play as a family. My family very much enjoyed trying to “spy” all of the objects hidden about the mansion. There are so few games that will hold the attention of a variety of age groups, but I Spy Spooky Mansion gets that job done. Once completing the game however, you are unlikely to have an immediate desire to replay it. After playing through all of the riddles in the game it is very likely that the challenge will be gone for good.
The gameplay design of I Spy Spooky Mansion is put together very well. The goal of the game is to escape from the Spooky Mansion in which you are trapped. In order to do this you must play through Skelly’s devious I Spy riddles. Players go from room to room (usually in any order they desire) and discover the riddles they must solve. Players are given a list of items to look for in that particular room. This idea is very simple and yet it can be extremely challenging at times. Items are often blended into the environment or cleverly disguised as something else. Mini-games are also part of the game and are required to complete most riddles. While the pointing and clicking using the Wii remote works perfectly, I found the control responsiveness to be severely lacking in some of these mini-games. One that stands out in particular is feeding the spider. Players must use the Wii remote to move the spider up and down as delicious flies pass by. The controls respond in a completely inconsistent manner which makes this particular mini-game nearly maddening to complete. I must also rant about the spinning plate game. I think my arm will be sore for days after trying to keep three plates spinning on sticks with the Wii remote (for the record I did succeed without throwing anything). The mini-games vary greatly in difficulty which will make it hard for younger players to accomplish some of the riddles without help.
Each family will have mixed feelings about this game based on their
personal opinions of the content within. My favorite aspect of this game
is the fantastic family gameplay which encourages teamwork and
guarantees a fun way to spend time together which is why this game
scores so highly in this category. The obvious downside is that the
spooky nature of the game won’t appeal to many families. I found the
gameplay to be a lot of fun and would very much like to see additional
releases in this series with other themes that may appeal to a wider
range of families. Scholastic does currently offer an “Ultimate I Spy”
game for the Wii and while I can’t speak for the content of the game, it
may be an option to look into if Spooky Mansion doesn’t appeal to you.
Family Friendly Factor: 89%
Rating: 'E' for Everyone
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