(After spending about +10 hours, according to the game, I’ve finally finished the game. Read more to find out my proper thoughts on the game)
I’m not one for introductions, and this is the second part of my impressions anyway, so let’s just get started.
-Great character roster. Admittedly, there are some absent characters (I personally would have liked to see Mindy, Jeff the Spider or Mrs Doolin) but I think that’s just being nitpicky. There are 15 main characters to play as (with 5 mooks to unlock), and most of the fan favorites (Hoss, Dracula, even Billy’s Dad as Mogar) are all covered.
-There is so much fanservice on the game. From the little details (like Sperg in a dog kennel on the Center of the Earth stage) to more obvious references (like having the Chocolate Sailor music on the Boogie Bay level), there is so much here if you’re a fan of the show. There’s even unique dialogue for all of the characters when they KO one another e.g. Eris claims she is the Alpha female when she KO’s Mandy, Boogie mocks Junior and tells him to shapeshift into a victory and so on. There’s also the final boss of the story mode too.
-The art direction is pretty good. There are some weird facial animations (like Mandy or Dracula’s expressions when they eliminate a character) but on the whole, the artstyle looks great and also helps make the game look less dated than it is. I also want to give props to the animations, they’re very satisfying.
-I liked the credits sequence. Interactive credits sequences are always fun.
-The gameplay is very shallow and at times frustrating. There is not that much to it, you can light attack combo, you can heavy attack, you can do air variations of both, you can also dash and dash attack and that’s about it. While admittedly the game rarely ever has you relying on combat alone (you have items and stage hazards and even NPC’s), the gameplay loop can get stale quickly.
-The game can be very chaotic at times. While this game is admittedly party type game, I still believe it can be very, very hard to follow what is happening on screen and here are a couple of factors as to why I think this. I feel hazards are not telegraphed that well and can be hard to see coming (some have sound cues but some stages just feel completely random). The perspective used for certain stages can make it very hard to judge depth (basically it’s hard to tell how close you are to another character). The use of team colors (Orange, Purple, Green and Blue) are also very un-intuitive and don’t pop quite as well as if Red, Blue, Yellow and Green were used. And I thought like the stages were consistently too small, or that it was at least way too easy to go flying all over the stage.
-There are so many small but annoying design decisions. Not being able to block, dropping items when you dash, status effects lasting what feels like forever, air heavy attacks having invincibility on startup, not being able to tech wall attacks, characters spawning in exactly the same place all the time etc. these are all admittedly small details but they make the game feel less intuitive and more clunky than they should.
-Most of the extra battle parameters and options aren’t that well thought out or fun. Vampire Battle in particular is just dreadful and the few Missions that had the parameter were incredibly unfun to sit through. You also have to 1) unlock all of them via Mission Mode and 2) you cannot stack up parameters. It’s a shame because some modes, like Time Bomb, are really fun.
-There’s no item customization. This one is also a bummer. The game has a cool idea of “item sets” (that is, groupings of items with a certain theme in mind) but the inability to customize them on your own was a missed opportunity too.
-The single player parts of the game are very tedious to go through. Some later events in particular are just incredibly time consuming.
-The added Wii motion gimmicks are terrible. Aside from the terrible pointer gimmick that was more frustrating than fun, the “shake controller to geat heavy attack” was a terrible feature too. It makes fighting very annoying and I’ve even had cutscenes skip on me because of the function.
-The game felt really buggy in parts. Stage transitions caused the most problems. On the chicken levels, I found myself RO’d (Ring Out) when I entered the stage transition, and the next tier’s transition had my character disappear into a closed door. On the pirate ship level, an AI opponent I fought just fell through the world’s geometry twice. And Hoss, oh boy does Hoss have hitbox issues. There are times where his attacks will just go through enemies even at point blank (and his air heavy attack is even worse in that regard).
-I’m not gonna write down a tier list because I don’t care enough to really experiment with the game. I still want to mention the stronger and weaker characters.
-The strong characters: Hoss, Mandy, Skarr, Mogar
–Hoss’ weaknesses are his buggy attacks, his low health and his large hitbox (this makes him an easy target for jumping light attacks). Despite that, he has good 360 coverage on his attacks, good damage and his ground heavy is very easy to combo into/land.
–Mandy’s weaknesses are her lack of 360 range, her poor air attacks and that her attacks are kinda bad on certain stages. Despite these, her ground light combo is just so good. She has solid damage on her attacks, her ground combo is easy to hitconfirm (and you can change direction mid combo to avoid attacks) and she has no other stat weaknesses.
–Skarr’s weakness is his lack of 360 range but that might just be it. He’s extremely solid in all other respects and his attacks can easily interrupt airborne characters.
–Mogar lacks range but other than that, he is extremely solid. He has high health and fast attacks that beat out any other if he’s in range.
-The weak characters: Junior, Fred and Boogie.
–Junior has the advantage of a small hitbox and very good air attacks but I found him lacking in all other regards. His health is a big issue, he really lacks in damaging attacks and his incredibly slow ground heavy makes it hard for him to knock other people out (at least Nergal Sr. has his very fast ground heavy despite having similar weaknesses).
–Fred has the advantage of health and that’s about it. He has a fast air heavy but that makes him lose out to other air heavy clashes. His damage is just really poor and it takes forever to kill anyone with him.
–Boogie has really stubby normals like Mandy, but unlike Mandy, his attacks don’t move him forward. This is a big issue because he has to be in range and so many other characters have better range on their attacks. He’s also very slow at attacking despite his description. At least he has some very sweet costumes.
-Then there’s everybody else (the middle of the road characters). I might make another post for some other observations for these characters (like AI patterns and moveset properties) but there was stuff like Billy’s heavy attack modifying his hitbox and making him hard to hit that I want recorded somewhere.
-In terms of AI, I found Irwin, Eris and Skarr to be the most consistently frustrating/difficult to fight against (though on the flipside, they’re definitely some of the best partners to fight with in Mission Mode). Nergal is also dangerous just for how much he spams his heavy attack (and that’s a big problem for stages with ring outs). On the lower end, I thought Hoss, Jack, Boogie and Fred were easier pickings (though Fred has a ton of health to make up for that).
Novel Preferences and Pet Peeves
-The choice of costumes in the game are pretty good. There are some disappointing choices like Jack, Junior, Grim, Irwin and Hoss’ costumes, but damn if they didn’t nail the rest of the costumes. Props to having Billy’s Zoot-Suit, Mandroid and Eris’ Flabby Burger outfit.
-I found most stages to be rather unfun to play on. Some are just way too chaotic or they’re solid until the level actually transitions. I liked Billy’s House the most just because it was the easiest to cheese with the Cerberus transition.
-I appreciated that they brought back the music from the episode when Grim joins Sperg’s band for the credits. Same for the final boss’ track.
-There were some inconsistencies like the Center of the Earth being referred to as the Underworld (it’s not the Underworld, the Underworld is a different place. COTE is where Nergal, Aunt Sis and Junior live)
The Final Verdict
While I have listed a whole lot of problems with the game, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy most of my time playing the game. As a fan of Arena Fighters (I freaking loved Kung Fu Chaos on the OG X-Box) and of the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, this was a real treat to have. I just feel that, as a guy that just over-analyses almost everything, there were just so many things that kept it from being a perfect game in my eyes.
Still, for any Grim Adventures fan, I think this is a worthwhile game to play just for the fanservice alone.