Codex Gamicus

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a video game released on October 21, 2003 by Rare for the Xbox gaming console. It was the first Rare game to be published by the notorious Microsoft buyout from Nintendo, having originally been in development for the Nintendo GameCube. It is forward compatible with the Xbox 360. It was also re-released on the Xbox 360 as a downloadable Xbox Originals title on February 16, 2009.[1]

Ghoulies follows a young man named Cooper Chance who sets out to rescue his girlfriend, Amber, from Ghoulhaven Hall. This mansion is full of supernatural creatures, and Cooper will receive help along the way from the many hired hands that work there. The game is well known for its scathing criticisms and low sales after the Microsoft buyout of the company.[citation needed]


As a break from tradition from previous Rare games the gameplay is simple in design, utilizing the simple premise of moving through the game's mansion and completing the required 'beat em'up' challenges for each room. Such challenges include killing all the Ghoulies in a room, beating only a specified kind of Ghoulie while avoiding killing the rest or defeating a boss before you can move on. All combat is maneuvered by a simple swivel of the control stick in the direction that you wish to attack. Any challenge failed or completed over the time limit results in the Grim Reaper coming after you (who will kill you if touched) until you exit the room. The main kind of Ghoulies in the game include Zombies, Mummies, Imps, Skeletons and Zombie Pirates. There are also various bosses that must similarly be defeated. As weapons most objects in the game are interactive similar in the fashion to the influenced "Dead Rising". Soup cans can be used to upgrade abilities.

Impact on Rare and Legacy[]

Template:Unsourced Many reviewers, fans of Rare and gamers alike were confused about the direction of the game from the legendary developer, especially after coming from the same team of the incredibly complex and intricate Tooie and being the first game introduced to a console after the Microsoft merger. Many fans expecting a similar platforming experience were disappointed and the game was considered mediocre compared to the company's past hits due to its simplistic gameplay, lack of variety in level and music design, short length and perceived rushed quality. As a result this game was essentially Rare's first 'flop' after a virtually flawless, consecutive string of highly successful hits from the companyon the NES, SNES and N64 such as "Killer Instinct", "Battletoads", "Donkey Kong Country", "Goldeneye", "Banjo-Kazooie" and its sequel, and "Donkey Kong 64" to name a few. Its scathing criticisms and poor sales have seemingly had a lasting impact on the company that has not yet managed to recover from as from this game onwards the company has not managed to yet reach the high critical praise and commercial success previously had.


Template:Unsourced The game began life as a name before anything else. The developers came up with the name as a title for a game, and then decided to create a game from that title. Early on, before any details of the game were publicised, it was widely considered that Grabbed by the Ghoulies would be the subtitle to the next Conker the Squirrel game, after Conker's Bad Fur Day. The game was originally intended to be a much larger in scope open-world platformer but due to the Microsoft buyout and time constraints a simpler design and concept was adopted. The team stated that after doing Banjo-Tooie, their intent was to make a far simpler game that was easy to just pick up and play. This is why all attacking and combos were implemented with a simple movement of the right control stick. It has been stated that it was initially going to be released on the Nintendo GameCube although it has been suggested that only preliminary planning was in motion for this console.


There are plenty of cameos from Rare's previous games in the Banjo-Kazooie series. This included plenty of pictures and posters of Mumbo, Klungo and the title characters as well as the goldfish Roysten, an Xbox keep case of Banjo-Tooie, a Banjo-Kazooie case, Captain Blackeye's barnacle remover, and a note on a board that reads: "Collect Ice Key. Collect 4 Eggs. Open secret level." The latter is a reference to Stop 'N' Swop.


GameSpot: 6.5

IGN: 7/10

Gamestats: 7.3

Ghoulies was nominated for the awards of 'Console Family Game of the Year'[2] and 'Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition'[3] by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2004. Game Informer lists the game among the worst horror games of all time,[4] although Rare didn't intend to make Ghoulies a survival horror game.

While its gameplay and style was criticized, its graphics and video game effects were highly praised for their sophistication in its era. Such effects as the Grim Reaper decolorizing everything in its path or highly interactive objects that Cooper uses as weapons continue the company's prowess for pushing the limit of the consoles they use.

The game has since been made fun of in successive Rare title Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. In the level Banjoland, several North America boxes of the game can be found inside the trash can. There are also numerous not-so-subtle jokes as to how poorly it sold throughout the game. The fact that it was such a disappointing seller is constantly acknowledged and admitted by the company, such as on the editor Leigh Loveday's fan website community relations page 'Scribes'.


  1. Welcome to Rare. Retrieved on 2009-02-13
  2. Awards
  3. Awards
  4. “The Wrong Kind of Scary: Worst Horror Games Ever,” Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 121.

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