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Video Game: Grabbed by the Ghoulies

A game by Rare Ltd., released for the Xbox in 2003 after a pre-release conversion from its original design for the Nintendo GameCube. Starring Cooper, a frightened but brave teenager whose girlfriend Amber is quite literally "grabbed by the ghoulies," yanked from Cooper's side by a pair of gargoyles and taken into Ghoulhaven Hall, a Haunted House along a road the duo wandered down after making a wrong turn. Half the game is spent trying to rescue Amber, the other half is spent trying to get to the master bedroom of airplane-obsessed Baron Von Ghoul so you can give him a thorough beating and steal the key to the front door.

Humorous and entertaining, but highly unsuccessful sales-wise. The game's lack of commercial success is repeatedly referenced for laughs in later Rare titles, such as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.

Despite its lackluster initial sales, the game has been re-released as a download from the Xbox Live Arcade, where it currently holds a rating of just over 3/5 stars based on 2,000+ votes, showing that it has gained at least modest popularity.
This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Cooper can acquire guns that fire a stream of Holy Water (melts zombies), cloves of garlic (slays vampires), and soda cans (does a lot of explosive damage, period). He can also throw wine bottles, hamburgers, toilet paper, and flower pots as projectiles with up to six shots of each, as well as finding and using numerous other, larger single-shot throwables.
  • Accidental Misnaming: There may not be a single time in the game when Cooper says Fiddlesworth's name correctly.
  • Action Bomb: The giant worms.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: All the chapters begin with R: The Rescue, The Restoration, The Riddle, The Reckoning, the Race.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Some of the enemies include haunted chairs, TV sets, paintings, coats, and even doors.
  • Bound and Gagged: Amber, and numerous other victims of the Baron's clutches found locked up in various places throughout the mansion.
  • The Brute: Hunchbacks serves this purpose as minibosses.
  • Dem Bones: The skeletons. They seem to want to do some boxing, but their bones so easy to scatter all over the floor.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: You'll find yourself breaking a lot of obstructive and non-obstructive objects around Ghoulhaven Hall, including plenty of chairs (they make fine weapons). Especially the ones that run at you.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': Beware the walking coffins. They contain amorous vampire girls.
  • Don't Fear The Reaper: The Grim Reaper is more hard-rocker than gloom-and-doom death-bringer. How bad can a dude who air-guitars on his scythe after claiming a victim with his Touch of Death possibly be?
  • Double Entendre: The title of the game, and many lines spoken by the characters, particularly Fiddlesworth the groundskeeper. Some of Fiddlesworth's lines were so very risqué that they were cut from the game before release.
  • Easter Egg: Far too many to count. There are innumerable Shout Outs to Banjo-Kazooie in the decorations in the mansion, including numerous paintings of characters such as Mumbo Jumbo, Klungo, and even "Devil Bottles" from 'Tooie. There is also a whiteboard in the schoolroom with writing and symbols on it apparently giving information regarding Banjo's infamous "Stop 'n' Swop." Monstrous versions of the title characters appear as mounted heads.
  • Enemy Mine: the various ghoulies throughout the house don't seem to like the Reaper much more than you do, and will get into squabbles with him frequently.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Everything from skeletons to hunchbacks to (exploding!) earthworms to chairs to doors to television sets is out to get you.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Warlocks.
  • Fake Difficulty: Your health is scrambled at the start of each room, sometimes giving you a ridiculously low level of health to start off a particularly hard boss fight that could be done easily with just a bit more health to start. Heck, some rooms give you ONE hit point to start with, then send an endless barrage of enemies your way.
  • Gasshole: Zombies, who fart almost constantly. Zombie Pirates burp with near-equal frequency.
    • Although it's obviously done for Rule of Funny in the game, there is actually some Fridge Brilliance-style truth to this: after death, real-life corpses will release trapped gases as they decompose, which can sometimes be similar to flatulence.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Even by Rare's standards, the title is an astonishingly blatant play on the phrase "Grabbed by the goolies" (i.e. testicles).
  • I'm Melting: What happens to Zombies or Zombie Pirates when hit by the holy water.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Cooper, who can turn pool cues (and the pool table itself, to an extent), dumpsters, wine bottles, dinner plates, broom handles, sofas, umbrellas, toilet paper rolls, seed bags, cooking pots, televisions, phonographs, guitars, the parts of a drum set, and hamburgers into weapons, among other things...
    • The skeleton enemies can use all the same carry-able weapons as Cooper, to devastating effect if they hit you.
  • Jiggle Physics: every female character has this, Amber, Babs, Ma Soupswill, the female hostages, and even the freaking vampire women. some have it to lesser extents than others.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Parodied by Baron Von Ghoul when Cooper finally finds him.
    Baron Von Ghoul: Er ... wait - wrong speech!
  • Made of Explodium: The Worms.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Enemies include sentient chairs, paintings, and even the occasional Haunted Door.
  • Mook Maker: Haunted Televisions.
  • Nintendo Hard: Much of the game after the tutorial levels. The enemies don't give you a break to recuperate after getting knocked down, there are too many mooks chucking things at you, you don't start with enough health to handle the current situation, some enemies can One-Hit Kill you with little to no warning ... if it's not one thing making things tougher for you, it's another.
    • Don't forget Challenge 21, which takes the difficulty of the adventure Up to Eleven.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Reaper. Every time. Even to enemies that stand in his way.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: A bad power-up can turn Cooper into this briefly. And other times he doesn't even need the power-up - he's just given one hit point to begin with in some rooms.
  • Poison Mushroom: Several, with various effects, including reversed controls, making the player character move in slow-mo, having only 1 hit point for a brief time, and others. They appear similar to normal power-ups, but rather than one of the usual power-up icons hovering over them, they have a black ghost with an orange outline.
  • Press X to Not Die: The Super Scary Shock - enter a sequence of buttons shown on the screen as quickly as possible or lose 10 health (which is often enough to kill you, or make you as good as dead once the mooks show up).
    • Failing a Super Scary Shock during a Challenge 21 play-through is instant death.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Breaking things reveals power-ups, weapons, and sometimes the key required to leave a room (or other secrets!). Watch out - breaking certain objects also spills Mooks into the room!
    • The bonus challenge "Smash the Study, Buddy!" asks you to do as much damage to a room in the house as you can within a short amount of time.
  • Scare Chord: Plays with each Super Scary Shock.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with Cooper and Amber walking off towards the village of "Ghoulsville in the Gloom" mentioned in the opening sequence, with Baron Von Ghoul sneakily following them in his biplane, seemingly setting up for another adventure. Unfortunately, given the game's disappointing sales and the inclusion of "Ghoulies II" among various joke game titles (as in, outlandish Rare sequels that will never be made) depicted in the ending sequence of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, prospects for a sequel no longer look promising.
  • Shout-Out: This game is jam-packed with Rare refrences, the most noticable being Banjo and Kazooie's mounted heads as enemies in one area.
  • Stalked by the Bell: The Reaper's presence is signaled by the muting of the background music as it is replaced by an eerie wind and distant church bell.
  • Take Up My Sword: If you manage to free all the kids, Cooper gets knocked out by some imps. The player than takes control of Ma Soupswill who saves Cooper by fighting off the imps. If you beat them, it goes to the game's ending cutscene).
  • The Butler Did It: Crivens the helpful butler is actually Baron Von Ghoul in disguise.
  • The Unfought: Dr. Krackpot looks like he'll be a boss, especially when you enter his lab to discover him holding the final piece of the Baron's riddle. His transformation-gun explodes when Cooper plugs it with his finger, resulting in the destruction of Krackpot's robotic-leg mecha-vehicle thing that made him so intimidating. He gives up without a fight, on the condition that Cooper never mentions this incident to anyone.
  • Touch of Death: This is how the Reaper does you in. It has to be his outstretched finger though - merely bumping into him (or any other enemy) does nothing.
  • Unwinnable by Design: Some challenges are designed with deliberately paradoxical rules to ensure that the challenge WILL be lost and the Reaper WILL be unavoidably summoned before you can leave the area. (However, you are always able to leave the room once you meet certain challenge requirements - the challenge is merely arranged such that outrunning the Reaper becomes an unavoidable factor.) An example: the second time in the garbage yard, where you must defeat several haunted chairs, but the rules say you must use ONLY your fists and ONLY weapons at the same time, ensuring that if you attack at all the Reaper will come.
    • Another one is the bathroom, where you must survive for 1:20 but the Reaper will arrive if you do not complete that challenge within 0:20, so you are guaranteed to spend a full sixty seconds simply hoping to outrun Death.
      • This is used as an actual necessary gameplay element in Dr. Krackpot's lab, where you must forcibly summon the Reaper by killing a Skeleton (the challenge rules say specifically not to kill any Skeletons), then lead him around the room until he uses his Touch of Death on a Vampire you cannot otherwise hurt (they are only vulnerable to a garlic gun you don't have in that scene) to obtain a key it was holding.
  • Wall Master: The Haunted Door looks like an ordinary door until you approach it and it attacks. Same with the paintings and chairs that come after you.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Certain monsters can easily be killed with the proper weapon: mummies with fire, zombies with holy water and vampires with garlic.

Death SmilesXbox LIVE ArcadeGrand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Godzilla Destroy All Monsters MeleeXboxGun
Gears Of War 3Creator/Microsoft StudiosHalo

alternative title(s): Grabbed By The Ghoulies
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