Among the Lufia and Harvest Moon demos at Natsume's E3 booth this year was a rather charmingly cute rhythm game called Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove. That's right, its name is even an alliteration, how wicked is that? It's a DS and WiiWare title that is quite similar to games like Elite Beat Agent, except with a lot more cute characters and tunes you can shake a stick at. Gaming Union had the opportunity to give it a shot and here are our hands-on impressions.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove is an adorable take on the rhythm genre. Gabrielle's having a pretty rough time as she's sneezed her soul right out of her body and the only way to get back to it is by gaining the help from the denizens of Monster Town. However, the only way to do that is by winning them over with the ghastliest dance moves. In all actuality, the premise of the game is everything but spooky as the absolutely adorable art direction makes giggling like a giddy school girl quite hard to resist.
The core of the game is basically to get Gabrielle dancing to the beat and this is done with the stylus, just like Elite Beat Agents. Buttons will pop out according to the beat and tapping them at the right rhythm results in Gabrielle breaking out in adorable dance moves. Gameplay also includes tapping rapidly on spiders or sliding the stylus according to the onscreen prompts in order to maintain the beat. While overall controls felt pretty solid, since it's basically just tapping the touch screen, the sensitivity levels could use improvement as taps sometimes won't register properly.
The game also features plenty of other mini-games and items to unlock. Gabrielle's closet lets players play dress up with her. Many different outfits and accessories can be unlocked as the game progresses; players can even change Gabrielle's eye, hair and skin colour. Considering the style of the game, it's no surprise that many of these aesthetic changes are extremely cute and even include various gothic lolita outfits as well as cat ears and the like. Fans of Japanese popular culture will certainly be able to appreciate and enjoy this customization. Even the mini-games are adorable as one had Gabrielle helping Vlad the Vampire search for his lost bat. The mini-game was pretty much a memory game. Different spooky creatures of the night would be shown and then hidden and it'll be up to Gabrielle to point out the matching ones.
As mentioned throughout this preview, the presentation has a certain charm to it. The cartoon-like graphics and the sheer cuteness of everything alone really makes the game quite difficult to put down. Characters are cel-shaded while backgrounds are rendered in the simplistic 3D that DS games have become known for. That's not a bad thing though since it only adds to the charm of Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove. Unfortunately, since the demo was on the show floor and there weren't any headphones available, it was quite difficult to listen to the different tunes Gabrielle dances to. When questioned about the tracks available, a Natsume rep did help clarify that there aren't any vocal tracks and all of the music is instrumental.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove is certainly a title to look out for, especially for those with an extremely low threshold for everything cute. It's charming and frightfully fun game mechanics make for rather addictive gameplay. Gabrielle's performances will hit retailers sometime in Q4 of 2010 on the DS as well as the Nintendo Wii.