GDN:NEWS ARTICLES

Costume Quest Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Oct 25, 2010 04:30

Reviewing a game meant for kids is a challenge, because I have to try to think how a much younger version of myself might react to it and also think about how ’kids these days’ would feel. Costume Quest required that however, because it is a fairly short, turn-based roleplaying game that isn’t all that difficult and isn’t as in-depth as the likes of Final Fantasy or Shin Megami Tensei titles. This suggests it’s meant for a younger and less experienced audience, which Costume Quest’s Halloween theme reinforces. Rather than focusing on a deep plot, Costume Quest prefers to entertain the player with a variety of outfits; changing them changes what your characters can do. True to its intent, this definitely seems like the kind of RPG younger players will enjoy more than any other group.

Your time will be split between two components: General exploration (talking to people, gathering items, spending candy as ’money’ to buy new equipment, etc.), and turn-based combat against cartoon-style monsters out to steal all the candy they can. By gathering your own candy and talking to people, you can find new accessories and costumes to use; the former give you subtle changes in your abilities, while costumes give you notably different powers. Each fight against the monsters has your characters turn into the costumes they’re wearing, and these are surprisingly detailed; mecha fans will recognize distinct tributes to various sources in the Giant Robot costume, while the Statue of Liberty costume invokes exaggerated ’patriotic America’ motifs, and so on.

While combat is turn-based, each side taking turns beating on one another with RPG statistics controlling the outcome, players aren’t entirely removed from the equation. A ’timed hits’ system, much like that of the Mario RPGs, is used; wriggle the analog stick fast enough or press the right button at the correct time and you’ll do more damage while taking less in return. Every costume also has its own special attack that can be used every few turns, with effects ranging from healing your characters to spraying enemies with incendiary missiles or a swarm of bats. That may sound violent, but it’s done in a mostly cartoony and child-friendly way; Costume Quest’s E10+ rating is apt. While some understanding of RPG concepts will be called for, combat in this game is by no means hard; you just have to have good timing as to when to attack and when to heal, and you’ll do fine.

Exploration is mostly straight-forward, as each neighborhood, mall, and other such environments have pretty clear boundaries; it’s hard to get lost. This is good, since you will have to visit almost every section of each area. It’s a Halloween-themed game and the characters are children, so of course they’re going to do as much Trick-or-Treating as they can while fighting monsters! The only real snags here are that you get sent on one too many ’fetch quests’ for people, and a few sections don’t make it very clear what costume abilities they expect you to use though this becomes less of an issue further into the game. It also gets a little tiring to wander around smacking random objects with your bucket to shake candy out of them, though this is thankfully optional since fighting monsters and Trick-or-Treating will give you just enough candy to buy what you need if you’re frugal.

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This leaves Costume Quest as a decent but rather light RPG aimed at children. Its 1200 Microsoft Point/$15 USD cost gives you an admittedly short game, lasting around 4-6 hours depending on how many secret costumes and accessories you plan to find, but it fits a certain niche quite well. If you’ve played more in-depth RPGs like Final Fantasy and you insist on a deep plot and complex battle system, Costume Quest will do nothing for you; it’s a very simple and easy RPG. Kids and those less experienced with the genre will be the ones who enjoy Costume Quest the most, and it’s to those audiences that I would gladly recommend this game. 

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Our Rating for Costume Quest Review (XBLA)
4.5 Replay
A very linear RPG with a simple plot; it’s short and has only a modest number of secrets. Chances are a once-through will be enough for most.
7.0 Graphics
Simplistic and blocky visuals during exploration give way to very detailed character designs during combat, when each character becomes their costume; the contrast is obvious and this part looks great.
6.0 Sound
Basic sound effects are joined by decent music, but they mostly just ’do their job’ as noise to be heard while playing rather than standing out as memorable.
8.5 Gameplay
A mostly intuitive and easy to learn RPG system that keeps things fresh by changing the characters’ abilities with new costumes, its only real snags are a few confusing parts early on and some fetch quests.
0.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
N/A; This is a single-player game only.
8.0 Overall
Short and easy but enjoyable, this RPG is well suited to children and those willing to accept a simplified experience.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0


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