Garters & Ghouls a scarily good lingerie-wearing action shooter

Posted: October 29, 2009 in Action, Shooter

I remember the days when iDracula set the trend for action shooters with stylistic graphics and animation. The storyline and gameplay may have been one-dimensional, but for a time, iDracula was the adrenaline-pumping shooter many looked for. Garters & Ghouls not only delivers an action shooter with style, but rounds it out with a compelling storyline and intelligent gameplay. While the game isn’t perfect, Garters & Ghouls delivers more than a mind-numbing shooter. It brings a badass debutante that you get to manipulate through the gates of hell.

Now as the title suggests, this is an action shooter that can be a little racy, but should appeal to the immature side in all gamers. You play the role of dead debutante Marie Dupois freshly revived by old Doc Barton. I don’t know why Doc Barton chose Marie, but let’s just say that Marie struts around in a bustier and garter belts packing heat. If that doesn’t sound like a weird fantasy, then I don’t know what does. Dead valley girl Marie longs for her husband Lucas who’s been kidnapped by Mr. Evil himself Thrum. Of course, Thrum is quite the charmer since he has an army of evil minions at his beck and call in the form of zombies, skeletons, werewolves, and even mimes. The game consists of 25 levels of mad shooting in cemeteries, amusement parks, mausoleums, a university and various neighborhoods Buffy style.

Visually, Garters & Ghouls looks great with smooth animation accompanied by macabre sounds. Whether squishy noises or the yelping of werewolves, the game does a good job of setting the mood which isn’t cheery. Besides killing hordes, you also must destroy portals from which they emerge. These portals are literally the doorways to evil strategically located throughout. And, all portals must be destroyed before a level can be cleared.

The game is controlled by dual control sticks—the left one for movement with the right one for aiming and shooting. The controls work well, although they could be a little smoother. All in all, Marie moves and shoots where you want her to. By default, Marie has a basic crossbow that has unlimited firepower. Three additional weapons are available which randomly appear after killing something: Multi-shot coil gun, Grenade Launcher, and Machine Gun.

The multi-shot coil gun fires five multi-directional bullets with each shot. The grenade launcher not only wipes out a target but also sends pieces of shrapnel in various directions. And, the machine gun rapidly fires high-velocity shots at enemies. Each of these weapons has limited ammo with a running tally provided at the bottom of the screen. Once ammo is depleted, Marie defaults to the crossbow. Either way, you definitely wouldn’t want to be on Marie’s bad side.

Throughout the game, money appears from the bodies of dead zombies—that’s redundant—werewolves, and other creatures. This money can then be used to purchase additional weapons upgrades as well as health, walking speed, and ammo. Now, Garters & Ghouls doesn’t make it easy for you to purchase upgrades. That would be too easy. You have to battle through the minion hordes in order to reach the Steam Queens shop. Apparently, this is the underworld’s version of Big 5.

Garters & Ghouls also has an achievement system consisting of 22 different and weird accomplishments based on types of enemies killed. Here are a few notable ones:

Major Silent Treatment—killing 75 mimes
Major Brain Bath—killing 75 zombies
Dead-Eye Gold—shoot 30 times without hitting a target
Desecrator—destroy every gravestone in the graveyard area
Silver Bullet Platinum—destroy 40 werewolves without getting bitten

Garters & Ghouls provides a mini-map tracking enemies as well as the portals. This comes in handy because of the way the levels are designed. Besides the garter belt-wearing Marie, what differentiates this shooter from others is the maze-like level design. Maneuvering Marie through the environments is no cake walk, and if you aren’t careful, can lead down a dead end path. And of course, the portals are randomly placed, and in many cases, you have to follow the bodies if you will to locate them. Once Marie is done with her otherworldly cleanup, then she needs locate the entrance to the next stage.

The game isn’t perfect by any means. Shooting accuracy can be difficult and in some cases, it’s tied to the graphics. Bullets and the various dead things in the game will occasionally go through each other. I’m sure you can market this as an underworld-type game where that’s supposed to happen, but it happens. In terms of the weapons, you can switch between weapons, which is a minor nick for me, but for others who are soldiers of fortune in training, this can be an issue. And, as mentioned previously, the controls could be smoother, but they are still adequate in its current form.

Overall, Garters & Ghouls delivers a fun and intense game with an unusual storyline. The levels progressively become more difficult both in the attacking hordes as well as the level design. If you’re into action shooters or just looking for a little sex appeal with your cup of ammo, you may want to join Marie on her ride through Garters & Ghouls.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (fun, intense, and weird action shooter with a lingerie-wearing debutante—need I say more; campy and well-thought out levels with achievements and weapons upgrade; controls aren’t the smoothest but adequate; can’t switch out weapons; keep the eerie sound effects or play your own music)

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