Among one of the more unexpectedly entertaining games we got to check out firsthand at E3 2011 was Natsume's Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D, a rhythm game with a cutesy look and some serious hooks. In it, the protagonist Gabrielle has sneezed so hard that she has forced her soul from her body; consequently, she's just been dreadfully glum lately. To cheer her up, the residents of Monsterville have teamed up to do a series of dances with her to get her back to her old self and nab that soul again. The game is very slick and simple to pick up and play, but has some serious hooks that make it difficult to put down.
Taking all three difficulty levels into consideration, the game has 117 levels. The same song will often be represented three times, but the differences don't make them seem like mere repeats. Instead, the differences make the song more complicated via entirely new sets of actions to perform with the beat. There are four such actions, all of which are accompanied by little timing meters: flicks, slides, taps and wiggles. Flicks have you flicking up in a quick motion, and slides have you drag the stylus in a line or V-shape path. Regardless of where your stylus physically taps on the screen, the starting position is dead-on at the beginning of the path, meaning you just have to follow the shape and not the exact position on the bottom screen. Taps are your basic taps to the beat, while wiggles basically have you go nuts on the screen to remove a mass of objects.
What was surprising was in how well the motions flow together, making the gameplay feel less like little strung-together islands of action and more like you are actually playing along with the beat. Perhaps it was the highly colorful and cute appearance of the overall game, seemingly catering to a significantly younger audience, but it was certainly a game that we came back to later on to get in a few more levels. Though the amount depends on how well you perform, you collect screams as a form of currency, which are spent on accessorizing Gabrielle with different items and give you a little incentive to do well. There are also a few simple minigames to be checked out, one for each of the four Monsterville residents, as well as a simple fortune teller who lets you unlock up to 52 collectible items.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove 3D seems to capture the same sort of goofy whimsy that Elite Beat Agents did prior, and it couples addictive rhythm gameplay with a silly take on things that go bump in the night. Though our overall playtime was brief, we got to check out quite a few levels of the game, and from what we saw so far, the game packs a lot of rhythm gameplay into Nintendo's newest handheld. Look for more information on the title, which is expected to hit store shelves later this summer.
Greg Hale also contributed to this preview.
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