Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is the official movie tie-in game to the smash hit “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”. Developer Torus Games and Publisher Outright Games have taken the gameplay mechanics of the infamous Pikmin series and delivered a new variation on the genre which is based around our favourite vampire and his friends. In a market that is almost starving for child-friendly content, as opposed to the last generation when we had a new movie tie-in or Disney game every month, I’m happy to see Outright Games continue to deliver content that everyone can enjoy. The question is, is Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard worth ‘Pikmin’ up?
For the purpose of the review, I have been playing the PC version. Some of the issues I had are purely related to this format and I’ll make it clear when I get into them. The game is available on the PS4, Xbox One, PC and the Nintendo Switch – so no matter what platform you own, you’ll be able to play the game where you wish.
I’m a fan of the Hotel Transylvania movies, but I’ve not seen the third one yet, so I’m not quite sure how much of this game is based on the movie. I’ve read the info on what the latest film is about and what Outright Games have said about the game – it appears Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard may be a story of what happens AFTER the movie. As such, buying and playing this game shouldn’t ruin the movie for you and watching the film doesn’t render playing the game useless either.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard begins with Drac, Mavis and all the gang aboard a luxury cruise ship as they all head out on a vacation via a ‘monster’ cruise. Just when everyone is having fun and relaxing in the moonlight, the boat becomes trapped in a deadly storm and everyone is thrown overboard! Upon awakening, Drac and Mavis realise that they are all alone and stranded on a desert island with no sign of any of their friends or belongings. However, you’re approached by a strange being known as an Impa who takes a look at Drac and instantly morphs itself into a bat! Well, Vampirimpas is their official name as they are mimicking the ‘bat-ness’ of Drac and Mavis.
With your new friends along for the ride, you must journey through three islands, which you can only traverse through at night, as you search for your friends and Neptune’s compass – which is the only way to find your way home. Just like within the official Pikmin games, you gain access to four types of Impas, based upon the allies you must rescue, all of which have their own special abilities and purpose as you all work together to solve puzzles, collect items, defeat enemies, and get off the island in one piece. There are also collectables for you to look out for which offer upgrades to your Impas and the time limit – these are sometimes well hidden and give you decent rewards for your exploration skills!
Now, before I jump into the meat of the review, you must remember that this games target audience is children and fans of the films. It’s also not a AAA game as it falls between an indie and a AA in my opinion as it’s clear the budget wasn’t massive yet they still managed to pull off a decent game, albeit with some compromises here and there. So, with that being said, I will continue the review as usual but I will be seeing this from a different perspective and I’ll put my ’33yr old male’ perspective at the end for those who want to know what it felt like as an adult playing a child’s game.
Did someone say Pikmin?
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is literally “Pikmin: Drac Pack” edition. The game plays exactly like the three main-series Pikmin games, so if you’ve played those then you know what you’re getting into. I would say it’s also like Overlord, but it has more similarities to Pikmin, so I’ll stick with that analogy. Controls are simple – on PC you have the option of using a controller or mouse and keyboard – both of which have positives and negatives.
I found that using the mouse and keyboard was probably the best option on PC as it’s much easier to perform the ‘precise aim’ throws, as you simply move the mouse around and then click. The same move on the controller requires you to either push the Left thumbstick really slow so that the reticule moves slowly, or you have to hold the L2 button so your character stops and then free-aim with the left stick. It’s not a big issue, but small things like that made the game a little easier in my opinion.
There are a few other small subtle changes between the two, so I would say try them both out and see which you like best. I tried playing it on PC with a PS4 controller which seemed to work fine. Although, I have reported an issue to the publisher, which only occurs when using a controller, which I’ll talk about later on.
Care to help?
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is all about working together to overcome your issues and problems and progressing to save your friends. For example, the first set of Impas you befriend are the Vampirimpas who can destroy logs that are in the way, lift up pieces of metal so you can walk to higher levels, carry items, and attack other creatures. Although they aren’t very strong, they are fast. I won’t ruin the surprise of who else you meet along the way but you will find other Impas who can destroy strong items due to their strength, create sand paths so you can block certain enemy traps and access new areas, and dig through dirt.
You can also obtain items known as ‘Imparite Stones’ which are colour coordinated based on the reward you get. If you use your Impas to carry these to a nearby Impa Portal then you obtain a certain amount of new Impas for you to command. So, unlike in Pikmin where you had to collect tokens of a certain colour to unlock more of that colour Pikmin, Impas morph into whichever shape you want. So, if you have 30 in your storage then you can take out any combination of the types you have unlocked, up to your Impa limit.
This small change makes it so much easier than Pikmin when you are trying to decide which ones to take out and how best to harvest new ones, as every new Impa you unlock can literally be anything you want it to be.
Under your control:
The question is then – how do you control these strange creatures? It’s rather simple and, once again, I refer you back to Pikmin! You can throw your friends at enemies or objects which you wish them to either attack or destroy. You can then call them back by whistling to them – a short whistle will just call back the Impa type you have selected or a long whistle will call them all back. You can also look at something and tell them all to run forward and either interact, pick up or attack whatever you were looking at automatically. The only thing I can think of which you can’t do in Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard, which you can do in Pikmin, is attack with the protagonist. Drac and Mavis are a couple of softies, so they can’t actually do anything for themselves other than walk/float around and command their minions!
Okay, so you’ve got used to throwing your friends around, you can kill all the small enemies and you have a bunch of followers who will stick with you until they die – what next? Bosses! There are three islands in total and each one has its own unique boss. Thankfully, you can’t die within these boss battles and the timer is stopped (which I’ll talk about next). The second boss really had me stumped as nothing I did was causing damage – but then I remember to use the Impas I had unlocked on that island and it became much easier. This is the same with the first one as well.
The bosses aren’t hard but they are time-consuming and I can honestly see some very young children possibly having a few issues with the bosses as you have to quickly alternate between the various types of Impa as you manage what they should be doing.
Time to explore:
Now for another question – how does a vampire, like Drac and Mavis, survive in the sun on this desert island? Answer – they don’t! Just like in Vampyr, they return to the ship and sleep during the day before they return to the island at night. You know what that means… Time limits! Yay..! Okay, so it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be – you initially start out with nine minutes to explore the island. As you explore the island, you’ll find new Impa Portals which you unlock by just walking up to them. This means that the next time you come back to the island you can pick which Portal you wish to continue from. Basically, you can get a bit further each time and then return to the latest Portal you found.
Luckily, there is no actual time ‘limit’ to the game itself. It doesn’t matter if you finish the game in 10 days or take your time and take 50 days, I’ve yet to see any punishment for taking your time and exploring – unlike Pikmin where you had a certain amount of days to finish the game. You can also increase the amount of time you have on the island by collecting treasure chests as you explore. These chests are well hidden and you have five per island. Other things you can obtain from these chests are an increase in the number of active Impa you have, the strength of the Impa and even the speed they move at.
All-in-all, it’s a solid ‘Pikmin-genre’ game in my opinion. It has a decent amount of puzzles, the progression is regular and consistent, the humour matches the films, and the voice acting isn’t that bad – albeit a little repetitive! However, there are things I didn’t like about the game which I need to mention (even though the publisher is looking into these issues for me) – and again, these may only be in reference to the PC version as I’ve not played it on any of the consoles…
First of all, I had quite a few issues with the controller as it didn’t feel like it had been implemented very well. When locked onto an enemy with the shoulder button, the whole camera moves around if you walk about and doesn’t remain focused on the enemy – thus defeating the object of locking onto things. The controller also causes the game to crash. If you go into any of the ‘treasure’ menus on PC in-between days on the boat whilst only using a controller, the game won’t let you return to the gameplay – thus forcing you to alt-F4 and reload.
Another issue I had is just a personal opinion as an adult, and one I had for All-Star Fruit Racing as well – the voices are annoying. Okay, not the general chatter as that’s all well done and the actors are great, even though it’s not the actual cast. However, both Drac and Mavis have about five or six go-to filler lines which they say many times. I know it would be hard to have hundreds of new things to say, but I think the frequency of the sound triggers may have been a bit much. Now, I say this is my personal opinion as I can imagine kids loving it and probably repeating what the characters say – just like I was starting to do after playing it for several hours.
The biggest issue Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard has, in my opinion, is the overall camera controls and the map. You can’t look up or down with the Right stick – you can only spin it left and right. This wouldn’t be an issue but the game is more akin to a 3rd person game rather than the zoomed out Pikmin style – it’s too far zoomed in and you can’t see very far in front of you. Because of this, I often didn’t see chests and items that were right near me simply because of the angle the camera was placed at. However, by far my biggest complaint is the map – or lack-of. When you’re picking the island to play on, you’re shown a map with the spawn points and what chests you have either opened or ‘found’ but not opened – great! Once you step foot on the island you have no way to actually bring that map back up! This means that you must memorise the layout and where everything was located, or risk wandering around and running out of time as you get lost (which I did a few times).
All of the above points have been raised with the developer and publisher so hopefully we’ll see a few tweaks here and there. In the meantime, Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is playable, with only the controller causing the crashing/freezing in the menus on PC. Other than that though – the other points are my personal opinion and probably wouldn’t affect other people, especially smaller children who will most likely enjoy the repetition of the phrases and may even like not having a map as it means they can wander around and spend more time exploring.
Graphically, Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard isn’t bad. Okay, in the age of ultra-realistic games on both PC and consoles, a lot of people demand those games every single time – those people seem to forget that certain games don’t need to follow that design, especially those based on cartoons who don’t have the budget of games such as Kingdom Hearts III. I thought the game looked good and artistically reminded me a lot of the animated movies. That being said, there is one thing I have to bring up which is the very first thing you see and doesn’t give the best first impression. The opening cutscene…
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard begins with a slideshow rather than an actual animated (pre-rendered or real-time) cutscene. I’m not sure why they opted for that but all I can imagine is the budget and the fact it isn’t a 1:1 of the move, so they had to improvise and recreate their own opening. In fact, Khara, a game I reviewed a while ago, did the same thing. They initially had a fully animated intro cutscene but they had to change it to a slideshow instead due to time and budget constraints. Either way, all the other cutscenes are real-time in-game ones and not the same as the opening.
Soundwise I think I’ve covered it – good voice acting from a different cast but the voice triggers are too frequent in my opinion. Also, the music is great – Really fits the game and is instantly recognisable as Hotel Transylvania.
So, what do I, as an adult, think of Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard? Personally, I really enjoyed it bar the issues I had with the controller on PC. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Pikmin, with the closest being the Masters of Anima game I reviewed a few months back. Sure, there isn’t much depth to the game and you can complete the main story within around four hours, but the gameplay mechanics are solid and every time I went back down to the island I found something new. It also plays a little like a Metroidvania game in that you must obtain all four of the Impa styles and then go back and re-explore each island if you wish to access all the areas and find all the treasures. I just wish we could zoom out a little more so it was easier to see what we were doing!
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is a fun family-friendly game based loosely on the latest film in the franchise. Command four types of magical beings known as Ipmas as you set out to solve environmental puzzles and rescue your crew in a Pikmin-style game that will keep you and your kids entertained for hours. The game does have a few issues and missing features in regards to the camera controls and the overall navigation aspect, but overall I had a fun time playing through the game and I’m probably going to pick it up on the PS4 at some point as well. Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard is great for kids and those who like both the movies and Pikmin.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Monsters Overboard£24.99
- - Solid Pikmin style mechanics
- - The humour matches the movies
- - Helps younger gamers learn how to use various creatures with different abilities to work together
- - The music and voice acting are great
- - Easy to pick up and play for 10-15 minutes at a time if you wish, due to the time limits
- - Repetitive voices and too many audio cues (but younger kids probably won't mind this)
- - Iffy camera controls when locked on and the inability to zoom out or look up makes it a bit claustrophobic at times
- - The opening cutscene is only a slide show - doesn't give the best first impression
- - No map in-game so it's easy to get lost
- - Quite short at around 3-4 hours