Hotel Transylvania

..Hotel Transylvania..

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Hotel Transylvania Box Art
System/s: 3DS, DS/DSi
Developer: WayForward Technologies
Publisher: Game Mill Entertainment
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
GD Score: 73
Press Scores
Release Date:
N. America: Sep. 18, 2012
Europe: Sep. 2012
Australia: N/A
Japan: N/A
ESRB: Everyone 10+ (Mild Cartoon Violence)

"My Little Castlevania"


Author: Neil Kapit  

When a game is licensed from a children's movie, the odds are very low that anyone involved in the game's production will be particularly invested in the project. These licensed games are designed with generally low production values, developed in a short time to be ready for the movie's release, and marketed to a young audience considered completely undiscerning of video game quality. As such, the games are not expected to be good, and it's rare that they ever end up being good. Thankfully, Wayforward Technologies is a company that actually puts effort into all its games, even its licensed work. Hotel Transylvania is a good example about how a developer can make something enjoyable, even when shackled to a kids movie license.

Hotel Transylvania (3DS) Review Screenshots

Hotel Transylvania ostensibly follows the story of the recent animated film. The player controls Mavis, the daughter of Dracula and heiress to Hotel Transylvania. But her father's resort only caters to other monsters, so when Mavis befriends the human Johnny, she has to keep him secret. The course of the game has Mavis trying to keep her mortal buddy safe from her "family" while running various errands for her father, who's preparing for Mavis' big 118th birthday party (in an obvious vampire aging joke). Along the way, she fights what appear to be the staff of Hotel Transylvania, who must be the stupidest monsters ever if they're trying to kill their employer's daughter.

Hotel Transylvania takes its story from the movie (more or less), but its gameplay borrows heavily from another vampire story. The game plays like the more recent Castlevania titles, thrusting players into an inter-connected non-linear castle. As the game progresses, Mavis gains new abilities, allowing her to explore different segments of the castle. These abilities are taught by her "uncles", the various monster friends of Dracula who've known Mavis her whole unholy life. Why they didn't teach her these skills earlier in her life is unknown, since it seems as though taking care of all the loose ends in the hotel is something that Mavis does on a regular basis. Still, one could do much worse than imitate Castlevania, especially for a licensed game.

Hotel Transylvania (3DS) Review Screenshots

The Castlevania influence is strong within Hotel Transylvania, but the game also has a bit of WayForward's own creative flair. The art includes all original drawings of the movie characters, as opposed to shoddily taking stills from the film. The abilities Mavis gains are surprisingly clever, such as a Medusa-like stare that makes enemies into jumpable platforms, or the ability to run up certain walls. Also, the levels contain several secret rooms and detours, with jewels that can be collected to increase Mavis' maximum health.

Granted, none of this is truly unique territory. Hotel Transylvania is still a licensed game for children, so it's still simple, short, and easy. However, it controls intuitively, has more depth than one would expect for a product of its "pedigree", and is generally enjoyable. I can't recommend it to adults, as there are many better 3DS games. However, it's a testament to the integrity of WayForward. Even on their licensed work, they put in a strong effort, realizing that even little kids deserve decent games.

GameDynamo's Score for Hotel Transylvania (3DS)
The 2D sprites are no better than anything on the original DS, and the 3D effect is barely in effect. The original art for the character profile is at least charming, if similarly simple.
Surprisingly excellent chiptunes that seem to deliberately evoke 8-bit Castlevania games.
It's a simplified Castlevania/Metroid game by normal standards, but it's quite clever and deep by the (admittedly low) standards of licensed games.
Play Value
It's a relatively short game, but there's more to do if you're trying to collect all the jewels.
Final Score  73  
Hotel Transylvania is a decent choice for a younger gamer. It's nothing spectacular, but it works effectively as a simple action-adventure title. Hopefully the kids who play this will grow up to play Wayforward's original titles, titles like Shantae where they truly bring their A-Game.

Posted on 12/10/2012 | Game Played on: 3DS
Neil Kapit

Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!

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