There was a time when movie studios were quick to release games based on their properties. This was most common with animated movies and sadly, most of it was shovelware instead of being decent games. Hotel Transylvania 3 Monsters Overboard doesn’t exactly feel like a cheap game made to cash on the success of a movie, but it has its fair share of problems that make this somewhat enjoyable game a frustrating experience.
I actually had a good time with Hotel Transylvania 3 during moments when it worked together. It uses the concept of minions for progression and puzzles but lacks any meaningful combat encounters. You can play as Dracula and his daughter Mavis to explore 3 different Islands and your goal is to find and bring back the monsters from Hotel Transylvania that were lost when the cruise ship that they were boarding crashed in a storm.
As you are controlling a vampire, it is not possible to survive during the day. The game uses this concept to offer a time limit of 10 minutes during which you can visit the Island to explore it. It is basically night-time for most of the game and as soon as the time limit ends, you are immediately taken back to the cruise ship irrespective of your character’s location, however, the progress gets saved so you can return again and resume from where you left.
The progression system works as a loop where you go back and forth between the Islands. Each time you are able to explore and discover a little part of the Island and maybe find a monster to bring back to the ship. You can also find treasures that are hidden behind locations that will need a specific skill before you can reach them. These treasures will give you upgrades that can greatly help during the exploration.
The main game is basically a Pikmin clone. Dracula and Mavis don’t do much by themselves, but they are able to control a set of minions called the Impa. You start by controlling a regular Impa and will be able to increase their numbers as you find and discover gems. They are automatically used at checkpoints after you order your Impa to carry them. You can decide on the type and amount of Impa for your team from each checkpoint. Red gems give you 1 more Impa while Blue gems can get you 2 of them. There is a limit to how much Impa are available at a time but this limit gets increased by finding more treasure chests.
There is a combat in the game but it doesn’t really feature any strategy. Just use your Impa team to attack an enemy and once killed, they drop either a red or blue gem, letting you gain more Impa followers. As you head further into the Island, you will unlock more variety of Impa for your team. In the start, it is just regular Impa that can mostly just attack enemies or destroy and grab objects, but as you progress further, you unlock more varieties like Frankenimpa or Wolfimpa.
Honestly, this is a pretty fun game once you put some time in it, except there are some serious issues with its design that can prove a major hurdle in enjoying it. The first and most annoying issue is how the Impa are given orders. It is easy to order them to do a task by pointing at any object but once you do that, all of your Impa will rush to it and once they complete it, you have to manually call them back. There is a cursor for this take that you can control manually, but the poor implementation makes you struggle to give commands properly.
If the controls for Impa were more precise and not as frustrating as I experienced, the game could have some potential. I still enjoyed what I played when the controls worked, but I just wished the game was better designed to avoid such frustrating moments. If you are playing the Nintendo Switch version, the visuals in portable mode make it hard to see characters on-screen since the resolution is very low. The docked mode is fine, however, for some reason, there is no support for the Pro controller which was a baffling moment for me. You can only use the JoyCon controllers even though there is no motion support or touch requirements for the game.
Hotel Transylvania 3 Monsters Overboard Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Dracula, Mavis and their monster friends are marooned on the mysterious Lost Islands – and only you, in command of lovable little creatures, the Impa, can save them! Explore the islands, discover new Impa abilities, and rescue Frankenstein, Murray and Wayne from fearsome enemies.
As a Pikmin clone, this is a sub-par experience at best with frustrating and poorly implemented controls for ordering your Impa followers. It can still be a fun game if you can overcome the constant struggles with the controls, otherwise, it is largely a forgettable experience