Inside Pulse 12

Review: Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze (Nintendo Wii)

Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze
Publisher: Little Orbit
Developer: Little Orbit
Genre: Racing
Release Date: 11/13/2012

Let’s Review
I think the best way to introduce this game is with the beautiful poetry of the Monster High theme song, which also opens Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze:

“Monster, Monster High, Monster High, Monster, Monster High. C’mon don’t be shy, Monster High, the party never dies.”

Leonard Cohen wishes he wrote that!

1. Story

So, the story of MHSRM is that they decided to release a tie-in game to a cartoon special used to advertise toys, even though the special hasn’t aired yet.

No, wait. I mean to say that the story of the game is that years ago a room full of people decided that the only thing wrong with Bratz dolls is that none of them had a Dracula for a dad.

No, wait. . . The story here is that the monstrous kids of classic monsters decide to have a roller skating race for some reason. I don’t think anything is on the line. There don’t seem to be any bad guys or good guys. There aren’t even any mazes despite what it says in the title.

So the story is that some stuff happens.

2. Graphics

This is a $30 Wii game. It looks like that thing. It’s perfectly adequate, but a few sections of track are dark and make it hard to distinguish what is road and what isn’t.

3. Sound

We get the delightfully awful Monster High theme song during the opening credits and some thoroughly forgettable racing music during the races.

The characters speak to each other a bit during the races, but nothing major. Basically, it is the “oh no!”s and “yes”s of Mario Kart. They seem to sound like their cartoon counterparts, though, and that is always a plus.

4. Control and Gameplay

MHSRM plays liked dumbed down Mario Kart. It is a series of short races with item boxes to attack your rivals. You can play it with just the Wiimote or with the Wiimote and Nunchuk. I always chose the latter, because the former makes your steer by turning the controller like a key. I’m not brave enough to do that thing.

Holding down B propels your skater. Pushing A uses an item that you ran over. Pressing C uses your special power, provided your meter is full. You can charge your special power by collecting coins. It would be nice if the instruction manual mentioned this thing.

The controls of the game are perfectly acceptable. The gameplay is where it is lacking. For one thing, it seems like there should be a lot more game, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s the deal: Races are competed as teams of three. You have to compete as a team of three no matter what you choose (with only one exception that I found). The only difference is that in Race mode you have to switch skaters a few times during each lap of a three lap race. In Relay mode, each character races one lap of a three lap race.


Did I mention that races are always three laps?

Race mode also makes you compete on the same tracks in the same order each time. The Easy mode (called CREEPY or something like that) offers you track A, then B, then C, then D. The Normal mode (called something slightly sillier than CREEPY) makes you play track A, then B, then C, then D, then E. The Hard mode (called something noticeably sillier than CREEPY) makes you play track A, then B, then C, then D, then E, then F.

Don’t like Track A?

Tough.

Because, you know what? It is the only track unlocked at the start of the game for time trials and quick race. Also, there are only six skaters unlocked at the start of the game (and, as you remember, you have to pick half of them).

All in all, after tediously unlocking everything, there are only twelve skaters in the whole game and six tracks. Every race is a three lap race where you must choose a three skater team. It’s like the game is stubborn and doesn’t want to offer you any choices. It’s like playing GoldenEye at a friend’s house, but he insists on playing Slappers only, one hit kills, in the Facility.

You want to play with pistols in the Bunker? What are you a filthy Commie?

I thought, well at least I can try to race against a human being in multiplayer mode. That’ll mix things up a little bit.

HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAAAAAAA!

I was so naive then.

Imagine Mario Kart. Now imagine a fun version of multiplayer for Mario Kart. Racing against your friends and swearing at them? Yes, that’s pretty good.

Deathmatch style, three hit kills sort of thing? Loads of fun.

Coin collection challenge? Whatever floats your boat, compadre.

Multiplayer for this Monster High game? Well, it plays exactly like Race mode, except that each player controls one of the characters on THE SAME GOLDURN TEAM!

Who decided this? Who thought, well competing against friends is fun, BUT NOT AS MUCH FUN AS WATCHING YOUR FRIEND SKATE HALF THE TIME. Or, possible, watching two of your friends skate for 2/3 the time.

Direct competition? No thanks! I’d rather watch helplessly as my friend blows my lead and runs into a wall for 30 straight seconds. I’d rather watch them deplete their skater’s stamina because they aren’t paying attention and don’t switch to my character. Yeah, LOADS OF FUN!

Are you trying to teach kids a lesson about cooperation? Because it ain’t workin’.

5. Replayability

It’s fine for an arcade style racer, but the controls are shallow and there are only six tracks. I would guess that it is maybe a week’s worth of fun. After unlocking everything, I don’t really see what would bring you to play it again.

6. Balance

It’s relatively easy. The challenges lie in things like getting hit by another player’s item without warning and not being able to see the track clearly enough to make a turn cleanly. The latter can be helped through memorization; the former is not going to change. You don’t have a shield, and you can’t block an item with an item. At least, I haven’t been able to do that thing.

7. Originality

It’s dumbed down Mario Kart except that your cart is shaped like a teenage girl whose parents are monsters with liberal dress codes. Why you gotta skate in such short skirts? It is INDECENT!

8. Addictiveness

It’s fine. There is some amount of fun to be had in unlocking new characters, even if those characters are already racing you as opponents.

The too simple controls and lack of options kill any addictiveness.

9. Appeal Factor

My daughter likes Monster High, loves roller derby, and adores Mario Kart. She might not be representative of all nine year olds, but is probably not a huge outlier.

Then again her favorite movies are Temple of Doom, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, and Kindergarten Cop. Maybe she is a weirdo.

10. Miscellaneous

The Monster High cast of characters is fairly large. There are about two dozen more characters they could have included here. But they didn’t. Plus, the ability to create one’s own character was included in the last Monster High game, but left out of this one.

Some options would have made this game much more enjoyable. The ability to do a race as a single character would have been nice. Head to head multiplayer would have been nice. Being able to choose number of laps would have been nice. A couple more tracks would have been great.

Different versions of the current tracks based on difficulty level could have been cool. Having a few different versions or palette swaps of the skaters would have been nice (these are fashion dolls, after all).

I would have liked the ability to fire items behind me if I were in the lead. The ability to drift or turn in different ways would have been cool. The ability to jump or do tricks could have been cool. If there were some sort of Jet Grind Radio style skating that would have been rad. Or maybe some MONSTER ROLLER DERBY.

Monster High Skultimate Roller Maze needs more game.

Or at the very least, a freakin’ maze.

The Scores
Story: Bad
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Below Average
Originality: Below Average
Addictiveness: Below Average
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Below Average
FINAL SCORE: BELOW AVERAGE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
This is a good enough game for fans of the franchise, but I would recommend buying it when it is reduced to $9 at Target. It’s not terrible, but there isn’t really enough to do to justify a full price purchase. It feels like less than half a game.

  • We don’t like that you can not verse each other, but other than that the controls are easy enough that my 4 year old can play it herself. She loves it. My 10 year old has a Ben 10 racing game and she always falls of the sides, gets turned around, or stuck in a wall. She doesn’t have this problem with Roller Maze. My 10 year old son has yet to play it so we will see how he deals with watching his sister play, and taking turns. I know he will love getting to play as Clawd Wolf though. I think it is great they included the boys. In the first MH game you couldn’t be a boy at all, and he was kind of annoyed about that. He likes to play with his sister, and she loves that.