Grabbed by the Ghoulies

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Grabbed by the Ghoulies
Developer(s) Rare
Publisher(s) Microsoft Game Studios
Designer(s) Gregg Mayles
Artist(s) Steve Mayles
Composer(s) Grant Kirkhope
Platform(s) Xbox
Release date(s)
  • NA 21 October 2003
  • EU 21 November 2003
Genre(s) Action adventure, Beat 'em up, Survival Horror
Mode(s) Single-player

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a video game developed by Rare for the Xbox console. It was released in North America on 21 October 2003, in Europe on 21 November 2003 and in Japan on 29 April 2004. It was the first Rare game to be published by the Microsoft Game Studios after the buyout from Nintendo, having originally been in development for the Nintendo GameCube. It is backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. It was also re-released worldwide on the Xbox 360 as a downloadable Xbox Originals title on 16 February 2009. However, on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015, Microsoft removed the downloadable Xbox Originals title from Xbox Live.[1]

Grabbed by the Ghoulies follows a young man named Cooper Chance who sets out to rescue his girlfriend, Amber, from Ghoulhaven Hall. This mansion is full of supernatural creatures, and Cooper will receive help along the way from the many hired hands that work there.


A young boy named Cooper and his girlfriend Amber are seen searching frantically for civilization after they take a wrong turn. Suddenly a storm comes and the two are forced to seek shelter in a mansion nearby. Once there, Cooper looks at the map again - but he's unaware that someone is watching them. Baron von Ghoul looks down from his window and orders his two gargoyles to retrieve them for him. Amber gets kidnapped and is sent to the Ghouly Mansion. Cooper then runs after the gargoyles that have kidnapped her and enters the mansion. There, he realizes that Amber is now nowhere to be seen in the Grand Hallway but he meets the mansion's butler, Crivens. He tells him to go to the Archives where Amber is held. While going there, a huge group of boxing skeletons challenge Cooper to a boxing match. Cooper punches all of them out and is victorious. Cooper finally makes it to the archives but finds out that a mad scientist is present, Dr. Krackpot. He then shoots Amber with his laser gun and she transforms into a horrible creature.

Cooper runs for help and goes into the kitchen. Ma Soupswill is delighted to help but Cooper must retrieve the three ingredients: Glowworms, a giant egg and a sprig of dungweed. After that, Ma Soupswill creates a potion to reverse the effects on Amber. However, she accidentally puts the wrong spice and this transforms Amber into an even more hideous monster, who attacks Cooper out of anger. Cooper defeats Ghouly Amber and Ma Soupswill arrives with the correct spice and Amber is subsequently turned back to her normal self. Then, Cooper and Amber attempt to escape the mansion but are stopped by Mr. Ribs (Ma Soupswill's assistant). He tells them to help free the other poor kids who are chained all over the mansion. Cooper goes to Crivens and he tells him that only the Baron has the key to free them. In order to get to his room, Cooper must get the 3 pieces of a rhyme which opens the door to the Baron's room. Once there, a battle ensues and Cooper emerges victorious.

Then, he goes on with Mr. Ribs to free the kids and they finally reach the exit of the mansion. There imps knock Cooper and Mr. Ribs out but Ma Soupswill drops in and defeats them. (Note: This only happens if the player frees all of the kids before the timer runs out. If it does, Cooper and Amber will still leave. The player doesn't get to play as Ma Soupswill or kill all of the imps, though.) Cooper regains consciousness and he and Amber leave the mansion, despite the workers preferring to stay. As both walk towards a small town, the Baron can be seen flying his plane towards it.


As a break from tradition from previous Rare games the gameplay is simple in design, utilizing the simple premise of moving through the game's mansion and completing the required 'beat em'up' challenges for each room. Such challenges include eliminating all the Ghoulies in a room, beating only a specified kind of Ghoulie while avoiding eliminating the rest or defeating a boss before you can move on. All combat is maneuvered by a simple swivel of the control stick in the direction that you wish to attack. Any challenge failed or completed over the time limit results in the Grim Reaper coming after you (who will rip out your soul if he touches you) until you exit the room. The main kind of Ghoulies in the game include Zombies, Mummies, Imps, Skeletons and Zombie Pirates. There are also various bosses that must similarly be defeated. As weapons, most objects in the game are interactive, similar in the fashion to the later-released Dead Rising, which it influenced.

Bonus Challenges[edit]

When Cooper collects five Rare books (there are 100 Rare books in total), during his adventure in Ghoulhaven Hall, one Bonus Challenge will be unlocked in the Bonus Challenges Menu, to play in. The main course of the Bonus challenges is to revisit one of the rooms and perform a different task within it. Examples would be seeing how many Skeletons the player can defeat within a set time limit at the Billiard Room, Taking out 30 spiders at the Garbage yard by using very few attacks possible, or seeing how long the player can avoid the touch of the Grim Reaper at the Walled Gardens. Each time the player completes a Bonus Challenge, he or she will be awarded with a Bronze, Silver or Gold Medal based on the player's ranking of how well he or she did. The result will appear over the challenge that the player just completed, keeping track of the player's best record every time the player bests an older medal. The player can also earn the illusive Platinum Medal, if he or she manages to go above and beyond to complete the challenge in an expert fashion. Each Platinum medal you earn, A piece of the game's Concept Art can be displayed in the Gallery. Platinum Medals are challenging to achieve, unless the player employs the correct strategy: most of them involve using the super soups that can be used during the bonus challenges, as in the main game.

If the player manages to collect all 100 Rare books and achieve all 20 Gold or Platinum medals on all 20 Bonus challenges, A 21st Bonus challenge can be unlocked, where the player plays the entire game all over again, but this time, the player gets to play as Amber, instead of Cooper. The story cutscenes that were present in the original main game are removed throughout the challenge. But in order to make changes from this challenge to be more different from the original game, Amber only provides with 10 Heart points in each and every room, and there are no super soup cans anywhere throughout the course of the game, which this makes the game much trickier and difficult. Without the use of super soup cans, this will mean that Amber will not be able to boost her energy or any other effect to help out, unable to upgrade her abilities to fight better, unable to do any effects towards the ghoulies, and also unable to find any challenge specific soups throughout the entire challenge. The challenge will automatically save the player's game progress at the beginning of a new room that the player visits, so there will most likely be no worrying on having to clear the entire challenge in a single sitting.

As long as the player can manage to complete the chapter that involves saving the kids as Amber, and swat away all 100 Imps as Ma Soupswill, the player can earn the final Platinum medal in the game, which earns the player a gold framed decor for your panel conversations, and a gold heart to showcase Cooper and Amber's health. The player will also unlock the ability to replay all of the cutscenes with an extra bonus scene and most interesting of all, an early preview of the game when it was first shown off at E3 2001 to a private showing, which was in development for the Nintendo GameCube at the time, when it was first announced.


Back in 2001, after Rare's release of Conker's Bad Fur Day, the game began life as a name before anything else, coming from the British slang term for being grabbed by the testicles. Before any details of the game were publicized, it was widely considered that Grabbed by the Ghoulies would be the subtitle to the next Conker the Squirrel game. It was originally intended to be a much larger in scope open-world platformer but due to the Microsoft buyout and time constraints a simpler design and concept was adopted. The team stated that after doing Banjo-Tooie, their intent was to make a far simpler game that was easy to just pick up and play. This is why all attacking and combos were implemented with a simple movement of the right control stick. It has been stated that it was initially going to be released on the Nintendo GameCube although it has been suggested that only preliminary planning was in motion for this console.


There are plenty of cameos from Rare's previous games in the Banjo-Kazooie series. These include pictures and posters of Mumbo, Klungo and the title characters as well as the goldfish Roysten, an Xbox keep case of Banjo-Tooie, a Banjo-Kazooie case, Captain Blackeye's barnacle remover, and a note on a board that reads: "Collect Ice Key. Collect 4 Eggs. Open secret level." The latter is a reference to Stop 'N' Swop.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 70.33%[2]
Metacritic 66/100[3]

Grabbed by the Ghoulies met with mixed reviews from critics. It received an average score of 70.33% at GameRankings, based on an aggregate of 71 reviews[2] and an average score of 66/100 at Metacritic, based on an aggregate of 42 reviews.[3]

Ghoulies was nominated for the awards of 'Console Family Game of the Year'[4] and 'Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition'[5] by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2004.

While its gameplay and style was criticized, its graphics and video game effects were highly praised for their sophistication in its era.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is set to appear as one of the 30 games in the upcoming Rare Replay.

Potential sequel[edit]

In February 2009, soon after the game was re-released worldwide as an Xbox Originals title downloadable for the Xbox 360, Rare stated that a direct sequel to Grabbed by the Ghoulies was being considered.[6]


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