Ghost Mania is a tile-dropping puzzle game that, while presenting a somewhat novel concept, drops the ball in all areas of execution and enjoyment.
In Ghost Mania, you’ll play as Tim or Becky, two ghost guardians who failed in their jobs and let loose a whole bunch of ghosts. These ghosts are now trapped in ghost blocks that you must use to clear the Tetris-like board of blocks. This is as far as the story goes, which is good because it’s already a fairly ridiculous plot device even at this early stage of development.
There are three single-player game modes, Arcade, Puzzle and Endless for you to choose from, though the gameplay in Arcade and Endless is exactly the same. In those modes, you are tasked with dropping pairs of blocks into the board. Only special ghost blocks will allow you to clear a matching colored set of blocks though, so placement is, theoretically, a strategic endeavor. Unfortunately, there’s no rhyme or reason to the appearance of ghost blocks, leaving you with no recourse at times to get rid of a massive set of blocks. Most of the time, when you lose it feels more as if it is the game’s fault, which isn’t a pleasant way to end a game. Puzzle mode is slightly better at this, simply because of its format. You are given a set of blocks on the board that you must clear in a set amount of tile drops. While this starts out easy enough, the difficulty is extremely uneven, and there’s not really any way to clear most of the puzzles other than by trying different solutions over and over again until one works. There are 30 stages to play through in both Arcade and Puzzle mode, though it’s almost a chore to sit through that many stages.
Ghost Mania also includes a multiplayer mode, though it has the exact same problems as the single player game. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of competitive motivation, which is usually the driving force of multiplayer in puzzle games. It’s kind of a shame that the gameplay isn’t enjoyable, as the graphics and sound seem fairly good for a WiiWare title.
In the end, Ghost Mania is a 500-point title, so if you love puzzle games, it’s probably worth your money. Otherwise I’d recommend skipping it and waiting for a better puzzle game to come out.
Pros: Puzzle mode is all right for a short time; graphics and sound are good for a WiiWare title
Cons: Gameplay just isn’t fun for periods over 30 minutes; difficulty is uneven in puzzle mode