The year is 2003. Hoping to capitalize on a hit movie, Disney drops a Haunted Mansion GameCube game on unsuspecting holiday shoppers. It was also available for other platforms such as PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Gameboy, and DOS Text Adventure.
Okay, that last one was a joke. But it might have yielded a superior game.
This is the same fateful year that an abomination hit the screen in the form of an Eddie Murphy movie. To be fair, that could be any year that an Eddie Murphy movie hits the screen. But you Disney fans know of what I speak. Yes, that was the year of Eddie’s awful screen translation of the smash hit theme park attraction Kitchen Kabaret.
Featuring cover art vaguely reminiscent of the Disneyland version of the attraction, along with an appropriate font, the Haunted Mansion GameCube game had nothing in common with either the Eddie Murphy movie (fortunately) or the classic ride on which it was based (unfortunately).
Gamers took on the role of Zeke, an enterprising caretaker, who gets sucked into a weird backstory involving something called the Order of Shadows, and… it doesn’t matter. It feels like a game that was already in development, and capitalized on a hot IP at the last minute.
The Haunted Mansion GameCube version was billed as a three-dimensional puzzle game in which we explore that famous Disney landmark. Little did we know that it was actually based on Ghostbusters.
Yes, in the Haunted Mansion GameCube game, your job is to capture ghosts using your lantern. The game leads you through room after room where you have to sweep up all the lost souls that are hiding there before you can move on to the next.
If you somehow manage to capture 999 of them, the EPA will shut down your containment facility, Gozer the Gozerian will land on your apartment building, and Slimer will eat your hotdog. Those are Ghostbusters references, for those of you born after 1984.
It should come as no surprise to you that except for the title, this game bears virtually no resemblance to the Disney attraction. The plot is incomprehensible. Something about you being a janitor in a Southern style mansion?
I guess the actual Haunted Mansion has a famous caretaker. And both the ride and the Haunted Mansion GameCube version are set in New Orleans.
But that’s where the similarities end. The gameplay itself involves some legitimately creepy ghosts that seem more at home in a Blumhouse horror movie than in a family-friendly extravaganza from the Walt era.
Even more annoying is that it is the exact same idea as that awful Haunted Mansion level from Adventures in the Magic Kingdom! Kill x number of ghosts with your candle and beat the stage. It’s basically a precursor to Nintendo’s much more successful Luigi Mansion series.
There is a willful disdain of the Haunted Mansion source material. You have an attraction with an awesome number of potential levels – an endless hallway, a ballroom, a stretching room, a corridor of knocking doors.
And yet the part I remember most is the haunted kitchen. Yes! we just knew that Kitchen Kabaret would pop up somewhere!
The other direct ties are the reference to 999 ghosts and an appearance by Madame Leota. Those looking for a video game recreation of the actual Haunted Mansion would be much better off with Magical Racing Tour.
I never did beat this game, even though I got pretty far. I finally made it to a weird room where the walls pushed in and out like the Death Star garbage compactor. Then I just gave up.
It’s not like there aren’t any other janitor jobs out there.