ESRB Rating: Everyone

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UPC: 040421891511

Platform: PlayStation

Publisher: Interplay Productions, Inc.

Developer: Funcom

Category: Action

Style(s): Action Adventure

Synopsis: Based on the 1995 movie, Casper for PlayStation has you controlling the friendly ghost in his search for missing pieces of the Lazarus Machine hidden somewhere within Whipstaff Manor. This machine is important to Casper, as it has the power to give him life. Gameplay involves floating around the manor and collecting objects to solve different puzzles. Your first task is to earn the trust of new residents Dr. James Harvey and his daughter Kat by giving them items proving you're a friendly ghost.

You'll also need to reassemble paintings to reveal secret items; flip switches to activate certain passageways; and move furniture to find hidden objects. Besides hovering around the manor, Casper can morph into various forms to reach new areas or interact with objects. Some of these forms include a hammer, fan, lightbulb, screwdriver, saw, rubber ball, tornado, and smoke. To maintain these transformations, you'll need to accumulate "morph points" by eating food or simply waiting for the points to replenish over time.

In addition to the Harveys, you'll have to keep an eye on heiress Carrigan Crittenden. She knows there's treasure somewhere within the mansion and could be a nuisance. Casper's rude uncles Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso will also try to impede your progress. Don't be afraid, you can't die <I>twice</I>, so explore at your leisure without worrying about a life meter or time limit. Memory card support lets you resume progress at a later time, and the original characters' voices from the movie are included as a bonus. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

Package Contents: 24-page Instruction Manual

Controls: Joystick/Gamepad

The 20-page manual explains everything you need to know to play. It also includes brief character biographies as well as a mini walkthrough for the first main puzzle. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

The graphics look clean and detailed, although the game lacks animation. The entire manor consists of similar looking pre-rendered rooms. Casper has a nice translucent appearance, but don't expect different expressions or personality. Again, animation is almost non-existent in this game. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

Casper won't have you scaring people out of a creepy mansion or attacking various monsters (remember, he's a <i>friendly</i> ghost), so don't expect an action-packed game. The developers decided to create an adventure that involves searching different rooms in order to accomplish various tasks.

There are basically no enemies to deal with (other than a few encounters with Casper's rude uncles and Carrigan Crittenden), so players can explore at their own pace without fear of time, death or losing items. Yet while younger children may find the relaxed pace and exploring aspect fun, most will be bored stiff by the lack of interaction and uninspired gameplay.

Casper is played from a overhead view mostly inside Whipstaff Manor. Each pre-rendered room will have some chairs, paintings and other furniture along with items you can pick up on the floor. The game is structured like most early adventure games: in order to access certain rooms you need to find a particular key. Once you find the key, you'll run across even more closed doors that open in different ways. This could involve flipping switches, placing a weight on a platform, or moving a statue or two in a certain direction.

Besides finding ways to open up doors, you'll also need to locate pieces to the paintings of Casper's uncles. Each painting is missing four pieces, which are found inside locked chests. Now to open chests, you need to find iron keys, which are typically locked behind doors requiring brass keys! After finding the pieces for each painting, you'll have to go back to the empty frames and put them back using the action button. You'll then receive a prize in the form of a new ability. These abilities will help you access new areas previously closed off to your character.

For example, the first ability you acquire is smoke. Casper can now morph into a puff of smoke which allows him to pass through heating vents (essentially warping him to different parts of the manor). Gameplay continues as you open doors, grab items to help you get past certain obstacles and acquire new abilities to let you see more of the building.

The biggest problem with the game is that it forces you to do things in a linear way. If you can morph into smoke, why are you only allowed to travel through heat vents? Why can't you pass through doors? What is the point of being a ghost if you can't travel through solid walls?!

The answer is simple: the game is ill-suited for the license. None of the things you'd expect to do with a ghost are here (such as phasing in and out of view, making objects float around in the air or scaring enemies), aside from morphing into objects to help you solve puzzles. The "hunt for keys" aspect also seems like a cheap way to extend the game's length.

Another problem is moving to the different rooms -- every few screens has the game pausing to load more information (you'll see a "Hang On" screen while this happens). While it only takes a few seconds, it's enough of a bother to make traveling annoying, especially considering the amount of backtracking involved. In the end, the game feels more like work than fun, which is the scariest part of this ghostly adventure. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

Once you solve all the puzzles, there's no real reason to submit yourself to the horror for a second time. Some of the puzzles may be a bit hard for younger kids, since many aren't particularly obvious. A lot of time will be spent moving back and forth to certain rooms, so if you want to keep the young ones busy for a weekend, this may be the way to go. It also has the added benefit of putting older kids to sleep... ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

The best part of the game is the orchestral soundtrack, although it does get a little repetitive after a while. There is also a fair amount of speech in the game by most of the original cast members from the film. Sound effects aren't very memorable, however. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

The slow-paced nature of the game, repetitive puzzles and constant backtracking take the fun out of the game. Things might have been better if there was a button to make Casper fly at high speeds, but there isn't -- he just floats along the screen. It's a mystery more perplexing than any of the puzzles you'll find in the game. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide

the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.