Grabbed by the Ghoulies
Image: Rare

The Xbox exclusive Grabbed by the Ghoulies turns 20 today. It launched in North America on October 21st, 2003, and would arrive in Europe a month later, on November 21st.

Designed by Gregg Mayles and developed by a programming team led by Chris Sutherland, this spooky action adventure has the distinction of being the first Rare title to be published by Microsoft, following the latter's $375 million purchase of the former.

The player assumes the role of Cooper, a young boy tasked with liberating his girlfriend from a haunted mansion. The game would be nominated for 'Console Family Game of the Year' at the 2004 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, and contemporary reviews were equally kind.

Covering the game for our friends over at Eurogamer, Ronan Jennings awarded it 8/10, saying:

Grabbed by the Ghoulies is one of the most refreshing, fun and downright brilliant games I've played this year. Any game that manages to capture the spirit of 8 and 16-bit gaming, while daring to present it in a new and unusual way, is well worth a look in my Rare tome. It doesn't matter that it's Rare, and it doesn't matter that it's Microsoft. What matters is that it's great. And while I'd like nothing more than to add an extra mark to the score below, the game's relative shortness and slightly iffy control scheme render that an impossibility. Nonetheless, if you like what you've just read, then you've only one option - buy this game.

Over time, however, Grabbed by the Ghoulies has become one of Rare's less-appreciated titles – and even Rare is aware of this, as copies of it are found in overflowing dustbins in Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.

Reviewing the Rare Replay collection for Eurogamer in 2015, Dan Whitehead claimed that the Xbox exclusive was an indicator of change at the UK studio:

Fans tend to see this as the slump period, with Grabbed by the Ghoulies a particularly awkward gear change... yet, experienced in the context of Rare Replay, the studio's occasional wobbles are easier to enjoy. Ghoulies still has its problems, but it also has a charm and character that is almost entirely absent from the AAA console space in 2015.

Are you a fan of Grabbed by the Ghoulies? Let us know with a comment below.