Costume Quest 2 Review (Wii U eShop)

Costume Quest 2 Wii U eShop

Costume Quest 2 is Double Fine’s take on games like Earthbound and Paper Mario, but wrapped up in a tiny, easy to consume form. Sadly, not all good things come in small packages. While there are traces of a enjoyable RPG there, this fun-sized bar of a game leaves you wishing you had a full-featured RPG instead.

While Costume Quest 2 literally drops the player right where the previous game left off without so much as a summary of the first game, it isn’t too difficult to understand the basic gist: the villainous dentist wants to end Halloween, Time Wizards are generally bad news, and the orc-like Grubbins are strangely adorable. The second game’s story additionally involves time travel, having players venture deep into a bayou from yesteryear, a dental dystopia, and–well, those are actually the only settings and, as you can imagine, they get stale pretty quickly. Like three-day-old-Halloween-candy-stale even.

Although visiting these environments becomes terribly redundant, traversing them actually manages to be a good deal of fun. The bulk of gameplay here derives from puzzle-solving challenges not unlike Double Fine’s other adventure games. While most puzzles are solved by interacting with an object while wearing a specific costume, there’s the occasional fun challenge here and there, and then there’s those agitating and obtuse scenarios where you’ll need to consult a FAQ.

Costume Quest 2 also boasts a number of genuinely funny gags and amusing characters, though this does little to divert attention from the game’s lack of polish in these exploration segments. Running around the map causes the game to stutter frequently, and I managed to encounter more than one occasion where I accidentally overshot a jump which launched me past the game’s boundaries and straight into an infinite void.

Most tragic part though has to be arguably the most important part of an RPG: the combat system. Battles essentially act like skimpy versions of the timing-based encounters found in games like Paper Mario and the Mario and Luigi series. Staples like “press A with timing to attack” and “press B with timing to defend” are all here, but they appear in there most rudimentary form, which isn’t exactly fun when there’s never any variation on these concepts. These mechanics also feel poorly executed, suffering from massive drops in frame rate, which makes timed button presses entirely a matter of guesswork, and that’s a bummer when enemy attacks can half a character’s health even when correctly blocked.

The game does introduce a few mechanics that attempt to make battles interesting, but ultimately they don’t work as well as they should. The first of these are Creepy Treat Cards, which replace the badge-like Battle Stamps of the first game and function more like standard JRPG items. Unlike items, however, only three pre-selected cards can actually be used during battle, and after one use they are rendered useless until several subsequent battles have passed. While their limited use suggests they might be meant for powerful enemies and boss encounters, most of them don’t actually work against bosses. Since Creepy Treat Cards are then only helpful in normal battles, the only way to get any actual use out of them would be to pull up the card menu after every single fight and swap out every used card, which winds up being way too tedious to actually be worth the effort

The game also assigns different types (think Pokémon) to both costumes and enemies in another attempt to mimic RPG elements without having a clear grasp of what makes them successful. While certain costumes are indeed better against corresponding enemies, there’s no way of knowing which enemies are in a group before a battle, and during the battle there’s no way of swapping costumes. While the mechanic could create some kind of strategy if there was anything the player could do about it, it instead only serves as a major inconvenience. There’s honestly a lot of potential here for an interesting battle system, though any efforts are squandered by Double Fine’s attempts to deliver a budget title and, by extension, cut as many corners as possible to make that happen.

There’s still a number of things Costume Quest 2 does that I enjoy quite a bit like the trick-or-treat random encounter system, the amusing costume transformations, and the cute art direction, to name a just few, but unfortunately none of this really compensates for the game’s glaring issues.

If I were to compare the game to a Halloween treat, I’d say Costume Quest 2’s is a candy apple. The only problem with this, however, is that this confection comes from that one sketchy neighbor that lives in that equally sketchy house down the street. Its sugary appearance merely coats the inconspicuous razor blade nestled at the apple’s core, which in this case is the game’s painful combat. First lesson, don’t take candy from that neighbor anymore, and lesson two, had Double Fine just stripped away the trite RPG conventions, there’d be a really charming little adventure game here, but as it is, Costume Quest 2 is just sort of a gross off-brand sweet that provides nothing in way of nutritional value or even a decent flavor.

Costume Quest 2 Review (Wii U eShop)
Gameplay3
Presentation6.5
Writing7
Lasting Appeal2.5
Pros
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Fun costume designs (e.g. Hot Dog Cerberus)
  • Hot Dog Cerberus
Cons
  • Numerous glitches and hiccups
  • Mostly uninspired environments
  • Stale combat
6Overall Score
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About The Author

News Reporter/Game Reviewer

Jacob Rifenbery is a content writer for Always Nintendo. While first and foremost a fan of strange rhythm games, he enjoys playing and writing about a wide variety of titles.