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Goosebumps 2: Slappy's Haunted Christmas
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
GOOSEBUMPS 2: SLAPPY'S HAUNTED CHRISTMAS is a freemium AR (augmented reality) mini-game found within the Krikey AR app. Designed to promote Sony Pictures' new movie, “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” it uses AR tech and your phone's built-in camera to bring the film's spooky ventriloquist's dummy, Slappy, into your world. After opening the Krikey app and choosing Slappy's Haunted Christmas from the wheel of available mini-games, you're prompted to point your phone at a flat surface. Once the app successfully detects the surface, you're asked to challenge another online player. If someone takes you up on it, the two of you take turns tapping on a pile of Christmas presents until one of you finds Slappy's hidden manuscript. (If no one accepts your challenge, solo mode lets you play against Slappy himself.) Presents are opened one by one, coming up empty or exploding in a shower of cartoon skulls or spiders that jump at the screen. Occasionally, they reward you with keys, the number of which determines your leaderboard status. The game ends when the manuscript is found. Social media tools let you relive your victories again and again by letting you post short videos of your games as well as watch and “like” videos made by other players.
Is it any good?
It's getting more and more difficult to tell the difference between actual creative effort and cynical promotional materials, and poorly-made commercial tie-ins like this are a big reason why. Though Goosebumps 2: Slappy's Haunted Christmas has content that's acceptable for everyone, no one over four is likely to be entertained for long by this mind-numbing excuse for a game. This pointless waste of AR technology fails to make clever use of real-world surroundings, opting to simply set a pile of colored boxes in front of you and having Slappy the evil dummy revolve around it. The structure of the pile and the way you can pull boxes out of it at first suggests fun, Jenga-like gameplay, but that's not the case. Nothing happens if the pile falls; the turn-based box-opening goes on as before.
Tame jump scares are built into the occasionally-exploding boxes, (so very young kids could be scared when a hairy spider leaps straight at the screen) but otherwise, there's no pay off for playing. Beyond a “You Win/You Lose” message, there's not even a graphic when the looked-for manuscript is finally found. If gameplay is monotonous, the audio's even more so. Slappy only has one or two lines which he repeats until you'd like to duct tape his little wooden mouth shut. The bland graphics are on par with the sound; in fact, the best-looking thing on the screen is the banner ad pushing you to buy movie tickets. The up side (if there is one) is that the Krikey app contains other competitive AR games that provide a modicum of entertainment value. On its own though, Goosebumps 2: Slappy's Haunted Christmas amounts to little more than a mildly interactive movie ad.
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