I found it surprising to see that the average user rating for this party has secured itself into the "Prestigious" grade, while my rating for the party secures to the distant (and grim) "Not satisfactory" grade. Maybe I'm just too critical. Considering that the Halloween Parties have been annual since 2005, I have high expectations for exponential improvement each year - and the Halloween Party 2014 doesn't seem to make up for it this year.
The most commented on feature of the Halloween Party - the decorations. The recycling of past Halloween Party decorations often left minimal room for excitement as there was nothing new or original for the older players to enjoy. Unfortunately the lack of interior decoration in renovated rooms (e.g. Coffee Shop, Night Club, Clothes Shop) served as rejects to the Halloween spirit.
I noticed that some rooms were overdecorated or were decorated either inappropriately, unpleasantly, too transformatively, or without a focused structure. The Beach would be the best example of this point. It includes traffic lights at a road intersection (why do we need a road just for the Beach?) which is hugely irrelevant on its own for adding an eerie sense to the room. The same can be said for the ice cream stand and those unconventional gravestones. And whatever that purple substance in the water, is purely for decorative effect, but not a spooky one, so it is irrelevant too. The broken boat nearby could be potential exploration, but unfortunately it's there to be a sight to cram in amateur spookiness to the Beach, not to be touched.
The Lighthouse exterior, along with the Mine Shack & University exterior, the Cove, the Snow Forts, and the Forest were highly transformed - looking "nothing that they should be". Like Sharkbate said, these were "complete overhauls of the original shape and design". I'm being realistic here - complete overhauls of the design just doesn't make the party seem like a Club Penguin party.
Nonetheless, there were some excellent techniques used in a few areas that were successful in providing an eerie atmosphere. I particularly liked the return of this room. It has great composition as all three houses maintain a Halloween essence. But the cold glow in their interiors ironically kill the sense of refuge, which is perfect for the Halloween spirit. The lighting is dark in the top-right to give a bordering spookiness to the setting - and that tree near it looks haunting with those mysterious eye shapes. I also appreciate how there were swings placed on a snowy ground nearby the sharp wooden posts in order to create that "edgy" and cold atmosphere.
The Puffle Hotel rooms contained some fresh new decorations. These were all well done as these were generally darker than the rest of the rooms, adding to the thrill of exploring it. However, they would've been more thrilling if they were even darker that we'd have to use something to light up our surroundings like in the Dark Chamber four years ago to trigger roleplay situations (there's something really fun about being lost with friends in the mazing Dark Chamber). However, like Green N Cool said, "the Deluxe Suite and Luxury Suite were basically just empty rooms to collect items". Believe me, they seem like the eerie type of room in real life because of its emptiness, mystery, and cold lighting, but they're hardly eerie in Club Penguin because there's little to do there. Thus, penguins were most likely to exit immediately as if it was "boring".
Despite there being some effectively decorated rooms, on the whole, the rooms required "polishing" for optimal eeriness.
"And then there was a new puffle adopt", said Chillin43 in his review. The Ghost Puffles served as an ineffective "advertising point" allegedly valuable to the Halloween Party from the Club Penguin Team. It's just a "sickening cliché" to introduce new Puffle Creatures that come out of nowhere. The Ghost Puffles seemed like "just another mutation".
I bet if there were no existence of cat, dog, chicken, unicorn, deer, rabbit, dinosaur, snowman, bat, reindeer or dragon puffles, then there would've been a shock value upon seeing the Ghost Puffles. Too bad there wasn't. It's also noteworthy that Ghost Puffles lacked any characterization in their personality (where are they in the Puffle Handbook?). They just have a creepy appearance, nothing else.
The party's storyline was another issue. Like Sharkbate noted, "some door to the basement just appeared out of nowhere" - seemingly a lazy excuse for showcasing "unexplained phenomena". The Puffle Hotel's sudden "paranormal" addition of rooms was a poor plot device to bring a "mystery" about it.
There was a decent plot twist when Skip, an alleged bellhop of the Puffle Hotel, turned out to be a deceitful ghost, using the player for evil intent. But that turns out to be the only delicious part of the storyline. It would've worked better if Skip had developed as a "friend" to the player for an extended period of time prior to his "big reveal". I know that Glenn31, as well as many others who saw his leaked dialogue, could sense him as "bad news from a mile away". Skip's intent to haunt Club Penguin is unexplained, that we treat him as a one-dimensional character with no internal conflict. It just seems Skip was introduced because Club Penguin needed a ghost of pure villainy that wanted to haunt the island, nothing else.
The classic laser trap situation on the 13th floor of the Puffle Hotel was more tangential to the "EPF mission feel" rather than the eerie Halloween feel. Also, I thought Gariwald and the trapped Ghost Puffles can walk through walls? Why is a machine needed to trap them? What happened to the unearthly scares you'd expect in a haunted house? This is no Halloween Party. In certitude, Skip just seems like a weak stand-in for Herbert.
Also, I hated that the party was "task-oriented" like there is a structured plot you have to follow. There were time intervals between tasks and free items were the incentives for doing the task. This is distinctly different from the "adventure-oriented" Halloween Parties - where you're free to do anything and the plot can be anything of your imagination. Club Penguin is supposed to be a sandbox for creativity, and I don't think these "task-oriented" party plots do any justice to this ideal.
The great range of free items should have been able to collected in the rooms of the Puffle Hotel, not on a task-oriented interface.
The party's soundtrack had a mix of old and new Halloween tunes mixed with room ambience. They just didn't give a thrilling feel for me. It'd be thrilling if the music was just ambience for most of the rooms in order to enhance that haunting feel. The EPF Resistance track playing in the Sitting Room was totally unrelated to this haunting feel that it had "NOTHING to do with that room", like Enb 11 noted.
However, I did appreciate a selection of the "Spooky" sounds added to SoundStudio in theme of the Halloween feel.
The Puffle Hotel was too publicized, especially by the Club Penguin Times. It served as the focal point of attraction, when really, the whole island should be. I think that if the Puffle Hotel was not publicized at the party's commencement, there would've been a mystery for players to get into. In addition, a major blackout of the Puffle Hotel would've enhanced that. That way, players can experience and discover mysteries themselves instead of relying on what's publicized to "direct" them.
I thought it would be more interesting if the elevator was a room. That way, players could "experience" the elevator together. What would be troubling with that idea would be the wait to the get to the right floor. But what would make the wait worthwhile? A haunted elevator!
The "mini games" at the Puffle Hotel felt like "retreads of things [puzzles] we've seen before, only simplified", like Chillin43 said. If there was a higher degree of complex, perplex, and fearsome essences in these puzzles, we'd find the Puffle Hotel's haunting much more like a "mystery that needs to be solved". However, I did appreciate that painting of an "iceberg tipping". Maybe it's alluding something?
The Halloween Party 2014 had more negatives to offer than positives. At the outset, it needed more focus on a range of settings, more simplicity in decorations, a more thrilling experience for the players, stronger character/plot development/structure, abolishment of Puffle species introductions, and less of a "task-oriented" structure, in order to achieve a satisfactory grade. 3.3 out of 10.
Now it's time for your say! What would you rate the Halloween Party? Feel free to post your opinions on the party in the comments. :)
00:23, November 22, 2014 (UTC)