Gast the Greatest Little Ghost!
Review by Jen
I thought Gast was going to be a walk in the park, a run-of-the-mill
kids' adventure game. It is, after all, rated for ages 3 and up.
But it turned out to be kind of scary and totally surreal and
probably too hard for most children. However, the rating was bestowed
by the ELSPA, the more liberal European counterpart to our ESRB.
That probably 'splains it.
The game opens with a cutscene in which a narrator intones, "Far
far away, an old amusement park awaits you ..." Gast
is the caretaker of the magical clock tower that keeps the
place happy, and the evil clown Beleseblob ruins the clock and
unleashes his evil henchmen on the park, turning it into a dark
mockery of its former self.
After the introduction, you are deposited just inside the gate
of the creepy park and must make your way around the mazelike
grounds. Signposts are sparsely scattered around the various crossroads
to aid you, and there is a sorry excuse for a map of the park
grounds in the game's manual. Also, your clock tower is atop a
rise in the center of the park and once you get inside its accompanying
mansion you are faced with another labyrinthfor this one
you're on your own.
As you journey around, you will encounter various creatures.
Most will ask you to satisfy some need of theirs to make them
go away; occasionally one will be enticed to follow you around
and you can lead it to its doom. Other times, you must find a
particular inventory item and use it correctly to get rid of a
You move Gast around the screen by holding down the mouse button
and guiding Gast in the direction of the onscreen arrow. My hand
kept going to sleep as a result of this; I wish movement had been
of the click-on-the-spot-you-want-the-character-to-go-and-wait-for-him-to-get-there
Inventory is limited to six items, and you can only have one
henchcreature following you around at any one time. You can deposit
items or creatures at will to make room for others; the trick
lies in remembering where you left them so you can find them again
when you need them.
Every time you eliminate a henchbeast, you collect a "soul
star." You can get soul star bonuses in a couple of other
ways, too, just by some savvy use of inventory items or practical
puzzle-solving. It is extremely important to your endgame success
to collect as many of these stars as you can.
Once you think you have disposed of enough henchmonsters and
have enough soul stars, you can go take the "final ride."
The final ride costs three soul stars to board, then you must
ride a roller coaster and dodge obstacles for a minute or so.
If you hit an obstacle, you lose a star. The "regular"
obstacles are just unmoving little white balls and are easy to
avoid, but any henchcritters you left behind will be added to
the obstacle mix, and they are difficult to escape since they
bounce around all over the place.
Back to the regular adventure gameplay part for a moment: Every
time Gast gets scared or hit by something, he gets a "scarepoint."
According to the game's manual, the fewer scarepoints Gast has,
the longer the final ride. However, there is no telling how many
scarepoints you are stuck with; you can tell only whether there
are some or none by the state of the Gast face icon at the top
right of the gameplay screen. If the Gast icon is frowning he
has scarepoints; you can get rid of them by catching dewdrops
(these are few and far between; I found it best to wait until
I was ready for the final ride and then go looking for them) or
eating slime. At the time I took the final ride, I had a happy
Gast icon, which I assume means zero scarepoints and the longest
possible final ride. I can't say this for certain, but my strong
suspicion is that one faces the same number of obstacles on any
length of final ride but in the longer ride the distances between
the obstacles are greater and thus the obstacles are easier to
I'm not sure if these next parts constitute a spoiler or not;
all of the above final ride info is listed in the game docs but
what happened after that was a surprise. But forewarned is forearmed,
I always say, especially when it comes to arcade sequences.
After you get to the end of the final ride, you get two bonus
soul stars. You then enter a room where all of the henchbaddies
you didn't eradicate in the adventure part of the game will come
at you and you fling your remaining stars at them. If you hit
them they go away for good; if you miss they hit you and take
away another star and then reappear as targets for another round.
Thus, it pays to get rid of as many of these henchdudes as you
can before you take the final ride.
And then, after that little lovely, you get to face Beleseblob
himself and chuck some more stars at him in a shooting gallerytype
sequence. You have to get three hits to finish him off, so you'd
better either be a good shot or have plenty of stars left by the
time you get to this point.
In the adventure part of the game where you are wandering around
the park and doing in henchentities, it is possible to hit dead
ends with one or more, and then you're stuck with them in the
I played through Gast twice; the first time I had 27 stars
and had left behind seven henchcreepies. I could not beat the
second part of the final sequence, throwing stars at the remaining
ones, even after several attempts. I had dead-ended with all seven
of the remaining henchites so there was nothing I could do to
go back and remove them; in two cases, the henchfiends just up
and disappeared on me due to some kind of weird clipping error
in the game, and then two others needed these "gone"
ones in order to finish them off, which of course I could not
do. The other three were genuine dead-endsI had used their
required items elsewhere and was unable to find alternate solutions.
The second time through, I knew where most of the inventory items
would best be used and how to get rid of most of the henchnaughties,
and I was able to arrive at the final ride with 30 stars and only
two unfinished-off henchminions. At that level I was able to complete
the entire endgame arcade sequence in one go, with maybe two stars
One final gameplay note: In the finest adding-insult-to-injury
fashion, you cannot save once you begin the arcade portion of
Okay, on to the regular review blabbing about presentation and
Graphics are pleasingly creepy in the gameplay portion, dark
and gray. Camera angles are artistically cinematic, but as usual
when different views are employed on each screen navigation can
be confusingnot a good thing when the game is already one
gigantic maze. Cutscenes are interlaced, in a throwback to the
mid-90s, but the various henchizens were creatively drawn and
animated in a Little Shop of Horrors kind of way.
Music is nothing special, but it's unobtrusive. There is very
little voice acting but what's there is halfway decent, although
sometimes it's drowned out by other characters or by the music.
There is no option for subtitles, and this game could've really
Gast certainly is one of a kindits uniqueness is
what saves it from the ol' dung heapbut it sure wasn't very
fun to play. And having to start the game all over again just
to bulk up for the final arcade sequence was really not
to my liking. I would recommend Gast only to someone whose
sole criterion for a gaming good time is replayability; I'm thinking
there must be some way to play through the entire game and have
no henchghouls left over at the end. But it won't be me that goes
looking for it. You can stick a fork in me 'cause I'm done.