Can the Grinch save Christmas without Dr. Seuss? - Review By The Mad Giraffe
Ever since I was a little child, I watched The Grinch every Christmas season. Religiously. I'd usually watch it about ten times, and each and every time I would pray that the Grinch would successfully steal the annoying Who-ville Christmas. I cheered for the Grinch and would become really upset at the end of the cartoon when the Grinch's tiny heart grew ten times its size and became good. Call me crazy, or whatever else you can think of, but that is the way it was, and that is the way it still is this very day. So, you can imagine the excitement I felt when I first heard that the Grinch was coming to the Dreamcast!
Fast forward a few months. The movie The Grinch comes out along with a flood of related merchandise -- including the game The Grinch. This was it! My dreams, so I thought, were finally going to come true. I was finally going to be able to control the Grinch, my hero, and steal Who-ville Christmas. I was ready to play what I hoped would be one of the coolest games ever created. The only question I had was whether or not the game would be able to satisfy my own dreams about giving the Grinch an ending he deserved. Frankly, I'm getting a bit too old for my own Grinch costume to live out my dreams, righting wrongs, ruining Who-ville's Christmas, tearing up all the mailboxes... well... perhaps I've said too much.
Those presents were kind enough to not vanish for this shot.
When I started up the game, the first thing I noticed was that the soundtrack was really well done and suits the game perfectly. The music, from the title screen on, is a brilliant mix of eerie and dark tracks which still manage to maintain a Christmas flavor. Both the narrator's deep storytelling voice and the Grinch's sinister lines are also well done and clean -- a very nice plus considering the large amount of dialogue in the game. Some of the dialogue is comical at times; I particularly enjoyed seeing little Who-ville kids run up to the Grinch, hug him, and exclaim "Big Daddy!" The sound effects are also equally clean and nicely matched to the on screen action. Everything which takes place in the game -- from the crunching of snow under your feet to blowing your stinky Grinch breath -- sounds just as I'd imagine it to sound.
I guess another plus is that the game contains virtually no violence whatsoever, which would make it a good choice for children. The Grinch does not really use weapons (he "attacks" with his stinky breath and rotten egg launcher), and no one ever dies from his "attacks" -- they merely run away. When the Who-ville citizens attack you, they typically end up hugging you, freezing you with ice, or performing other non-violent acts. Yet, parents be warned, because while the game may not be very violent, the Grinch plays a lot of pranks on people such as smashing others' beautifully built snowmen, shooting a rotten egg in someone's house, and, most of all, destroying Christmas! No Jet Grind Radio-like warning here: no sir, The Grinch wholly encourages vandalism. So, it may send a semi-bad message to the game's target audience, but it's probably nothing most people would be concerned about if they're already a fan of the story.
Stinky breath go in, stinky game come out.
Speaking of the target audience (re: kiddies), it's almost impossible to die. The way the Grinch regenerates life and the minimal "damage" inflicted by hugs, there is not one moment where you'll pray for your life. Challenge = zero. Normally I'd say that's a bad thing, but considering the context of the game and the intended audience, that's probably another asset for would-be purchasers.
I also thought the game was fairly well constructed, trying to keep as much of the story intact while altering it a bit to provide enough fodder for an actual game. I mean, come on, it's based on the Grinch! Everything from the Grinch's cave up on Mt. Crumpit to Who-ville is well represented in the game. You can even walk up to the cliff of the cave, and the Grinch will look into his telescope while you press buttons to direct some hateful comments toward Who-ville. Most everything in the game stays true to the original idea's roots, which is a plus for Dr. Seuss and Grinch fans alike. Throughout the quest you receive mission objectives, which are basically a list of pranks you must play against the citizens of Who-ville. I particularly enjoyed painting over pictures of the Who-ville mayor to make him look like a clown. The Grinch must find and assemble blue prints for inventions to make machines to use to accomplish these prank goals and further ruin Who-ville Christmas. Although this is a great idea for a game based on the story, it is a shame that the other aspects didn't do much to support it very well.
Next: The Bad and The Final Word