Dr. Seuss created a wide variety of bizarre and interesting creatures before he passed away. Even if you’re not overly familiar with his works, however, chances are you’ve heard of these two: The Cat In The Hat and the Grinch. Well, the name of the game is Grinchmas, so if you haven’t already you can probably rule out the star as being the Cat. Grinchmas is one of three Grinch themed licensed products from Oceanhouse Media, and the only one that’s a game. As such, I almost would have expected something a bit more than an object throwing game. At least the voices are cool…
In Grinchmas you play the infamous scrooge-like Grinch, and your goal is to interact with the townspeople of whosville. How you interact with them depends on whether you choose to play Mean Grinch or Merry Grinch. In Mean Grinch mode the object is to toss snowballs at the houses of the whos. Why, you ask? Well, it just so happens that they are playing music that annoys you. The beauty of it is that the music really is annoying, so you actually don’t feel too bad throwing snowballs at the houses. If you hit a house that music is emanating from, the music will stop temporarily. Every once in a while a who might even cry out with an “ow”. As long as a house is allowed to play music it will help to slowly fill up a horn meter. When the meter is full the game is over.
In Merry Grinch mode you are delivering packages to the whos instead. Each who’s house has a certain colored roof, and the present must match the color of the roof. If a successful match is made your heart will grow bigger, and the roof of the house might change color. Sometimes the roof of a house will turn white, which means the house is no longer accepting presents. I’m not sure what causes that.
To throw a snowball or present you basically flick your finger on the screen. The direction and speed of your flick will determine the trajectory and power with which you throw the object. The problem with this method is that you might do what you perceive to be the same stroke 5 times and get 5 different results. Since both modes are timed in a matter of speaking, it’s frustrating not having a system where you can consistently repeat a winning toss. Another recently released Christmas themed game called Santa’s Run employs a slightly different methodology for the “toss a present” mechanic that I think works much better for this type of game.
The other problem is that everything feels dull and empty. I’ll admit that I don’t remember the cartoon or book very well, but what sticks out from the live action version of the movie (besides the fact that the whos are obnoxious) is that they are busy and lively. In this version of Whoville you almost feel like everyone is asleep, and that kind of makes you want to go to sleep. It would be great to see a who pop out every once in a while and actually do something. Maybe hang lights on a house or build a snowman or something. It was just be great to see some activity going on in this town. However, despite the somewhat drab nature of Whoville, the game is oddly addictive. I wasn’t so much drawn to Mean mode, but Merry mode has a way of sucking you in and making you play “just one more time”. I’m not sure if it’s the voices of the kids when they get presents or what.
The graphics are decent enough, but again given what has been done with this property in the past I expected a bit more. Everything just seems kind of peaceful and bland. Lights go on in the houses when music is playing, smoke curls up from the chimneys, blah, blah, blah. There’s nothing to really make this stand out from any other Christmas themed game, except maybe the Grinch’s hand in the foreground. Even the sound effects are pretty basic for the most part – except for when it comes to the exclamations of the kids when they get the presents you’re throwing. For some reason it’s a real joy to hear the kids shout “That’s my favorite” or “I like the Grinch”. The best, however, is hearing the boy go “Yippie” or “That’s awesome”. For whatever reason every time I hear those lines I’m reminded of the kid riding his tricycle in front of the Incredibles’ house. As for music, there is none in Merry mode (not really sure why) and the music in Mean mode is annoying, as would be expected since that’s why you’re throwing snowballs.
On the plus side, it’s nice having a Grinch game for the Christmas season. Unfortunately, I really don’t think they exploited the property nearly as well as they could have. The game itself is just average, even though it can get addicting in Merry mode, and the atmosphere is just not up to the wacky and fun standards that Dr. Seuss sets in his books. As much as I hate to say this, because I did not like the film very much at all, they could have taken a lesson in ambiance from Jim Carrey’s The Grinch. All in all, I’d mostly recommend this over other Christmas snowball / present throwing games only if you really need something that has the Grinch in it. I will say that this probably has more “young kid” appeal than games like Santa’s Run, though.
Overall Score: 6/10
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