“You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…” You can hear the song from the old Chuck Jones cartoon in your head as you load up this title from Konami, based on the updated movie coming out this holiday season. However pleasant humming will soon turn to grunting and whining as you try to pass all of the many tasks that are placed before you in this platform game that tries to be something like Spyro the Dragon and Ape Escape. Though the game does have great potential it seems rushed and incomplete with little bugs and tasks that seem unnecessarily hard.
Through a lot of in game video you will get to know the Grinch and learn that he really hates these little people called the Whos that live in Whoville. That you probably knew. What you might not have known is that he has a whole host of inventions whose sole purpose is making the Whos life miserable. The problem is that after a clumsy fall the Grinch’s blueprints have been scattered all over Whoville and he does not know how to build his inventions. Armed with his trusty mutt, Max, and some repulsive breath the Grinch sets forth to get his blueprints back.
Along the way the Grinch decides that while he is in town he might as well wreak a little havoc on the stupid little Whos. This involves a bunch of present smashing, as well as defacing and destroying everything the Whos have made. Some of the items cannot be destroyed without certain objects, which you have to find among the citizens of Whoville. There are four different fun-filled worlds to tromp through, each one with a distinct personality.
Graphically the game is very cartoony and looks quite like Spyro with its simple single-colored walls and spacious areas. The lack of serious time put into the game is evident in the graphic design. There are quite a few glitches in the contact with enemies and the walls. Sometimes you will be hanging off of a wall that you should not be able to grab onto, and once a Who got attached to me and it was impossible to get rid of it. Usually the Grinch would bounce him off with his belly but because of a glitch with another graphic, the Who was stuck. These little annoyances are not enough to ruin the entire gameplay experience, but they do take away from the enjoyment of it.
Starting the game off is a bit slow. There are a host of options and fun items that the game teases you with but doesn’t allow you to play with right off of the bat. In fact you have to do a lot of collecting and exploring before you have enough of the blueprint pieces to make 1 invention. Once you do get the inventions, however, the game picks up. There are wonderfully fun gadgets like the rotten egg shooter, the Grinch-coptor, slime shooter, and an octopus climbing mechanism. Still the game is more running back and forth around areas than anything else.
The main problem with the gameplay was the environments were strangely laid out. Instead of having a beginning, middle, and end, they were circular with lots of nooks and crannies. This forced a great deal of wandering around in circles trying to find that one thing that I was missing to complete my mission. Many of the items are unfairly hidden and might be too hard for kids to find. If I know kids, getting stuck usually leads to getting bored, and losing interest. After wandering around for a while, I eventually just got bored. There was nothing in the game that kept me constantly interested and in many parts it lagged severely. This was due in part to the lack of specific instruction in the missions. How can I be expected to know what to do just by getting vague mission goals?
I guess the most obvious point is that this is just a franchise game, part of the big marketing scheme that the people at Universal have cooked up for this holiday season. In that vein, I would have to say that this game comes off much better than most movie-games. That said, it must be known that this would never stand alone without its license. It just does not have the depth or playability that other games in its genre have. But of course it’ll make that perfect gift under the tree. And finally I just want to end by saying that I did not point out the irony of making a game about taking Christmas away and then marketing it in the Christmas season as a perfect gift.
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