Windows - 2000
Description of The Grinch Windows
In perfect timing for the holiday season, as well as the recent mega Blockbuster Jim Carrey movie (just announced as the biggest grosser of 2000), Konami have released a rather decent platform game in the shape of The Grinch, the Christmas-stealing cartoon fable based on Dr Seuss' The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. We've been informed that rumors of a bloody shoot-em-up sequel Grinch 2: Red Christmas are completely unfounded, fortunately.
The Grinch casts you not as little Cindy Who or any of her equally appalling brethren, but as the Grinch himself, mean spirited, green fur and all. This is definitely a good thing since an entire game spent swapping presents and pleasantries with other Whos, hugging and dancing around would be too much to bear.
Instead, you have to wander around Whoville and the surrounding areas spoiling the Who's Christmas by smashing presents, destroying snowmen, firing rotten eggs into windows and performing all other manner of cold-hearted tasks. You view the Grinch-manufactured mayhem from a third person perspective, a la Tomb Raider, although there's yet to be a Lara Croft game that revolves around wrecking Christmas gifts with her arse or using bad breath to her advantage, something that's a regular occurrence in The Grinch.
But on the other hand, while the Grinch can grab the edges of platforms and pull himself up like Ms Croft, The Grinch isn't just about platform hopping. It's a mixture of platform hopping, object collecting, puzzling, Thief style sneaking about; a mixture of gameplay that comes together to make a strangely entertaining game.
Seuss line is it anyway
The original story of The Grinch has already been the subject of a Chuck Jones animation, and more recently, the aforementioned live action film starring Jim Carrey. So given the widespread fame of the tale, it's somewhat surprising that Konami chose to make said story into a game given that the majority of film licensed games end up being somewhat under par. [Since when has that stopped sales, though, eh? -Ed]
Thankfully, the voice acting in the game is of a suitably decent quality and while the game doesn't exactly follow the plot of the book, it retains much the of the charm of the original story. The game is split up into four rather large levels, accessible from the Grinch's stony mountaintop retreat. You can only access the second section after the first has been completed and so on, but rather handily the levels themselves -- which in turn contain various locations -- are fairly non-linear. How so? On each level, you're told what you need to achieve, for example, smash a certain number of presents, perhaps chuck eggs into ten houses, or paint over the mayor's posters. You can then go about these tasks in any order; some tasks, such as snowman smashing, require you to just run around Whoville jumping on them, while others may mean you have to sneak into a building and avoid security guards. And with the local Whos keeping a watch out for you, life as a Grinch is rarely dull.
Grinch a grinch grinch
In order to accomplish his Christmas-spoiling mission, the Grinch has a wide range of abilities as his disposal. Not only can he jump around like nobody's business, but he can also use his foul breath for a variety of purposes, sneak around to avoid security guards, smash things with his behind and use the handy phone boxes scattered around Whoville to change into a disguise that will keep the Whos from recognising him. Although, the disadvantage of the latter is that, when disguised, you lose your disguise if you enter any buildings. So you can't sneak past guards inside buildings that way and you also can't use any of the Grinch's inventions.
Inventions, you ask? Indeed, because the Grinch is not only mean and cunning but has a real talent for inventing things. By gathering the blueprints scattered around Whoville you can creative a variety of items, including binoculars, a mini helicopter and -- by far the best invention in the game -- the Egg Bazooka. This latter item, the sort of things you hope kids will never get their hands on, can only be used when standing still, much like a real bazooka, but hurls rotten eggs towards targets allowing you to egg windows, Whos, and even solve the odd puzzle. You can even take control of the Grinch's dog Max to enter new areas and flip switches to enable the Grinch to carry on through. The Grinch's off-beat strangeness ensures the game is both in the spirit of the original story and also keeps you playing to see just what challenges you're going to run into next.
In terms of its difficulty, The Grinch is a bit of an oddity. Its theme would suggest it was aimed at young kids, and while it's very hard to get the Grinch killed during the early stages of the game, a fair amount of precise sneaking, platform hopping, and puzzling is required. It would appear that the game is in fact aimed more at adult or teenaged gamers who read the story when they were young - or even when they were older, as Dr Seuss' books are so strangely quirky, they tend to have a wider appeal than most kids books.
But is the game any good? In a word, yes. It perfectly captures the atmosphere of the original book without tearing the plot to pieces, and the characters themselves look the part despite not being hand drawn - even the Grinch walks the way you'd imagine him too.
As a game in its own right, The Grinch isn't exactly revolutionary. If it weren't for the license and theme, it'd be rather average. That said, it's challenging and strangely enjoyable - you have so much fun running around just smashing presents and laying into the Whos' Christmas celebrations that before you know it, you've been playing for a good two hours. Of course, that's if you like doing that sort of thing; if you're the kind of person who buys Cliff Richard records and every damn Christmas album that comes out, or didn't like Dr Seuss's books, this may not be to your liking. But for normal, right-minded people The Grinch is well worth checking out.
Review By GamesDomain
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