“Snake this is Green. Come
“Green? Cut the codenames
“Fine, call me Grinch. I
have a job for you. Word on the street is that a man is planning to infiltrate
millions of homes all over the world.”
“Why? What’s his mission?”
“He wants to deliver…” The
Grinch paused for a moment, no more than a second or two. He knew the man’s name
but didn’t want to say who. “He wants to deliver toys.”
“Toys? That’s terrible. They
must contain lead!”
The Grinch didn’t know, but
he needed an ally. So he scratched his head and decided to lie. “That’s
“How soon do we act?”
“Next month. My intel has
informed me that Santa—(ahem), the crazy man, plans to take action on Christmas
“Christmas Eve? Darnit,
that’s too soon.” Snake wanted to act but he knew he’d be late. He’s being held
over until second quarter, 2008.
“Hmmm,” The Grinch started,
pacing his feet. “I guess this is a mission I’ll have to complete.”
Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch
Stole Christmas! has been a cherished classic since its debut more than five
decades ago. The clever rhymes and witty dialogue are timeless.
Twenty years ago, the
thought of a Grinch game might have made us cringe. Ten years ago, we might have
been able to see where it was possible but fail to get excited. Today, however,
one ambitious developer proves that, if treated like a kid-friendly answer to
Metal Gear, The Grinch not only works – it is also a lot of fun.
You’re Not So Mean After
All, Mr. Grinch
As an angry, Who-hating man,
The Grinch decides to play a game of reverse Santa Clause. Long after the
decorations were hung, and long after Saint Nick had dropped off his presents,
The Grinch would sneak into each home in Whoville, snatch every
Christmas-oriented item he could find, and leave without a crumb in the house –
not even one big enough for the tiniest mouse.
Players take control of The
Grinch at the start of Christmas Eve. You start on the rooftop of a multi-level
home. Every floor has something to recover: presents, wreaths, garland,
stockings, Christmas tree lights and ornaments, and a couple other treats that
are too tempting to resist. The game is strictly two-dimensional, and the touch
screen is only used for mini-games that are triggered when you get caught.
Sleepwalkers roam the house along with parents, restless children, and the most
well-known Who – Cindy Lou.
One life is taken away every
time a parent catches The Grinch. (There are only three lives per game, so don’t
get careless.) Get touched by a sleepwalker, however, and you’ll be transported
to a dodge-the-sleepwalker mini-game. During this brief phase, The Grinch moves
somewhat aimlessly. You can give him partial direction – and move him away from
the group of sleepwalkers, which come at him from all sides – by touching the
Cindy Lou Who triggers
another mini-game. In this one, four doors are lined up at the top of the bottom
screen. Sleepwalkers run out, and your job is to touch them before they reach
the other side.
These mini-games are nothing
special, but the main game is unusually addictive. Each Who home is littered
with doorways, stairways, and other passageways. You’ll have to use them not
only for navigation but also to hide from the Whos.
Like the original, 2D Metal
Gear games, The Grinch doesn’t move that fast. But the lack of speed isn’t
damaging – after the first few stages, it’s no longer an issue. The maze layout
and cool level designs are exciting and fun. And because each stage is short,
players won’t have time to get bored with this semi-repetitive setup. In fact,
this is one of the rare licensed games that you’ll want to play more than once.
A fun, kid-friendly
take on the Metal Gear series.
These visuals are
well below the Nintendo DS level of graphics. Putting that aside, the 2D artwork
and character animations are a close match for the 50-year-old cartoon.
The sound effects
are very Grinch-y, but the music doesn’t quite match the score of the film or
There’s a slight
bite to some of these stages. The majority, however, aren’t much of a challenge.
Rather than conceive
a long, drawn-out game where nothing works, the developer stuck to one gameplay
formula and made it fun.
The quest is very,
very short, but high replay value and a well-utilized license make it the
perfect stocking stuffer for any Grinch fan.