How the Games Stole Christmas
Tis that time of year again, where my dual-personalities comes out to play; I like to call them Dr. Kringle & Christmas Hyde. While I love Christmas and the holidays, it can also bring out the worst in people, media and games. So while Dr. Kringle sleeps off that eggnog, let’s let Christmas Hyde have some fun with a few holiday-themed games.
Everyone remembers NiGHTS Into Dreams, right? Of course you do, that quirky little jester and those perspective-shifting, motion-sickness-inducing flying levels are hard to forget. But Christmas isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of NiGHTS; winter maybe, but even that’s a stretch. So, imagine my surprise when Sega decides to release a Christmas version of Into Dreams. Ok, fine. I guess NiGHTS looks a little like an elf, especially when you dress him in red and green. But really? All they did was take the intro level and boss from the game, puke a bunch of snow, jingle bells, Christmas carols and glim-glam all over it. Sure, it had little unlockable Easter eggs, like Sonic as a kinda-playable character, but really it was nothing more than a fancy texture pack. The least they could’ve done was make a couple of unique levels instead of recycling the one level that anyone who ever touched the game has already played.
No. Just, no. The problem with religious-themed games, is just that. There’s no good reason for them. It’s just a cheap way to get kids interested in the Bible and religion. Which in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing , but when you blatantly copy other good games and make them infinitely crappier, you’ve just undermined your entire cause. Anyway, Wisdom Tree apparently felt the need to provide a “wholesome” and “educational” alternative to the “violent” Mario games. One of those games was a Christmas-themed game called King of Kings The Early Years. The game is actually divided up into three sub-games, the first being a pretty sloppy platformer where you play as one of the wise men riding on a spitting camel. The second you play Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus riding a donkey, climbing up various mountains trying to avoid rock-slides and super-sonic mountain goats. In the third you actually play as Jesus in a poorly cloned Super Mario 2 (US version) platformer that is so bad you’ll want to curse the religious figure you’re playing as. In all three games, hazards and enemies are thrown at you with a Satanic vengeance and you have little offensive recourse.(Jesus, of course, has no offensive capabilities) The only way you can recover health is by collecting a randomly placed scroll and then answering a Bible question correctly. This, boys and girls, is what we call a bad game. Platforming is sloppy, graphics are poor, the gameplay is pathetic and near unplayable. If you were a good Christian boy or girl and got this for Christmas, I am truly sorry for you.
On whose authority the Official Father Christmas is “official” I do not know. What I do know, is that this multi-platform PC game is a load of reindeer crap. Again divided up into three sub-games, you are first tasked with rebuilding Santa’s sleigh because the elves, being the evil little monsters they are, have apparently dismantled it and spread the pieces all over Santa’s house. After finding all the pieces and avoiding said evil elves, you must then choose and catch an assortment of presents as they rain from the heavens as if a cyclone landed in the middle of Toys-R-Us. Finally, you have to wrestle Santa’s sleigh back and forth through the air, attempting to drop the presents onto various cities, while naturally trying to avoid birds, planes and kleptomaniacal clouds. Seriously. The freakin clouds will steal your presents. This is just a sad, pathetic excuse for a game. The only good thing is that the proceeds were apparently donated to charity. But I think I would’ve preferred to just give them my money instead of getting this crap in return.
This was only a sampling of bad or pointless Christmas/Holiday-themed games, but there are many, many more; too many to mention. Some, while good games in their own right, have some kind of Holiday theme needlessly thrown in as an afterthought, see games like Parasite Eve. Then there are others that are based on holiday movies (already a bad idea) like Home Alone, Nightmare before Christmas or How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And then you have games merely trying to capitalize on the Christmas theme like The Official Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas. In other words, developers: KEEP YOUR FREAKIN JINGLE BELLS AND HO HO HO’S OUT OF MY GAMES! Now if you’ll excuse me, Dr. Kringle is starting to wake up.