Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red-Nosed Rip-Off

Usually it's hard for me to write a review of a video game because there is just so much in a game and I don't know what to include in a review and what to leave out. However, reviewing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (just out on Wii and also DS) should be a piece of cake as the title contains maybe 15 minutes of content. You would think that a video game which has licenced one of the most iconic films in this country's holiday psyche would be rich in detail and pay tribute to that original 1964 television special. You would be wrong. Even though this game advertises itself as having something for the kids and also the parents who grew up on the special, the makers of this game have made very little effort to include much of the show in their game version.

Let's get this out of the way first; this is a mini-game collection consisting of only four games! Which, I believe, makes it a "mini mini-game collection." The games can be played individually or in a story mode. Story Mode simply takes the four games and links them together with footage of Sam The Snowman (the TV special's narrator) waddling towards the screen trying desperately to link the four games together in some sort of narrative way. The animation of Sam is recycled four times. The biggest crime of all here, is that there was absolutely no attempt to duplicate Burl Ives' voice as the Snowman. Again, Burl Ives' voice in the original special is perhaps one of the voices most associated with Christmas. Even my four year old son, who hasn't seen the show since last Christmas, beat me to the punch pointing out the new voice was a fraud.

Upon hearing the "new" Sam the Snowman I was worried to hear how the voices of the other characters would be butchered, however not a single other character in this game ever utters a word. The only dialogue in the game comes from a generic elf and Santa Claus...and anyone can pull off a convincing Santa impression.

The games in this holiday collection are decidedly simple to appeal to the youngest of players, but some of the games are so simple and lack any sort of competition or challenge that anyone old enough to pick up a Wiimote will find it hard to stay engaged.

Each of the games can be played as single or double players and that's nice to keep the fighting down with the little ones. First up, Rudolph and Co. have to bounce packages into Santa's bag or get the decorations to the tree. There's a game just like this on last year's far superior We Wish You A Merry Christmas game. Next, is a game which sort of plays like a mini-version of Just Dance where you have to mimic the movements illustrated on the screen to help kneed dough to make Christmas cookies. As with most Wii games based solely on movement, the register of movements is questionable.

The third game has you helping to paint toys. This game seems to not require any skill as the points seem to magically appear regardless of how you play. Finally, you hop on Santa's sleigh and toss presents onto the rooftops. Here is the disc's only challenge as it did take a bit of precision timing to drop the gifts into the small chimneys.

There are a few references to the original TV special sprinkled throughout the title. Some of the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys pop up, and the Abominable Snowman makes several appearances. But overall, this game belongs on the naughty list for not really living up to the franchise which it represents. I imagine most people will be disappointed with this quick cash grab. You'd be better off not being invited to play in these reindeer games.

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