Time travelling ghosts out to save Christmas? Yes folks, this is Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol, a special retelling of the ever familiar holiday story about an old grumpy man who does not like celebrating the holidays. Hidden object game fans will love to know that Big fish has gone all out once again with another HOG title that not only has you seeking out well hidden stuff in overly detailed images, but also has a lot of interesting puzzle elements that are sprinkled into the narrative. This is a full game experience that many kids will come to love –so if you want to be able to share the story of A Christmas Carol to the little ones, this game the perfect way to do it.
What is Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol?
This game is part of Big Fish's Christmas Stories series of games and as the title states, this is the one about Ebenezer Scrooge bring visited by the three ghosts of Christmas. If you have not seen this story before (either in written narrative or in one of the many TV or film retellings) do be warned that this review will have spoilers (and take it from us when we say that this story is best enjoyed unspoiled). There is also a lot of new content added to the story in the game.
Scrooge hates Christmas, and this is a big deal since he is a person of influence and resources –something that people really need during cold winder holiday. This goes doubly so for Little Timmy who is sick. The Three Ghosts of Christmas take it upon themselves to help rehabilitate Scrooge by showing him the causes and effects of his actions (and inactions). This HOG title puts players in the role of a new character, Scrooge's niece and sets her off a very interesting path of adventure. Instead of the Three Ghosts simply whisking away Scrooge to different instances of Christmas, the player also has to accomplish many local goals in order to help convince her uncle to help fix things.
Puzzles and Hunting
The greater bulk of the game still comes in the form of hidden object hunts –and there is a ton of stuff that players need to look for. Accomplishing each HOG set will let you progress forward in the story while also giving you items to put into your inventory. This inventory is important to the rest of the game. Outside of the HOG parts, players will have to go around and talk to characters as well as solve puzzles (many using items from the HOG sequences). This makes the game feel fluid and constantly pushing the player forward, instead of clumsily falling through the familiar narrative in between interruptions of hidden object hunts.
Aside from the fact that you now play as a completely new character, players also have to deal with new story elements not present in the original story. Obviously, the puzzles and HOG parts are definitely not part of the original Christmas Carol tale. But so is the presence of time travel devices and fantastical elements. There are also a few things that have been adjusted as well –gone are the more mature concerns that many of the supporting characters had. In their place are more immediate and simplistic issues that children are more able to grasp.
The good thing is that despite the additional flourish to the original story (the only thing unnatural in the original tale are the Ghosts who appear and the visions they show to Scrooge), these new elements complement the flow and pace of the narrative instead of distracting the audience from it. So unless you are a purist, or your child needs to have an academically accepted interpretation of the story (they might need it for holiday homework), this video game version is something many kids will be happy to get.
Don't be a Scrooge
Christmas is a time of celebration, and this game is a great reminder of that. Visually, it is very bright and cheerful and typical of the sort of game fondly found on the magical christmas games site christmassnowgames.com. The artwork is very well detailed and the characters are drawn in very storybook like ways. The colors are rich and striking, making each new scene feel like you are flipping through a page. The audio is a little less impressive; though festive, the tunes are not all that remarkable. The gameplay is where this game shines best. The HOG parts will really have you looking hard at the screen while the puzzles in between provide a nice breather before the next hidden object challenge. If you have been looking for a good holiday game for yourself or the young ones, we highly recommend Christmas Stories: A Christmas Carol.