Disney's A Christmas CarolESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Family Fun
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Players: 1 (Remption (Story) Mode)
Players: 1-4 (“Pass the DS” Mini-Game Multiplayer Mode)
Charles Dickens tale of Scrooge and his chance for redemption comes to life on your DS/DSi this holiday season. Released in conjunction with the animated movie adaptation, Disney’s A Christmas Carol on the DS/DSi allows you to control the fate of Scrooge as you navigate through the story through different styles of gameplay. So is this game something worth picking up or just another one of those movie based titles released during the holiday season?
The visuals in A Christmas Carol take on an illustrated style that one might expect to find within the pages of a book. The game uses both still images and some animated cut scenes when move the story along. This gives the game’s narrative a special feel to it. It may such things as the eyes of the character that are moving, but it seems to draw you into their expressions and the attention to detail of such is very effective. The images feel as though they are taken straight out of the 1800’s when the original story’s text was released as the scenery and settings hold true to this time period. The colours are, for the most part, muted due to the solemn mood of the game, but they do brighten in festive scenes such as Fred’s holiday party. At times the images are on the blurry side and lack some definition, but this could certainly be a deliberate effect to again set the mood for the scenes. Overall, most will find that the graphics are good and help to make the game more enjoyable.
One of the great things about the sound in A Christmas Carol is that when the game plays through the cut scenes there is narration of the story that utilizes voice acting. This adds some style and flair to the game and helps once again make it story like. Throughout the levels there is music that plays in the background, again as with the images it is that of a classical flair and seems to be right out of the time period in which the game was set. There is the use of some basic sound effects during gameplay such as the crackling of a roaring fire, the banshee cries of a ghost, and the sounds that area a result from actions such as books dropping to the floor or the shutting of a window. There are also specific sounds within the mini-games. In the Fiddle and Piano mini-games you must hit the notes displayed on screen in order to play the melody. If you miss a note you will hear the effect as the song will not play. In The Bell mini-game you must follow the crisp and clear ringing of the bells and repeat the pattern in order to earn points. Lastly, in the Christmas Carols mini-game, you are tasked to sing into the microphone in time with the melody of three traditional Christmas carols which include “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “O’ Come All Ye Faithful”.
There are several different puzzle types and game modes that you will come across in each of the fifteen levels of Redemption Mode (the game’s Story Mode). These can range from action and effect puzzles, mini-games, as well as action sequences which are equally distributed throughout the levels.
After an animated cut scene, which provides the context of the scene and the story up to that point, you will be given a task to complete where you must perform a series of actions in order to obtain the required result which in turn allows you to continue the story along. For example, in the opening sequence of the game you are asked to find a way to warm Bob Cratchit. In order to do so, you will have to scan the environment and determine how to accomplish this goal. In this case you have to obtain a piece of coal from the firebox by Scrooges fire. It seems simple enough, but Scrooge would much prefer Bob stay cold in order to save the coal. It then becomes a challenge to find actions within the environment that will cause Scrooge to become distracted enough for you to get the piece of coal. You can push objects off his desk so he has to go and pick them up, or open a window so that the candle blows out and Scrooge must get up and light it again. All of this is in an effort so that the coal can be obtained without Scrooge’s knowledge. A lot of the times you will have to move objects by shaking, displacing, or lifting them with your stylus in order to complete your tasks.
The game will provide you with some written hints if you tap on an item with your stylus. You can also blow into the microphone causing several sections on the screen to begin to shimmer, indicating that they could possibly be used to solve a puzzle. Personally, I found these puzzles the most frustrating to complete at times as the actions must be performed in a specific sequence. If you don’t get the sequence you will be unable to continue or achieve the end effect.
Throughout each of the scenes/levels there are also hidden mini-games. There is a huge variety of mini-games ranging from action games (Coin Flip, Snowball Fight), puzzle games (Tile Puzzle), memory games (Scratch Card, Pairs), and even cooking games (Cooking). Each mini game begins with a set of instructions and a point value that you must achieve in order to win a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal. The mini games are fun, quick, and at times challenging, especially the Piano game which requires you to hit notes across a regular keyboard and is more difficult than similar games which only have a few notes you are responsible for. The mini-games are played both in Redemption Mode or can be accessed on their own through the mini-games menu once it is unlocked. If you play the mini-games on their own you have the option of playing single player or in a Pass the DS style where you can choose to play with up to four players and the mini-game and DS will be passed from one player to the next.
The action sequences are varied, but a good portion of them require you to interact with items or individuals in the level and make something fall on or in front of a moving object or person while the screen moves forward. For example, in one scene you will be required to make Scrooge’s walk home as miserable as possible and to do this you will drop icicles on his head, cause dogs to bark, ravens to crow, and water spill from buckets all along his path. These actions are performed by using the stylus to tap or drag items in the path of the object or person. It can get pretty crazy doing all of these things in rapid succession, or even all at once.
Within the levels are additional or secondary objectives that can be completed, but these do not influence your progress through the game. One such objective is to catch a ghost that appears on screen. There is one ghost per scene/level and to catch the ghost you continuously draw a circle with the stylus around the ghost until it is caught. This is an easy enough objective to complete, unless you are in an action sequence that might make it more difficult to take the time to catch said ghost. During action sequences you will also be trying to complete the required actions for the sequence itself while trying to capture the ghost. There are also hidden items throughout the scenes that you will find by tapping your stylus throughout each scene. If you are able to collect all the hidden items from a scene you will earn a surprise (editor’s note: no spoiler here).
Apart from the Redemption Mode and the Mini-games there is the bonus of an Advent Calendar. This calendar will unlock one puzzle for every day in December that you play. The puzzles are those types where you must spot ten differences between the top and bottom images. If you are in the holiday spirit, you can wait until December and count down the days to Christmas with the calendar enjoying a new puzzle each day, or if you become curious like me, you can always alter your date and time settings on your DS to access the puzzles right away.
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