Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-12-19 Nintendo DS Platform E (Everyone) DSI Games / Black Lantern

Few Christmas movies have been as ingrained in our culture as Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Whether you're 9 or 90, the story presented here is a classic. So classic in fact, that the good folks at Black Lantern Studios decided to bring the Grinch's Christmas-hating, gift-stealing ways to the Nintendo DS.

Playing as the Grinch, you set out to Who-ville on Christmas Eve with one goal: steal anything and everything related to Christmas from the slumbering Whos. The game is laid out in a level-based side-scroller format, with each level becoming progressively harder and longer, with more presents and decorations to steal.

Each level starts with the Grinch scurrying down the chimney of one of Who-ville's homes, which have been decorated in an almost perfect match to homes from the film. Bright colors and loony shapes fill the screen, while festive and familiar music fills the air. With such an iconic film to work from, I am very happy to report that the transition has been made smoothly.

After making your way into each house, you simply tap the A button anytime you are near a present or decoration. While the main goal of each level only requires you to collect presents, the act of stealing the Christmas trees, garlands and other accoutrement (light bulbs included) provides an added challenge for those looking for the 100% completion rating, as doing so unlocks special features in the game.

But of course, the Grinch isn't going to be allowed to simply waltz in and take everything without a fight, and the multiple "enemies", if you will, provide the real difficulty found in the game. With four different varieties of Whos to keep a lookout for, the title does its best to keep you on your toes.

The first two Whos are the easiest, those categories being the sleeping Whos, who randomly sit up in bed, and Cindy Lou Who, who will exit her bedroom and look around for a while before going back to bed. With a little patience, both of these Whos can be easily avoided. The other two categories, however, do present a bit more of a challenge, especially in later levels.

The first is the sleepwalking Who, an elderly Who, who will pace back and forth at a fairly slow pace, but tends to walk near doors and stairways that you obviously need to find a way to enter. The last category is the most difficult to avoid, and is called the Sentry Who. The Sentry Who keeps a watchful eye out for Santa, by pacing back and forth very rapidly in order to not miss the man in the big red suit.

If you touch anyone besides a Sentry Who, one of three mini-games will start, that find you avoiding multiple sleepwalkers, or putting young Whos back to bed. However, if you touch a Sentry Who, you automatically lose a life. This fact alone makes the game almost impossible to complete on one try, as the sentries will start walking faster in each level, and the presents and decorations end up being placed against the sidewalls, causing you to get cornered while attempting to steal them.

When you do manage to steal all of the presents in a level, escape is possible through another chimney normally on the opposite side of the house from which you entered. After exiting, you simply move onto the next house and repeat the process all over again. Needless to say, the game is fairly repetitive; however, the game is also fairly short, and the multiple difficulty levels to choose from stop the game from being unbearably so.

In the end, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is by no means perfect, but the title does provide a fun little romp through one of our most cherished holiday films. Plus, the difficulty level doesn't reserve the game as one strictly for children, as even I found myself in a tight spot on multiple occasions. All in all, for a movie-based game, you could do a lot worse.

Specialt hanks to Alison Kain and DSI Games for providing a copy of this game.