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The Worst Christmas Game Of All Time

Ryan King

Features


Elf: The Movie is the undisputed festive Champion Of Chuff.

Published on Dec 13, 2012

You’ve probably seen Elf. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s not the best film about Christmas but that’s only because Jingle All The Way and Die Hard exist.

If Buddy The Elf had thrown Alan Rickman off a roof or dragon punched a reindeer, we’d reconsider but neither of those things happen, so Elf nestles in third place. But like we said, you’ve probably seen it.

What you probably haven’t done is play the Elf” The Movie.

That’s because it only came out on Gameboy Advance and had a massively staggered release, farting its way onto European shelves in the non-Christmassy time of February 2005. It managed to scramble into American stores in November 2004 so we’re not sure what happened. Maybe Crave Entertainment thought we didn’t have Christmas in Europe. Who knows.

Either way, Elf: The Movie is the only official game based on Will Ferrell’s adventures. Being on Gameboy Advance, being a licensed platformer and having a massively staggered release meant few ever played it.

But we have. And Elf: The Movie is the worst Christmas game of all time.

Why It Sucks


Licensed platformers were Gameboy Advance’s equivalent of insects – there were millions of them about and no-one cared about any of them. It didn’t matter if the license was Batman Begins or My Little Pony Crystal Princess: The Runaway Rainbow, as they all defaulted to the same turgid, uninspiring 2D mess.

This was a time when even Postman Pat had a 2D platformer.

Postman Pat.

Anyway, Elf: The Movie. It kicks off with a dire platforming section and there’s nothing that sets alarm bells ringing any louder than any of the other licensed platformers that dribbled onto Gameboy Advance during this time. Your response is more likely to be a resigned drooping of the shoulders as your spirit sags to sock level.

It has all the hallmarks of a licensed platformer from that era, such as dull level design that has little to do with the movie it’s based on. Remember that bit in Elf where Buddy has to jump over the polar bears and jump on the pumpkins to collect the stars? Or the bit where he’s in a cave with science-defying icicles that tumble from the ceiling and immediately reform and tumble again in an endless loop of icy death?

You won’t and yet there’s three levels of it. And there should be seven because Buddy says “I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest” during Elf. Thankfully, we only get three levels.

But there’s nothing remarkably bad about Elf: The Movie. It’s just mediocre. What slaps this game into legendary territory is how quickly developers Human Soft descend into madness and veer wildly off course from mediocre platformer into something far worse.

Where It Goes Massively, Hideously Wrong


Perhaps realising that further platforming levels either won’t to tie in with the film or fail to rise above incredibly dull, Human Soft breaks off from this path and starts trying any and every idea that comes to mind.

And so after three levels of moving from left to right while jumping over polar bears, we get a top down platforming section where you’re jumping on floating ice platforms while avoiding polar bears. It still has the same horrible animation used for the 2D platforming except for when Buddy misses a jump and hits the water. He just disappears and reappears back at the start. No splash, no extra animation, nothing.

Given Buddy The Elf farts above with the precision of an empty crisp packet caught in a breeze, this bit is needlessly tougher than it should be.

Then Buddy slides on an icy path towards New York with a two-minute time limit, unless he grabs clocks on the way, which extends the time he can take to get to New York because… Why? What’s the hurry? Why is he collecting clocks? And why are there banners that say ‘3’, ‘2’, ‘1’ and ‘New York’? Is there a single icy path into New York with those banners?



And on it goes. Buddy The Elf delivers presents in a lift by repeating 3-digit codes, upon which a door opens and a present mysteriously slides into the room. Buddy The Elf throws snowballs at kids by the bridge but not at Santa, who is also on the bridge and keeps randomly popping up because that’s what Santa does. Buddy The Elf throws presents at houses of the same colour. Buddy The Elf rides a reindeer through Central Park but only if he increases Christmas spirit by collecting bells.

None of it makes any sense. It barely relates to the film. Bar one section that’s heavily inspired by Pipe Mania, which is only any good because it’s inspired by Pipe Mania, all of it is awful.

The whole thing is over in less than an hour so if you really want, there are ways you can obtain (cough) the title and play it for yourself. Like we said, it takes less than an hour.

Like we also said – it’s the worst Christmas game of all time.

 

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