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Comprehensive Reviews

Review: A Christmas Game for iPhone / iPad

Rating 4.00 out of 5
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For me “A Christmas Story” was my “It’s A Wonderful Life” – that one movie you had to try and watch every Christmas no matter what else was on TV.  After watching it with my kids this year, I realize that desire has passed.  However, since there’s never been an official game based of the movie that I’m aware of, I jumped at the chance to try this one out, even though it’s technically not an “official” game.  While it’s somewhat entertaining, it certainly hasn’t renewed my interest in the movie, and I think it’s even fair to say that were it not for the phrase “you’ll shoot your eye out” and the infamous leg-lamp you might not even notice the connection between the two.

Here Comes The Train

Here Comes The Train

Basically you have an indoor and an outdoor scene, and each scene has you constantly spinning around your surroundings until the time runs out, blasting everything in sight.  You don’t control the spinning, but you do control the direction your gun is pointing, and you do this simply by dragging your finger around the screen.  There are crosshairs to give you a relative indication of where you are firing, but as you get to shooting targets farther back the crosshairs become less accurate because the bullets’ trajectory actually arcs after a certain distance.  This is at least how it works with the standard gun, and you don’t get any additional guns unless you pay for them through IAP or by earning a million points in the outdoor scene.

Pretty much everything is fair game.  While indoors you can shoot all the ornaments on the tree, blast the pictures on the walls and even shoot out the windows.  And don’t forget about the leg-lamp; after all, it’s up to you to end the controversy.  Outside you get to demolish an old car, shoot some bluebirds and explode containers of what I can only assume is moonshine.  If you see an alarm clock be sure to shoot it as well because it will give you more time to be destructive.  While there’s plenty to shoot at, maybe the indoor scene could have had a turkey on the table or a cardboard cutout wearing a bunny suit on the landing.  Even better, when you’re outside you should be able to shoot at some bandits or maybe pick an icicle off the eves of a roof.  It just would have been nice to see a few more items that really tied in with the high points of the movie.

When Snowmen Attack

When Snowmen Attack

The visuals are in 3D, and while they aren’t Unreal level by any means they aren’t too shabby either.  There are some nice effects like watching the sections of the train bounce around when you blast them apart (I actually managed to shoot one on top of a table once).  I’m pretty sure I even saw a little bluebird turn into a drum stick on one occasion when I shot it.  Again I would have liked to have seen some more imagery that really felt “inspired” by the movie itself.

The sound effects are actually pretty decent for the most part, with different objects actually making appropriate sounds when shot.  There are even some voiceovers with such key phrases as “you’ll shoot your eye out”.  I can’t tell if they are actual sound bytes or simply “re-recordings”, but they do add a certain something to the game.  There’s a pretty decent rock rendition of “Deck The Halls” played during the menus, but the in-game song sounds like the background music from the famous “dogs attack turkey” scene.  It’s not bad, but I like the menu music better.

Leg Of Lamp

Leg Of Lamp

Overall this is a decent attempt at bringing a 3D gallery style Christmas themed shooting game to iOS devices.  On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s a great attempt at bringing back the magic that was “A Christmas Story”.  For every one thing that gives you a brief recollection of the film there are so many other things that scream generic shooter.  Still, the game is fun for at least a few times around, and a free price tag doesn’t hurt things either.  Of course, the real sharpshooters can sweeten the pot by earning enough points to unlock the IAP purchases.  I would certainly give the game a shot, but I wouldn’t expect to be playing it all season long.

Final Verdict: 6/10

I Like:

  • The attempt to rekindle A Christmas Story
  • The visuals
  • The sound effects

I Don’t Like:

  • Need more movie references
  • Only 2 scenes get old quickly
  • Menu music better than in-game music

App Store Link

Most of my time spent playing the game for review was on an iPad 2 running iOS 4.x, though the final audio / video recap was fresh in my mind thanks to an iPod Touch 4G running iOS 5.0.1.

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