"A Christmas Carol" - a beloved holiday classic, it's probably the best known of Charles Dickens' work. It has been adapted countless times, sometimes closely following the original story (like the version in theaters now), sometimes changing it drastically (as in Scrooged, my personal favorite). It's a familiar narrative about the virtues of thankfulness and generosity. As we consider the Co-Op Holiday Gift Guide for the Nintendo Wii and DS this year, we'll tie in the games to the major events and characters of "A Christmas Carol".
"Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas."
Let's face it, these are tough economic times. When money is tight, all of us feel a bit like Scrooge. But just because your budget is tight doesn't mean that you have to settle for poor co-op. LEGO Batman DS, Spyborgs, and House of the Dead Overkill can each be had for under $20, and we think that's a lot of co-op value, even for a miser like Scrooge.
"The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind."
Rattling chains and a tormented spirit, come back to life; Marley's spirit would fit in nicely in Ghostbusters. It's one of those rare titles where the Wii version is better than the high-def console editions. Two player co-op throughout the entire story is supported. The best part of all is that the Amazon.com exclusive Slimer edition, with Ghostbusters-themed console skins, Ecto-1 keychain, and a nice Slimer statue, costs just a few bucks more than the standard version. Now that's a deal worth coming back from the afterlife to tell your friends about!
The Ghost of Christmas Past
"It was a strange figure—like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child’s proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm."
Nostalgia is a powerful experience. Who doesn't like being reminded of good times gone by? For many of us, the Ghost of Christmas Past could show us hours spent in front of a Nintendo console, chugging away at an excellent Mario platformer. A similar sense of nostalgia is present in a brand new offering from Nintendo, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and you won't even need a spectral visitor to appreciate it. Adding in four player co-op to the classic 2-D Mario experience makes it all the better.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
"It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust."
The third spirit showed Scrooge all that was going on around him, whether it was good or bad. If we today were to take a similar look around the gaming world, one franchise would stand apart as definitive. A critical and sales success, yet full of controversy, this series is probably the best representation of what gaming is all about at the present moment. We're talking about Call of Duty, and for Wii gamers, you can't go wrong with Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Reflex.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
"Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.
The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved."
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was by far the most horrific. The terrifying glimpses into the future provided by this Grim Reaper literally scared Scrooge into changing his life entirely. A recent lightgun style shooter is similar to this spirit. It deals with the future, and has a high level of creepiness and horror. If you want to change someone's life, or at least make them leave the nightlight on for a week or two, look no further than Dead Space Extraction.
"So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the father, with at least three feet of comforter exclusive of the fringe, hanging down before him; and his threadbare clothes darned up and brushed, to look seasonable; and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and had his limbs supported by an iron frame!"
Who can forget the adorable child, Tiny Tim? One of the most compelling characters in the story, he reminds us all of the children we love. If there's one system all kids need, it's a Nintendo DS. Gaming on the go is a fine idea for anyone, but especially those of the younger, attention-span deprived set. The latest and greatest version is the DSi, with a camera and DSiWare service. Amazon is selling a fantastic value bundle loaded with several quality DSiWare titles. We also recommend LEGO Rock Band. It has all the fun of the home version, with no need for any extra peripherals. Why not bless the kids in your life with these, and have fun, every one!