The Grinch (GBC) Video Game Review #3- What Who Could See This Stealing the Show?

There once was a mean one, the Grinch.
Stealing presents was easy, a cinch!
So he took his dog Max,
And he quickly made tracks
To rob blind every Who-ridden inch.

If you load this page, put wrapping paper around your screen, and then tear it all off, this review can truly feel as intended: my Christmas gift to each and every one of you. I just know that everyone wanted a review of the Gameboy Color adaption of The Grinch instead of a PS5 or Switch or XBOX Series X/S, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Due to the Grinch’s plan to steal Christmas by robbing the Whos of their presents without getting unnoticed, this is understandably a stealth game. But not just any stealth game. A stealth game from Konami. If you die, I imagine your partner exclaims, “Grinch, what’s wrong? Answer me, please! Grinch? Griiiiiiinch!”

Now, while his scheme remains completely unchanged from all the movie and book adaptions, his execution is completely switched. Rather than taking the gifts in the middle of the night while the Whos sleep, he does it- in broad daylight right in front of their faces. I mean- I mean… I guess there wouldn’t be much to the gameplay if all the enemies were asleep the entire time, but- gosh, the game said he had a terrible plan, and by golly, he did!

Another change is the locations. Rather than just exploring a bunch of different houses, though there are plenty of indoor areas, a lot of the gifts are outside in the snow. Why was that changed? I at least understand the necessity to have foes awake, but why did the Whos decide to store most of their purchases in freezing weather where they’re bound to get soaked? Now they seem dumb.

The silliness continues, though! A cutscene at the start says that the Grinch has a plan to stop Christmas, but it’s not revealed. You control the Grinch as he steals several gifts, and then the Grinch declares that he plans accomplish his goal by taking all the presents. Um, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have shown the details of his idea before the player starts doing it? When he finally shared his plot, it’s like, “No kidding! You mean the thing I literally just watched you doing the last few minutes?”

Gameplay switches between the Grinch and Max, and thankfully, it’s not merely aesthetic. The aggressive Grinch has a bubble melee attack and snowballs to fire at long range while gentle Max goes full-on contactless with his ability to jump over his foes. However, Max can still stop NPC’s by getting two of them to collide, and he has the most OP ability in the game: an instant, unlimited, spammable, full-room stun with his bark. Both can crawl, and you need to do this to move under low ledges at the cost of speed; you can also duck to avoid enemy projectiles. There’s even more variety via kart levels where you drive around unable to fully stop until the level is completed.

You get taken out with one hit (though projectiles just slow you down), but the story behind getting attacked is pretty unique. The manual explains that the Whos wish to spread their goodwill, and if they spot the Grinch, they share their love by touching him. This causes the Grinch to be unable to bring himself to continue his diabolical plan; the damage animation actually shows his heart growing outside of his chest. Um. Ew. The game over screen even shows him holding hands with a smiling Max and Cindy Lou Who. He was literally foiled by the power of love.

Oddly, though, unlike the Metal Gear series, it’s actually beneficial to get seen on purpose. This causes an adrenaline rush allowing you to run and finish collecting gifts much more quickly. Sure, it ups the chance of getting hit, but it’s a risk/reward system that really hinges on the latter. The Whos give up on you pretty quickly, and the instant you change areas, the chase ends as well, so it’s not difficult to escape. If you’re patient, this game is very easy. If you’re impatient- it’s still pretty easy.

Top that off with unlimited continues, a password system, and T coins to increase your time limit, and you have a game that’ll only make you tense if you forget the first half of this sentence. The larger later levels might run out your time limit before you find a good route, but again, infinite tries without needing to start the game over from scratch prevent that from being an issue. Totally bringing some of those coins to my next math test.

Now, I would talk about the music, but I just can’t. I’m going to gush about it. Even if you don’t take the limitations of the GBC into account, it’s still just great. The opening track when you view the dark title screen is both haunting and foreboding. I daresay that, despite some lighter-sounding moments, I can imagine it being played while looking at a tombstone or haunted house or something; it’s more Halloween than Christmas.

The music then shifts into a faster, upbeat tune as the Whos are brought into the picture. It’s just so delightful and could easily make for the background music in a Pokemon city. Getting these two tracks back-to-back like this is perfect, too. You hear creepy, epic music as you stare at the Grinch’s name amidst a pitch-black background and then hear a cheery melody at the mention of the loving townsfolk. This gives a beautiful picture of the stark contrast between the two from the orchestration alone.

The levels themselves have great original music too. When the first stage begins, the sound is like watching the first glistening snowflakes of the season drifting down to find a place to rest on the fresh earth below, dancing faster and faster until the merry blizzard decides to stay for the evening and soak up the Whoville Christmas spirit.

This music variety is sublime; take note, Super Baseball 2020. There’s even a good rendition of “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The game also knew when not to play music, as there’s fitting a silent moment as the Grinch is taking in the Whos’ continued good cheer after he cleaned them out.

Unfortunately, there was one giant missed opportunity in the auditory department: When the Whos are seen singing, rather than the usual rendition of “Welcome Christmas,” we get music that’s- fine, I guess. But the original tune for that scene was so heartwarming and emotional and would have added even more weight to the clever placement of that earlier silence. Their version of “Jingle Bells” and so forth turned out great, so I’m sure that that song would have rocked too. Oh well. As for the sound effects, they’re good as well, and I especially like the Grinch’s laugh.

The controls aren’t bad, but they can get a little weird. In some areas, three directions of the D pad move you in the same direction. Like, you can be moving left through a passageway, and if you press up or down, you’ll keep moving left. One time when I was moving down, I mistakenly thought I could fit between two trees on the side, and when I pressed left, rather than stopping and walking in place leftward, I kept moving downward right into an enemy. Also, if you’re crawling when you move to another screen, you stay that way after the transition. Problem is, there’s never a reason to be crouched at the start of a new place, so it would have been a nice touch if you automatically reverted back to walking whenever you exited an area.

Visually, the creators did a superb job. Despite a lot of the game taking place outside covered in snow, details were added to the areas to keep them looking unique. Snow mounds here, a fence there, footprints trailing off, etcetera. The artwork in the cutscenes look beautiful too. I will say, though, we also get some bizarre and even terrifying imagery.

We start with a Christmas tree that looks like the Jolly Green Giant ate too many cranberries after throwing away his stash of fortune cookies.

Halfway into scene 1-2, however, things get even better. Now we have JGG cranberry runs amidst fortune cookies, AND they’re on Maxi-pads.

When seen by a Who or dog or robot, the Grinch’s and Max’s face gets pretty freaky, even more so during the cutscene where Cindy Lou spots the former in her house.

We also get Snapchat advertisements before it was even released,

fox masks with bull horns next to Sorry! board game tokens,

the angry door from Alice in Wonderland,

rotten krabby patties,

decapitated Who heads,

and most horrific of all: a shirtless, anthropomorphic donkey wearing a black toupee and bra with four empty eye sockets sitting in a chair behind a desk.

I now know what I’m going to see if I ever get infected with the Scarecrow’s fear gas.

The nightmare fuel of the artwork wouldn’t be an issue if it was intentional like a horror game or something, but the goal was clearly a charming aesthetic, not a I’m-about-to-take-a-number-two-in-my-pants one. Even the final scene of the Whos, something meant to be a heartwarming finale, looks like I was transported into the bowels of hell.


You finally complete the game only to learn that you failed to stop Christmas. Yep, it’s one of those games that even if you finish, you can’t win. Geez. This should have been called “Mission: Impossible.” (No one else is allowed to use that title; I’m getting it copyrighted immediately.) The game doesn’t try to add any flourish to the story, just majorly summarizes the Jim Carrey adaption, so if you’ve seen that or really any version, you already knew the gist of the scenes. But hey, it’s still a great, much-beloved tale.

It’s a shame that the points are meaningless like in most games, as unlocking something like a password that grants infinite snowballs in your inventory would have made the effort of ending with a high score feel worthwhile. Still, this game is great fun, easy to just pick up and play, remains enjoyable again and again, and there’s added replay value from self-imposed challenges such as never getting seen. Even if you haven’t checked out the other mediums through which How the Grinch Stole Christmas was told, I highly recommend boarding your one-dog open sleigh, sliding down into eBay, and snagging yourself a copy of this fun little mean one.

Well, I gotta get going. There was finally a blizzard out here, so I have Christmas presents to put out.


Fun/Replayability- 9/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 8.5/10
Story- 8.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 5.5/10
Verdict- 81%

Absolutely positively foxtastic!




Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A mouse falls into a giant, puzzling mystery dooming a kingdom and refuses to quake amidst its quaky fate.

Super Baseball 2020 (SNES) Video Game Review #2- Futuristic Balls to the Wall Fun

The SBA seemed to have the elites,
Pitting robots against the athletes.
But they cheated hardcore
Now don’t run things no more,
Yet the cycle now sorta repeats.

People will universally agree that 2020 was the greatest year mankind has ever been graced with. And what a fitting time to review the game with a much higher score than my eyesight ever got- Super Baseball 2020. For starters, the opening sequence makes me dizzy, and someone stole Goku’s nimbus cloud.

In the demo, you’re greeted by Samus Aran in her baseball uniform cosplaying as Mega Man.

I will now attempt to relay the story as best as I can understand it: The Super Baseball Association has been pitting their robotic squad against the world’s best humans. However, the SBA modified their artificial players beyond just the normal advantages synthetic beings would have, and this ensured that they would always excel against their opponents. Thus, the association has been making a fortune off of constant victories. However, the general populace eventually discovered the unfair tampering and took action.

You’d think that they’d simply return baseball to its roots. No robots or enhancing gear or anything, just a test of skill between athletes. However, not only did the general populace continue allowing robots to play, but they also permitted upgrades to continue both for the robots and humans. Think sort of a sports team that used steroids, got caught, and then was shut down only for drugs to then be allowed for everyone without regulation. Well, if everyone can freely acquire buffs now and use them to their heart’s content, I have a question: Come ‘ere. Lil closer. Come on now. Just a bit more. ‘Kay:





This setup is such a bizarre thought process of the characters. If there is no rule against equipping more power-ups than the opposing side, things can easily go back to the unbalanced square one, the very scenario that caused the SBA to taken down in the first place. Seriously, what did the people actually change? With enough cash, your team can be maxed out, creating a huge disadvantage for the other team. The game is still about dominating your opponent by purchasing more gear.

Speaking of money, if you perform poorly, you instantly lose funds. I guess the umpire has the manager’s credit card and a mobile reader. If you do well, you earn varying amounts of cash to buy the boosts. Yet, if you’re already owning your opponent, they’re clearly the ones that need an extra edge, so again, the balancing gets all out of hand. Still, ignoring the implications of the world in the game and just taking up a controller as a gamer, the modifications do make for a cool addition to the gameplay.

There are two “races” so to speak. Statistically, robots have an advantage over people. While humans have a variety of gear to choose from, though, the robot players are simply powered up to a stronger one. Humans can even be upgraded to robots. I smell Dr. Wily.

Now, you probably know the basics of baseball, and this game stays pretty true to them. There’s the usual batting, pitching, catching and running, but they added minor differences throughout to keep things unique from real life and other titles in the genre. For examples, balls cannot be caught by the audience, as the viewers are covered by a sheet of glass that the baseball will bounce off of. The foul zone is much smaller to speed up progress, and the game transitions very quickly, making for a smooth, rapid pace. There’s also a “stop zone” where I guess time itself freezes; no matter how much momentum the ball has, if it lands there, it halts instantly. Newton’s first law of motion? What’s that?

On a dour note, there are some limitations and a wonky camera to be wary of. Despite the upgrades, there are no new equipment options for a different gameplay feel and/or aesthetic. No special abilities either. Despite the many pitches in baseball like a knuckleball, your options are kept very basic. When going to catch a ball, it’s not always clear where the character is who you’re controlling which can cause some disorientation; zooming out at these segments would have gone a long way. Even dashing for the ball with your jet pack after everything does come into view can be kinda janky, too.

Games are always played in the same place, the Cyber Egg Stadium, no doubt named by Dr. Ivo Robotnik. At least the baseball diamond isn’t referred to as Green Field Zone Act 1. Both men and women play together, so the game paints a beautiful picture of gender equality. As for the robots, while certainly proficient combatants, they go boom when overused. And when they go boom, all their stats drop to zero, so they gotta be powered up again to be useful. This does not happen to human players though. Pitchers can tire out, but having a relief brought in will perk them right back up. After hitting the ball, you run to the base automatically. It’s a shame you can’t freely move, as the field is clearly a prime area to catch Voltorbs.

After defeating the other teams, you simply- win. That’s it. No interesting cutscene, no other mention of the defunct Super Baseball Association, no unlockables. Replay-wise, with 12 different teams with varying stats and aesthetics, players are given a generous amount of material to go through, and having another person to play against adds another reason to pop the cartridge back in.

In regards to the story, it seems a shame that the SBA was limited to a prologue/backstory then dropped completely. Not that a baseball video game of all things needs some overarching antagonist or plotline or anything, but to set up a villainous group that was dethroned and do nothing interesting with it just seems like a waste. Heck, the SBA isn’t even mentioned in the software itself, only the manual, so there was bare minimum effort.

Imagine some competition where your team and that of the former SBA members were slowly fighting their way back to the top, and you had to put a stop to their plans of reigning supreme for the last time. After each victory on your part, you’d get a short scene of what your rival is up to, pimping their players, maybe creating some new super robot, and whatnot. But nope, the ex-SBA is so inconsequential that if you only bought the cartridge, you wouldn’t even know they existed. And don’t get me wrong. I do find the game’s lead-in to be an interesting, creative one. I just wish it was either fully realized or avoided completely to forgo the squandered potential.

If you like other baseball video games, I believe you’ll appreciate this one, too. The character graphics are gorgeous; the sound and speech are on point; the controls are super responsive; and the A.I. will not hold back from the very start, requiring you to get a handle on the nuances pretty quickly unless you feel like exploiting the option to steal bases without ever getting caught. And while the music is fairly lively and invigorating, there’s only one track, so get used to it; would have been so cool if each opposing team brought its own tune. Ultimately, this here is a pretty fun, beautiful, unique baseball gem that stopped just short of home plate.

Well, I gotta get going. Due to overuse, all the stats just dropped to zero on my toilet, so I need to get it upgraded.


Fun/Replayability- 7/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 7.5/10
Story- 2.5/10
Difficulty Balance- 7/10
Verdict- 66%

Very foxtastic indeed!




Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

Two furry boys decide to go to stop, all while getting presents that are a real steal!

Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600/Switch) Video Game Review #1- A High-Caliber Blaster That’s da Bomb

I enjoy my first game from Atari.
I shoot ships and am not even sorry.
I’m a bringer of doom;
Ducks and faces go boom
In this air and sea battle safari.

Like a singing nun once said, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Air-Sea Battle for the Atari 2600 was my video game debut on the initial console I played, set up for me by my uncle when I was just three years old. Plus, it was a launch title for the system, so we got a lotta firsts here. It’s easy enough for someone very young to grasp and still enjoyable and challenging for grown-ups. And now that it’s been ported via Atari Flashback Classics, it’s more accessible than ever.

It’s a fixed shooter, so I guess it was broken at some point. Ba dum tss! Gameplay is split between shooting targets upward as a submarine or ship and downward via airplane. There are several different modes of gameplay, such as firing up at targets or being in a boat trying to take down your opponent in a plane above. However, it always boils down to hitting targets without too much variance, so you’ll never enter a stage wondering what you’re supposed to do. No power-ups, techniques, secrets, or anything of that nature- just a basic but well-built shootfest. The background is a beautiful horizon which is fitting because everything moves horizontally. Enemies include the following:

TNT detonators,

Thing from The Addams Family,

face huggers,

and today’s episode is brought to you by the letter A.

Oh, and don’t forget floating ducks, rabbits, and faces, too.

After getting hit once, they all briefly transform into TIE fighters before disintegrating.

Despite having very few, the sound effects are clear, classic, and fitting while providing enough genericism to be applicable to many sources; if mice pooping was an auditory ordeal, I could easily imagine it being reminiscent of this game’s torpedo launches.

Each round of blasting lasts 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Why that amount, you ask? Because 2 minutes and 15 seconds would be too short! Duh. One style of play keeps your shots moving in the same direction while another allows your explosives to be steered post launch. Shots cannot be fired nearly as fast as you can tap the button, and it’s easy to point the cannon in the wrong direction before you get used to it, but it all works pretty well. For a greater challenge, your missiles can be reduced to ¼ their original size.

The challenge is well balanced. It’s generally not hard to hit targets, but it’ll definitely take good practice to avoid a bunch of misses. Winning is all about getting a high score, and destructible obstacles block your shots that give nothing. You can play against the game itself or a friend, but the latter amplifies the fun factor greatly. Young or old, newcomers would probably be on par with each other, so it’s a great source of competition for most any player duo. The computer can easily pull ahead if you get lax, but your fecal matter can pull ahead if you get Ex-Lax, so choose carefully. Don’t expect too much complexity from the A.I., though; it just keeps firing away and doesn’t really utilize the guided missile control.

There’s no plot, not even in the manual, but I imagine it would be something like, “One day, some trained pilots lost their minds and decided to compete in blowing stuff up.” Bottom line, though, with a plethora of mode variations, multiple difficulty settings, crisp sound and graphics (even if you can’t tell what some objects are), multiplayer capabilities, and rather functional gameplay that still manages to be fairly fun today make this an impressive beast, especially for its time. The fifth element summed this title up best when she said, “Big bada boom.”

Well, I gotta get going. I just heard some mice launch a few “torpedoes,” so I’ve got a little cleaning to do. Thanks for reading, and God bless.


Fun/Replayability- 6/10
Controls- 9/10
Graphics and Sound- 7/10
Story- N/A
Difficulty Balance- 9.5/10
Verdict- 79%

Very foxtastic indeed!




Next time on The Bad Wordplayer:

A baseball association struck out after fans caught them stealing victories, so they pitched a solution totally out of left field.