Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (DS) artwork

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (DS) review

"'Daddy, this is boring.' "

The Internet, and really a lot of culture, is already filled to the bursting point with snark. At this point, I can think of few writing exercises that seem as lazy and self-indulgent as the one star video game review, especially when the game in question is a licensed children's product like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Nevertheless, I found a copy of the game brand new in a retail store for $5, and knew then and there that I would review it for HG in December.

Believe it or not, I was optimistic. My wife and I are huge fans of Rankin Bass, the company that produced the classic television special the title is based on. We both grew up watching Rudolph every year without fail, and we are proudly having our young daughter watch the same holiday programs that we enjoyed. It's a tradition our little family enjoys, and while I can't enumerate the plot details of an R/B production like Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July like my wife can, I still consider myself a more-enthusiastic-than-most advocate for the Rudolph license. More than that, I was excited to have my daughter play and attempt to review the game from her experience with it. On top of everything, I find myself spending this holiday season in a foreign country that doesn't go all out for Christmas the way I'm used to, lending weight and sentimentality to all the little traditions that we've kept from home.

What I mean to say is that I'm as forgiving to this game, and probably as downright emotionally vulnerable to it, as any adult on the face of the planet. I offer my one star review here, not as another snide and jaded voice on the Internet, desperate to belittle something to make myself seem intelligent, but as a person who really wanted to like this piece of software.

But man, does it suck. I've got a few requirements for a title like this. These are:

A. That it be playable by young children.


B. That it make proper use of the license.

Let's go over how this game fails in both regards.

First, in playability by young children, the game is a complete failure. The main mode contains text stories, one of which is that of the original television special. These are long paragraphs most young children would struggle to read. These are used to break up the minigames which comprise the sum total of the product. The minigames are uninspired, including coloring activities with the stylus and basic word search games. I understand what the developers were going for here, I get it, I really do. This is supposed to be used in the same way an activity book is handed to a child. It should offer several minutes of distraction at a time, and asking for anything in depth is asking for too much.

The issue is that my four year old daughter cannot read paragraphs of text, or even quite understand that she should rapidly tap the screen to get to the next activity. That should be okay since the game also allows the player to skip the story and go straight to activities such as coloring, but even leaving it in this mode isn't quite satisfactory. The coloring requires the player to select an area of a picture (such as a portrait of King Moonracer, the ruler of the Island of Misfit Toys) and then select a color. The stylus will then only color that area of the picture, no matter where the player places it on the screen. In theory, this design choice should result in children making perfect colorings of their beloved characters. In reality, it results in a frustrated child who can't color the space they want because it isn't selected.

Well, you might say, it's clear that my child simply isn't mature enough for the game. Fair enough. But I work with children for a living, and feel confident in saying that everyone of them that I know who is old enough to read the paragraphs of explanatory story and instruction text on hand would be bored to tears with the minigames presented. They are dull, lazy, and uninspired. They are the antithesis of their license, which brings me to my next point.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the TV special, took a popular poem and expanded on it with a wonderful story and musical selection that adults still love today. The game takes a beloved TV classic and turns it in to a shallow cash in. The minigames are lazy. It isn't just that they lack challenge, (they're meant for children after all) it's that they're completely predictable. The TV special took a story about a reindeer and added an elf who wanted to be a dentist and a flying lion who ruled an island full of unloved toys. The game adds nothing, allowing children to color in pictures and decorate houses through point and click action. It says nothing about hard times, growing up, or fitting in except by repeating word for word what came before.

Another thing I have to mention is the lack of music. You get a tinny rendition of the title song played throughout the game, except at the climactic finale of the story mode, when the lyrics are displayed on the screen. Let me say this again, because I think it bears repeating: the game plays the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on a continuous loop, except for at the moment when you are supposed to actually sing the lyrics to the song. Then you receive only silence.

By the time one is old enough to play Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, one is too old to play it. My daughter, who can easily watch the TV show of Rudolph a dozen times in a holiday season, turned to me with the DS in her hand one day and said, “Daddy, this is boring.”

I wished that I'd had something better to occupy her at the moment, like a $.99 coloring book. No matter what the price, avoid this game if you can help it.

Germ's avatar
Community review by Germ (December 03, 2015)

Jeremy plays video games, sometimes.

More Reviews by Germ [+]
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC) artwork
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PC)

We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...
Looney Tunes Dash! (Android) artwork
Looney Tunes Dash! (Android)

99% of us won't spend a dime on this game.
Risk of Rain (PC) artwork
Risk of Rain (PC)

Something old, something new.


If you enjoyed this Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
Robotic_Attack posted December 05, 2015:

Great review. Five Below is a great source of games

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2024 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.