A Christmas Carol has entertained generations in different formats from Charles Dickens’ original book to Disney’s cartoon version, Patrick Stewart’s one-man play and a modern day movie adaptation Scrooged with Bill Murray. Linkit: A Christmas Carol retells the classic through a match three game that presents scenes from the story in between levels and holiday music in the background.
Other than including the story in cutscenes, Linkit differs from the countless match three games in that players can link matching objects by going up, down, sideways, and diagonally. Picture a plus symbol (+). Some match three games only allow making an “L” because it would require backtracking to get the rest. Not in Linkit – you can backtrack and make the entire plus symbol because the objects link in at least one direction or corner.
The goal for each level is to clear all the colored squares, and sometimes it takes multiple matches to remove them especially when they have locks and two layers of colors.
Wouldn’t this make the game to easy? The game turns more challenging at the end of Act II (ghost of Christmas past) and the start of Act III (ghost of Christmas present). Linkit contains the typical barriers found in most match three games such as tricky corners, double locks, the grid’s changing shapes, and other crafty tricks.
The game starts very easy allowing the little ones to join in and following along with the story. Instead of getting the story all at once, they hear a little, play the game, hear a little more, play the game and so on. However, for them to “hear” the story, someone will have to read it aloud because there’s no audio.
The story scenes contain hand-crafted backgrounds that change to reflect the current scene. Characters swoop in and talk to each other through conversation bubbles, like in a comic strip. Other than the background and dialog, little changes in the story’s visuals. You can skip the entire scene, but not speed through the story or rewind.
Only one power up comes in – a hammer. Its meter fills as you make matches and when it’s full, use it to break an object. The game could stand a few more extras. Although new objects appear in the grid in later levels, changing all of them would provide a needed change of pace especially with the young’uns’ short attention span.
For some, another challenge in playing Linkit is that it requires holding down the mouse button while making the links. As you link, the grid lights up and displays a thin line to show the selection. Sometimes the mouse loses the links causing you to start over and lose time in the process, or it misses one of the objects you thought you had selected.
Selecting the objects may be frustrating for people with motor challenges or the toddler who doesn’t yet have the needed eye-hand coordination. To deselect a line after changing your mind, you move the mouse around until it disappears. It takes practice, and soon enough you can create long chains for more points. Every level ends with statistics showing the longest chain made, pieces removed, time bonus, and score.
A more serious concern is a technical glitch that causes the game to stop working when out of moves. (You have to exit the game completely to fix the problem.)
On the plus side, the lively orchestra music rings of Christmas. Though orchestra music doesn’t play Jingle Bells or Silent Night, something about the music reflects the spirit of the season and the time the story takes place.
Another positive is that the game splits into five acts and 80 levels, creating long-lasting play. Kids might like playing the game again and skipping the scenes once they’ve heard the story. Although Linkit: A Christmas Carol is a no-frills version of a match three game, it’s a charming one. The combination of the music, the story in between levels, and the game play works well and can snap people out of a Scrooge-like mood and fill them with holiday spirit.
“God bless us everyone,” and Linkit – A Christmas Carol, too, for bringing a family together with a story and a fun game that’s simple enough for the younger kids.