Cthulhu Saves Christmas Nintendo Switch Review
By: John C. Mayberry
For any RPG gamer, especially those familiar with the works of H.P. Lovecraft, coming across the title of a game called Cthulhu Saves the World must have piqued their curiosity. Probably confused them in some small way, since this malevolent ancient god wants nothing more than destruction and the subjugation of humanity. What everyone got, however, was humorous nonsensical comedy packed into an enjoyable JRPG experience where Cthulhu’s powers are stolen by an evil wizard, and he can only get them back by being virtuous. No surprise either that it would be followed up with a reworking of sorts. Although shorter, with much of the same plot details as the original, and with an equally confounding title, Cthulhu Saves Christmas takes the rather strange concept of Cthulhu Saves the World, just with a little holiday seasoning. Despite it being a shorter play than many RPG games, Cthulhu Saves Christmas will quickly become a favorite with its humor as well as its nostalgic 16-bit graphics and classic turn-based RPG gameplay.
Opening to the narrator reciting a re-written version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas up until the great Old One awoke to find a mysterious gift in his room. And since this game is a Christmas-themed reworking Cthulhu’s powers are stolen again, this time by Father Christmas and the League of Christmas Evil. To get his powers back Cthulhu must team up with (and begrudgingly so) Santa’s granddaughter Crystal, soon meeting up with Baba Yaga and Belsnickel to round out your party of four along the way. And so with the help of three new friends he never wanted to begin with, Cthulhu must rescue the fat man in red to ask him for what he wants the most: to have his powers back so he can destroy the world!
A very welcome throwback to the still widely loved 16-bit era, Cthulhu Saves Christmas renews interest in what some may see as the decline in popularity of the turn-based RPG. All the classic yet easy to understand gameplay mechanics of the RPGs of old, nostalgic graphics, a strange plot and one of the most effective uses I’ve ever seen of self-deprecating and silly humor, Cthulhu Saves Christmas I’m positive was a highly anticipated follow up for fans of the original and a very funny surprise for anyone curious, or lucky enough to play this game for themselves.
Turn-based gameplay provides the same challenge of many RPGs using this same gameplay mechanic, and the 16-bit graphics remind us of the good old days. That tends to give you the warm and fuzzy feelings, right? You know, just… if you were in control of a being so infinitely beyond us all that attempting to understand it will doom us to incurable insanity? Totally not a big deal though, his powers were stolen by Father Christmas, leader of the Christmas League of Evil, so he can conquer Christmas. Yeah, see, tell me you’re not at least snickering at this.
Anyway, along the way you meet other party members Crystal, who is Santa’s granddaughter, Baba Yaga, and Belsnickel, each with unique upgrade and ability sets. On top of their regular attacks each party member could combine their attack with the other party members to go after the stronger enemies. Everything memorable of the RPG genre of games combined with a perfectly rounded out comedic factor this game features. Humorous interactions between party members, everything from cringe-worthy Christmas puns to poking fun at the game itself, along with the subtle Lovecraftian references. Cthulhu Saves Christmas pays homage to the RPGs of old in one of the funniest ways you will ever see. So, go now, appease great Cthulhu by playing this game or be lost to incurable madness! Relax, it’s just a game. Besides, he lost his powers anyway, what’s he going to do?
- H.P. Lovecraft references – Any gamer familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos will spot subtle references and nods to his works. Crystal and Baba Yaga mention traveling to Arkham in one section of the game. Arkham being a fictional town in Massachusetts referenced several times in Lovecraft’s stories.
- Comedic factor – The character interactions between party members, especially Cthulhu, who really does not like having to make friends or even team up with these people. Plenty of fourth wall breaks to keep up the comedy too. The bickering between Cthulhu and the narrator is particularly funny.
- Nostalgic factor – A modern day game made perfectly to emulate and pay homage to the RPGs of the fourth generation of gaming. Same, easy to understand gameplay mechanics, classic 16- bit graphics, character interactions also (to an extent)
- Lack of battles – Each area you play through only has a limited number of battles. Once those are over, all that is left to do is roam around to collect items or find where you’re supposed to go next with no challenge whatsoever.
- Some of the RPG challenge is lost – You might find that upgrading equipment in Cthulhu saves Christmas is too easy a task and not the challenge most players prefer to see. The only thing it seems players must do is select a destination and they’re instantly there. Lost is the experience of walking around town, interacting with various NPCs, side quests and the like.
- The game’s length – Most RPG games are known for taking considerably amounts of time to finish, with not only the main quest, but side missions, collecting enough currency to upgrade your equipment or spells on a very regular basis, and multitudes of other things that are different with each one. With a game that can be finished, on average, in about 5 hours or less, it may leave the player wanting more of the game, but not being able to get it.
OVERALL RATING – 8.5 out of 10
Considering the game’s main protagonist is one of the most evil and horrifically powerful gods amongst the Great Old Ones, it is truly refreshing and hilarious to see Cthulhu winding up in a situation where he’s completely uncomfortable by his surroundings. But as much as he doesn’t want to be caught up in the whole rescuing the fat man in red thing, he needs to, as much as he hates it… so he can have his power to destroy the world back! With gameplay that’s been loved for decades, fourth generation gaming graphics that are still renowned amongst modern audiences, Cthulhu himself demands you download this right away…