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American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella

Score: 75%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: GameTap
Developer: Spicy Horse
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer/ Puzzle/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella has a lot in common with the classic Walt Disney animated film, except here, the charming antics of Jaq and Gus Gus are replaced by an orgy of gratuitous violence and unwarranted retribution. The latest in American McGee's episodic series of fairytales gone bad takes on the most iconic of tales that involves the rags-to-riches motif - and gets rid of the "riches" part. Those who have played and enjoy the Grimm series, you know full well what you're getting into, and you won't be disappointed with the latest episode. Those of you who haven't, prepare to have your sense of nostalgia kicked squarely in the pride.

The Grimm series' trademark visual style remains intact and completely unchanged. Characters are extremely blocky and animate in an extremely erratic manner. This isn't really a bad thing, since the theme of the entire series revolves around decay and dilapidation of all sorts. The transition you witness from a relatively carefree world to hell on Earth is as morbidly joyful to watch as ever, and I have to give credit to the guys who imagine this stuff up.

The audio design in Cinderella follows suit with the rest of the game's presentation in that it has seen no change since the last episode. This is a bit unfortunate, as the music is repetitive and altogether bland. The voicework is great, however; again, kudos to the actor who voices Grimm himself. His gruff delivery is a perfect fit for the snarky little devil.


I'll only hint at some of the moments of American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella that I found particularly hilarious, as these moments are best experienced firsthand. For those who need a refresher on the girl with the glass slipper, Cinderella is the story of a virtuous young woman whose mother succumbs to illness. Her father almost immediately remarries to a disdainful old hag, whose two daughters take the concept of vanity to incredible heights. Poor Cinderella is forced to keep the house clean while the mooches do whatever they please. When the Prince announces a royal ball is to be held in the palace, Cinderella is left at home to cry (something she does quite a bit in both light and dark versions). A prayer to her deceased mother (no Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo here) gets her some fancy threads and a pumpkin coach, and then she makes it to the ball, where she and the prince fall in love with each other. The magic of the night doesn't last, and Cinderella flees in a hurry, leaving behind a glass slipper. The prince's infatuation with Cinderella becomes an obsession that results in him trying the shoe on every girl in the kingdom. The Prince finds Cinderella, and they live happily ever after.

After you watch the "Light" version of the tale, Grimm predictably expresses his disgust at the story's happy ending and, naturally, would like to see more suffering and punishment. You take control of the impish miscreant and lay waste to the story, scene by bloody scene. This game relies on sight gags more frequently than King Midas, and it works - Grimm's first task is to kill Cinderella's mother by making her even more sick than she is. The contrast between her "demure" death in the "Light" version and the horrifying spectacle created in Grimm's version is incredible. The rest of Grimm's version of the story revolves around transforming Cinderella from a downtrodden young woman into an avenging angel. There are some seriously messed up images in Grimm's tale, the most disturbing of them being the Prince. He not only has an incredibly unsettling smile fixed on his face, but he also suffers from haemolacria (look it up if you want to spoil it for yourself).


American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella is a very short and simple game. It is more like an interactive storybook than a videogame, but most of what is present in this game is not very difficult. However, towards the end of the game, there is one extremely frustrating bit of platforming that is sure to make you mad. It involves jumping from spinning cogs to thin planks, and then to moving clock hands. You will almost certainly fall a number of times before reaching the top. If you think this sounds annoying and completely not fun, you are absolutely right. Those who do not have a whole lot of experience with platformers will undoubtedly hate this part (yes, I said "hate"), and they would not be in the wrong - it's a bad bit of level design that I would honestly like to forget. Luckily, the rest of the game is not nearly as frustrating as this one part.

Cinderella can be completed in less than an hour's time. Due to the game's simplicity and episodic nature, this is easily forgiven. The only time you'll want to play this game again is in the presence of friends, as many will likely get a kick out of the game's sharp wit and morbid scenario. The game features a timer for gamers who like to show their speed-running skills online, but this feature will only appeal to said speed-runners.

Game Mechanics:

American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella retains the same set of core gameplay mechanics featured in previous episodes. Grimm controls like a standard third-person action game, and although the controls feel a little tight and skittish, they never bring the better parts of the game down. As Grimm runs around, his presence corrupts the landscape around him and a bar fills. Every time a notch is reached on the bar, the radius and potency of Grimm's corruption circle expands and increases, allowing you to change objects and people that may seem too pure to be brought to the dark side. Grimm can buttstomp, which is a necessary tool for both advancing the plot and killing the civilians whose duty it is to clean up Grimm's mess. There are also a few items littered around the areas that help Grimm in his sadistic quest; they range from super-speed to a more powerful buttstomp.

American McGee's Grimm: Cinderella accomplishes everything it sets out to do; the game is largely the same as it has always been. Those who enjoyed the previous episodes will get a kick out of this one. On the other hand, Cinderella does not seem destined to win skeptics and naysayers over. If you approach this game with the right perspective and a bit of patience, you'll find that Grimm is a storyteller worth listening to.

GameTap offers new installments of the Grimm series for free within the first day of launch. See www.gametap.com/grimm for details.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:

2.4 GHz Single Core Pentium Processor, 512 MB of System RAM, Nvidia 6200+ or equivalent video card w/128MB Video RAM, 500 MB of hard drive space

Test System:

AMD Athlon 64X2 Dual-Core Processor 6400+, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS, SoundMAX Integrated Digital HD Audio, Windows Vista, Sony DVD RW AW-G170A ATA Device, 2x 1GB DDR2 at 400MHz

Nintendo DS Zenses: Rainforest Nintendo DS Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated