Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost of Christmas Presents

Christmas Carol vs... The World! Christmas Carol vs... The World!
(Carol's Super Duper Christmas Championship Extravaganza)

In honor of WispFollower's epic achievement.
He has earned the coveted prize.
Now it's time to inspire envy
amongst his peers.

A Grand Ole Prize

When AtariAge user Chris "WispFollower" Dean beat all other participants to the crown on the Christmas Carol vs. The World! Championship, he won more than bragging rights. He won a truly unique, bespoke edition of the Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost Of Christmas Presents game, with alterations designed by himself!

All Things Considered

During our design session, I was keenly aware that Chris' ideas were not random thoughts or spontaneous notions brought up in conversation—he had clearly spent time carefully considering the form of his special game edition. The contest grand prize's pitch called for a single customization, which had to be implemented in a few short weeks. Therefore, it made perfect sense for him to provide multiple options from which we could pick the most workable one.

Well I had just a couple ideas, and I thought I would run them by you
If it is too much to ask, I understand. Just wanted to see what you thought
No problem, go for it.

One Rank To Rule Them All

One thing I learned during my conversations with Chris is that he is a gamer. He loves a great challenge, and will actively seek one. Not satisfied with merely reaching the highest ranking in Christmas Carol, he worked hard to achieve the Perfect Christmas bonus, and harder still to roll over the score display. Such is his competitive streak.

It should then come as no surprise that the first modification he requested for his special game edition was a mode in which the entire game is played at the highest difficulty. At the press of a button, he asked, the game should start at Stage #1, while squarely engaged in the Master Elf rank. He called this the Elf-Knight Master mode.

I also had an idea if it wasn't too much trouble.. Maybe there could be an "Elf-Knight Master" mode.
It could start from level one at master level.
If you haven't guessed already, I love challenging games
Yes I can see that!

New Level, Old Tricks

Not sure of the technical feasibility of his request, Chris asked alternatively for a new level maze. This would be no ordinary level, it would have to provide enough challenge for his gaming skills, yet still be fun and interesting. For inspiration, he suggested the name Elf-Knight Arena, which evoked wide open spaces where Carol the Elf-Knight and the Evil Snowman could battle for survival.

I was interested in one of the examples such as an extra maze level
I'm not sure how much trouble it is to do this, but if we can include the extra level, I was hoping for this setup: The startup menu could allow you to choose classic carol, classic carol + extra level included, Elf-Knight Master Mode, and Elf-Knight Master Mode + extra level.
I don't want you to think I am asking too much, I just wanted to run my ideas by you
No, no no... That's all fine. I welcome all these ideas.
Here's the thing, it may not be feasible to have 9 mazes. If this were the case, would it be OK to have one of the normal ones replaced by a custom one? I mean, you would have: classic carol, classic carol with one changed level, Elf-Knight Master Mode, and Elf-Knight Master Mode with one changed level?
Oh defintely!
OK. Like I said before, I'll look into adding the ninth level, but fall back on just modifying one if not.
Sounds good.
If we had to, which level would you want to have replaced?
I think Candy Cove

A World Of Color

Another alternative that Chris suggested was that of changing the colors of the sprites. He thought it would be fun, and true to the whimsical nature of the game, to have each character's avatar changed to fit a custom palette of his design. That way, it would be obvious to anybody watching him play that this was no off-the-shelf Christmas Carol edition, but a personalized one, in which the colors were hand-selected by Chris.

The only other idea I could want to implement is perhaps different color ghosts, snowmen, and carols in each mode
But again, if it is too much to ask, I understand
Changing the colours should be simple.
I'll tell you what: I'll do some quick colour tests this week and send you some screenshots for you to check. It may be that the colours are not appropriate.
Sounds good

What's In A Game?

So which, if any, of Chris' requests made it into his final customized copy of Christmas Carol? They all sounded like terrific ideas, and none of them posed any significant technical challenges to implement. Of course, after discussing with him some minor limitations, disclaimers, and potential technical pitfalls, it was ultimately up to me as the game designer to make a final decision.

Well, you can imagine Chris' excitement when I agreed to all of his requests! Now christened the Elf-Knight Edition, this special version of the game would contain the new Elf-Knight Master mode, an additional maze and stage dubbed the Elf-Knight Arena, and some custom color changes throughout the game.

And the special customizations did not stop there. Throughout implementation, I came up with additional features to enhance Chris' experience while playing his game. Among these are an extended arrangement of the title/credit sequence, a new introduction sequence for the new stage, and an alternate end-game sequence where Carol gets knighted for saving Christmas by Santa Claus himself!

In all, the Elf-Knight Edition is more than a collection of customizations, but truly an alternate edition of the adventure, where Carol not only gets to explore an exciting new cavern, but is awarded the special crown of the Elf-Knight Master as she is knighted for her hard and difficult trek.

Santa's Elite Elf Squad - Grand Master Elf
Chris Dean, Grand Master Elf of The Elite Elf Squad

The Elf-Knight Edition

What follows is a full description of all the new features and changes included in the Christmas Carol - Elf-Knight Edition.

NOTE: These alterations were implemented exclusively for Chris Dean and installed on a single ROM cartridge that was presented to Chris as the Grand Prize winner. No other copy of the Christmas Carol game contains them, whether in public or private circulation.

Entirely New Features

New Mode: Elf-Knight Master

In this new mode, the game starts the adventure in the Master Elf rank, which provides the highest level of difficulty. Pressing the Disc on the hand-controller from the title screen starts the game in Elf-Knight Master mode. The Start (Enter) key starts the game in normal Adventure mode.

New Stage: Elf-Knight Arena

Inspired by Chris' favourite Christmas Carol maze, Krystal Keep, the Elf-Knight Arena offers plenty of challenge and high-speed hijinks. As the eighth stage, this new cavern sits right between Krystal Keep and Twisted Toyland, extending the adventure from eight to nine stages. Its difficulty is balanced to fit its place.

Game screenshot
The Elf-Knight Arena

New Introduction Sequence: Elf-Knight Arena

The Elf-Knight Arena stage is introduced with a custom animation sequence that introduces Carol as the Elf-Knight, complete with helmet-crown, long sword, and suit of armor.

Game screenshot
Stage #8 Introduction Sequence

New Rank: Knight

Completing the adventure and saving Christmas as a Master Elf, whether in normal or Elf-Knight Master mode, will award Carol with the new top rank of Knight.

Game screenshot
New Rank: Elf-Knight

New Mode Indicators: Normal & Elf-Knight Master

The level display has been updated to include a symbol that indicates the selected game mode. This mode indicator is useful in making obvious the Elf-Knight Edition in screenshots and game-play videos. Normal mode is identified by a long sword, while the Elf-Knight Master mode is identified by a helmet-crown. In addition, the level counter itself is displayed in red, so that it can be easily identified in cases where a third digit would overwrite the indicator symbol.

Normal Adventure

Normal Adventure

Elf-Knight Master

Elf-Knight Master Mode

Additional Game Modifications

Updated: Title Screen

The title screen includes a small helmet-crown symbol, the new Elf-Knight Edition logo, to unambiguously brand it. Also, the build information screen has been branded as well.

Game screenshot
Updated Title Screen With Elf-Knight Edition Logo

Game screenshot
Updated Build Information - Cartridge

Game screenshot
Updated Build Information - ROM

Updated: Credit Sequence

The credits sequence has been updated to recognize Chris Dean as the winner of the Carol vs. The World! Championship and the owner of the Christmas Carol - Elf-Knight Edition. The arrangement of the theme song "The Bells Of Christmas Carol" has been extended to match the updated credits sequence.

Game screenshot
Page #1: Special Credits

Game screenshot
Page #2: Special Dedication

Updated: End-Game Sequence

After saving Christmas as a Master Elf, to the delight of the Ghost Of Christmas Presents, Carol receives a special visit from Santa Claus, who knights her with the crown of the Elf-Knight Master.

Game screenshot
An Special Visit From Santa!

Additional Easter Eggs & More

Hidden secret messages and additional easter eggs lie throughout the game to surprise and delight Chris when playing his special edition, and to challenge him to explore the game fully. Special 8-digit secret codes can also be entered from the title screen that will reveal taunts, jokes, and other special messages.

Game screenshot
I wonder which code this could be...

Game screenshot
Very secret (shhh!)

A Very Special Christmas Present

A Package For All Seasons

The Carol vs. The World! Championship grand prize was always intended to be a very special Christmas present, and an excellent bespoke item for an excellent gamer, deserves excellent packaging. That's why we went all out to prepare a package that would evoke the Spirit of Christmas on any day of the year. From the gorgeous professional hand-wrapping of the game box, to the seasonal and whimsical accouterments included in the shipping box, we wanted Chris' unboxing experience to be truly special.

Elf-Knight Edition Cartridge
An Extra Special Cartridge

In addition to the nice packaging and beautiful Christmas wrapping, the Christmas Carol Elf-Knight Edition game comes housed in an extra special clear blue cartridge shell— the first of its kind, provided by the brilliant guys at Left Turn Only Productions.

The full-colour manual, hand-controller overlays, and custom Christmas Carol stickers complete the package; all enclosed in Left Turn Only's signature gate-fold style box, signed and personalized by the game designer.

A true, spectacular, one-of-a-kind gem!

Photographic Memories

Below we share some photographs of Chris Dean's very special Christmas present, as it was being readied for shipping. We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed preparing the gift, and as much as I'm sure Chris enjoyed opening it.

Box cover and prize mug, top view Wrapped package with bow, top view Box cover and prize mug, top view Wrapped package with bow, angled shot
Wrapped package with bow, top view Box cover and prize mug on decorated table Wrapped package with bow, angled shot Decorated shipping parcel

Click any photo to enlarge it.

View game-play and other sample videos
from the Elf-Knight Edition
in the Trailers page.