Posted by Philip J Reed
At last, the do-nothing, poorly-constructed, mindless fireplace simulator of your dreams has come to WiiWare. The only explanation: we've all been very bad boys and girls this year, and Santa's relying on digital download services to distribute his coal.
Let's face facts: if you're reading this review, you already know full well whether or not you think this is worth a purchase. Nothing we say is going to change anybody's mind. In fact, reading this review must be an experience much like watching a digital log burn; there will be no surprises. You knew what you were getting when you chose to sit down in front of it.
Fireplacing (a word, incidentally, that can be found in the dictionary right between "firepanish" and "fireplugation") is a program that causes your Wii to run an optionally interactive screensaver. It doesn't so much turn your television into a simulated fireplace as it does turn your WiiWare collection into something that suddenly seems like a really bad investment.
And that's it. If you're looking for a fireplace-themed minigame or some background Easter eggs to click on while the fire burns away, you'll be disappointed. Actually, even if you're not looking for those things, you'll be disappointed. There's not much here, and what is here runs the gamut from lazy to outright sloppy.
As far as the lazy aspects go, you seem to be getting six fireplace options, but in reality you're only getting two. The game gives you the choice between Classic, Christmas or Romantic fireplaces, each of which has a setting for either Automatic or Manual fireplace action. That last choice is the only one that really matters, as the choice of theme affects only the minor clutter around the fireplace itself: Classic has some candles and a mug of cocoa, Christmas has some nondescript presents stacked around the flames (where's the option to cite the homeowners for this negligent fire hazard?) and Romantic has some balloons and a bottle of what we're sure is delightfully tepid champagne.
Regarding the sloppiness, just listen to the sound of the logs burning (actually, that would require a download, so...don't.) It loops improperly, leaving a silent, broken moment every thirty seconds or so in the crackling. You'd think that with only one sound in the entire game – and one that loops the entire time it's running - the developers would have taken the time to edit it correctly. And, yes, you read that right; there is no music. An option for some relaxing library music would have increased the value of this download. Not by much, we admit, but anything would be nicer than listening to the hiccuping static that's meant to pass for the soothing crackling of fresh wood.
The visual presentation is also pretty poor, as the flames seem to remain rigid, like orange cutouts meant to represent fire, as you change the camera angle (which works by notches, by the way; you cannot adjust it between or beyond the predetermined settings.) The presents and other decorations also seem as though somebody took all of five minutes to render them and then never bothered making them prettier or more interesting. For a free download this would be disappointing, but to charge for it is almost an insult.
When set to Automatic, the fireplace will just burn on eternally, with cheap sound and visual effects haunting your living room until you are driven to make your own impact on the statistics for holiday suicide. Manual, however, requires a little interaction: you press A to toss some logs into the fireplace, then press A to light them, then press A to stoke them... then take a short nap on the couch, wake up and press A to add more logs. Oh, it's a glorious experience, to be sure.
Even lazier, the logs you add to the fire just replace whatever logs are already in there; they don't pile any higher. You also can't add logs or stoke the flames unless and until the game prompts you to do so. This is disappointing, as there might actually be a small amount of fun to be found in the process of overloading the fireplace and stoking the fire until it rages out of control. Or... uh... just arranging the logs into interesting patterns or something (but still, Christmas fireball.)
There's really nothing here to be enjoyed, especially considering the fact that certain television networks throughout the United States are in the habit of broadcasting a Yule log for free. Or, you know, you could just spend time with your family, watching a certified holiday classic instead.
There's only one good thing to say about this game, and that's that it doesn't actually set your Wii on fire. The concept is flawed from the start, and the execution only makes it worse. We are willing to assume that there is somebody out there who would download this and believe that he got his money's worth. But then again, he'd probably be willing to trade 500 Points for a punch in the crotch, too.