Friday, January 24, 2020

Ornament Review: Defender - 2019 Hallmark Ornament



Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good representation of the video game
Cons: Screen lights up poorly; lacks nostalgia factor for me
The Bottom Line:
This Defender game
Looks good, but screen lights poorly
Little nostalgia






This Ornament is Hard to Defend

I grew up with the first wave of video games, so I’ve bought all of Hallmark’s video game cabinet ornaments.  While I played my Atari 2600 more than I played any real video games, I still enjoyed the occasional video game, and these have brought back memories of those games.  So I was a bit disappointed when I saw that Defender was the video game ornament for 2019.  Yes, I bought it, but the ornament itself did little to change my mind.

If you aren’t familiar with this lesser known game, you are a fighter pilot trying to save humans from being kidnapped by aliens.  You have to shoot down the alien ships before they can get the humans up to the mother ship.  Honestly, I think I only played this game once or twice in the arcade version.  I did have it for my Atari 2600, and I enjoyed playing it there.

The ornament is once again a faithful recreation of an arcade machine from back in the day.  It’s mostly black with the proper decals painted on it.  The joystick and buttons are on the front, and you can even see the slots where you’d put the quarter to play.  (Remember when video games only cost a quarter?)

Like the others, this is one of Hallmark’s magic ornaments.  It requires three button batteries to function.  Once they are inserted, you can hit the player start button to see the screen light up and hear the sound effects from the game.  This lasts about 30 seconds.

And this is where the ornament fails for me.  My enjoyment of the others has been based on nostalgia.  The screen looks like I remember, and I can picture what the characters are doing as we hear the sounds.  I don’t have strong enough memories of this game, even the sound effects of the Atari version, to know for sure what is happening as the sound effects play.  Meanwhile, the screen doesn’t light up well enough for us to see what is on it.  I know it isn’t just mine because the displays I looked at in several stores were the same way.

Yes, with all my talk about cutting back on Hallmark ornaments, this would have been a logical one to cut out.  But I bought it anyway.  (Have I ever claimed to have self-control?)  I’m sure that fans of Defender will enjoy it.  I like it, but I don’t have the connection to it I have to the other video game ornament releases.

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