Is Nintendo 8-Bit Christmas Game Real?
8-Bit Christmas features authentic Nintendo nostalgia, but are any of the games it references real?
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for 8-Bit Christmas, streaming now on HBO Max.
8 bit Christmas gives an 80s touch to a Christmas classic, A Christmas story. As the trailer clearly shows, 8 bit Christmas revolves around a piece of nostalgia more technologically advanced than a Red Ryder BB Gun: the Nintendo Entertainment System,
8 bit Christmas would have no nostalgic appeal if Nintendo didn’t approve of the NES appearing in the film. The inclusion of classic NES games and even the Power Glove adds to the verisimilitude. The game that spoiled rich kid Timmy Keane tries and fails to play with the gauntlet in a pivotal scene that sacrifices the accuracy of the historic game for a memorable (and gruesome) set-piece.
Played as an adult by Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Doyle’s parents forbid him to have an NES. He can only experience the console by being one of the few with access to Keane’s luxurious game room. During his brief stint among the selectees, Doyle seems to experience the NES only vicariously, watching Keane play alone.
Keane lets someone play with him when he gets his hands on the Power Glove, if only to show off his new toy. He learns what Doyle points out in his current narration; the Power Glove was a terrible controller. Keane’s new fancy glove is no match for trailblazer Tammy Hodges’ ability to actually play silent fists with a stock controller.
silent fists is a one-on-one fighting game reminiscent of mortal combatwith the ability to “silence” a defeated opponent similar to mortal combat‘s fatalities. The only fatality on the scene is the Keane family dog. The unnamed dog is run over following his handler’s tantrum, which includes karate kicking a TV. This leads to a rush of children away from the Keane house. It also defines 8 bit Christmas‘ plot in motion, as Doyle needs another way to get his Nintendo fix.
The scene is memorable and traumatic for Doyle’s daughter, but silent fists seems like an anachronism. Although Doyle is vague about the year the story takes place, a mortal combat Inspired one-on-one fighting game would never have existed in the 80s. Capcom’s Street Fighter IIthe game that spawned mortal combat and the rest of the genre, didn’t hit arcades until 1991.
Given that Keane executes a flying kick straight out of mortal combat to crack the TV, realism and precision were less of a concern than advancing the plot in a way that required Doyle to acquire an NES. Inventing a game that mirrors the scene might seem like a cop-out, but there’s not much to work on the NES for the purposes of the movie.
Of the two games released for the Power Glove, neither featured two-player functionality of any kind. Neither is the most famous fighting game of the NES, Mike Tyson Punch!! Even though they wanted to rig things for reference’s sake, Nintendo can’t seem to replicate the classic version of Punch !! due to an expired licensing agreement with Tyson, which kept him out of decades of re-releases of the game.
silent fists is not specific enough to induce the Mandela effect in adults raised on the NES. It could become a cherished reference if 8 bit Christmas becomes a Christmas staple. The Power Glove scene may be remembered as fondly as Ralphie nearly pulling his eyes out. At the very least, it could become a cult favorite as another movie that highlights the Power Glove, The wizard.
To see 8-Bit Christmas’ Silent Fists game in action, the film is available now on HBO Max.
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