Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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July 23rd, 2006

Game Idea #30: The Nutcracker: The Game

It’s about time I pitched an adaptation…

High Concept:

Play through a musical adventure set in the world of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet The Nutcracker. Play as Clara exploring her dream-world, the Nutcracker Prince fighting off the Mouse King, and of course as the powerful Sugarplum Fairy. Dance, compose, conduct, and battle… all in the same game!


Home Console

Why it needs to be made:

The Nutcracker is one of the world’s most beloved ballets. Its music, dance, characters and story are the perfect backdrop for a videogame. But it’s also an opportunity to bring a little culture and class to games… all the while appealing to children and adults the world over!


The Nutcracker: The Game can be best described as a musical action-adventure game. The game begins with you playing as Clara, a young girl, who is given a Nutcracker doll by your mysterious godfather. Of course Fritz, your younger brother, breaks the doll in a fit of jealousy, which kicks off a series of surreal events. That evening you awake when the clock strikes midnight. You shrink down to the size of your doll, and now experience the world from a miniature point of view. You find that the mice of the house are attacking, and you and your Nutcracker Prince must fight them off… using dance!

The game’s levels follow the movements and themes of the ballet, with each musical piece providing the background music for the level. But the primary instruments and melody are directly influenced by the movements and actions of the player, who plays as the main character of that piece. Running quickly through the world plays your theme at a faster tempo… a fierce battle with the Mouse King plays an actiony theme with lots of dramatic tension. Doing actions in tempo and in “harmony” with the music results in faster movement, higher jumps, and more accurate sword fighting.

Why it will be fun:

Musical games are all the rage these days, and why not? Listening to good music is terribly rewarding, not just for the player, but also for friends watching the game being played! The goal is that just moving around in the world and playing the game would create music that’s fun to make and fun to listen to.

Final thoughts:

I’ve been trying to think of games that appeal to more people than just me and my gamer friends… this is one such idea. A few games have integrated music and action well, and I’d love to attempt such a thing with an established piece of music like The Nutcracker.

3 Responses to “Game Idea #30: The Nutcracker: The Game”

  1. Erin commented:
    posted July 27th, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    I could definitely see this appealing to girls, especially my youngest sister, who is 11 and is obsessed with games. Since she is in school musicals, I could see her making the leap from riddles and board games to video games with something like a Nutcracker adaptation.

  2. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted July 30th, 2006 at 2:12 pm

    wow. that’s like three good ideas in one. my favorite: fight by dancing… it’s a whole new movement metaphor. this game would need some sick camera moves, like long arc-ing rotations. the scale of the game could be emphasised by entry and exit graphics that start at human scale and fly through a series of increasing closeups, down to doll scale.

  3. Fletch commented:
    posted January 7th, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Gold. I love it when music in games is done right, most particularly in music based games. It’d be nice to see a musical game though, that doesn’t see you tapping out rhythms or beats on a controller like in DDR, beatmania, Guitar Hero, etc.

    The nutcracker suite would be fantastic as a basis for such a game - dramatic score, a rich fantasy story, a range of bright and unusual characters. And I’m sure Mums everywhere would love to be able to introduce their kids to a bit of culture.

    Great idea. :)

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