Featuring singing and acting stars of kids' TV programs, the Festigal is the epitome of low culture that has nothing to do with Hanukka.

festigal disk 88 (photo credit: )
festigal disk 88
(photo credit: )
Festigal Fantasy: Heroes of a Lost Kingdom, a DVD-ROM in Hebrew by Pecan Games and distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP, a Pentium 4 PC and an electronic dance mat, for ages four through 10, NIS 130. - Rating: * Generations of Israeli children have been brainwashed into believing that "Hanukka tradition" does not require recalling the heroism of the Maccabees or the assimilation danger posed by the Syrian-Greeks, but rather buying overpriced tickets to the holiday extravaganza called Festigal. Featuring singing and acting stars of kids' TV programs, the Festigal is the epitome of low culture that has nothing to do with Hanukka. At risk of sounding like Scrooge, I say: Bah! Humbug! And that's how I reacted to this computer game spinoff of the last Festigal, which was called Heroes of the Lost Kingdom. It certainly had nothing to do with the daring and fearless Maccabees who rekindled the candelabrum with olive oil in the Holy Temple and whose story could make a very dramatic show. This past December's extravaganza, performed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ashkelon, starred Dan Danker, Margalit Tzanani, Yisrael Katurza, Miri Bohadana, Eliani Bekier and Hashminiya, among others, in an Israeli-style copy of a children's Broadway show. "Festigal is all about imagination. It's a big production with singers, dancers and acrobats," said pantomime artist Hanoch Rosenne, who was the show's director, before its debut. The investors splurged on elaborate costumes and fancy sets to try to make the audience feel they got something for their money. Most of the show's skits, which reputedly cost some NIS 18 million to put on, were influenced by adventure and fantasy movies including the Harry Potter series and The Lord of the Rings, with flying dragons and magic spells. But the way it looked from this kids' computer game, it would have been better to read the books. Established more than 25 years ago as a song contest, Festigal was expanded to include not only singing stars competing and results judged by children in the audience; the skits were added for dancing, acrobatics and other types of entertainment, including performances by lots of children. From time to time, there have been complaints about some child performers and models, as well as extras, allegedly being overworked and underpaid. Today's young audiences are apparently not satisfied by ordinary fairy tales but insist on characters from telenovelas, TV song contests and the Children's Channel. The game cannot be played without attaching an electronic dance mat via a USB connection your computer. Players are supposed to make the right steps on the small, partitioned carpet in concert with the moving arrows shown on the screen. The game box includes a big black microphone attached to the back of your computer that enables users to sing along with the music, karaoke-style. It does not come with a user's manual, but the back of the cover advises customers to dance barefoot so as not to slip on the mat and to place it as far away from the computer as the cord will allow "so you don't damage it during the dancing." There are three levels of difficulty - "trick," "beginners" and "freak." One child can play opposite the computer, or two - each with his or her own dance mat - can compete against each other. Those who step in the right box on the carpet at the moment the arrow appears gets points. The better you are at this, the more green fills in the "Life Bar" at the top of the screen. Nine uninspired songs from this year's Festigal are presented, and they can be played in any sequence. An equally uninspired short videoclip of the highly costumed adult and child actors and singers at the Festigal is played along with each song. If you want to sing along, attach the microphone and follow the Hebrew text highlighted word by word on the bottom of the screen. You can also record your own "performance" and play it back. Call me Scrooge, but I think kids will have a better, happier and healthier time if they walk to the library or the bookstore to get the adventure books.