Tradition is a transformative power. Often unintentionally, something happens during an event and, if people want, it becomes more than an occurrence, it becomes part of the event. They repeat it, and they share it with other people in their lives and hearts, and the tradition grows. Often the original food/game/gesture/saying/joke/whatever had nothing to do with the event's core, and that doesn't matter. Sometimes it simply brings joy and feels right. For example, the use of 1956 pop song Green Door in free festive indie game Dracula Cha Cha feels so right that to me, it is a Christmas song. Green Door has run through my head for weeks, and it is once again time for the annual go on Dracula Cha Cha.
Midnight, one more night without sleeping
Watching, till the morning comes creeping
Green door, what's that secret you're keeping?
So begins Jim Lowe's version of Green Door as Dracula sets off on a walk through a winter wonderland. Along the way, he'll get into a dance competition with the Grinch, disarm and shoot nutcracker soliers, use his Dracula karate on Christmas trees and snowmen, fall down holes, and more. In the style of Konami's Tomena Sanner games, it's all controlled by one button, with Dracula automatically walking to the right then the spacebar contextually controlling jumps and karate and such. Earn points, collect power-ups, try to reach the end before time runs out, and that's it.
It's a small and silly thing, and we need small and silly things. And it's so Christmassy that yes, Green Door has absolutely become a Christmas song in my mind. The first two lines are among the best Christmas song opening lines. Oh sure the song takes a thematic swing after that point, but if Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. can become a flag-waving anthem, what's the harm in Green Door becoming a Christmas song?
You can download the 2009 release of Dracula Cha Cha through the Internet Archive. It's made by Infectuous (aka Lobo).
A newer version from 2015 has a load more levels, each with their own songs. I really like its variety of landscapes and challenges, especially the surf Dracula smooching beach babes, but the jungle level's pulp adventure stereotypes really do make me wish I could skip it. Honestly, the 2009 version is the game I came to know and adore as Dracula Cha Cha, the only version I knew for a very long time. You can download the 2015 version from OneSwitch but I find it a weird experience, like discovering your favourite B movie has a sequel set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you'd never even heard of it.
So what is Green Door about? The song's Wikipedia entry has a "possible inspirations" section which suggests everything from novels and short stories to speakeasies and lesbian clubs. Not one of the section's 429 words is "Christmas". Well, Christmas might not be Green Door's origins but for me, Christmas is certainly Green Door's legacy. You're part of my holiday now, song. And so is sharing this game with you, reader dear, year after year. And playing Skeal together, and inevitably crying to Christmas Pain In Christmas Town.
Look, I'm as wary of Internet parasocial attachments at the next woefully online person, but sharing these games with you is part of my annual cycle. I start to think about these games and songs and our shared enjoyment of them long before I write any of these posts. I've been so glad to hear some of you have spread these traditions with others people in your lives. Centuries from now, I dearly hope that the carollers hovering on their jetpacks at the front door of your geodesic dome will seranade you with Green Door and Kiss From A Rose.