The Official Father Christmas Game

by Shaun G. McClure
Alternative Software Ltd
Your Sinclair Issue 89, May 1993   page(s) 35

0977 797777
Reviewer: Leigh Loveday

I've always thought that Santa and Mario have a lot in common. They both have stupid rosy cheeks, ludicrous facial hair and dress sense only marginally more respectable than that of Kris Kross, and yet they're both sickeningly popular. Makes you think, dunnit? (No. Get on with it. Thousands of disillusioned readers.) Ah well.

Anyway, this particular little japester escaped the clutches of the YS Jugglers in (spook) Christmas 1989, so here I am reviewing it, or, more properly, staring listlessly at it and wondering vaguely what to say. Um, right, it's a three-parter. Here they are in turn.

Part One is a vast (all of six screens) collect-'em-up set in Santa's Grotto where (oh dear) you have to find the eight parts of his sleigh and assemble them one by one. Apparently the waggish old elves are responsible for this, but if anyone tries to tell me that the tiny cheesy little waggers scuttling about and stealing the pieces back if they touch you are elves, I shall flare my nostrils dangerously, call down some moderately dreadful curses and brandish a dog-eared copy of Lord Of The Rings under the nose of the insolent fool, so I will. (Blimey, calm down Leigh. Ed) But anyway. This bit's okay, but more in the "hurry up and get on with the next bit' league than the 'hang around wallowing n the excitement of it all' one.

On to Part Two, which is very crap indeed and I don't really want to talk about it. Er, er, okay then. It's about as space-fillery as space-fillers realistically get, and it involves you, as Santa of course, choosing presents to go on someone's Christmas list (presumably as opposed to giving them what they asked for, you cold-hearted swine) then collecting them as they fall from the air. A clever tactic here is the 'stand still and wait until all the toys you need have fallen on you' - it's that difficult. Sigh. Life's so depressing at times. But enough philosophy, as I believe JD once said.

Right, Part Three, which I suppose is meant to be the main part of it all as it involves actually delivering the prezzies all over the world (four continents with, er, six presents each... funky mathematics and no mistake). No sprite animation, no variety, a feeling of cheapness and a suspicious visual similarity to Santa's Xmas Caper don't really add to this bit, but it does have the ever so spooky Adhesive Clouds From Dimension Plib that sweep off your falling prezzies in a manner which can only be described as 'erk'. The planes and birds knock the gifts off target too, which is ever so impressive of them. And the landscapes are disgustingly stereotyped (mud huts in Africa, terraced houses in Europe etc). Yea verily! 'Tis a bit on the crap side.

Well, then, the summing-uppy bit draws in and thus I must sum up. The Official Father Christmas, eh? It's not great, let's face it. It's monstrously easy, the only way you can 'die' (tedium notwithstanding) being via the feeble time 'limit', so it should take you, phoo, one game to complete. Sound's minimal, graphics on average are, er, very average, but it just ain't fun. And why's it 'Official'? Did they track down Santa and get his TM? (Snort.) Je ne pense pas (or whatever). It's by Enigma Variations too, who really should know better (firmly slapped wrists) and just because it's for a good cause (Save the Children) doesn't mean they can just fling out any old pile of Les Dennis (arf). Well that's it from me, but before I nick off I'd just like to bellow rousing hellos in the general direction of The Mildly Extraordinary Flat 155 and its denizens, and also to Cara, Sally, Signe and all me other MUD mates, for no other reason than I know it will irritate Jonathan, ho ho. Gosh. I'm a rogue.

Overall: 43%

Summary: Uppers: Er, it's all for charity. Downers: Two of the three games are depressingly crap. The third's not too good either. If I were the official Santa, I'd sue. Basically.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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