Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (Game Boy Advance) - Review by Andrew
Given the willingness of Hollywood to tie almost any movie released after September to the festive season there are surprisingly few handheld titles, which celebrate 'the most wonderful time of the year'. What's equally mystifying is the fact that it's taken three movies before Disney deemed it a good idea to release a game based on this Tim Allen/Santa Clause franchise. Without giving away too much of the plot, Scott Calvin (played by Mr. Allen) has found himself taking on the responsibilities of Santa thanks to a clause handed to him in the first movie. Unfortunately someone else wants to take over this prestigious role and make it his own (enter Jack Frost) and while most of us can work out what happens next, if you can't you'll have to watch the movie for yourself. As for the game, well, we're going to review that for you now.
The Escape Clause is a traditional platformer at heart. You start out dressed as Santa although there are levels where you play as his 'human' alter ego Scott Calvin for reasons of story telling. The objective is to reach the exit, which is indicated by a large flashing arrow. Along the way wintery enemies such as Snowmen and Ice Bats will hinder you and you must also avoid the usual pitfalls as well as attempting to balance on ice-covered platforms. There are, of course, collectables along the way such as the rather useful hot chocolate (which replenishes your health) and milk and cookies (which are completely useless as far as we can tell). The majority of these are free roaming but you will occasionally be against the clock thanks to a Jack Frost 'Ice Wave' which threatens to engulf you and everything around you.
In addition to the platforming there are also mini-games both of which become unlocked on the games completion. The first of these in the Elf Puzzle, which involves one or two elves attempting to locate four parts of a Toy, whilst negotiating moving platforms, locked doors and all manner of dangers occasionally having to restart your quest. Finally there's the chance to take to the skies as Santa and deliver toys to the good children and coal to the not so good ones. Although they're not too long, these mini-games are a welcome addition, without which the game would certainly have scored lower making it simply an average platformer.
Very simple indeed thanks to the many on-screen pop-ups detailing new moves and explaining what everything is for. You'll need them too as your main character can not only defend himself in a variety of ways, but can also double-jump and even glide short distances. Surprisingly the collision detection is pretty good too which helps in some of the more frustrating sections, especially when pixel perfect accuracy is required.
Visually the game is a real mixed bag. Most of the levels consist of multi-parallax backgrounds but they can occasionally be a little bland. Then there are the various stills from the movie itself as, although perfectly presentable, they confuse the reader more than help the storytelling. The highlight is definitely the animation with Santa in particular moving in a fluid and energetic manor.
The game's audio is average at best with festive tunes playing throughout the game and a collection of sound effects where required.
The first thing I have to point out with the game is it's only really suitable for younger gamers and the mature gamer will not only fly through it but find little challenge in the game's structure. For everyone else, The Escape Clause is a pleasant GBA title with a reasonable challenge whilst also offering nothing new. This is not a huge criticism as it still plays well as long as you are not expecting a life changing experience. It does have its problems but most of them are cosmetic such as disappearing HUDs and the needless collecting of milk and cookies. Even so the game has enough variety to please fans of the movie, which I suppose was the main objective.
Pro: Nice Animation, Great For Younger Gamers.
Con: Very Simple Gameplay, Nothing Original.
Final score: 5
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|
|Developer:||1st Playable Productions|
|Publisher:||Disney Interactive Entertainment|