Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
Producing a game based on Christmas (or any season for that matter) is not without its problems and while there's clearly a great deal of themes and assets available, the whole thing has something of a limited shelf life. For that reason most of the games we've previously reviewed revolving around 'the most wonderful time of the year' have generally been a movie tie-ins. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is based on the song of the same name (and 1970's Stop Motion TV special) and while you may remember these, is there really enough material here for a whole game?
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town attempts to tell the story of Kris Kringle in his youth in what could have been a reasonably interesting and engaging story. The main problem here is that there's heaps of text and given the age range this is aimed at, most games will simply skip the story all together. Sadly, this is not entirely possible and you'll be forced to sit through what seems like hours of tedious storytelling in order to unlock the various min-games, which are embedded into the three-chapter adventure. Once unlocked these mini-games sit in the 'activities' section and are definitely the 'highlight' of the whole package although, even here, it's not all good news. There're old favorites such as Word Find (Word Search), Jigsaw Puzzles, Paint By Numbers, Pairs and Dot-to-Dot but astonishingly there's still a handful of fillers. Most of these require the face buttons and are of such low quality you'll only likely to visit them once, if at all.
Given that this is a collection of mini-games you'd expect it to be stylus driven and, guess what, it is. That is all except for a rather poor excuse for a platformer which simply requires you to press 'A' to jump over obstacles in order to reach your goal and one entitles 'bounce' where you must transport presents from one side of the screen to another with the aid of a trampoline. You have been warned!
All the visuals here are lifted from the TV special and they actually look quite pleasing on the tiny DS screen. There's little in the way of animation and like a great deal of 1970's Saturday Morning TV, the height of most characters interaction is blinking their eyes. Far less pleasing are some of the mini-games, which appear to have no design behind them, what so ever and the term 'ugly' would be something of an understatement.
If you don't know the song 'Santa Claus is Comin' to Town' you will be dreaming about it for weeks after playing this game due to the tune being played repeatedly throughout the various game modes. Nothing else, mind you, just the same song on a rather badly edited loop. To make matters worse there's absolutely no dialogue and some of the sound effects appear to be from a different game all together. One very odd piece of design is where gamers are 'challenged' to sing-along to the song itself and while the words appear on screen, there are completely out of sync with the soundtrack.
All of your interactions here take place on the bottom screens and the interface makes it reasonably easy to get around. The games themselves generally require a tap, drag or a select and should you manage to get completely lost, the top screen always displays the instructions.
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is clearly design for the younger DS gamer and we say young we mean very young. Think around the seven year old bracket and you're probably getting close. Even with this considered, this is a poor excuse for a DS title, even at a budget price. There are some reasonably entertaining mini-games but you'll be forced to sit through some incredibly boring story telling before unlocking the better ones. In conclusion, this is not a title which will deliver a Merry Christmas and should probably be avoided at all costs.
Pro: Some Entertaining Mini-Games
Con: Far Too Much Text To Read, Truly Terrible Platform Game.
Final score: 2.7
|Publisher:||Red Wagon Games|