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Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - DS Review

Game Info
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

DS | Red Wagon Games / 
Glyphic Entertainment
 | 1 Player | Out Now (North America)
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24th December 2011; By Patrick

In 1970, ABC released an hour-long stop-motion animated movie called
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, targeted at kids and telling the story of Kris Kringle's childhood and youth. Now, 41 years later, Red Wagon Games has made a DS game about it, offering mini-games for kids to play along with the story. Does it hold the test of time, or does this game suffer from the holiday development rush?

    When I was first introduced to the game by Red Wagon Games, it was described as "kid-friendly". I understood this to mean "family-friendly", but as usual with PR, they chose their words carefully. I'm going to put this disclaimer right here: this game is designed for kids, and younger kids at that. If you are an adult, or even a teen/older kid and are thinking of buying it for yourself, stop. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. The game is not designed for you.

    As mentioned before, the game tells the story of Kris Kringle in his youth. Yet, herein lies the first problem: the way the story is presented. The flow of the game (or lack of) is such: pages and pages and pages of text, portions of which will fly over kids' heads. Interspersed with these are small little mini-games, often with absolutely no context at all, with the game quickly returning to the seemingly impenetrable walls of text that make up most of the game.

    The story is split up into three chapters, although when skipping through most of the text (as a kid might if they don't understand the text), the entire game can be completed in under two and a half hours from start to finish. (Text cannot be outright skipped, only paged through without reading.) You also have the ability to replay any of the mini-games from the main game, however there is little-to-no appeal in doing so.

    The mini-games do vary in type, but they do not ever vary in monotony. There are activities such as word searches, where words are only hid up to down or left to right; connect the dots; colouring in pictures, either by scribbling or in a paint-by-numbers style, and more. However, these are all either completely boring (such as a laughable 2D "platformer") or just plain frustrating, like in one hard-to-describe mini-game where you tap animals to change their direction to get them where you want to go, yet they can also change direction on their own free will.

    The character portraits and art style look nice on a DS, but not so much on a 3DS as they are stretched out. The same cannot be said, however, of the music -- if you want to call it that. This is one game that you won't be wanting the soundtrack on iTunes for unless you are a sadist that can force others to listen to it. The soundtrack is comprised of one song: a cheap, low-quality MIDI of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" that loops... over and over again. At certain points in the story there is a "rhythm game" where you hit the buttons as they travel along a path, but the music continues playing as it was, not bothering to sync up at all. The one point this is most comical is later in the game when you are supposed to "sing along to the song" with the words on-screen, and the audio fails to sync.

    Sadly, there is not much else to be said about this game; a barebones review for a barebones game, as it were. I would personally recommend skipping the DS version of this game and opting for the Wii version, or even better yet, skipping it all together.

07/30 - Simply Awful

Gameplay 2/10 - Mostly text with a few boring mini-games, variation present but not meaningful, story might be tough to follow if you're young
Presentation 2/10 - Audio awful and grating, no audio syncing, character portraits look nice but that's it
Enjoyment 1/5 - Not enjoyable, unfit for all ages, mini-games are boring and repetitive, difficulty of games does not match difficulty of story
Extra Content 2/5 - Different types of mini-games but they are not fun, ability to replay mini-games but there's no reason or desire to

Equivalent to a score of 23% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by Patrick

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (DS)
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