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Santa Claus is Comin' to Town - Wii Review

Game Info
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Wii | Red Wagon Games / 1st Playable Productions | 1 Player | Out Now (North America)
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (sideways)
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20th December 2011; By Patrick

Regardless of your race, religion, or background, you will have certainly heard of Santa Claus -- the reverse burglar who, instead of taking anything, leaves gifts for good children as a philanthropic gesture. The Wii game Santa Claus is Comin' to Town tells the story of this fictional character; from his birth and abandonment up until the "present day" (where every story ends).

    Comin' to Town on Wii is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer where you control Kris Kringle on his quest to bring toys and cheer to the kids of Sombertown after the local lawmaker, Burgermeister Meisterburger, outlaws toys. As you progress through the levels, the story is told with voice acting and cutscenes that range from comedy that kids will understand and enjoy to ideas that might fly over their heads, but still aren't funny to adults.

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.

    The gameplay is slow-paced, with your sole actions being running (walking, really) and jumping. The trickiest part of the platforming is jumping successfully on some of the branches that look solid at the edges but aren't, and collecting the stocking in every level. Collecting the stocking will unlock bonuses unrelated to gameplay, such as a screenshot from the 1970 TV Special of the same name, to name one.

The main goals of every level, besides reaching the flagpole at the end of the stage, are to give toys to all the children (by pressing the 1 Button) and to collect the snowflakes "hidden" around the level. Both have their own gauges to measure success, which are ranked at the end of the level. It is possible to further the story by just running straight through each level and getting to the flagpole, however this removes most of the enjoyment present in the game.

    The game also utilizes the infamous "waggle" system for actions such as shaking trees to get snowflakes, however in one of the mini-games where you have to build toys, the waggle system conspicuously vanishes as it requires the exact motion displayed to be recognized, which might be tricky for the younger target audience.

In terms of the game’s audiovisual qualities, the character models are pretty rough and their mouths fail to move in sync, but the voice acting is pretty good. The cutscenes themselves can be choppy at times, and loading screens prevail slightly too long upon considering the amount of content it’s actually loading up during that time. The soundtrack is usually made up of variations of the same few songs, but it’s usually a pretty good addition.

    Santa Claus is Comin' to Town for Wii is a mixed bag. The game does have problems present (no pun intended), but the target audience might not notice them as much, bearing in mind that it boils down to a solid, while basic beginner's platformer. If you are considering picking this game up for a younger child in your life, then remember that what's advertised is exactly what you're getting, and nothing more.

16/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Basic but effective platforming, extras to do but not necessary, controls better in some places than others
Presentation 4/10 - Rough character models, environments deceptive about they are, not solid, music and voices good
Enjoyment 3/5 - Enjoyment practically non-existent for older gamers, enjoyable if you know what the game is like ahead of time
Extra Content 3/5 - Bonuses for those that collect the stockings, collecting snowflakes and giving out toys increase your grade

Equivalent to a score of 53% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by Patrick

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Wii)
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