It's strange, it's true an it's an incey bit sad, but one of the things that I associate Christmas with is crapness. Like those awful shops that only appear at the end of November. You know, the ones that sell 57 varieties of advent calendar, pencil boxes with teddy bears on them and those wooden rocking horses that fall apart the minute you put them on the tree. They're crap and I love them.
Zeppelins', rather pathetic, attempt to corner the Christmas market is quite similar to those shops. It's complete and utter drivel. Santa's Xmas Capers just pure festive kitsch. (Sorry? Ed) It means pretentious, inferior or in bad taste. Now, my problem is that I'm quite fond of trashy things; plastic daisies, black china cats, religious pictures - I've got them all. So when I say that I quite like this game, don't for a minute think that it might be good. Cos it isn't. Have I made that clear enough? (Yep. Ed) Good.
LAPP BY LAPP!
The plot sounds quite groovy and joyous. Read the inlay and you could be duped into believing that this is a fun, fun, fun game. Y'see, Santa's christmas pod has been spiked by those pesky pixies, so he has to go lie down in a darkened room for a bit. But what about all the children of the world? They'll be so upset if they wake up on Christmas morning to find their stockings empty. This is where you come in, for just one day you'll have to take over as that beloved and adored semi-mythical figure - old Mr Santa, himself. Doesn't that make you feel all warm and gooey inside? If it doesn't, then you're a heartless beastie and you don't deserve any presents.
There are three levels to get through before you can go home, put your feet up and have a mince pie. First up is Lapland; home to Santa, a few Lapps, loads of reindeer, a few fish and not much else. You've got to pick up the sleigh and get all those lovely gifts delivered. But! Those pixies are still feeling a bit restless and they've amassed a stockpile of toy trains and trumpets to throw at you. Be ruthless with tham and then make sure that all those American kids are kept happy. Whilst flying over the Atlantic you meet up with a few scientists who don't believe that Santa exists, they think you're some sort of alien, so you'll have to avoid their death-dealing rays. During these two levels you should collect all the little Santas and glasses of wine that fly past you. These are the presents and in the final level you have to drop them down various chimneys.
Now you know what it's all about, let's get in that sleigh and ride! This is where everything starts falling apart and you realise that, despite the jolly plot, you've just bought a bit of a duff game. Your sled is a tiny black thing with a reindeer attached to it which moves jerkily up and down across the screen. This sled is so much smaller than anything else on the screen that it's a blessing it's jet black - at least you can see it. Zeppelin seem to have completely ignored something called proportion, so the presents that the pixies throw at you are twice the size of your piddly sleigh. In fact, the whole thing looks like it's been made out of a load of old Christmas cards. It's also far too easy, I reached the end of Level Two on my first go. (And you're really crap. Ed) Exactly. Santa's Xmas Caper has the same sort of appeal as Chas 'n' Dave's Christmas album. The first lime you hear it, it's ridiculously crap in a naff 'n' nice sort of way. Then, when you've heard Roll Out The Barrel for the third time, you realise just how mind-numbingly daft it all is. This game's a bit like that.
Mine is Count Duckula 2. Andy's is Silly Invaders (mainly because he hasn't played anything else and still can't clear a screen), but Linda's all-time crap game is none other than Santa's Xmas Caper. By golly, our illustrious Ed gave this game a right old pasting. Fourteen percent was the final verdict. So it was with a heavy heart that I loaded this 'un up.
And was pleasantly surprised. Linda's main bone of contention seemed to be the ludicrous perspective - Santa and his sleigh were the smallest sprites on the screen, dwarfed by all the enemies and even their bullets. This is true, but there you go. The gameplay is basically shoot-'em-up city, with the jolly plot substituting naughty pixies and presents for aliens and lasers. Admittedly survival in the game is mostly a matter of luck - one broadside from the baddies and you've had it, cos there's no room to manouevre - but still. I quite enjoyed skimming the igloos of Lapland and zapping bouncing penguins. Santa is an appalling game - there's no denying that - but it has an endearingly tacky quality to it. Almost as if it were shouting 'I'm crap - and proud of it!' Tested on my personal scale of crap games, it comes out rather well. Leaving Duckula 2 standing (Santa's fun to play, y'see) it passes both Tilt and Shadow of the Beast (it's action-packed and easy to handle), coming to rest just behind the legendary Friday the 13th. For the connoisseur of crap, a necessary purchase.
Hey ho, merry Christmas. Splat! Poor Santa has just been charged by a red toy steam train and suckered by a toy dart gun. Luckily he has almost as many lives as a cat so with some skill and more than a little perseverance, he'll still be able to deliver presents to all the wailing kiddies (Ahhhhh!)
You are Santa on his sleigh flying through the air on a wing and a prayer, flinging snowballs at dangerous flying presents and spiteful snowmen. The object of the first two levels of the game is to battle through to the city where thousands of kids are waiting for their prezzies by finishing off end of level snowmen and reindeer. Then drop presents on the sleepy houses below in the last level while nasty gremlins try to foil your plan and bring misery to child-kind. (The rotters!)
The soundtrack is a sad, but seasonal version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and the graphics, although cheerful and colourful cause some crazy sprite confusion.
Santa's Christmas Capers will give a few short hours of enjoyment on the big day itself then get put away for another year and the next generation of games players. Really good for the younger ones though.
Reviewer: Big Al Dykes
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