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CONSOLE: Famicom Disk System DEVELOPER: Musical Plan Ltd. PUBLISHER: Data East
RELEASE DATE (JP): December 4, 1987 GENRE: Party
// review by SoyBomb

The spirit of Christmas... mutilated.

This review is quite special because it is two firsts wrapped into one entertaining package. First of all, this is my first review for a game on the Famicom Disk System, which was a system add-on for the Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES). You could buy games for the FDS at kiosks in participating retailers and save them on a floppy disk for use in the console. This add-on was not ported to American or European shores, so this remains a Japan-only gaming artifact! Secondly, this is my first review of a game related to a holiday, but that's not as special. Anyway, the game is called "Santa Claus no Takarabako", which probably translates to something like "Santa Claus Is In A Bad Game". I'm not sure why anyone would have wanted this as a Christmas present, because it is downright worthless. And to be honest, there is very little I can actually say about it. There is barely any substance at all.

There are two modes to explore in this Christmas coaltastic offering. The first mode is called "X'Mas Card". Besides possessing a horrible mispunctuation of X-Mas, all that you can do is rewrite their default Christmas message that will be displayed over a pink background while you are forced to look at boring winter scenery and a wandering Santa Claus. Oddly enough, I was also given the opportunity to change the pixels on the wandering Santa's red hat. I couldn't quite figure out how to do anything else with this mode, but I don't think I'd want to. I don't understand why anyone would want to program their Famicom for this reason, but to each his own. ...Okay, it's actually just a piece of bunk software that nobody really wants unless they wish to appear lame in the eyes of others.

These are the four party games. What you see is what you get. Literally.

The other mode is "Party Games", but contrary to what that title might suggest, there's not much gaming to be had here. Not only is most of the actual game part is already done for you, but you don't seem to get any benefit or satisfaction out of it. The only thing you have to do is regularly press a button. There are four options available, none of which are remotely interesting. The first is "Bingo Game". Sounds somewhat fun, right? Wrong. You have a total of 80 spaces on the board -- a far cry from the typical 25. You will have a square randomly selected when you press a button. Then press it again, and another square will be randomly selected. Eventually, you'll get a full line (although it will take a heavy dose of Vitamin P for patience), and then what happens? The game keeps going. And it will keep going until 79 spaces are filled, and then the game is over. You don't get any high score, you don't win anything, nothing flashes, and you don't feel any sense of self-fulfillment. I feel like such a tool for finishing the game. It was horrible and a waste of time, though not as poor as the other uni-faced games. "Roulette Game" basically is like the roulette wheel you'd find in a typical casino or boozehound's basement. It has you guessing whether the number will be red or black, even or odd, high or low. Well, except for the fact that you have no control over what you choose. The game will randomly select EVERYTHING for you. Don't even bother playing. "Slot Machine" isn't great either, but at least there's a score to it. You just pull the lever and wait for the three symbols on your machine to pop up. If they match, you win some extra points (it's 10 points per pull, by the way). Keep going until you have to visit the lavatory. Last, and possibly least, you get "Poker Dice". At a button press, you can have five die fall onto the screen; a meter on the side will tell you whether there is one pair of die, two pairs, three of a kind, a full house, etc. Again, there is so little interactivity that I have no idea why anyone would play this. Disappointment has arisen in the form of "Santa Claus no Takarabako".

This game looks like someone's high school programming project. I could've created this in TURING (a substandard programming language known mostly for its "drawmapleleaf" command) back in Grade 11. Actually, I did program something more interactive. So, Musical Plan Ltd. and Data East, you both have failed to bring the Christmas spirit to Japanese video game players. You might as well have shot Santa straight in the rectum. Kids could have enjoyed that more. I can't believe I scored this game lower than I did for Home Alone 2. Now THAT'S pathetic.

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