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CONSOLE: Game Boy Advance DEVELOPER: Telegames PUBLISHER: Telegames
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 30, 2002 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Santa has been called for duty!

Most kids have someone that they look up to as their superhero. Sometimes they will read about a major superhero in a comic book, such as Batman or Superman. Sometimes they will be a tad more realistic and look up to their parents or teachers as a source of heroicism. Or perhaps they will have a bit more jaded view of correct human functioning and look to celebrities as models to try and live up to. But very few people would see Santa Claus (a.k.a. St. Nicholas, a.k.a. The Fat Man) as a superhero per se. Perhaps he is indeed a very generous icon, bringing joy and Xbox 360s to children (and 35-year-olds still living at home) on Christmas morning. However, he does not quite live up to "superhero" status. That is why this particular game is a bit perplexing. If the Earth was under the scrutiny of other beings, why would we not call Superman to save the planet? Does he lack the skills needed to battle these invaders? Or perhaps he has just been blacklisted from ever appearing in a game on his own after the travesty that was "Superman 64"? Apparently, the only famous person not busy with an entertainment-related project who actually returned the phone call was Santa Claus. Huh...

So now Santa Claus is saving the planet after he has been unusually transported to another world by the evil fairy named Nilam. I guess she wants to take$ over the Earth for the sake of her own cruel intentions. Well, don't just sit there reading like a jackaninny -- save the Earth! Don't fret over such a grandiose task, because the game is quite simple, really. There doesn't seem to be too much of a point to it all anyhow, but that's the case with Christmas-themed entertainment in general. You just walk around in various areas, trying your best not to turn into monster chow, which is rather difficult initially because Santa obviously forgot to pack himself a suitable weapon. You start out only with your bag of toys to swing, but it reacts so slowly, you might as well try and avoid contact with them anyhow. Later on, he can gain more long-range abilities, but that doesn't seem to make the game any more fun. The controls are responsive enough, but at the beginning, you will feel as though you are quite limited for some reason. Ah well, simple game, simple control scheme. I'll also mention that you also have several meters that you can fill by collecting orbs of the same colour (for example, nabbing green orbs fills up your life meter a bit), but the meters actually look like graduated test tubes. Why? Nobody knows, except for the possibility that Santa is on some sort of chemical dependency. Just thought I'd throw that in.

As far as graphics go, I'm not exactly impressed, but I'm not repulsed either. Everything seems to be rendered in 3D, even though the game itself is 2D. So expect 3D sprites, although it still looks as though it was made in a short period of time, as is the case with many third-tier budget titles such as this. At least there are animated cutscenes wedged between bouts of uninteresting action. That should amp up the graphics score significantly. As for the audio department, there are digitized sound effects that help improve the experience, but the music is dull and occasionally a tad hard on the ears.

"Santa Claus Saves the Earth" is a budget title, and with good reason. Frankly, this reminds me of one of those freeware Flash titles you can easily find on the internet; it has the same fad-like qualities as classic staples such as "Elf Bowling" and that stupid Flash game where you have to spank a monkey as quickly as possible to attain a high speed. I also did not see any reindeer in my travels. Granted, this game was really boring after only a short period of time, mainly because the enemies took too many whacks with my sack before they were defeated (and yes, I know that sounded foul). But overall, I would argue that smart shoppers should only pick this up if they find it at a discounted price, free, or even cheaper than that if possible.

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