LGR – Santa’s Xmas Capers – Spectrum, C64, PC, Amiga Game Review

LGR – Santa’s Xmas Capers – Spectrum, C64, PC, Amiga Game Review


[Christmas LGR Theme plays] [fizz, sip] Aahhh! [typing] The time, it is late. Cannot sleep. Must find games to play! Oh, MobyGames! It’s December, must play Christmas games. Groups… Christmas themed games… Santa’s… What is this? By Zeppelin and Reflective Designs from 1990 on the Amiga, Amstrad CPC,
Commodore 64, DOS and the ZX Spectrum. Checking out the screenshots, you would
think that this would be a scrolling shooter. In fact, the genre is listed as a third-person,
side-scrolling shooter action game. So just for the sake of PC fanboy-ness, I boot up the DOS version and WHAT?! Alright, so it’s got the side-scrolling part.
Third-person, I guess. I guess it’s technically a shooter. But this ain’t no shmup. Am I sure I’m looking at the right game? Santa’s… Christmas Caper. OK, let’s get to the bottom of this. Santa’s Christmas Caper is a game
put out apparently by Zeppelin, pretty much only in the UK in 1990. You could find various references to it
in different magazines for the Amiga, the Spectrum, and maybe one or two other computers. Not too many references, but you know, it’s obvious that it existed in a commercial form. Earliest reference I can seem to
find is for the Spectrum version, so let’s go ahead and take a look at that here. Now the title screen starts off
saying “Santa’s Christmas Capers.” That’s plural. Multiple capers. Now that’s the first point of confusion. Some filenames or references
to the game call it “Caper.” Title screen says “Capers.” Really, could they NOT decide? You know, is he having one adventure or multiple? I don’t know! Neither did Zeppelin. Just great. And also, what is with this music? [off-key PC speaker version of
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” plays] I don’t remember “We Wish You A
Merry Christmas” going quite like that. I don’t really know what happened. From there, it gives you the option to use the keyboard or a Sinclair or Kempston joystick interface. The controls themselves are easy as balls. Up, down, left, right, fire, pause, and “dropp” with two Ps. And the game starts off, and it is that
side-scrolling, third-person action shooter that I was expecting, more or less. Except… where’s Santa? I think the reindeer– yes, singular, reinDEER– took off with Santa’s sleigh while the jolly old elf was passed out on eggnog. That’s great. So it’s not really Santa’s Christmas
Caper, this is more like the “Reindeer with an empty sled
tied to his butt” Christmas Caper. Whole point of the game is to, uh, try to shoot stuff with, I guess, snowballs, and destroy the different things that are in the air for no reason. You have trains, and… I don’t really know what else. I, I really don’t know what all this stuff is. Those are penguins and… lots of plungers, but… why? And when you get hit, you’re dead. Game over. I don’t know what the drop button does. Apparently nothing. Maybe it does, but I can’t figure it out because there’s so much crap flying at you that you don’t have a chance to use it. So what you have here is an extremely subpar shooter with no substance whatsoever and barely a Christmas theme at all. Although it does have a crappy frame
rate and terrible collision detection, so that’s something. Well you know what, I’m in the Christmas spirit. I don’t know about you. Next up on the list would be… oh, Amstrad CPC. It’s more or less the same
game as the Spectrum version, except that, uh, you can move. And you can actually feel yourself moving. The higher frame rate really, really helps that. It has some nicer colors and there’s
a little bit more detail here and there, as well as some slightly improved audio, but more or less just the same
crappy, stupid, annoying shooter, which really isn’t that good at all. You’re just a useless item floating through the air shooting other useless items until you uselessly die. I’m sorry but… this is just the most uninspired shooter I’ve seen in a long time. Next up, we have the Commodore 64 version, now known as “Santa’s Xmas Caper,” and you at least have some nice
little artwork here on the title screen. And some music, which is cool. Now this is more what I’m talking about. Santa’s in his sleigh being pulled by the reindeer and it actually kinda looks like what you would expect. And then you’re shooting some… whaaah, some seriously psychedelic stuff here, all the while with upbeat music and
controls that actually make sense. It’s fairly adequate, actually, as far as shooters go. I mean, when you look at the big
picture, it pretty much does suck, but it doesn’t really matter
because this is a Christmas shooter. And there aren’t too many of those, so, it’s kind of like endangered species It doesn’t matter how lame it is
because there are so few of them, that makes it awesome and worth protecting. I mean, really, what do you expect? It’s an almost Jeff Minter-ish psychedelic shooter, where tons and tons of
random crap is just thrown at you and it’s kind of a sensory overload. I mean, it’s not quite a psychedelic as it could be, but daggone, man, it’s up there. I mean, what the heck? What the heck? Wha-at? That… should not exist. But as it is, if I had to recommend a version, so far it would be this one because it could be so much worse. And then next we have that DOS version that I came across at first. Alright, so let’s inspect this a little bit. You have some different music and a different title screen and characters and… well, this just doesn’t make any sense. Why did this game also come out on the PC and it’s just entirely different?
One hundred percent… different. You have different graphics. Santa’s a midget. I guess this might have come out a
couple of years after these other versions. But I really don’t know.
I don’t have any explanation for it. It is one hundred percent a different game. It just happens to have the exact same name and it’s also made by Zeppelin, and it’s… the, you know– what? Ha! If anybody happens to know why they did this, I, I don’t really care. You know what, that’s enough of this one. Let’s just go on to the Amiga version, which is– it’s exactly the same thing. Except, naturally, with better graphics and sound and pretty much everything. But does that make it any good? Alright, so it is not the same game… at all as the other Santa’s Christmas Caper, or Capers, or whatever it may be. You know, at first what came to mind was RoboCod. Just a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, little bit. And I, I mean that in the best way possible for RoboCod. ‘Cause that’s an exceptional game. This, however, is not. I guess it was the graphics,
and maybe the controls just a tiny bit, but you know, uh, the similarities end there. It’s the most standard, plain Jane
platformer you’ll probably ever come across. For one thing, the controls are just… awful. There’s this weird, quick-acting gravity that takes effect immediately
at the peak of your jump height and it takes some severe getting used to. In fact, so much that you never get used to it. And the rest of it, it just feels… not even floaty, just wrong. It doesn’t feel right at all. And of course, that’s not helped
by the levels themselves. The design doesn’t make any sense. I mean, you got fences at the bottom, parts of the roof that you’ll fall off of, and moving platforms which
move too quickly or too sporadically just because of the way YOU move. And then the enemies… Well, you can shoot and freeze them, but you can’t break them. They just kind of freeze for a few seconds and
then go right back to what they were doing. So really, all they do is just get in the way and annoy the crap out of you
because everything else sucks. First off, I don’t know what– what is this? What is THAT? A frickin’ turkey? OK, and look. Here’s the moon. And why is it here again? And here. I just assumed we were on Earth. I don’t know what planet this is on. I don’t remember three moons
being around at night on Christmas. Although the moon pretty much does
sum up my mood about this game. I mean, seriously, I just wanna like fall over and go to sleep. Every single one of the versions of this game with this name, more or less, by Zeppelin, from the early ’90s– gah! It’s such a wide category. Any one of the capers of Santa at Christmas, it’s pretty much lame. It’s just lackluster. There’s no polish. There’s no real thought put into it. There’s nothing at all that’s making me say even try this. And the C64 game isn’t the worst in the world. It could have done a lot worse. And the platformer, it suffers from one of the worst
sins a game could commit, and that’s being boring. And just no fun to play. To me, it’s garbage. I’m sorry if
you liked it as a kid or something. I really do feel sorry for you. You should have gotten anything else. Santa’s Christmas Capers, in
pretty much any of its various forms, is pretty much a lump of coal. It may not be complete junk. I’m sure somebody can find a use for it. Like setting it on fire. [chiptune music plays to the end]

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