Re(?)Considered: The Official Father Christmas Game
Merry Christmas, Re(?)Considerers!! At this special time of year, I like to get a nice, cosy log fire going, unpack the old ZX Spectrum +2, slap The Official Father Christmas Game into the tape deck, type 'Load""', hit enter, wait a good ten minutes for it to boot, then get stuck in for some festive fun.
Yes! The Official Father Christmas Game - endorsed by the fat man himself (who is real) - was a budget-priced 1989 effort from Alternative Software, with some proceeds from the game going to Save the Children. You play as Coca Cola's very own Father Christmas himself and must zoom around his maze-like workshop, hustling up and down ladders to find every part of his sleigh that needs assembling. They're tucked away all over the place, which raises an important question; why doesn't Santa just keep them all in a warehouse or something? The place is over-run with Elves who are making it their mission to sabotage Père Noël by snatching the parts away. That's enough of an annoyance without leaving your disassembled sleigh all over the shop, why make things harder? Why not just leave it parked somewhere?
Actually, I have a theory about this part of the game. Once you've gathered all the parts and built your sleigh - then conquered a quick bonus game wherein you catch falling presents - you proceed to a second segment in which you fly over various world cities dropping the gifts down chimneys, as the patriarch of the holidays is wont to do. Now, my airtight and not at all mad theory is that the entire opening section is actually taking place in Father Christmas' "Mind Palace", ala the BBC's truly dreadful take on Sherlock. Just think about it. Why would Santa leave the sleigh parts all over the place? He's done this before, he's not an idiot. Why would the Elves be trying to hinder him? It's in their best interests that his only job is well done. No. The scenario as presented doesn't add up.
It's all in his head. He's sat there rummaging through his sack (steady on - Ed), unable to remember just who each present is for. "Nicole", says the label. Nicole who? Nicole from Grimsby? Nicole from Monte Carlo? Mind Palace, mate. Straight in; figure it out. All CGI Christmas stuff flying about. The sleigh parts represent the individual gifts. The Elves represent distractions from his (let's face it) Herculean task; an Elf asking to go to the toilet, for example. It all takes place in a fraction of a second, then he nails it and we're onto the next trial.
The delivery segment is much longer and can best be described as "arduous". You have to fly Santa over these world cities and hit the spacebar to drop presents into the chimneys indicated. Unfortunately, they fall from quite some height and can be intercepted by fast-moving clouds, commercial aircraft or birds. Quite what a bird would want with these gifts, I can't explain. Maybe a starling promised its chicks a new bike or something. The main issue with this section is that the buildings you're supposed to drop presents into can be few and far between. You can find yourself drifting for what feels like minutes, scanning the rooftops for that little arrow. Come on, where is it? This also raises the question of just how many children must be on the Naughty List. What happened in 1989!?
I suspect that in reality, Father Christmas did not lend his name and likeness to The Official Father Christmas Game, as it severely deviates from established Santa mythos in ways that make very little sense. I'd say it's a good thing he's not the courtroom type, but then I remember Miracle on 34th Street.