Re(?)Considered: Daze Before Christmas

A cartridge in a pear tree

It's that time of year again! Yes, Jingle Bells are ringing, carollers are singing and your drunken dad is minging as once more into the Christmas breach we go. Last year I took a look at an Xmas Xlassic for the ZX Spectrum. This year, I'm opting for the more-familiar-to-Americans Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Funcom's seasonally second-rate Daze Before Christmas. Which, erm, wasn't actually released in America. Christmas whoopsie!

Just like last year's Father Christmas: The Official Game, you take control of portly present-profferer Santa Claus in a quest to Get Christmas Done. Manouvering around some startlingly diminutive levels, your quest is to guide old Saint Nick to gather as many pressies as he can, while evading traps and monsters on the way to each level's quickly-found exit. As you well know from the legends, the heroic Santa Claus can shoot murderous bursts of pure energy, transforming his foes into additional gift-wrapped treats. Wait a second, no he can't! He can make christmas lights appear by driving a lorry past them, but this kamehameha nonsense is beyond the pale! Thankfully, you can have Kris Kringle turn into the demonic Anti-Claus by collecting a hot cup of coffee, whereupon he turns red, grows horns and canters about swinging his sack at people. Stop laughing at the back!

Santa Claus jumping on a tank. Yesterday.

Yes, um, Daze Before Christmas is a smidgen nutty. While the Christmassy elements you'd expect are all present and correct, the execution is often jarringly strange. The cartoon art that makes up the main Father Christmas sprite is great - expressive and well-animated. Unfortunately almost every other creature you encounter looks very poor - muddy, badly drawn and generally a bit half-arsed. It's a shame, because the jovial music rather got me in the festive mood, much to the chagrin of all in the vicinity as I brandished mistletoe like a seasoned sex pest. Thankfully I was subdued using weapon violence and have now sufficiently calmed myself enough to finish this article. (Oh, goody - Everyone)

This Aero the Acro-bat in a Santa hat is my favourite part of the whole game.

Daze Before Christmas is a pretty disappointing romp, all told, but there are far worse platformers on the SNES. Control is decent, it's all rather easy and avowedly fair. It's an impossible game to love, but pretty difficult to hate. Personally, I'm still waiting for a Christmas game that really gets my Yule Log rolling; Father Christmas: The Official Game was a microcomputer treat, but no masterpiece. Daze Before Christmas is not so much figgy pudding as not very goodin', which leaves my holly-jolly options rather limited. I suppose I could opt for my usual mainstay, the Christmas tree level in the excellent World of Illusion Starring Mickey & Donald, but one level doth not an Xmas game make.

Pulling down causes Santa to retract entirely into his own hat, presumably for warmth.

Wait! Of course! Die Hard Trilogy! Every tedious nonentity's patter of choice that Die Hard is their favourite Christmas movie makes it a valid choice! Finally, some good has come of the whole utterly boring endeavour. Every Christmas from now on, I will play the tremendous Die Hard With A Vengeance portion of the game while listening to "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses. Yippee ki yay, (Gutter scrubber. - Ed)!