LGR – The Official Father Christmas – Spectrum, CPC, C64 Game Review


Ahh! Another lovely, warm summer day! [off-screen]
I’ll just put on my shorts! and my sandals and go outside. [door slams] It must be December. Well, I… better go review some Christmas games. [door slams] [electronic rock Christmas medley] [fizz, sip] Aahhh! [typing] When it comes to Christmas games,
it seems like most publishers at some point have released some kind of game with a holiday tie-in. But there is only one that I
know of that can be called “official,” and that is The Official Father Christmas, released in 1989 by Alternative Software and developed by Enigma Variations, Ltd. “Official Father Christmas”… And just who, pray tell, has the
power to sanctify *this* one as “official”? The North Pole? St. Nicholas himself? Satan? Could be any of those.
I won’t pretend to know, but what I do know is that this game exists. And it exists for three classic microcomputers: the Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. And wouldn’t you know it,
each version of this game officially has some unique aspects, so I’m going to officially take a look at each of them. The first version we have here is the Spectrum port. If I had to guess, I would. And I would say that this is the
original version of the game, but I could be wrong. But what I’m not wrong about is the fact that this game was sold in support
of the Save the Children Fund, an international organization
that supports children’s rights and provides relief for youngsters
in developing countries. So the game was sold for charity,
which is a good cause and all that, but I’m officially not letting that stop me
from ragging on this game if I have to. The Spectrum version starts off with an uptight medley of “Jingle Bells,” “Deck the Halls” and
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” which is actually recognizable even on the
pathetic little 48K Spectrum’s internal speaker. You’re provided with a menu that gives an example of the
INcorrect way to spell “graphics,” as well as joystick selection options. I’d recommend the joysticks normally, but the controls are so simple in this
game that the keyboard works just fine. Next you clunkily choose your
name from a… name… maker, and then are told to find the
missing pieces of your sleigh. Missing pieces? Isn’t Santa’s sleigh, like, sacred? You start the game off in Santa’s official bedroom in his official house, while his official elves roam the hallways… officially. It’s your job to find the chopped-up
sleigh sprites scattered around and return them to his sleigh. You can only get one at a time, so there’s a lot of backtracking here. It will “automagically” be placed on
his sleigh once you reach that screen and then it’s off to get the rest. What makes this annoying as balls is your elves are complete dicks. If one of them happens to touch Santa–
quite inappropriately, I might add– the little punk will steal the sleigh piece and place it somewhere else randomly around the house. Ha! What the heck, man? Are working conditions so bad in Santa’s workshop that the elves feel the need to sabotage Santa’s ride and destroy Christmas for children everywhere? Apparently so, because the sole reason the elves are here is to give you a hard time. So you’re stuck, going back and forth to avoid them, going on and off the screen so their positions reset and learning their patterns so you can get back to your
sleigh safely with the piece in-hand. After you’ve done this like 6 or 8 times or something, you move on to the next part of the game. And I’m going to go ahead and switch
over to the Amstrad CPC version here, since I want to show it and
it’s practically the exact same thing, just with slightly different graphics and sound. You’re then told you can pick out the presents you would like to have for Christmas this year How odd! It’s not like you’re
actually going to get these in real life and this has no effect on the
delivering aspect of gameplay. So it’s just there to remind some sad kid that they are poor and are probably only getting a Mad Libs book
and a candy bar for Christmas this year. Once you’ve gotten some poor kid’s hopes up and relentlessly dashed his dreams, you’ll then have to catch the
gifts as they fall from the sky. Good grief, those elves are major league punks. First they destroy Santa’s sleigh. Now they’re tossing all the children’s gifts
from the rooftops in continued protest. Ugh! The freaking 99%! Despite the setback, proud one-percenter Santa then takes to the air and it’s
time to deliver those presents to… America. Heh. You know, somehow I thought this
game would have Santa delivering gifts to the poor children in developing countries that the Save the Children Fund was for. But I guess not! Maybe this is Detroit. That’s pretty
much a third-world country on its own. Wherever this is, Santa just
moves along on his own accord and you control his direction as
well as when to crap out presents. There are these frantic arrows
pointing at nondescript locations and it’s your job to drop the loot on top of them. The problem is that a ton of garbage is in the way, like jets, birds and clouds. These will either move the
presents out of the way of the target or steal them completely. I’m not kidding. The clouds will steal
the presents and speed away with them. What in the name of crap is a
cloud going to do with a toy? It doesn’t matter because clouds are just pricks and only want to screw up your day. Drop enough presents successfully before
this little indicator ambiguously reaches dawn, and you’ll move to another location. At least, in theory. For some reason, my game just
bugged out and never moved on at all, eventually just telling me I sucked and the 99% finally decided
to help out and save Christmas. And that’s The Official Father Christmas
on the Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. It’s not exactly the most
engaging game I’ve ever played and it’s pretty annoying with those stupid elves and kleptomaniacal clouds. But the controls are actually quite solid, the graphics are nice enough and the gameplay is very accessible so young children would
probably get *some* fun out of it. Then we have the Commodore 64
version of The Official Father Christmas, which, wouldn’t you know it, in many
ways is an entirely different game. So which Official Father Christmas
is more official than the others? Who knows? Not me. Rhetorical questions are rhetorical for a reason It starts off with a short SID chip version
of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” so no medley for you Commodore users. You get a different attract screen
this time showing high scores and reminding you that you
donated money to charity for this game, so don’t be too harsh on it, okay? It also shows this snowman
on the bottom of the screen that appears to have a broom boner and enjoying it thoroughly. Just… thought I’d throw that out there. Press Fire on the joystick and you can
enter your name using the keyboard, which is fantastic for those of us
who love keyboards and names. You’re then presented with more SID
Christmas music that loops endlessly and Santa, his house and
those terrible, terrible elves that really should just die. But they can’t. So it’s sad. You’ll notice that the gameplay itself is a lot smoother, with you and the elves walking along with ease and less blockiness to everything, which results in more fluidity in movement. This is both a good and a bad thing, mainly because I am indecisive. The elves are even bigger buttholes this time around since the paths they follow are more varied so you can’t exploit them on ladders
like you could on the other ports. But this is also a good thing because it
makes the game a tad more challenging and since the controls and movements are so fluid, it’s a bit more fun to outmaneuver them. Find all the parts, choose your presents that serve no purpose, then catch them as they fly
downward at warp speed. Ho-ly crap. Then it’s off to deliver the gifts to America once again, this time with a tweak to the controls. Santa’s speed can now be finessed, so you have a little more control over the situation. However, the way the sleigh moves
back and forth is a bit jarring for a while, and takes some getting used to with the
bizarre inertia – or anti-inertia – going on. Reindeer have weird physics. Did you not know? The clouds and crap flying around
also seem to be more ninja-like, stealing your presents with a
newfound sense of malicious purpose. After America, it’s off to places like Europe, Africa and for some reason, Finland. Nothing against Finland, I just thought
they were already a part of Europe. But I guess not. What do I know?! And for some reason,
you can also go to the “Antartic.” I’m pretty sure they mean “Antarctic.” But, again, what do I know? Even assuming it is the AntarCtic, are there even children living there? I mean, that’s the freaking South Pole. I guess there are some kids in South
Georgia or something. I don’t know. I mean, come on, where’s the love for Australia if you’re going south of the equator like that? Once you’ve delivered presents to all the
strange people in the world before dawn, you’re congratulated, get a final high score and… that’s it. The Official Father Christmas is
officially a pretty stupid game in my opinion. Sure, it’s not bad as far as
controls and graphics, I suppose, but the gameplay itself is just lacking. Half of it makes little sense, and the other half is incredibly
tedious and downright frustrating. Those clouds and those stupid elves, man. After I played through it once, I was done with it. Then I played through it twice
more on the other systems, and I was *more* than done with it. It has some charm, I’ll admit. And I’ve seen far worse Christmas games. But even for young children, I can’t
see this appealing for very long at all. There’s just barely anything here, other than some simplistic arcade
gameplay that isn’t very fun. Like I said, you can probably do worse, but you most certainly can do better. [internal speaker version of
“Jingle Bells” plays to the end]

75 thoughts on “LGR – The Official Father Christmas – Spectrum, CPC, C64 Game Review

  1. @phreakindee It really is. I have to check your page at random for some nostalgic pc action 🙂

    Have you played The Terminator: Future Shock?

  2. Nice review. If anyone's interested in seeing the whole game i've just put a longplay of the C64 up on my channel. Merry Christmas everyone!

  3. If I have learned anything from Dr.Ashens it's that anything from Alternative Software is a crappy alternative to a good game.

  4. Holy crap I used to play this game all the time on the C64 when I was a kid, I freakin loved it lol

  5. what is the game in the intro? The one with the guy going on the ceiling? I've seen it in multiple reviews, but I don't know what game it is!

  6. Here's a random question: did you get your sandals from Disney World? I used to have a pair that looked just like that. They even wore in the same way.

  7. LOL I'm running out of your videos to watch! And knowing how you dudes on youtube, who actually produce something, hate "requests"(well, maybe not you, particularly, Clint), so let me throw this out as a SUGGESTION heh: since you like old, retro, obscure games and such I got a couple for ya-"Livingston, I presume?" and "Goody", developed by a spanish(!)…errr…developer "Opera Soft". Used to play 'em as a kid on a monochrome Zenith LCD Laptop in the early 90s-good times! ^^

  8. LOL I'm running out of your videos to watch! And knowing how you dudes on youtube, who actually produce something, hate "requests"(well, maybe not you, particularly, Clint), so let me throw this out as a SUGGESTION heh: since you like old, retro, obscure games and such I got a couple for ya-"Livingston, I presume?" and "Goody", developed by a spanish(!)…errr…developer "Opera Soft". Used to play 'em as a kid on a monochrome Zenith LCD Laptop in the early 90s-good times! ^^

  9. If you were in Michigan, you wouldn't be able to narrow it down to December that easily, you would have at least 5 months to choose from. 😛

    I guess it does depend on where you live, but still.

  10. ._. ya know, I sub'd right after lgr cut his hair and seeing lgr with long hair is light proving that lochness exists xD

    its like HE DID HAVE LONG HAIR. OMG. AND I SAW IT. HA.

  11. Santa's stance on the cover looks like he's about to get run over by a rogue sleigh.

    As for who authorized that this is the "official" game…

    Santa
    Satan

    Coincidence? Yes, actually. That's all it is.

  12. "Maybe this is Detroit, that's pretty much a third world country on it's own." My favorite quote from this channel

  13. I remember seeing Vinesauce Joel play this during one of his Christmas streams kinda cool to see it here

  14. The LGR Christmas themes make me smile on the inside…and the outside…anywhere smiles could be had actually

  15. I spoke about this on our channel. A very fond memory of mine growing up with a Speccy. We bought this game from Boots (a Pharmacy / Optician chain in the UK) using gift vouchers. We played it over and over and go be fair, each Christmas I dust it off and play it again.

  16. Well, the first sign telling you something might have gone awry with physics, would be a gigantic wooden sled with a jovial 500 pound man being pulled by a flying deer.

  17. Damn Alternative Software! I had completely forgotten them until I saw that logo – I used to think it was so cool and sophisticated as a kid in the 80s. Thanks for the memories LGR!

  18. I do the same thing except its september and go 'Yup, it must be Canada. I better go review some bioware games, eh.'

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *