Product: Santa's Delivery
Publisher: Tynesoft
Compatibility: Acorn Electron
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #73

Santa's Delivery (previously released by Icon as Merry Xmas Santa) is set amongst the rooftops on Christmas Eve. You get a nice loading graphic displaying the title and some falling snow and then a very colourful Mode 2 layout of ladders and levels. No prizes for guessing which red-suited glutton you're in control of - and no prizes for working out what that sack on his back is full of, nor for figuring out that its contents should be deposited in the chimneys scattered around the screen.

You might possibly feel you should be awarded something though... if you manage to stay awake after more than five minutes playing this Tynesoft monstrosity! The graphics are ok, and the movement of Santa, whilst somewhat sluggish, could be slower. Where this game really falls down however is that it is so desperately dull. Give me a few bugs to jump (a la Magic Mushrooms) or a few bonuses in hard-to-reach places and there might be something more to review. Instead, what have we got? A cheerful jingle bells intro and then a mission, identical each and every screen, to walk along each level and leap over holes which are meant to signify where one roof ends and another begins.

Snowballs randomly appear at feet level from time to time and must be jumped. Snowmen randomly appear in your path and need to be 'out-waited'. Both appear simultaneously with a message saying LOOK OUT SANTA. Both are easily avoided, apart from if they appear on top of your position, a feature which you will probably be thanking for putting you out of your misery rather than finding irritating. This game isn't Hohoho, it's Ho hum. We're not quite into less exciting than watching paint dry, but we're fast getting there.

Jumping the holes does take some skill. Pixel perfect accuracy is demanded. Jumping is disconcertingly quick in relation to all other events on-screen. Except, that is, when you jump on the spot, in which case you seem to remain suspended mid-air for no other reason than to allow those demon snowballs to pass beneath you.

The game is done in machine code and has some extra touches like pieces of pie and glasses of sherry that can be collected to increase your 'Belly Bonus'. The collision detection routines however, mean that picking these up can be more trouble than you would expect - and if they appear on the top level there'll be few players willing to retrace all of their steps for a few extra points rather than continue on to the bottom right corner.

Frankly I only managed about three screens before the doctors revealed to me I had lost the last seven years having slipped into a coma. With the right treatment I might be able to erase all memories of Santa's Delivery. What might be even harder, if possible at all, is to forget the terrible Xmas Fun demo that the producers have thrown in as an Easter Egg on the disc - yes, you have to go looking for it, it's not on the menu! This loads in a program of some 13K just to display a few dots on the screen, and a message saying Happy Xmas From Tynesoft, and colour-cycles to give the illusion of falling snow.

Thankfully Santa's Delivery, in both its Tynesoft and Icon incarnations, is actually quite a rare game, meaning it probably won't be finding its way into anybody's Christmas stockings this year.