You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, you’d better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is comin’, to your Wii! Rankin Bass’ stop motion animated TV specials have become almost iconic, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Yukon Cornelius rocks). Not quite as popular as Rudolph, but still well-known is their Santa Claus origin story: Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. And now you can play it on your Wii!
The game is a breezy 2-D platformer with mini-games that follows the story of the Christmas classic. Play as young Kris Kringle as he runs and jumps around snow filled mountains, forests, and towns. Your job in each level is to collect enough snowflakes scattered about, then make it to the end of the stage.
Hold the Wii remote sideways to play. Press the 2 button to jump and the 1 button performs other actions, depending on what is nearby. Usually it’s to give toys to sad kids, but sometimes you can shake trees for hidden flakes, call out to animals, or prompt a mini-game. Mini-games include repairing toys, filling stockings, or wiping ice from windows. A second player can join in, too, as Topper the Penguin.
Stages have side objectives as well, like collecting letters to Santa, or giving out toys. But as long as you make it to the end with enough snowflakes, you’ll pass the level. Hidden in each stage is a stocking that unlocks a scene from the TV show if you collect it. Talk to the Winter Warlock and he’ll cast a spell that will temporarily let you run faster, jump higher, or become invisible. Just watch out for patches of ice and town guards. If you slip on ice, you’ll drop some of your collected snowflakes. And if a guard catches you, you must shake the Wii remote to wriggle free.
The graphics really bring out the feel of the original stop motion animated classic. I guess this is one instance where a slightly choppy frame rate helps out the game! Songs from the show accompany some of the levels, too, like “One Foot in Front of the Other,” and of course, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” With more than two dozen levels, it’s a longer game, too. Really the only problem is that some of the Wii motion controls, like waving to animals or handing out presents, don’t work as well as they should. But other than that, this game should be a delightful treat for very young gamers.
It’s no Mario, but little ones can enjoy this game without getting annoyed or frustrated. If you don’t collect enough snowflakes by the end of the level, the game just gently reminds you to try and find more, then puts you back at the beginning of the stage with all your collected snowflakes intact. And that wasn’t even an issue for me until the last level. And you can’t ever really ‘die’ or lose. Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but most everything is pretty easy to figure out by playing. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town! is rated E for Everyone.