Developer(s): Creative Media
Publisher: Creative Media
Released: 1996

Christmas Country is a 2D platformer about, what else, saving Christmas, after Santa Claus is apparently injured, and a “bad elf” has stolen the naughty list, aiming to create some kind of evil army. There are 16 total levels across four worlds, with each world ending in a boss fight, all of which are minor variations on “just jump on its head like five or six times”. You get five lives and no continues, though there are 1ups scattered throughout, especially in the between-world bonus levels.

Santa broke his leg filming skateboarding videos and needs your help

Just like Super Mario Bros., and this is the only context in which you can compare this game to Super Mario Bros., there is a run button and a jump button, and enemies are defeated by jumping on their heads (though sometimes you’ll find ones that you simply have to avoid). Your default walk speed is painfully slow, so you’ll be running pretty much all the time. If you let go of the run button while jumping you’ll immediately slow down, and pressing it again does nothing, as you need to be holding it before you jump in order for it to count. It doesn’t even feel like running, it’s more like a fast-forward button that only affects you.

Don’t let this tiny man’s foppish outfit fool you, he is out for your blood

There are no power-ups but there are things to collect like stars (for points), presents, the letters to the word “SPECIAL”, and special hidden red stars that, because I don’t have the game’s manual, I’m afraid I have no clue what they do. When you spell out SPECIAL you get awarded something at random, which can be points, more stars, or an extra life. I believe presents are “spent” in the bonus stages, but because there is nothing in-game that says how many presents you actually have, I can’t be 100% sure.

Every platformer needs giant springs

After each boss you find a piece of the naughty list and a suspicious-looking bottle that gives you giant muscles and wings, then you launch into the bonus stage: an automatic side-scroller that’s sort of like Paperboy, but without the pizazz. You fly over a city dropping presents into chimneys, and the smaller the chimney, the more points it’s worth. You can also find 1up icons you can collect by tossing a present at them. Because the screen scrolls at the same speed as your movement, if you overshoot a 1up, there’s no way to back-up and take another go at it.

I like how happy Satan looks in this game; usually he looks so angry

Spoilers I guess, but Christmas Country takes an odd turn at the end, when you find a room full of imprisoned children and fight actual Satan. This is after mostly fighting, like, snails and ladybugs. You defeat the Master of Lies by jumping on his head five or six times. While there’s nothing specifically all that wrong with Christmas Country, it is boring, and mostly stands out by being a more traditional type of video game, one which you could’ve played on a Sega Master System, rather than some kind of multimedia CD-i experience.

Graphics – 7
Looks exactly like a flash game before flash games were even invented, so that’s impressive in a way

Sound – 3
No music at all outside of bonus stages, and just a few weak sound effects

Gameplay – 7
Though the way “running” is implemented can be frustrating, it’s a completely functional platformer

Value – 6
It’ll take a few practice runs to get good enough to finish this 90-minute game

Reviewer’s Tilt – 6
There’s nothing special here, but I like the oddness of playing a game themed after Christmas

Final Score – 6.2