An Unusual Christmas - Holidays 2020 Submission

Posted in SHAR: Mod Showcase
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Happy holidays and let's get straight to it!

This Christmas, a bad boy has decided to ruin the holidays and get rid of other children's presents, but little does he know what has to happen.
Enter Bart's character and make your way through the obstacles this Christmas has prepared for the little madman.

Download link - Right here
  • Additional notes; This is my first campaign mod so I haven't yet included bonus features such as races, bonus missions or wage races.

Screens/Spoilers
Spoiler
Hi, I played through this mod and decided to do a small review (don't expect it to be good, it's my first time doing this).


Spoiler
Before I start, I just want to say that I've been around the community for over 4 years, so I know that creating mods is time consuming and sometimes very complicated. It makes me happy whenever I see a new mod is released and in my opinion, there aren't any bad mods (except for Thanoscopter maybe).
When I first launched this mod, I didn't know what to expect, but I was immediately pleasently surprised. The visuals are amazing, and when you add things like custom wasps, cards, vehicles and gags, it creates a very nice Christmas atmosphere. The placement of wasps and cards is nothing special, I found all of them during my first drive around the map. I was also hoping for a custom secret car, and I can tell you I wasn't disappointed when i found it.
But then I started playing the story and things started going downhill. We begin with Bart stealing and burning gifts for other children. That's pretty evil. After that, you go get Milhouse and want to prank Nelson, who is kidnapped by a black van. The highlight of this mission is the school bathroom. Even though it's a small and uninteresting interior, it's a nice surprise. Then we have the first thing that doesn't make much sense. After finding out Nelson got kidnapped, you drop Milhouse at his house and go home, only to receive a call from Milhouse to go back to him and talk about what you two just saw. I understand it had to be done like this in order for Milhouse to be kidnapped as well, but still. Then you try to get help from Skinner, which doesn't really work out. Physics of school bus are kinda wacky in this mission, making it very easy to destroy it. After getting help from Marge, who lets you borrow her Canyonero without any hesitation, you find out that the kidnappers were the school bullies for some reason. After saving your friends, you get treated with this image.
These four in one car reminded me of the episode Bart on the Road, except Nelson and Martin switched places here. After that, you drive home to have a party, but a disaster happens. Lisa gets kidnapped, probably as a revenge of the bullies. In the end, Nelson saves the day by rescuing Lisa.
Now I have to mention few technical problems. Throughout all missions, police radar works very unreliably, which is good for avoiding hit & run, but bad for grinding coins, which you need a lot of to get all cars and costumes. Same goes for traffic, which sometimes completely disappears. This is most visible during the key collecting mission - before you get the key, everything is normal, but after you collect it, the traffic suddenly disappears.
Overall, this is visually a really good mod, but the somewhat uninteresting story and technical issues drag it down a little. I give it 6.5/10.
Oh I'm glad to see some feedback on it. Yeah I've myself realized that the story was quite repetitive (following the van to the same spot & especially having to get 3 keys from all around the map). When I made them I was still quite trying to think what I could do and what I could not do, I had a second story in my mind (nelson gets kidnapped by elves then bart has to rescue him by dressing as an elf and entering a whole base etc. I have scrapped that because I'm yet to learn how to make new characters.)

I'm glad to see you liked the environment and all that and I'm quite open to receiving both bad/good grades (because that way I get to improve myself in the future.) and so I am happy you brought this comment. I'll bring mods coming in the next months (and better than this one as they won't be hurried by participating on a contest).

I'm quite sorry to hear you didn't enjoy the story as much though and I agree with the grindy part, I could've lowered the price for the ninja skin considering this is a 1-level mod. Thank you for your feedback and happy holidays to you!
Ended up playing this a bit after Danny's review. Will try to keep things kinda brief:

In terms of map edits to the Evergreen area, I absolutely adored it! The texture work is really nice alongside the darker Evergreen map lighting from Level 4. It creates a really magical Christmas atmosphere that drenches the entire Level and just looks really nice. You even went above and beyond with some extra props to sell the Christmas theme, such as the 'MERRY XMAS' sign on the top of the Flanders' household. Some of the map edits caught my surprise too, such as the wreck and some of the trailers now being absent. It manages to squeeze quite a bit of life out of a map I assume most players are well familiar with at this point and makes some of the collectible hunting (such as the Snowman Heads) feel fairly refreshing. I especially liked the extension to the school interior, even if it's appearance is fairly brief and it's usage is limited due to the nature of interiors. I did notice two bugs though. One is that interior-based gags seem to play regardless of what interior I'm in? I managed to hear the 'Patio Furniture' gag from Ned and Homer while in Bart's Room. I also noticed that the new trigger for the Bart the Murderer reference in The Simpsons Household has a fairly large trigger. If you activate the trigger too close to the exit of the interior, the game can crash.

The texture edits that I praised also extend to the coins which are now chocolate, which I thought was a nice touch! And thankfully, there's quite a few things to spend your Chocolate Coins on such as some slightly edited cars, or entirely new ones (such as your previosuly released Try-N-Save Ride, which is always a treat to see and fitting given Milhouse's prominence in the mod). It all totals around to 7, which is definitely some of the most amount of car-based rewards I've seen in a mod, so there's definitely some replay value just to grab them all and try them out. The costumes were surprisingly original and diverse too. Ninjas and Valve references aren't quite Christmas-y, but it's a fun surprise much like Nightbane's mod and I ended up playing through most of the mod with the Valve outfit on.

I actually don't think the missions were too bad and there were some interesting concepts (Spybreak), but there is some issues with most of the missions revolving around the player moving to the Simpsons Household, the Van's location, or both in the same mission. There are some missions that deviate from this formula (Oh My Principal) and those end up feeling pretty refreshing. While I also liked Spybreak's concept of beating up the bullies in order to find out where your friends are, the key hunt takes up a considerable amount of the mission and overshadows the concept. It's hurt slightly by Bart having to run back and forth between each key. This issue could easily be resolved if all three keys were collected in the same stage, and then the unlocking is done afterwards.

Despite all of that though, I had a really great time with the mod and enjoyed exploring Evergreen with the Winter theme! A lot of the texture edits from the general terrain, the sky, to the collectibles, to even your cars was great fun to see and was oddly very calming with the Winter theme chosen. The missions have some really cool concepts too even though I think there is some slightly odd padding between objectives, but it's still a really fun entry given yet another tight time limit to produce it. Well done!
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