Absolutely wonderful mod that was a great way to cap off 2020 and redeem some of the last month of that year! I'd actually go as far to say that I enjoyed it even more so than the previous contest entry (SkeleTown
), which I already adored. A lot of my praises towards the mod also end up applying here, so this might not turn out to be as long as my previous review.
A lot of my praises towards SkeleTown
also apply to here. The mod's depiction of Santa doesn't really favor any appearence from the Simpsons television show despite the yellow skin, but there manages to be a lot of character depicted solely from the model's design and the voice clips from Happy Wheels used. Much in the same way Skelly tickled my funny bone. (Come on, it's still kinda funny to make bone jokes.)
One key difference is the introduction of the Elf NPCs who have dialog that isn't in Skeleton to give the context to each missions, and a couple of the gags relating to their obsession with Christmas (such as the Elf School one) got a nice chuckle out of me. It did also make the gag where one of the Elves broke character even funnier, and I'm not talking about the one who stole the wrapping paper.
The town itself took what SkeleTown
did but somehow does it even better. While I found SkeleTown's
design was clever with how it handled landmarks and region coding, some building areas felt a little tight in terms of breathing room and the Horror theme resulted in landmarks feeling kinda abstract. Giant Snowglobe
feels a lot more open, so it's much easier to quickly see a region in the distance and drive over to it than it was in SkeleTown
. Not that SkeleTown's
map was super difficult to navigate, but I feel the player had to get a 'sense' of the map first before they could recognize what region they were in before moving onwards. That wasn't the case here and I could get a 'feel' for the area before even going there, if that makes sense. The mod also breaks away from the Christmas theme here and there for some inside jokes (saw Tappie's old avatar lying on the bed and I'm being blessed as Tim Allen watches over me) compared to SkeleTown
, which honestly gives the mod a lot of personality for me in addition to the Christmas theme. It works nicely for a one off Level made for a competition.
Collectibles are handled much better than what they were in SkeleTown
. The Flying Doge heads with their nonchalant screams of death are hidden in fairly logical areas and I never really had an instance where I acidentally killed one while just driving around, which is an issue that popped up during SkeleTown
for me a couple of times. Instead, the Doge Heads feel like they're tucked away in just the right areas of the map, rewarding exploration by checking an area you can wedge Santa and his car into. It would've been insanely easy to simply hide one of the Doge Heads in one of the farther corners of the map, but instead if I was missing one, I was simply overlooking an area near one of the populated districts I hadn't properly checked. I got 100% in the mod and had an absolute blast with it.
I don't really have much to critcize that wasn't present in the original SkeleTown except that I almost feel the difficulty with the earlier missions is a bit higher than the ones in the late game missions. While I do think the showdown with Skelly herself
is a nice callback to the previous mod and it manages to avoid the 'boxed in' scenario from the previous mod by using a circle for the arena, I kinda wish Skelly had an extra trick up her sleeve here or there since a lot of the stage still feels as if it relies on the player exploiting the AI to defeat her. A small stage where Santa just like throws her off the edge of the map or kicks her might have made it feel a little more impactful (thought very brutal for her?).
So yeah, pretty much SkeleTown
but it improves upon the design flaws with the map design and collectibles I had with the previous mod, so I think I slightly prefer this one. Well done!