Santa Claus has finally been pushed too far! An evil Snowman and sinister Timekeeper invaded Kris Kringle’s North Pole toy factory, captured all of the elves, imprisoned the reindeer, and stolen all of the toys! It’s time to take off the snow gloves! Santa goes on the attack to reclaim his workshop, his staff and the presents for the good boys and girls all over the world; but to do so he must unleash his dark alter ego, the Anti-Claus!!!!
- Title: Daze Before Christmas
- Year: 1994
- Publisher: Funcom
- Developer: SunSoft
- Platform: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (also released for Super Nintendo)
Weird video games and Christmas seem to go hand in hand, and while the landscape of retro video games is chock-full of super strange holiday games (IE: Popples Christmas Adventure), it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily good games. As a matter of fact, most of them are rush released cheap and cheesy shovelware designed to leverage the gift-giving season.
Daze Before Christmas is one gem of an exception. It’s both insanely weird and extremely fun to play.
The set up explained in a painfully worded Christmas poem, tells a tale of an evil snowman teaming up with the baddie known as Timemaster to steal all of the presents Santa has earmarked for children across the world.
As part of their sinister plan they lock up Santa’s reindeer behind walls of ice, imprison the elves inside gift-wrapped boxes, and turned the North Poles penguins, jack-in-the-boxes, and birds against Santa (you heard me, bird in the North Pole).
This along with an army of snowmen, anthropomorphic rats, spiders, and rock monster henchmen, seek to stop Claus and ruin Christmas forever!
A Super Mario Bros.-inspired platformer though and though, but unlike most of the side-scrolling rip-offs out there, this one has some really creative design.
After the text-based intro, the game switches over to an automated level portal (which you cannot navigate), designed to look like an advent calendar with each of the 24 levels serving as a day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.
Santa’s moves are fairly basic. He can jump, duck (revealing nothing more than eyes peaking out of his hat), plus shoot magic at his enemies, and with a power-up he can shoot blasts of fire.
The goal is to scour each level, finding and freeing elves and reindeer and blasting enemies who will leave behind one of the stolen gifts. Each gift you collect is added to an inventory that will later be use on the gift delivery levels. (More on that later.)
Platform levels range from easy to challenging, and are chock-full of dangers beyond just enemies. Santa must navigate over spikes, falling ice-cycles, flooding waters, moving platforms, tanks, helicopters and more. They also contain items Santa can used to navigate the platforms including candy cane poles he can climb, comfy chairs he can bounce on, conveyer belt platforms, swinging chains, flying carpets, and more.
Each stage in the game climaxes in a big boss battle, the first being the Evil Snowman, who looks suspiciously like a demented Frosty, then the Timemaster, who is a giant wooden alarm clock. Even after you defeat the two main enemies of the game they are followed by even more boss levels including Louse the Mouse, and the final boss, Mr. Weather
Enter the Anti-Claus
You can just push a Santa Claus so far! To help reclaim the stolen toys and winter wonderland, Claus must unleash his deep dark inner demon, the Jekyll to his Hyde, the Wario to his Mario, and with one sip of coffee, Santa temporarily releases his split personality, the demonic Anti-Claus!
The Anti-Claus can’t shoot blasts, rescue elves and reindeer, or collect presents, but he’s one indestructible bad Santa. The Anti-Claus Santa can’t take any damage from enemies, spikes, or many of the other dangers of the environments, plus he can give enemies a smack down by slinging his vicious gift bag.
While in normal Santa state, Calus’s health is measured by how many hats he has in his inventory. Every time an enemy hits him, falls on spikes, etc. he looses a hat. Once he’s out of hats, he looses a life.
The problem is that each time he’s hit Santa momentarily disappears, which can cause him to take multiple hits before he reappears, or cause the player to lose their bearings and fall over a cliff or into the water.
Speaking of which, water seems to be both Santa and the Anti-Claus’ biggest weakness. Apparently St. Nicholas can’t swim, so each time he falls into the water he looses a life, regardless of how many hats he has left or if he’s in the Anti indestructible state.
Between every five levels there are gift delivery stages with Santa riding his sleigh, pulled by the reindeer he has rescued thus far, dropping the gifts that he gathered on the previous levels into open chimneys. The more gifts you gather, the more you can deliver, but you got to be careful and dodge flying enemies the Evil Snowman and Timekeeper have set to stop you.
Each gift delivery level takes place in a different part of the world, however since there are only 24 total levels in the game, it equals out to four gift delivery levels, England, Russia, Japan and the USA.