• AKA The Official Father Christmas Game
  • Alternative Software/Save The Children, 1989
  • Get the game

Alternative Software and Save The Children clubbed together to raise money with The Official Father Christmas at the tail end of 1989. The oddly titled game is for kids (one of the game’s few reviews, in Amstrad Action, describes it as for under eights) and it’s split into three parts.

In the first and most enjoyable section Santa’s got to collect pieces of his sleigh from the house and assemble them in his snowy garden. Naughty elves are out to stop him and if they catch our rotund hero they’ll grab a bit of sleigh and hide it. You’ve got to beat the elves (I’d certainly beat these elves – Ed) against the clock.

Once you’re done, level two is like Bomber from Power Pack 26 but with toys. Santa is at the bottom of the screen, desperately trying to catch gifts thrown by elves before moving forwards to level three. This one’s where you have to deliver all the presents before dawn, flying across four continents and, er, Finland. You press fire at the right point to drop your goodies.

Official Father Christmas absolutely oozes the festive season. The crisp, bold graphics are colourful and all the right shades. The animation on the elves, particularly, is genuinely funny and the little bastards seem to have character. Seasonal music you’ll recognise plays throughout the game, and there are nice little touches like getting to compile your Christmas wish list before section two starts.  

It’s slightly irksome at times. There’s no status bar telling you when an elf’s nicked a gift in stage one, for example – your Santa sprite merely flashes briefly. The final level can be cumbersome too, ‘cos you’ve got to drop the gifts right on the arrow (some leeway would’ve been nice). But it’s still a fairly soft challenge and easily one of the most Christmassy games out there. Sure, it’s for kids. But it’s definitely one worth getting into the tradition of playing once a year. CF

FESTIVE FEELS: Jingle Bells plays throughout. Loads of snow. Annoying, but cute, elves.

CHRISTMAS CRACKER OR TOTAL TURKEY? Easy and very short, but absolutely worth a play.