I loved my Amstrad CPC 6128. Well, not in the sense that I was physically attracted to it. I'm not the kind of sick fuck that likes having sex with computers. Instead, I had a strong emotional attachment to my first real geek machine, which was a glorious competitor to the likes of the Spectrum and Commodore 64. While those two more mainstream computers had thousands of titles, the Amstrad seem to get less made for it. Though there was one noble exception. A company called Activision, who generally made all the best Amstrad games, thought it'd be a really good idea to team up with the Save The Children charity and make a game. Presumably, the charity saves children. Regularly! Anyway, what was the fine game the two mighty groups decided on making? None other than Official Father Christmas, in which you get to play the fat guy in a red suit and generally go around saving the season of goodwill. Excitement ahead! That was the kind of quality idea you'd get back in 1989. Tapping "RUN FATHXMAS" into my crappy Amstrad, the game chugged into life with a cheap, static, gloriously crappy medley of Christmas tunes. Download it now by clicking here! Listen to the fun! Send me money!
Now, you have to remember the graphical limitations of the Amstrad CPC were quite, uh, limited. It meant that most games had about three or four main colours (or colors, if you're American or my stupid copy of Microsoft Word) making up each level, and it means in this game Father Christmas doesn't look like Father Christmas. Sure, he's fat and ugly, but his suit is black and white rather than the traditional red and white. Perhaps he was just going through an angst phase, I don't know. Control of the festive fruitcake is done quite simply in the game, with O and P representing left and right respectively, and Q and A being up and down. I bet you always wanted to know that. After typing in my name - Gringo, of course, because real names are for people with lives - I pressed the space bar and was whirled off to the North Pole to take part in an explosion of fun. Sadly, I arrived to find the fuse on the dynamite of fun was faulty and to be told that no, I wouldn't be playing an enjoyable game, but thanks for making the effort to travel such a long distance. Still, ready to wield omnipotent power as that gift-giving goof Father Christmas, I started on the first level.
You start off in what appears to be Father Christmas' home. Because this game's called Official Father Christmas, it's a safe bet it's the fat one's official home. The task is to pick up eight pieces of your sleigh, which has been bizarrely chopped up and liberally distributed around the tiny house by a bunch of elves. Essentially, you pass this level by picking up a piece of the sleigh, dropping it by your reindeer and so on, until you've got all eight. Worringly, there's only one reindeer, which suggests cutbacks in Christmas Town this year! Anyway, if you run into an annoying elf during your struggle to get the sleigh back together, for no real reason the piece you were carrying will be sent back to where you got it. It's a long, laborious and frustrating process that was probably really easy for the game's target audience of anyone born after 1985. Eventually I managed to get the sleigh back together and got an ominous picture of Father Christmas grinning and holding one thumb up (in the air, you sick clown!) and urging me to keep going. Hypnotised by his evil eyes, I agreed and continued on to the next - mercifully short - level.
For this part of the game, you get to write a Christmas list, and can choose six strange objects. I was amused by the fact the letter ends "Love, GRINGO". Yeah, real funny, huh? Anyway, I went for stuff that could cause harm, such as a cricket bat, tennis racquet and toy tank. So far, so violent. But the next stage of this level confused the hell out of me. A never-ending supply of the toys on the list drop from the skies, and Father Christmas runs around underneath. If you run into one of them, you collect it and get some points. There was no set end to the level, so I just kept doing this - even picking up presents, such as a doll's house (swish!), that I hadn't asked for - and praying to be allowed to proceed before much longer. Sure enough, a little bit of patience paid off and once more I got to see the quite frankly off-putting image of evil Father Christmas telling me I'd done well to get so far. There's no in-game music, so I was quite bored by this point. Thankfully, there was only one level left. Less thankfully, it also turned out to be the worst level in the game.
Your last order is to deliver all the presents you've collected before dawn. What's the problem with Dawn? Why take it all out on her? Worst. Joke. Ever. To start with, the game orders you to deliver six presents to America. You can see the generic skyscrapers of America in the picture above. Apparently just six people in the USA celebrate Christmas, because when you've dropped six gifts off, the level ends! Just when you think the mind-numbing boredom is over it says, "Well done! All the presents to that continent have been delivered...now deliver six presents to Africa!" Bastards! Quite why Africa looks like some sort of Hawaiian beach resort, I don't know. Maybe it's something to do with the small amount spent on graphics? After spending a couple of minutes delivering the presents, guess what? Yes! There's yet another continent! This time, it's Asia! The graphics show every abode in that continent as being in the style of Maharajah's palaces. Nothing stereotypical there, eh? On to Europe! At least this time the houses look relatively normal. Doesn't stop the level from being brain-numbingly dull. I soon dropped the last six presents off and was expecting a grand finale. You know what I got? The ominous thumbs-up picture and a bland congratulatory message. Fuck you, Father Christmas!
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