(DSiWare)

Game Review

Christmas Wonderland Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Cruel, cruel Santa…

Christmas is here, with endlessly looping festive songs on the radio, frazzled and angry shoppers seeking toys that are always out of stock, and themed downloads appearing on DSiWare. Christmas Wonderland has arrived: is it a land full of magic and goodwill, or a cheap resort with dogs dressed as reindeer?

Christmas Wonderland is primarily a hidden object game: a number of scenes have a range of festive-themed objects scattered haphazardly, and the task is to find every object from Santa’s checklist. There are also objects related to the 12 Days of Christmas, so finding golden rings and partridges – not in a pear tree, unfortunately – is a bonus task in each level. A common curse of hidden object games on the DSi or 3DS is squinting at low resolution images on a small screen, and this title does little to alleviate the problem. There is a hint option that’s available every 30 seconds or so that highlights areas where objects can be found, helping to avoid any DSi hurling incidents.

While most time is spent on these levels, some alternative and entirely optional puzzles appear occasionally to add some variety. Sliding blocks or placing puzzle pieces to form an image is pleasant enough, spot the difference suffers from the same issues as the hidden object stages, and there’s also a card-matching game on rare occasions: it’s like the bonus game in Super Mario Bros. 3, but without the pay-off.

There is a distinct lack of imagination throughout the whole title, unfortunately. The hidden-object scenes are a typical mix of stock photos of Santa workshops and festive scenes. There’s an attempt at a story, however, which generally revolves around Santa making deliveries, though insisting that random objects are ‘put away’ before moving on. Strangely, at one point Santa is delivering gifts to a toy store – is the message that capitalism is the real Santa? – but then goes back to delivering toys to two children in a rather large, expensive looking house. It’s unimportant, absolutely, but it’s also complete and utter nonsense.

As mentioned earlier, many images are fuzzy and blurry, so graphics aren’t exactly a strong point of this title. We often had to resort to blind and random tapping with the stylus, with the hint option offering the only respite. Sound is mediocre, with a limited selection of festive MIDI tracks looping endlessly. We should also mention that at 800 Points, this seems to be rather poorly priced.

Conclusion

The main saving grace for Christmas Wonderland is that it meets expectations as a hidden object title: each scene is appropriately themed with a gaggle of items to sift through. Simplicity isn’t always for the best, however, and low quality images on a small screen contribute to a frustrating experience. Beyond technical issues this title is uninspired, run-of-the-mill and over-priced. Definitely a case of "bah! Humbug!".

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User Comments (12)

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#2

Philip_J_Reed said:

Better score than their awful Halloween equivalent, so that's progress!

Of course, when a 4/10 can be seen as "progress" you know we're in trouble...

Lobster

#3

Lobster said:

You know, I've played one hidden object game (Yard Sale Hidden Treasures Sunnyville or whatever on WiiWare) and I actually really enjoyed it. Why can't there be a decent handheld hidden object game? Sometimes I don't want to fire up my Wii. -sigh-

Mowzle

#4

Mowzle said:

I hate to pile on the agony for a game that hasn't transferred well to the handheld screen...However, I have downloaded this game, and apart from agreeing with everything Thomas says in the review, I should like to add that on my 3DS at least, I find the non response to tapping on the correct "hidden" object is abysmal, almost to the point of screaming frustration. If I could demand my money back, I would. Does anybody play these games at Nintendo HQ before deciding on a price tag? For goodness sake, 800 points? 200 points might be more appropriate.
I'm sorry Nintendo, I love you for the Ambassador games, but surely you can do better than this when offering a pricey seasonal download?

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#5

Philip_J_Reed said:

I should like to add that on my 3DS at least, I find the non response to tapping on the correct "hidden" object is abysmal, almost to the point of screaming frustration.

Their US-only Halloween game was no better in this regard, sadly. The developers don't seem to be all that interested in "developing," if you ask me.

I'm sorry Nintendo, I love you for the Ambassador games, but surely you can do better than this when offering a pricey seasonal download?

Nintendo didn't make it. They DID approve it for release, of course, which raises all sorts of questions about their QA process!

NX01Trekkie1992

#6

NX01Trekkie1992 said:

@Chicken_Brutus
I've noticed a similar quality control problem myself, on a MASSIVE scale, I can't turn on my TV without seeing an add for a toy tie-in game for the Wii or DSi that's undeniably going to turn out to be shovelware, if Nintendo even HAS quality control, it needs to step up its game on a MAJOR level

ThomasBW84Admin

#7

ThomasBW84 said:

@Mowzle - That's a good point about the stylus recognition. I only alluded to it in a way by mentioning the act of blindly tapping the screen, but I did find it a bit fiddly at times, you're absolutely right.

To be honest, I don't think there's any platform, game consoles, Android, Apple, that don't have shovelware on their services. I think that approval for release is probably on grounds of very basic functionality, does the game meet requirements of the platform (menus, manuals, relevant buttons like 'return to DSi menu'), and whether the title contains adult or offensive material. I don't think they determine whether a game is any good, as a browse of download games scoring 4 and less on this site will demonstrate!

It's not just Nintendo with a load of shovelware, which I think is an important point to acknowledge. That said, it's disappointing that a title like this is in the premium price bracket, I have no idea what that's all about.

Linkuini

#8

Linkuini said:

Microvalue is a terrible, horrible name for a publisher. Apparently, it's appropriate enough, though.

Mowzle

#9

Mowzle said:

@5. Sorry, Chicken Brutus. I didn't make myself clear. I had realized Nintendo didn't make this game, but was questioning their ethos in releasing it as DSiWare at a premium price. I should have waited for the review before purchase, of course. Got carried away with seasonal goodwill - regrettably not the liquid type!
@7. ThomasBW84
Thanks for the review, by the way. I do find your comments on the probable grounds for approval to release games interesting. I have never actually considered the matter before, but I can see now more clearly how some games manage to get into the marketplace.

Arkaein

#10

Arkaein said:

@Lobster: If I may promote my own studio's work just a bit, our Spot It! Challenge hidden object game for DSiWare received a 6 here on Nintendo Life (just one mark less than Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville, which received a 7). It's also only $2.

workerbot

#11

workerbot said:

Well, I'm very glad that this game was finally available for North America this week. I am a hidden object game fan and have been enjoying it.

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