GAME NAME: Santa Factory
DEVELOPER(S): XINESS Co., Ltd.
PUBLISHER(S): XINESS Co., Ltd.
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): July 9th, 2015
Santa Factory is an edutainment platform title from Xiness Games Co. Ltd. a Korean independent studio. In Santa Factory, you play as an elf named Tonttu and Rudolf in an attempt to retrieve the children’s lost Christmas wish letters for Santa. Gameplay is your standard platform affair with a platform/object drawing mechanic similar to that used in the Max and the Magic Marker series. Though not implemented nearly as well.
While the platforming is the usual jump this gap, jump to this platform collect this on the way, poor level and graphical design flaws take any fun to be had away from the experience. While graphically the game does have some cute character designs everything is VERY very flat. So much so that it is hard to discern what is in the background and what is in the foreground. This is a huge issue when it comes to a platformer because it make it extremely difficult to know what you can jump on and to and what you can not which then also plays into level design.
The game will also present gaps and challenges that your character cannot cross with their normal abilities and that’s where the magic wand comes in. But the magic wand mechanic just makes things worse as there is no explanation as to the fact it is even there or how to use it when playing the game. I was stuck in a level and could no figure out how to proceed backed out and noticed a Hint button. Being the cheater that I am am I pressed said menu option and was treated to ta-da the games control scheme! Not quite a hint but still very necessary, as I noticed then the game had a magic wand (drawing a platform) mechanic. Each of the 3 wands is supposed to have different characteristics that you use in specific instances to help you move forward but in my experience it didn’t make a difference.
This leads us to another issue with the game. I said above that “Hint” took me to the control scheme, it doesn’t stop there unfortunately. The game has these types of “definition” or “language” issues through out. The introduction gives you the credits and a few more. This presents an overall larger issue as the game is supposed to be and edutainment title to help learn words in English which is where the edutainment portion works its way in. As you collect the letters a drawing of the item in the list will be shown and said aloud. At the end of each level you will be tasked with matching the words to their drawing doing so correctly will give you a Perfect score. However it doesn’t matter because even if you miss an envelope the item is still there for you to try and match at the end. To make matters even worse some of the words pronunciation is off but that may because it doesn’t sound like person is delivering it more like the voice on your GPS or when your phone reads a text back to you when you are unable to read it. Then again maybe it’s a language barrier situation, either way it’s not good as the game is supposed to be teaching you ENGLISH.
For sound the game does not fair any better either. The effects are completely forgettable even though the music is not, and that is not a good thing either. The music is grating and I swear they are some of the same tracks used in Tilelicious. They are metallic, flat, irritating and can luckily be turned of when you find the right option.
While there are more issues with this game then mentioned above and below from freezing, control issues and more, I believe I have gotten my opinion across and will now longer let this title take up any more of yours or my time.
No recommendation from me on this title even though I realize I am not it’s target demographic. While the art and Christmas theme may be attractive to younger players and edutainment aspect may entice their parents, Santa Factory is a mish mash of ideas that are neither fun nor educational. It’s as though Max and the Magic Marker and Tilelicious had a child and it didn’t turn out well. Broken mechanics, bugs, and the obvious language barrier the devs faced just make the title neither fun nor educational and more akin to a lump of coal given to bad boys and girls on Christmas. Oh and Tonttu may sound original and cool, it basically means elf in Finnish.