Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sega Genesis Essential Imports: Daze Before Christmas

Console: Mega Drive
Genre(s): Platformer
Players: 1-2
Developer: Funcom
Published By: Sunsoft
Released: 1994

Given its Christmas Eve, we here at Super Retro Bros wanted add to the holiday cheer by bringing you a review of a unique game that's based around this popular holiday. Daze Before Christmas is an action platformer released by Sunsoft in 1994. The Mega Drive title was exclusively released in Australia. An SNES version of the game was released in Australia and Germany. There was an NTSC release planned, but was supposedly canceled due to quality issues. Due to the very limited release, this game is very sought after by retro game collectors.


While Santa was sleeping just a couple days before Christmas, an evil plot was beginning to unfold that would ruin Christmas. An evil snowman and “The Time Keeper” have begun to terrorize the North Pole with their devious plans. The evil snowman who, without question runs this evil operation, has scared away all of the Elves, stolen Santa's reindeer and ripped open all the presents to cast a spell upon them. The Time Keeper also has a villainous role in this plot, he has stolen Santa's flight plans. When Santa finally wakes up, he is faced with the daunting task to reverse these evil acts and seek a little street justice.

That's where you (the player) comes in. You take control of Santa in this side-scrolling adventure and set out to save all of your pint sized little workers and all of your reindeer. Santa comes equipped with an attack that shoots out, what appears to be, some form of magical ice particles. You also have the ability to jump and perform a mediocre aerial attack by pressing the jump button a second time while in the air. You start out in “Santa's Hallway” and begin to traverse this oddly laid-out home. You quickly notice that strewn throughout the level are presents that contain your little helpers, giant rats, or even bombs. Every now and again you will come across check points or even power-ups. One of the power-ups in this game is a hot cocoa potion that Santa drinks to unleash his alter ego, “Anti-Claus”, which is a devilish, invincible version of Santa that has the ability to swing his giant sack of toys at enemies to destroy them. As great as that sounds, it really isn't that great of an ability and doesn't have a significant role in this game, unfortunately. Another power-up will give your bearded hero the ability to shoot fire instead of his ice crystals. This ability will be needed throughout the game to defeat snowmen and to save your reindeer who are trapped behind a wall of ice. As you continue through the levels, you will notice that Santa's realm is really a strange place. The levels you encounter will range from dark ice caves with icicle spikes to factories with unusually grinning present wrapping machines. Even mini-levels that will have you flying over a variety of countries and dropping gifts down chimneys from your flying sleigh. Level design is a big plus in this game. They are very vivid and keep with the overall twisted theme of the game. This game is not particularly difficult, but there are elements that make it a bit more challenging. One thing you will notice quickly is that the screen will move with your character as you jump. This inevitably leads to some blind jumps or leaps of faith, especially when a moving platform is the target. This was probably my most frequent type of death as the actual enemies in the game are typically not a very challenging battle, however, you will come across some that will require a little more strategy to defeat.


The graphics are one of the real positives to this game. The color schemes are vivid and bright, yet maintain a very dark undertone. Level design in this game is great. Each of the 24 levels has a unique theme with their own set of challenges that ties in well with the overall feel of the game. The characters are cartoony and are well animated. The little things in this game really help to keep your interest. Like when you duck, your entire body will be consumed by Santa's hat leaving only two big eyes peeping out from underneath. Graphically, this game is solid.


I was pleasantly surprised by the music in this game. Each stage has its own music that accompanies it, from upbeat Christmas music to dark and dreary tones, that really help set the overall feel of the level. The sound FX are good as well, but not spectacular.


The controls are precise and quick to your desired input. The D-Pad controls do not feel floaty or slippery. The button commands are straight forward and given the fact that there are only two initial inputs (Jump and Magic), they are easily mastered. Aside from the camera following Santa during a jump, it is still very predictable and accurate. Pressing the jump button in the middle of a jump will perform an aerial attack that is reminiscent of a classic butt slam.

Control Layout:
A: Magic
B: Jump
C: Magic

Final Impressions:

Though this game is not a particularly difficult game to play, you will thoroughly enjoy it. Especially your first time through. The feel to this game is great and has a very small learning curve. This is definitely one of those games that will NOT end with your controller reduced to bits and pieces at your feet or a hole in your tv. In fact, this is one of those games you can sit down and play through with very little frustration at all. Overall, I would definitely recommend you give this game a go, especially during the Holiday season. Its a shame this unique platformer never made it stateside. Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for reading!

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