When I started thinking about Christmas Week for 2022, I wasn’t expecting to start off with so many 2D side scroller games. However, it seems this is where we’ve ended up as I seem to have found another one6.
American Christmas seems to be a bit of an oddity. By oddity I mean the game fits nicely in with our Christmas theme, but it was released in January 2022. For something that has a Christmas theme, the timing of this release seems a bit strange. But it does seem to fit the bill of budget Christmas themed game, so I think it’s only fair to give it a chance at the time of year that more accurately reflects the game’s theme.
The game is fairly simple. The game is a simple 2D side-scroller, reminiscent of the early Mario or Sonic games. The goal is to go through a series of different levels to save Santa, while collecting coins. Along the way, you’ve got different enemy characters that will hurt or kill you, as well as NPC’s that can offer you some additional information to help you on your way.
The reference to the early Mario or Sonic games is quite deliberate. There has been an interest in retro computing the last few years, and American Christmas has obviously been designed with this in mind. It’s even mentioned in the game’s description on Steam. The developers have intended American Christmas to be a modern recreation of the look and feel of these old games.
They’ve done a really excellent job of it. The game itself is fast paced, and really once you start playing you can get caught up in it fairly quickly. It’s really difficult to put the game down once you’ve started. They have the game mechanics perfect. I can see how this could be a game that you could sink a lot of time into, which is very impressive for a game that only cost $1.50.
American Christmas is quite challenging in places. This means it isn’t quite as good for younger kids as Christmas Fever, which is a similar game. This game would be more suitable for slightly older kids who are looking for a bit more of a challenge.
The graphics are fairly impressive given the type of game this is. The game heavily focuses around an aesthetic reminiscent of the early gaming consoles and games like Mario Kart or Sonic the Hedgehog. They’ve captured this aesthetic and art style fairly well.
Some may believe that this may be oversimplified. Given the goals of the game, I don’t believe this is the case. The developers are obviously trying to bring back a sense of nostalgia for the early consoles. This is understandable given the interest in retro computing the last couple of years. People who were around in this time might remember that this is basically how most games looked during this time. While some people might want to make better use of more modern hardware, as someone who dabbles in retro computing, I’m glad to see the interest.
For those looking for a cheap game to keep slightly older kids entertained, American Christmas would not be a terrible option. The game is engaging and challenging, and is a great example of how to do a retro-style 2D side-scroller well.
The only criticism is that it might think the graphics are a little over-simplified, but given the goals the developers are trying to achieve, this isn’t necessarily terrible.