Merry Christmas Lady Santa Review

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Title: Merry Christmas Lady Santa
Developer: Pachytene Studio
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 391 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

I’ve reviewed a lot of PlayStation Mobile games in my time.  With the PSM Store shutting down in 3 days, I’m coming in on my final couple PSM reviews and looking back on games that I’ve reviewed in the past.  It’s no surprise that PSM games have had a lot of familiar trends, even coming up on the end.  One of these trends began when PSM officially acquired Unity 3D support, free of charge no less.

A lot of games have used Unity in PSM games, both in 2D and 3D fashions.  Every time a 3D game comes up, though, there are two main factors almost always present.  The first is the game looking visually great.  The second being that it more often than not has stability issues with frame drops and lag.  There is also a third only present in a few of them, with them being incredibly short games.

For my final two reviews, I’ve got one 3D game and one 2D.  Today, I’ve got a review on a 3D Unity game that I went into, pondering whether or not it was polished more than others.  Today, you and I both are about to find out.  Here is my official review of Merry Christmas Lady Santa!

Story

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The game doesn’t have an overly apparent story, but there is one that is briefly explained in the game’s description and sets it up.  As the title suggests, the story is around a Christmas theme.  Sort of, at least.  You play as a young Mrs. Santa trapped in a space station full of robotic soldiers equipped with laser rifles.  Your goal is to take your toy bag full of grenades to fend off these soldiers and find the missing Christmas present hidden on the station.

As I said before, the story isn’t overly apparent and is never really explained to you at all other than a sign in the initial room that says “Mission: Find Present”.  However, the plotline of a female version of Santa stranded in a space station and fending off robots with a toy bag full of explosive grenades is too wacky to not mention.

Gameplay

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Merry Christmas Lady Santa is a 3D exploration game with combat elements.  You will be running around a 3D environment and moving from room to room, looking for your objective.  As you do this, you will be required to throw grenades at enemies that attack you so that you don’t run out of health before you reach your objective.  Because of the combat elements, this is more than just an exploration game like other games have been, such as the Soulbrain series.

As you move from room to room, your main worries will be about enemies in the rooms ahead and finding spawn points like the one you start at in the game.  You don’t have very much HP, so you’ll want to find new spawn points to not have to run through the entire arena every time you get cornered in a room and lose all of your health.  Just moving over one will activate it and spawn you there if you get killed.

Enemies and combat are going to be the most difficult tasks for you to complete as you play the game.  Combat itself is simple enough.  You can get a grenade from your toy bag and can either drop it in front of you, throw it, or grow it to a huge size and drop it.  They are fairly simple grenade combat mechanics.  However, there are a few other elements thrown into the mix that make this tough.

First of all, your throwing distance is extremely low.  When you throw a grenade it may go as much as 3 or 4 feet in front of your character and no further.  This means you have to get pretty close to the enemy for it to actually hit.  Second, your movement speed is very slow, requiring your timing to be absolutely precise with running to get away from some explosions, especially with the jumbo grenades.  Third, you don’t have much health.  By the time you go into a room with two enemies, you’ll likely lose more than half your health bar by the time you plant a grenade and move out.

Outside of combat, it’s pretty simple.  You just move around each room until you can find your objective.  Doors open automatically for you and once you can see where you need to go, it’s easy to figure out how to use grenades to clear obstacles from your path.

All in all, the game is pretty short.  It took me about 10-15 minutes to learn the mechanics and move around until I could find the present and beat the game.  If you already know the mechanics, the game would probably only last about half that long.  Like other Unity 3D games on PSM, it feels more like a technical demo to try and showcase what kind of 3D games PSM can handle.

Controls

Moving your way around the game isn’t very hard to do.  Like the other Unity games on PSM, the touch screen won’t be used at all.  As you may guess, the game is also fully playable on the PlayStation TV from this, which is where most of my playing of the game took place.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t utilize the R2 or L2 buttons in any way.

Moving around is done with the Left Analog Stick and the camera can be moved with the Right Analog Stick.  Combat is used with the face buttons.  Triangle is used to jump and X is used to equip yourself with a grenade.  The X button is used again to drop a grenade, Square is used to increase the grenade’s size, and Circle can be used to toss the grenade forward.  The L and R triggers are used to zoom in and out with the camera.

Overall, the controls aren’t very difficult.  However, they’re not very easy to use, as I will explain in the next section.

Presentation

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Visually, the game looks really nice.  All of the environment and character models look very smooth and have a lot of detail in them.  It’s always been like this, but this game looks better in graphics than many Vita native games.  Some things could use some more detail, but the 3D engine that Unity provides looks really nice on the Vita’s screen.

The problem is that the game is hampered by a number of technical problems.  First of all is the initial load time.  When you go from the Main Menu to starting the game, expect to wait at least 50-55 seconds.  I had to press the Analog Sticks on the Vita just to keep the system from going into sleep mode while I waited for that initial load time.

Another thing is that the game isn’t stable.  Many PSM games have frame-rate problems with 3D engines.  This has them, but they get worse when there’s action happening.  Basic movement feels slugglish because the game doesn’t have an incredibly high frame-rate.  However, when you start getting shot at, the frame rate drops down to almost zero.  When I went into the first room with two enemies, the whole game froze for a few seconds just trying to manage the animations for the laser rifles.

Apart from that, the game has no background music to keep you entertained as you play through the game.  All you will hear are the sound effects of Lady Santa’s voice, footsteps, weapon fire, and explosions from grenades.

Summary

Merry Christmas Lady Santa is one of the few holiday-themed games on the PS Mobile store.  The game proves to be a visually pretty and unique exploration game, but with barely 15 minutes of content and a host of technical problems, this is one Christmas that won’t be merry. 

4/10

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