It's not even November yet, and select retailers are already rolling out Christmas decorations. And it's not just in the West. Select Japanese retail is also already selling Christmas trees. So why should an iOS app be any different?
Santa's Village from social game maker Making Fun was released in mid-September, getting the jump on other holiday iOS games. I don't know if it was the first holiday game released this fall (I doubt it), but it was out before the leaves started changing in some parts of the States.
The game is similar in mechanics to Smurfs' Village. In Santa's Village — which can be found on iTunes by entering "SantasVillage" because of the other games with similar titles — the goal is to build, well, a Santa village.
Players populate the village with elves, who make toys. There are quests like when Santa asks you to make a certain amount of toys. After your elves make the toys, if you leave them out in the open, the evil Christmas-hating Grumpkins snatch them away.
Like other games of the same ilk, it takes time, real time, to make presents and buildings. Thus, that limited how much time I could spend with the game before writing this App of the Day!
For what this is, there are things I liked about Santa's Village, such as the ability to rotate the map in 3D. The graphics look nice, and the mini-games helped to mix up game play. Also, it's got Santa, and who doesn't like Santa?
Sometimes, the menus were not exactly intuitive. For example, when you click on the hammer icon in the bottom right corner, you are taken to the building section. You can select different structures, such as a toy workshop or an elf house, to make. Since the tabs in this window are in red, it took me forever to figure out that I could also access pine trees to plant, because I don't instinctively connect planting with hammers. (But hey, that's just me!)
In that same window, the top reads "Main Menu". If you click on that, you are taken, obviously, back to the main menu. That makes sense, but I wanted to go back to my game. Since the load times are longish, getting knocked back to the main menu was frustrating, especially because I couldn't easily navigate where I wanted to go. Yes, I need things spelled out for me.
Future updates can fix these issues, tighten up some of the touch interface. The game's free! So the price is right. During the time I spent with it, I never felt compelled to shell out real money, say, $5.49 for 100 stars and then use them to buy a Reindeer Flight School. That might be good news and bad news: good news for us, the players, and bad news for the developers. Or maybe, keeping with the Christmas spirit, they're just happy to give.