Santa’s Christmas Village perfect for Christmas Eve


Spoiler alert! Santa’s Christmas Village would be a cute app to whittle away the boredom when family members outvote you on which movie to watch on Christmas Eve, or, even worse, hook up an iPad to an external monitor to show all those family photos they digitized. Unfortunately the games are geared toward children and they can probably download better stand alone versions.


There is a reason God inspired developers to create the apps I call “child distractors.” Child distractors hopefully get your children off your back long enough to give you a moment to calm down before you kill them. And, as much as you love your children, Christmas Eve is that one day of the year when that is most likely to happen.

If your family opens presents on Christmas Eve the children will want to know if it’s time to open presents yet. And they will ask every five minutes from noon until whenever you finally give in, sit them beside the tree and hand them their presents so they can rip the boxes to shreds, scatter loose scraps of wrapping paper around the room and under the hardest pieces of furniture to move, and let the ribbons fall down the heating vents in the floor to catch fire and burn the house down.

If your family opens presents on Christmas morning they want to know when Santa’s going to come. It doesn’t matter if they know Santa’s dirty little secret (which I promise to parents I will not reveal here), they want to convince you they don’t know the truth to keep those presents coming. So the chorus begins at sundown. “When’s Santa coming? When’s Santa Coming.”

If you step back from the stove with a pot full of water you will trip a child chanting, “When’s Santa coming?” If you have a tray filled with cocktails for the adults in the family you will stumble over a child chanting, “Is it time for presents?” If you sit on the couch to catch your breath from the last mad scramble to organize the house before company arrives, they jump in your lap, two or three of them at once, chanting, “Is it time? Is it time?”

It never lets up until you cave in and stick something in their hands to distract them. If you’re lucky, they will be satisfied with Santa’s Christmas Village because it’s cheap and it has thirteen different games to play. If they catch on that they’ve probably played better versions of all these games, or (and this is even more likely) the app crashes during too many of the games, they’ll be back to bouncing on your couch and demanding immediate Christmas gratification.

But with Santa’s Christmas Village you should at least have an hour of peace.

Thirteen games in one

Or so the description in the app store says. But that was when I first looked at the game for review. By the time I finished they had boosted it to seventeen games in one. Who knows how many they will have by the time you read this on Christmas Eve?

I didn’t count to make sure, but there are a lot of games. I just can’t swear to seventeen or however many they would claim now. I would have to suggest that this depends on your definition of “game.” A tiny train runs along a track at the bottom of the app. You can make it whistle by touching the train station. The developers include this as one of the games. I call this too much creative license.

You can make the train whistle by clicking on the train station. I’m just not sure making trains whistle counts as a game.

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But they have an interesting enough collection that even I managed to find a couple of the games intriguing, and they do make a concession to adults who might want to play with a Christmas version of Klondike. You will also find variations on hangman, tic-tac-toe, memory match, mine sweep and checkers.

Santa’s Christmas Village’s version of tic-tac-toe pits Santa against an elf. The background changes from match to match.

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Each game is packaged as a surprise inside one of the shops at Santa’s Village. You don’t know what you will find until you enter the shop.

I will admit that the developers really worked hard to put a fun Christmas spin on the games. The Santa’s Christmas Village version of hangman, for instance, takes pieces away from a snowman each time you guess wrong. Tic-tac-toe pits Santa against an elf, and even if you know how to play the classic stalemate strategy, the computer will goof up enough to let you win once in a while. Rather than avoiding mines, the Santa’s Christmas Village version involves avoiding gifts with clothes (which was certainly enough to spoil my Christmas).

The toy store provides a Christmas present variation on mine sweep. The object is to find all the cool gifts without opening a present with clothes. Once you find a present with clothes, it’s game over.

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Santa’s Christmas Village also includes educational games. Players can build a snowman by solving simple math puzzles. In another game players help Santa decide which children are naughty or nice. The nice children’s name will contain different letter combinations. This is one of the few games that becomes increasingly challenging, but I’m not sure how your child will feel if his name ends up on the naughty list.

For some children, of course, this won’t matter. I, for instance, spent an early Christmas in fear that I would get no presents from Santa after I pulled the wheels off my sister Beth’s red wagon and my father couldn’t fix them. I didn’t actually admit I was the one who pulled the wheels off my wagon. In fact, I told him it was the kid down the block who always wanted to play with the wagon when Beth was inside.

Not only had I broken my sister’s wagon, I lied. I knew I was doomed to coal in my stockings, but I thought it would be worse if I confessed. And as an adult I realize my instincts at the time were sound. Boy was I surprised when I got everything I wanted for Christmas, albeit the cheap Taiwanese knock off version my father—I mean Santa—seriously believed was as good as the real thing as seen on TV.

After that, the naughty list held no power over me. I knew that if I didn’t get on the naughty list for breaking Beth’s wagon and lying about it, I wouldn’t get put on the naughty list for anything. And as I grew older, my need to push the limits of the naughty list always proved me right.

But for those children naive enough to believe Santa could keep better track of them than the NSA can track terrorists, finding their names on Santa’s naughty list could be disturbing.

The developers also threw in bell playing bears who will play back the Christmas carols as you feel out the notes, and a game involving Santa’s sleight and picture puzzles.

You can play the bears like piano keys, which could be cool if you know the notes and know which carols can be played in the same octave.

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You can find plenty to distract your child, or even yourself, in Santa’s Christmas Village. When it runs. Sadly, the app crashes a lot when trying to replay a game or return to the main menu. Since the app takes more than a minute to load, and take you through a tour of the village before you can play, this can become frustrating by the third or fourth crash.

Jenny Manytoes rates Santa’s Christmas Village

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Santa’s Christmas Village. The game lies at dead center of the Bell curve for iPad apps. It’s got some good things, a few bad things, mostly just average.

If you really, really like all things Christmas—including reindeer tie pins with blinking noses, and coin banks with Santa climbing down the chimney—you probably love the village. But, almost every game that you would enjoy has been done better by a developer who released it as a full fledged app.

And the odds are that you’ve already downloaded that app.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System


Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Games, Seasonal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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