SINT NICOLAAS / Wieringsoftware / PC

Sint Nicolaas is the work of indie developer Mike Wiering, a platformer specialist best known for making a fairly playable Super Mario World knockoff for PCs back in 1994 called "Mario & Luigi" that was popular in piratey circles back in the day. As with his previous work, there's a very Super Mario World feel to the whole thing and it ends up being quite a good little platformer that flew beneath the radar.

As the title might indicate, Mike is Dutch and the game draws on the country's legend of Sint Nic. Which our Santa Claus was basically ripped off from, but it turns out there's really little difference except that he rocks a miter instead of a stocking cap and is the distributor of the cookies instead of the consumer. Anyway, the game has both Dutch and English language settings and seems to default to English anyway.

Also, instead of using reindeer Saint Nic is precariously leaping from roof to roof in ninjer style. Each level gives you about three minutes to find color-coded presents scattered about and get them to the right chimney. But you'll also have to grab up all the cookies scattered around the level and deliver five to each chimney. Once all that is done, you have to hightail it to the exit safely before time runs out. Saint Nic does this with the help of some considerable Mario-esque hops plus a similar dash button, but it's a long and fatal fall for his bulky frame if you miss a step.

The challenge mostly comes from the present distribution. As you pick up the presents, they follow you in a Yoshi-egg-like trail. But you can only put the first one in the chain down a chimney, so you may have to do some doubling back.

In between each of these primary levels, there's a more challenging bonus level that has you making precision jump chains while trying to collect up all the cookies.

Another interesting note about this one is that it's a DOS game that came out in 2003. For the youngsters out there, MS-DOS and its gaming scene was pretty much abandoned entirely by the late 90s. People still kept it on their systems and used it to play older games, but new releases started really drying up with Windows 95 and were almost entirely done by the time Windows 98 came out. Microsoft stopped including it with Windows when XP came out in 2001 (thus the birth of DOSBox in 2002). Mike apparently stuck with it due to his DOS development history and a particular affinity for Pascal, which was rarely used in commercial game programming even in the 1990s. I really respect sticking with the lane you like and continuing to hone your craft even if the whims of the market leave it behind.

So anyway, this is a pretty nice little Mario-alike and is definitely one of the better Christmas-themed games out there.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video