Too Many Santas: Have You Ever Wanted to Date Santa Claus?
If you answered “yes” to the question above, then boy, do I have the game for you!
Too Many Santas is an FMV, visual novel, dating sim that does more or less just what it says on the tin. You pick from one of six Santas to date, and as they all try and “help” you save your store at Christmas, you pursue your romance with the Santa of your dreams.
The game opens with “you” going by the name Sandy Cleese and bemoaning the emptiness of your mall toy store, an oddity as we roll into the Christmas season. You helpfully greet what you hope to be a customer only to discover that s/he is only there looking for the mall restroom. You glimpse a Christmas Star through your exterior window (what kind of mall is this?), and you wish for someone to help save your store from bankruptcy with a side of romance, if it’s not too much to ask. As you complete your wish, you return to the emptiness of your toy displays and discover not one, not two, but SIX versions of Santa Claus, all ready and waiting to help you survive the Christmas season. The form that help takes, of course, depends entirely on the Santa you choose to romance.
You have the option to choose between “Secret Santa,” “Saintly Santa,” “Sexy Santa,” “Sad Santa,” and “Sassy Santa,” and your choice will determine the storyline through which you’ll play. Early on, you can tell what kind of characters these folks are. Sassy Santa enjoys insulting everyone he meets. Sexy Santa can barely tolerate keeping his shirt on his body. Secret Santa is what would happen if you crossed Santa with a spy. Everything depresses Sad Santa, and Saintly Santa has a healthy dose of “holier than thou.”
I have to say, there’s nothing about “Too Many Santas” that breaks new ground in the dating sim genre, but that’s entirely not the point of the game. The entire goal here is to have fun with crazy characters in a Christmas-setting that turns some of the Christmas tropes you see on the Hallmark Channel on their heads, and Oh, a Rock! Studios have succeeded in doing exactly that.
“Too Many Santas” does offer you a level of granular control over the play experience that you won’t find in other dating sims. You get to select not only your name but also your pronouns, and there’s even a write-in option if you need something crazier. You can control how fast the text scrolls and the background music, but I think my favorite option by far is the option to eliminate the “creepy eye-blink animation.” That’s how the menu phrases it, mind you, not me.
Visually, the game adopts almost a stop-motion aesthetic. The game uses static images that change, based on your choices, and these appear to be real photographs. The visuals took me rather forcibly back to watching the 1964 Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer film in spirit if not perfectly in style. I don’t think that’s an accident, but you should check out some screenshots to be sure the art style is for you.
“Too Many Santas” is not a ground-breakingly interesting dating sim, but neither is it meant to be. You aren’t going to pick up a title called “Too Many Santas” and expect a long-form, complex dating sim, and the game knows it. The point of “Too Many Santas” is to step into an entirely bonkers world and goof off for a few hours, and if that’s the kind of game you want, “Too Many Santas” is perfect. Let’s be entirely honest. You’ll spend far more than $7.00 on items you don’t need this holiday season (assuming you celebrate). You might as well include “Too Many Santas” in your gift bag.
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- When I say that Sexy Santa has issues keeping his shirt on, I’m not joking. There are some vaguely awkward dance contests. Just saying.
- Sassy Santa is entertainingly catty, but he wasn’t really my cup of tea.
- There’s a Krampish. Y’all.
- I love the spinning peppermint icon that indicates when you can click through the dialogue box.
- The extraneous characters are hilarious. Give yourself a moment to appreciate them.