LGR – Santa Balls – PC Game Review

LGR – Santa Balls – PC Game Review


[electronic “Little Drummer Boy” plays] [fizz, sip] Aahhh! [typing] Christmastime always gets me feeling nostalgic and lately I’ve been remembering a time when free-to-play games were actually free. All you did was go to some website, click on a title and you got a simple little time-waster made in Shockwave or Flash, with no timers, microtransactions,
or arbitrary gameplay limits. Maybe you got a couple of banner ads or referral links, but that was about it. A free-to-play game actually being so free would be a Christmas miracle nowadays, but at the turn of the millennium,
it was par for the course. Such was the case with Santa Balls, released in 2001 by KewlBox and Blockdot, Inc., headed up by Dan Ferguson and Mike Bielinski. Wait… THAT Dan Ferguson and Mike Bielinski? The Elf Bowling guys?! Yep! Those guys. So it turns out that after the unmitigated success that was Elf Bowling, Ferguson and Bielinski decided to
sell their company, NVision Design. But their new suitor, Vectrex.com, was dead on arrival, with pre-existing problems that led to them filing for
bankruptcy not long after that. So the duo departed and started a brand new company called Blockdot, with their gaming outlet taking on
the endearingly dated name KewlBox. One of their first projects was Elf Balls, a puzzle game with a name and theme that was mighty similar to their previous Elf Bowling. Too similar, in fact. And it didn’t take long for the lawyers to get involved, changing it to Santa Balls. As for the game itself, it starts up with an obnoxious
menu and obnoxious music, alongside an obnoxious elf spouting early-2000s catchphrases. ELF:
Oops, I did it again… LGR:
At this point, you can check out
the story in the rules of the game, which are absolutely negligible, but hey, why not? And so it goes that after thanklessly
working around the clock making toys, Santa’s elves start resenting the world’s greedy children and decide to steal the ornaments
from Santa’s Christmas tree, creating the game of Elf Balls. Not quite as destructive as the stories
from other Christmas games on LGR, but it is yet another anecdote backing up my theory that North Pole operations
are more chaotic than they are magical. Anyway, the game of Elf Balls or Santa Balls or Christmas Testicles, or whatever this is called, is quite simple indeed. It’s a match-three puzzle game, a straight up Bejeweled clone. Or more accurately, a Diamond Mine clone, which is what it was known by before its rebranding. But yeah, the goal in either case is to swap objects on each tile with one adjacent to it. And this can be done as long as you
match at least three of the same object. Those will disappear and more
objects will randomly drop in to fill in the stuff that was displaced, and that’s it! You keep going until you run out of moves and just try to get the highest score. The only real difference here is that when you’re done, not only do you get to post a
high score on the KewlBox website, but you’re goaded into sharing the game through email. And this is the same method of
viral marketing that Elf Bowling used, and in the days before social media,
it proved wildly effective so why fix what ain’t broke? I’ve gotta say, though, for a game with the word “balls” in the title, I expected a lot more BALLS. Sure, you’ve got a few spherical ornaments, but then there’s all these
gingerbread men, light bulbs and candles thrown in there as well. Those aren’t balls! Now don’t get me wrong, some of
these are still pretty phallic, at least, and I appreciate THAT. But I don’t know, I expected more somehow. Pairs of chestnuts, shiny sausages, Santa’s sack. You know what I’m talkin’ about. You do at least get some lewd comments by Oliver the Elf himself. OLIVER:
Woohoo! Look at those balls go! And of course, the most blatant
blast of testicular triteness are the Ball Juggler buttons. These are used whenever
you run out of available swaps, and of course, it is accompanied by an
appropriately inappropriate comment from our pervy neighborhood elf. OLIVER: [sung to “Jingle Bells”]
Juggle Balls, Juggle Balls, juggle them all! Beyond that, the nominally naughty nutsack nonsense is exhausted about as quickly as it begins. And to top it off, I just don’t like how the game looks. The color palette here is all muted
and not very appealing to look at, especially for a Christmas game. Making it worse is the fact that objects change each and every round, so your ability to quickly recognize swaps is thrown for a loop every few thousand points. Other match-three games like
Bejeweled got this aspect right by using colorful objects that were easily recognized as swappable at a quick glance. But here in Santa’s Swamp Nuts, I find myself doing much more optical dancing than I would otherwise normally require. Eh, overall, this is just another
simplistic Christmas game with an uninspiring design, with the only reason it stood out in the first place being its enjoyably immature title. That didn’t stop it from being a success, though, as it went on to receive at least
two sequels in the following years, so what do I know? The thing that really interests me now, aside from the Elf Bowling association, is that it comes from a time
when Web 2.0 was all the rage, but online infrastructure hadn’t
yet made microtransactions and minutes-long video ads viable yet. I’m sure they would have included
that stuff if they had the option, but thankfully they did not, making Santa Claus’s Clammy
Ballses worth checking out, if only to take a look back at this point in the history of free-to-play gaming. OLIVER:
Game over! [big band Christmas music] And if you enjoyed this Christmas episode of LGR, perhaps you’d like to look at
some other Christmas stuff. I’ve got a video on Elf Bowling here as well as some others coming throughout
the month of December and stuff, so… As always, thank you very much for watching.

93 thoughts on “LGR – Santa Balls – PC Game Review”

  1. Anyone have more info or history on kewlbox.com? I used to love their games back in the day, but now things like shockwave sound like dirty words, and I get a weird vibe when I try to start one of the games up.

  2. It’s the Elf Balls! (Yee, yee)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (What'd he say?)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (Oh, yes! Yeeeah)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (Hey, I know that kid!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (Don't forget ya boy Angel!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (It’s the Elf Balls!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (It’s the Elf Balls!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (It’s the Elf Balls…)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (Hey!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (This beat's rockin'!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (Wow!)
    It’s the Elf Balls!

    Oliver’s from S.P., Jack’s from the Frost Bite
    Ruldolph the Reindeer red-nose-ite!
    Santa Claus, “Ballsman”, baby!
    He raised Oliver, loves kids
    Jack’s cool and cooler, he’s still freezen’
    And cause they eat candy, they're still virgins
    Mrs. Claus, meet the freak of the week-ah!
    Balls’ homegirl, tho no one wanna keep her
    So it’s not happenin’, neither!
    Shakin’ like a big gift
    Hold up, let me open this, take a big suck (Candy Cane!)
    Breathe mint flavor in my lungs
    I got presents, what you watchin’, son?

    It’s the Elf Balls! (Yah!)
    It’s the Elf Balls! (AAAAARRRGH!)
    It’s the Elf Balls!
    It’s the Elf Balls!

    (What did I just waste 10 minutes doing?)

  3. For a second i was like… Did i clicked this from recomendations and its an old video???
    Make that intro with more devices and cans please 😀 love it

  4. I played flash games every day after school. Then I discovered runescape and was blown away. You can imagine my reaction when I realized companies were releasing full scale shooters for free lol

  5. Hahaha Netscape!! Boy do I have DCR, DIR and SWF files that I used to take out of Temporally Internet Files back in the day of minigames. I loved how you introduced the video by opening a DCR. Interesting enough, there were a few pure javascript games as well mixed in between those.

  6. I hated these games. The online Java or Flash based ones.
    Not just for gameplay reasons but also distribution. At one point it was easier to find good free porn without 100 fake links, than these free games.

  7. I actually remember this game. I'd go to my grandparents and play it on their Windows ME computer (which I wish I could've inherited)

  8. I'm sorry but you sound like such a baby boomer. There are tons of actual free to play games out there. 0ad, OpenRA, the marathon trilogy, megagiest, just to name a few. All are free to play, no microtransactions no timers, no abitriary restrictions.

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