Santa Rockstar HD
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2016-12-20 PC Music/Rhythm T (Teen) Bekho Team

Everyone who works in retail gets grumpier at this time of the year because they're forced to listen to the same crappy carols (all 7 versions of them) every hour, on the hour, for the duration of our shifts. I'm one of these grumpy people, and this year, I've been grumpier than ever. White Christmas sounds racist, there's only so much Let it Snow I can stand, and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... f*** off.

Fortunately, I've found my salvation in the form of a music/rhythm game: Santa Rockstar on Steam. And I can't begin to tell you how much this game... well... rocks.

But before I got to the rocking part, I had some issues, so I will start with the negatives for a change.

Supposedly, this should be compatible with any wired Xbox 360 guitar controller. Unfortunately, I found myself scrambling to get any of mine to work. I tried the Fender that comes with RockBand, my Guitar Hero II white guitar, the wireless from World Tour, and even went to get the PS2 to USB adapter to experiment with the original controller. All were a bust. Eventually I thought, no way, one of these HAS to work, so I stuck with the Rockband guitar. I would fail any song in seconds, and no notes would register.

It took me quite a while to figure out the main problem: the whammy bar. Regardless of which controller I used, the whammy bar was constantly registering movement, and thus, scrolling up. Solution: tie down the damn thing with a ribbon, in a position where it wasn't scrolling up nor down. Sure, it looks stupid, but hey, it works. The next step was remapping the keys, because using the "Rockstar" button setting, every fret button would press the orange key. So, I remapped the "Basic" fret buttons to make sure the colors were right, and moved on to play the campaign on Basic. Basic controls eliminate the strum bar, so you only need to use the fret buttons, which is kind of awkward for me since I've always been used to strumming while pressing down a note. But hey, it worked, and I could finally play a song. The only issue was no Star Power, but that didn't bother me too much.

But on to the fun things!

Santa Rockstar begins with Santa en route with his schedule present delivery, when something goes terribly wrong. Ok, I don't really know what's behind the sleigh crash, so I'm far fetching here to fill in the blanks. Nearly hitting poor Rudolph, who crawls to the road in search for help, a rocker finds the crash site and revives Santa with his awesome guitar powers. Santa then becomes a rocker badass himself, and both fly on the sleigh-stage delivering presents around the world, with a leather-clad Reindeer band.

The game truly shines through the music. Old classics with a fantastic rockin' twist had me humming along and even slightly headbanging. In good old Guitar Hero fashion, you hit the notes as they come scrolling towards you and just enjoy the seasonal musical ride.

Personally, I loved the tunes. I was caught by surprise with explosive and fast starts, crazy guitar solos in the middle of the songs, and rocktastic finishing sequences. And then also caught by surprise when the ribbon on my whammy bar came lose and everything went crazy...

The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. There are 15 holiday favorites (some of them I was not familiar with but thoroughly enjoyed) to be played in either Campaign or Quickplay, including Silent Night, Jingle Bells, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald and March of the Nutcracker. I can't praise the composer enough for it. This has surely drowned out the boring carols that constantly play on repeat in my brain at night when I try to sleep.

Also delightful are the animations for Santa and the Reindeer as they perform on the sleigh-stage. I actually got distracted a few times just to watch them and to check out the scenery behind them.

I would have loved to have seen some more short animated sequences in between each part of the world in Campaign, and it would have been quite nice to play through the alternative Silent Night version that plays during the credits.

Overall, once you get the controller set up right, Santa Rockstar is well worth playing, and definitely worth getting the soundtrack to play during the holidays. I know what I'll be listening to from now on!

Merry Rockmas, little gamers, and to all a good night!

For more videos of Santa Rockstar HD, check out the playlist below: