Appletell review – iSanta for iPhone/iPod touch

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iSantaCategory: Arcade game
Developer: xCubeLabs
Requirements: iPhone 2.0 software
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod Touch
File Size: 8.4MB
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Price: $0.99
Age Rating: 4+

iSanta from xCube Labs requires you to play Santa Claus, ride the sleigh on Christmas eve, and drop a specified number of gifts in each town you fly over.


Once you have downloaded the application and installed it you are greeted by the above screen. It gives you three options once you have played the game at least once. Resume Game will allow you to pick up your last game where you left off. You also have the option for a new game, and an option for instructions. The instructions page explains that you can tilt your device to make Santa and his sled move up and down the screen. It also goes on to explain that a minimum number of gifts must be delivered in each town and that you should not waste these gifts. The last piece of information tells you that you need to tap each colored star on the left side of the screen to drop a present of that color. On the start and instructions screen there is music playing. This music is broken. It sounds horrible. I actually think it could do damage to an iPhone speaker at louder volumes, it’s that terrible. If you are playing this game on an iPhone turn the volume down or use the option to listen to your own music.


Next, you come to ta map of cities. The horrible music is still playing and still sounds terrible. After you select a city, a scroll appears telling you the amount of houses, gifts, and other relevant information for that particular city. You then need to press the play button on the bottom of the scroll, and the game begins. The music, unfortunately, is still playing, but I’ll get to that a bit later. Back to the game.

The game screen actually has a lot going on, and is quite beautiful. The graphics are very impressive. At the top of the screen you see the number of houses remaining, the city you are in, the number of gifts you have remaining and the amount of failures you have until you have to start over (you start with eight). Along the left side of the screen you will see four stars: yellow, green, blue, and red. On the bottom left of the screen you will see an information icon. Tapping it will bring you to a settings screen that gives you the option to turn off the background music (use it). You can also turn alerts on and off, adjust volume, check stats, and change to “right hand play.”


My first impression of the game was not good. I cannot say enough about how bad the music is. It is totally distorted and sounds like someone had the gain cranked all the way up when it was recorded. I am, however, very impressed with the way the game looks. The graphics are clear and crisp. The game play is very smooth and realistic. When you tilt the device, Santa moves at a realistic pace and the game is not too fast or too slow. I did, however, discover that if you have Santa as low as he can go on the screen the game is quite easy, compared to playing the game “correctly.” Bottom line is that you have to shut the music off to enjoy the game. I wish I could give it a higher rating because the game play is quite good, but the music is just so bad, I can’t do it.

Update (January 7: 2009):

Originally, I gave this game a 2 out of 5 rating. I have had a chance to play iSanta after a couple of software updates. My first impression is that they have fixed the bad music issue. They did this by simply removing the music altogether. Smart move by xCube. I always say that if you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all. The game is much more enjoyable and playable without the terrible music, and is solid and enjoyable. My only complaint at this point is that the game is a bit monotonous and does not seem to increase in difficulty the more you play. Bottom line is that the game is solid but not extraordinary.

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Appletell iSanta review
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  • Steven W

    yes, sound is not great! but you have option to listen custom iPod music.
    Very few games are giving this option.

  • jeff

    yea, except for the sound, graphics are outstanding…….. i hope they are planning a release with new sounds.!!!!!!

  • Kirk Hiner

    They are. The developer has told me they're just waiting for Apple approval, then the app will hit the store. At that point, we'll revisit the review.

  • Ravi Korukonda

    iSanta2010 update is now on app store with new sounds, As steve mentioned you have an option to listen custom iPod music.

    Here are the few promo codes to download it for free: