Nothing quite says “holiday gaming season” like Santa slamming his fists of fury into a bunch of evil elves intent of destroying Christmas!

BIG BAD BRUSH’s second iPhone title, Kung Fu Santa, is an arcade-style endurance game which puts you in control of a Kung Fu-skilled Santa, with your sole goal to stay alive as long as possible and rack up as many points as you can. On the play area are a series of three candy cane poles. The outer poles move upward, while the one in the center moves downward. You must jump amongst the poles, collecting presents and knocking off evil elves to score points. At the same time you’ll be avoiding hazards like bombs, poisonous goo and gaps in the poles. A star can be picked up which will make you temporarily impervious to these dangers, although be careful, because if you stay on a pole too long and are dragged off screen, it’s game over.

To traverse the poles, you have a few control schemes at your disposal. Moving up and down the poles is accomplished simply by using a finger to drag Santa in the direction you want him to move. Switching poles can be executed either by using a swiping motion in the direction of the next pole, or by tapping the screen to the left or right side of the current pole. While the swiping motion feels “cooler” when attacking an evil elf and offers direct switching of poles, the tapping method allows for a bit more granularity and preciseness and quicker reversals should you need to get out of a sticky situation quickly. The first time you tap, Santa will actually lean to that side of the current pole, and the second time he will switch poles. At times I found my self wishing there was no “peaking/leaning” stage as it slows down your ability to switch poles since there is an extra step, but I see why it was done….to make the presents more difficult to grab. When you switch poles, Santa will do a flying kick toward the next pole, perfect for taking out a nasty elf.

While the gameplay mechanics are relatively simple, the speed and frequency with which the hazards appear, ramps up at steady pace, offering a nice challenge. There is just the one game mode, but the randomness of the obstacles keeps things somewhat fresh. While it’d be nice to see the game mature with some additional modes and power-ups, I suspect with this being a seasonal title, this probably won’t be the case (at least not this year). Either that, or BIG BAD BRUSH could go the route of Angry Birds Seasons and offer other theme options for the game (although the name would be an issue)…poles…kicking…I’m sure they could come up with additional scenarios that uses these elements.

Kung Fu Santa features fun, high-resolution (retina display) cartoony graphics which are well drawn and inviting. There are some nice, satisfying (but repetitive) sound effects and a very faint almost non-existent soundtrack. I would have liked to have had the option to listen to my own music while playing, but the game stops all currently playing music immediately when launched. High score leaderboards are all handled through Game Center.

In Conclusion

BIG BAD BRUSH is proving to be quite a new player in the iPhone gaming arena, Kung Fu Santa is an unique concept with simple but challenging game play. I found it to be quite fun and rather addictive. It definitely has a “one more go” quality, where you find yourself constantly wanting to better your score and try again and again and again. One concern I would have is the longevity of the game past the holidays, but like your favorite Christmas specials, at the end of the season you could just put this one away and bring it back out next year. At just 99¢ this a no-brainer and the perfect entertainment choice for keeping that Christmas Spirit alive as you wait in all those long shopping lines.

Game Trailer