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Actually just a reindeer in Santa’s clothing, Jingle could be seen as more of a mutant aberration than an actual step in Santa’s evolution. Nevertheless, he still qualifies as a Claus, fulfilling Santa’s role by bringing presents to Animal Crossing players every Christmas Eve.
Sadly for Jingle, his status as an evolutionary dead end is cemented by his utter stupidity; change clothes after getting a present from him, and he’ll think you’re a different person and give you something else. True, every human in AC tends to look alike, but after a few years you’d think he’d have caught on.
10 years after first appearing in ToeJam & Earl, Santa Funk re-emerged for the relatively obscure ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth. Since his original appearance, he went through some serious wardrobe changes, ditching the aviator’s cap in favor of a conical monstrosity and enormous puffy sleeves. He also seems to have gone through something of a race change since we last saw him, assuming this isn’t just a different Santa Funk.
However, it looks as though he’s still got his jet pack, which automatically cancels out any of the questionable and vaguely terrifying clothing choices he’s made. Hopefully he still drops just as many presents when he’s surprised, and hopefully those presents won’t instantly blow your head off when they’re opened.
2002 was some kind of bumper-crop year for Santas in videogames, and it hasn’t really been repeated since. That might be because the hero in the freeware PC platformer Santa Claus in Trouble absolutely nailed the classical Santa Claus look, effectively making all future Santas little more than unnecessary variations on the same theme. Oh, sure, he looks more like a Stunted Little Dwarf than a Jolly Old Elf, and he’s got a perpetually confused expression, and his game looks like this:
Even so, all the major elements are here, so we’re forced to conclude that – in the coldest, most soulless, most slapdash way possible – the Santa from Santa Claus in trouble is the ideal Santa. But that doesn’t mean he’s the last. Not by any means.