Dec 132017
 
Ambitious Elf Jinx, Snow Fawn Poppy and Santa Draven
Snowdown Showdown 2017

An elf was waiting, eagerly, impatiently for the arrival of the gifts. The young deer toiled with the sled trying to make the delivery on time. The clock was ticking, impervious to the nervous haste, bringing the hour closer. The elf paced and jumped all around the place, the deer pulled with all possible strength. The bell tolled, the elf looked out the window and the sled was there with a very tired but satisfied deer in front. The elf rushed in a toy train to the sled and started loading the gifts and the deer in the wagons. In the house, under the large tree, they were all placed in their respective places; except the deer. The elf accelerated and, with exhausted deer resting in a wagon, exited the house and approached the sled. It was time to move on to the next house.

Snow Fawn Poppy
Snow Fawn Poppy Splash Art Snow Fawn Poppy Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Poppy dressed up as a deer and wielding a giant jingle bell as a weapon.
Model: New model for Poppy, the Hammer of Orlon and her buckler.
Particles: New particles for her abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New high speed run and recall animations.
Sounds: New sounds for her abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: Aurora Borealis in a starry night sky. Below, on one side a sled full of presents and surrounded by poros is heralded by a deer-styled yordle. On the other side the blurry glow of a city that surely awaits with eagerness the celebration to come. There’s snow falling, to be seen on the sides, but its uneven distribution across the piece makes it seem whimsical decoration. Nevertheless, even if the background shows a noticeably blurry depiction and seems brief and subtle in elements, it does contribute to the scene.
Standing tall and mighty Poppy looks forward to the task ahead with serenity. It’s a rather good demonstration of her personality. Just like the poros around her she’s unevenly depicted. The central area shows rather sharp lines with soft colours and nice shading. As we move to the edges of her body we find more sketchy and dim displays like her deer-ponytails and the jingle bell hammer. There’s no doubt that the portrayal has appeal but it’s surprising to find elements so near to each other yet so different in quality. Even the light from above illuminates Poppy and hammer with whimsical differences. Perhaps it’s the Aurora Borealis that contributes but when light seems to come from underneath, even though the city is clearly far away or the top of her head seems dark despite the light falling on it, something starts to feel amiss.
All in all, this is a nice splash art that shows with clarity Poppy’s new look with the help of some poros. The portrayal is uneven yet also impactful in its earnest display of Poppy’s identity. The background does have things to show but it struggles to do so to the point that it seems neglected despite its relevance. The result is good but a layer of extra polish could go a long way in solving some issues.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: It can’t be denied that the Snow Fawn Poppy is making an effort: costume with antlers and ears, ponytails like deer tails as well as spots on the cheeks and a little makeup. The big golden bell tied with a ribbon around her neck cements, in case it wasn’t clear enough, how cute Poppy looks. The new hammer styled like a giant jingle bell also shows a red ribbon around what would be its neck. Ice seems to be encased in the bell and reflected in the gem at the other end. The new snowflake buckler furthers the slim ice theme of the skin. Without a doubt, the costume is a good match for Poppy.
Particles practically emphasise, though it feels like they state, an ice theme; given how weak it is presented in the model. Whether it’s a hammer smash, a shield or barrier, even charging at an enemy is done with an unexpected profusion of snow. A sprinkle of it could be understandable but such a focus leaves the skin half-way into the Snow Day line of skins. The particles aren’t bad and even add snowflakes to combat the monotony but their homogeneity can’t be disguised so easily. Keeper’s Verdict has an interesting addition: gift boxes with a sled inside; carrying a large red bag, Santa style. It adds to the evident Christmas theme so while the skin loses generality it gains personality. This is particularly important as a sled is also used by Poppy in other actions but the snow is as flat as could be expected; which disappoints in an ultimate. Auto-attacks are the only exception to the excess of snow with musical notes for each hit; which is a great addition.
Sounds actually have two major styles. One is of ice shards used for abilities like Steadfast Presence which are more magical in nature. For good, old hammer smashing and charging the traditional grumble of snow is used. It does have impact, it has to be admitted, but it’s also a bit muffled. Keeper’s Verdict fittingly starts with the appealing sounds of a jingle bell. Unfortunately, it all devolves in a necessary crunch of snow. It’s understandable but also not as special as an ultimate should feel. Iron Ambassador strangely sounds too much like a cushion; the shield has a nice shard-like sound. Auto-attacks, for all their visual appeal, do use some bell jingling but it’s a quiet and weak sound under the swing and metal clank.
Speaking of sled use, Poppy’s high speed run shows her leading a tiny sled with three poros inside; which are having a great time it seems. A similar scene is repeated in her recall animation where gifts are also included. This consistent and appealing use of a sled adds to the identity of the skin and makes the fun of wearing a costume have a playful, magical angle that makes it all the more appealing.
All things considered, Snow Fawn Poppy is, undoubtedly, a charming skin. It’s also a skin that struggles to tie together the costume magic with the snow. There’s a weak link but it’s never clearly stated so that abilities feel unfittingly borrowed from a Snow Day skin. With more emphasis on the costume magic and jingle bells the skin would’ve have a more rounded and cohesive identity. Still, for what it is, it’s a skin with lots of appeal if you are willing to excuse its flaws.

Ambitious Elf Jinx
Ambitious Elf Jinx Splash Art Ambitious Elf Jinx Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Jinx dressed as a Santa elf wielding toy weapons.
Model: New model for Jinx, her rocket launcher Fishbones, minigun Pow-Pow and shock gun Zapper.
Particles: New particles for her abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New high speed run and recall animations.
Sounds: New sounds for her abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: Toys and Christmas girdles everywhere but some are flying away due to the impactful advance of a poro-filled train. The setup is straightforward and the setting rather simple. The house interior is barebones which added to how diffuse the background is makes for underwhelming, albeit effective, context.
Jinx sits atop the snow-tipped train delightfully and carelessly zapping and kicking teddy bears and other gifts. Fishbones on her back and Pow Pow as her transport is a clever and satisfying way of showing her weaponry. The quality of the depiction also shows a stark contrast to the subdued background. Nice and soft colours with delicate shading and precise lines make for an attractive portrayal. It’s clear that the scene captures Jinx’s personality with all the revelry of the occasion. Her face does look a bit weird but given the elvish nature along her natural mayhem it’s acceptable. The ice shards and snow on the train’s muzzle do look a bit out of place, though. However, that’s as much a fault of the splash art as of the skin itself.
In the end, this splash art offers a captivating portrayal of Jinx supported by an appealing context that is displayed with second class attention. In spite of how straightforward the background is a more detailed depiction would’ve supplemented the portrayal better; the contrast in quality is too notorious. The result is still quite good even if uneven.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Wearing a red dress, stripped stockings and a very pointy hat we find Ambitious Elf Jinx spreading all the fun that toys can; explosive toys majorly. The playful and comical approach of the model suits Jinx very well and the whimsical design of her clothes as well as the evident stylization of the traditional Christmas elf look benefits from the dose of mischief characteristic of Jinx. It’s odd, then, to find that her boots are so simple and unassuming. Perhaps they could’ve been decorated or have pointy toes to add to the style. Her long curly hair with a playful curl on the front is quite classy and gives Jinx a very nice look. Pow-Pow becomes a toy train and Fishbones a long cardboard box with eyes and a big maw. To say that they are suitable and natural choices for Jinx is stating the obvious; still one seems much simpler against the other.
Particles are unexpected. In particular the excess of snowflakes and ice which, while related, isn’t really exposed in either concept or model. Auto-attacks, in both forms, as well as abilities employ splashes of snows instead of explosions and it really doesn’t suit the toy base of the skin. Those abilities that instead employ gifts as projectiles, in addition to the snow, fit better and are, actually, more interesting. For example, Zap!’s sweets, while not toys, are more appealing. Flame Chompers as cymbal-banging monkey toys are the kind of explosive surprise that Jinx would plan. The same applies to Super Mega Death Rocket! which, does use a rocket, but it’s styled like a deer with blinking red nose, antlers and an elegant bowtie; the friendly smile painted on it is all Jinx. If the snow instead were replaced for toy-based effects or Christmas lights there wouldn’t be such a dichotomy as the ultimate shows with its trail of snow. Fishbones’ auto-attacks as well as Super Mega Death Rocket! do show some fireworks for the explosions but combined with the snow it dilutes and lessens their visual impact; it’s a bad compromise of sorts.
Sounds are clear about the direction they chose. Most actions rely on shard-like ice sounds which often clash with the visuals. In cases where explosions are evident they get mixed with the familiar explosive sound. Switcheroo! has fine and appealing sounds for each weapon, Fishbones manages to sound playful and the Flame Chompers banging is nice. However, the distinct sounds tend to be buried under the snowy ones.
Animations are few but interesting. The recall shows Jinx giving a display of her train-riding skill for an audience of penguins. This is relevant because her high speed fun sees her riding a toy train which is a fantastic touch that suits the theme and Jinx’s personality very well.
When all is added together, we find that the idea behind the skin is great: an elf that enjoys toys in several mischievous ways. Unfortunately, Ambitious Elf Jinx does a disservice to its name. The skin has the toy-based angle but, inexplicably, buries it under an unexpected avalanche of snow. The best features of the skin are easily the toy references but they struggle to come atop the snow. Had that toy angle been emphasised the skin would’ve suited and demonstrated its best face. As it is, it’s flawed yet still attractive for the Loose Cannon.

Santa Draven
Santa Draven Splash Art Santa Draven Model
Category: Legacy
Price: 1350 RP
Concept: Draven wearing a stylish Santa costume and wielding ice axes.
Model: New model for Draven and his axes.
Particles: New particles for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Animations: New high speed run and recall animations.
Sounds: New sounds for his abilities, auto-attack and recall.
Splash Art: In terms of setting there’re a lot of bricks to mention. We have a wall with a nasty opening on one side and a Christmas tree on the other. In the middle, there seems to be some stockings and perhaps gifts and bushes and even another tree but torn to pieces; also all this is burning. The fire is quite puzzling, while it does communicate the havoc that Draven is causing his ice axes and the snow on the air readily clash with it. There are also a couple of cute penguins on the foreground. Both are softly shaded with nice use of colour and light. The diverging reactions as well as their clothes make for a good contrast against Draven’s intrusion.
In typical Draven style the show is on wherever he goes. Making an impact with his entrance Draven appears half-bathed in blue light; from somewhere. His appearance is somewhat sketchy due to pencilled style that easily stands out among the diffuse background and softly shaded penguins. Lines are quite sharp but colours tend to mesh with each other. The good news is that this aggressive style suits Draven’s flashy and aggresive personality: it easily attracts attention. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit the overall style of the piece well. The position of the right axe also occludes the vision of his torso. Being the one area where the skin’s design is elaborate it’s a pity to see it concealed. The axes’ perspective work well with the approach of the portrayal but can be distracting and eclipse other details; like the red bag Draven manages to carry. That said, smirk, slashing and destruction are all Draven’s hallmarks when done while catching the eye; this is no exception.
Overall, this is a piece that captures Draven’s personality but at the expense of everything else. The Christmas feel is thinly presented and the context seems unnecessarily senseless. There’s a lot of Draven as should be expected but measure shouldn’t be forgotten. As far as the portrayal, the splash art is interesting but as a whole piece the rest seems unfairly neglected.
Rating: Star clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZeroStar clip art used in skin reviews at StrategyZero
Conclusion: Wearing a stylised and flashy jacket and shirt decorated with gold it’s actually the pointy hat that is the most clear element in Santa Draven. In fact, it’s surprising to see the Glorious Executioner accepting such simplistic trousers and boots; the gloves are alright. The Santa costume is suggested and while a clear effort is made to look cool, as Draven would demand, the message isn’t clear. The axes don’t really contribute either. The golden handles do match the decoration of the shirt. The ice blades provide some explanation to the prominent display of ice magic employed by Draven in his attacks. Regardless, it seems like the model has a little bit of everything: Draven, Santa, ice, gold but not an enveloping theme.
Particles are a bit of a disappointment. They only show blue trails and glows with a sprinkle of snowflakes most noticeable when throwing axes or catching them. It’s not exaggeration to say that every single ability lack significant visual additions. There’re the blue particles and snowflakes to communicate a thin ice theme, only supported by the axes but there isn’t anything new: tt’s still the same axes being thrown left and right. Whirlwind Death is more explicit about the ice magic thanks to the trails of snow that the axes leave behind. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s an addition that stands out; which is easy against the flatness of the abilities. The golden indicator used by Spinning Axe is eye-catching and ties in with the golden decoration. Still, the golden aspect seems to stand on its own in the skin; like any other aspect.
Sounds tend to be extremely underwhelming. Just like the visuals, they are all about throwing axes so the sounds mostly rely on the blades slashing. There’s a faint crunch of snow heard underneath the slashes but it’s weak and easy to ignore in a battle. It’s quite disappointing to notice that the aural side doesn’t make an effort to support the visuals.
Animations are few and not particularly striking. The new recall sees Draven making as best a Santa impersonation as he can. Strangely, it’s all rather measured and there isn’t much raw Draven or Christmas revelry to see; though gifts are given as they should be. The high speed run sees Draven running with a big red bag over his shoulder. It’s a clear Santa reference but done in a comical way which doesn’t really suit Draven. More fitting to a clown or a joke skin it’s an animation that reinforces the weak Christmas theme but feels out of place.
This all adds up to a skin with several unconnected elements and a central, assumedly, theme that isn’t really clearly exposed. Santa Draven may have a main message but it sort of skids around it with other related but not useful ideas that end up making the skin a mishmash of elements. There’s something to like behind all the superficial chaos but it isn’t much. Both Draven and Santa can do better than this.

Conclusion

This set of Snowdown Showdown skins is good. On the one hand the concepts are, majorly, quite interesting. However, the executions seem to lack focus and try to be too many things at the same time. Elements are combined without proper links and, specifically, the snow added to each skin doesn’t fit. It’s related to the season but is an aspect that, for the most part, remains disconnected across the skins. As if a dose of the Snow Day line were added arbitrarily. If you can see past the unfocused approach then there are a few things to like.

Snow Fawn Poppy is a charming skin with a magical costume that sees Poppy fly as well as jingle bells when the time for action comes. The snow isn’t effectively connected to the general idea of the skin so it can feel out of place. Regardless, the result is surely appealing if you can forgive its inconsistencies.

The playful, toy-centric angle of Ambitious Elf Jinx is delightful. It suits Jinx’s personality and shows a playful and appealing display of mischief. Unfortunately, the addition of snow and ice doesn’t help the theme and ends up concealing the appeal of its best features. The result is uneven but still attractive if you can excuse the inconsistency.

Santa Draven is a skin that lacks focus. It has its central message but diluted by related elements that don’t add up to a cohesive whole. This makes the skin feel like a combination of ideas without a unified link. There may be something to like beyond the chaotic execution but there’re also much better alternatives.

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