The Festive holidays are just a few days away now, in less than two weeks and it's my favorite time of year. It's a time filled with friends, your hands permanently attached to a warm mug of hot chocolate or eggnog, having friends round, parties and the perfect opportunity to get to grips with your gaming again. So whether it's having a blast on Skyrim VR or playing through the amazing level design of Super Mario Odyssey and anything in between, I sincerely wish you a fantastic and joyful Christmas.
It's fairly common for us all to put on our favorite Christmas videos to start to put us in the mood for the festive time, put why not raid through your games list and pick out some Christmas themed titles to bring that spirit out through your beloved games console?
Here's a list of a few modern and classic games that I suggest might help bring out that festive feeling:
Saints Row IV : How the Saints Saved Christmas
PS3 / PS4 / XB360 / XB1
If you are looking for some adult orientated Christmas fun, this DLC for Saints Row IV is worth checking out. I've personally always had a soft spot for this franchise and I believe that the fourth installment brought a sense of tremendous fun and kept the gameplay style fresh with it's various riffs on various gaming genres. This DLC keeps up with the now familiar trend for Saints Row games to be completely ridiculous, crafting a holiday movie-mash up that pays tribute to some favorite holiday classics. The homages include "A Christmas Story," "Die Hard," "Home Alone," and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
During this festive title, you save Santa from a nefarious warlord named Clawz, you have the option of wearing an ugly Christmas jumper and shooting evil Gingerbread men with a BB gun. Just don't play this if you are looking to experience the true meaning of Christmas.
The Official Father Christmas Game
ZX Spectrum / Commodore 64 / Amstrad CPC
There are many titles on our list which feature the main star of the season, but this is the only game which can claim that it is the 'official' game featuring Santa Claus himself. Delving back in time to 1989, this licensed title was available for three classic microcomputer systems - The ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. If you were lucky enough to own this title, you not only contributed to the Save The Children Fund, an international charity which protects children's rights everywhere but had to find bits of your sleigh and put it together.
Now on the way to collect the parts of your sleigh, you will encounter elves - now far from being the friendly sort and wanting to help Old Saint Nick put his sleigh together, they take pieces away from you if you touch them! Once you have your sleigh together, you have to make a list of presents by clicking on pictures of teddy bears and toy trains and then catch them as they fall out of the sky. Lastly, they top the whole Santa Claus experience by allowing you to fly the sleigh on a snow filled Christmas Eve night and drop presents down lucky children's chimney's. As far as Santa Claus simulators go - this is probably the most authentic!
NiGHTS into Dreams
HD re-release 2012 - XB360 / PS3 / Sega Saturn
In 1996, I remember switching on my Saturn, button mashing my way into victory with Virtual Fighter 2, skidding into the lead in Sega Rally and then playing one of the ultimate platforming titles on the system - NiGHTS into Dreams. This was Sonic Team's answer to the Mario series, where a purple androgynous Jester flies over the countryside collecting orbs. Christmas NiGHTS was a two level addition to this game and is also included in the recent HD Remake of this classic game.
Adding Christmas elements, like brightly lit trees, snowy landscapes and a beautiful jingly soundtrack, this truly evokes the feeling of a festive dreamscape. Our hero must 20 orbs which are scattered throughout the level, this game isn't about the completion of the levels, but the sheer enjoyment of the mastery of each level. Being able to achieve each point available in each stage, making your character twirl and spiral in rainbow colours through each hoop until, eventually you are presented to 'open your presents' at the end of the level. A truly unique and enjoyable title which reminds us of Sega's glory days as a developer of solid platforming titles.
The Nightmare Before Christmas : Oogie's Revenge
PS2 / XBOX
This is a surprisingly good film tie in, Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas is rightly considered to be one of the finest Christmas (and Halloween) films ever made. The game does an excellent attempt at bringing the style, music and artwork of the cinematic masterpiece to the video game setting. Set after the film's conclusion, this is an excellent action platformer in the style of Devil May Cry.
It's Christmas time, no doubt that Home Alone will be on your TV Screens at some stage and this is a game which, retrospectively attempted to bring a fairly solid and fun 2D Christmas themed Platformer to the Sega Genesis. There's an emphasis on exploration as you move through your street on a motorized sled - which is surprisingly fun to control. From this open world area, Kevin can knock over snowmen and collect the items hidden within. You can also enter any of the five houses in your neighborhood and defend them against the film's antagonists - Harry and Marv, the Wet Bandits. Shortly after the game opens, you will see the Blue van which the villains use to pilfer goodies from the defenceless houses, pull up at their intended target. That's the cue for Kevin to enter the property and use items from his inventory to defend the home until the police arrive.
It's fairly easy to discourage the Bandits by causing them enough pain, that when they reach their threshold, they leave the house in disgrace and drive out of the house and focus on the next target. The key to winning in this game, is to enter the houses before the Wet Bandits do and setup traps, just like the movie - so placing tar on the floor, setting up blow torch to doors, shooting them with catapults and combining items together. That's right, Home Alone from 1992 features the first ability to craft weapons from other items. This is a somewhat overlooked gem and definitely worth a play this Christmas time.
Tis the Season
This is a list of some of the games which I will be playing this Christmas season, which evoke the atmosphere and joy of the holiday period. Let me know what games, old and new, you will be playing to bring about some good old Christmas Cheer!