• Chris Mark and Hope Eliza

Top 12 - The 12 Games of Christmas


To celebrate the season we've put together 12 of our most favourite Christmas related gaming moments.

12 SSX Tricky - PS2, XBox, Gamecube, GBA - Mark


So yeah, I fully understand this isn’t a Christmas game BUT I first got this game for Christmas and it’s full of snow. So I’m going to leave there here. One of those games where in your mind the graphics were flawless, the levels were huge and lush and the tricks were out of this world. Looking at videos today on Youtube I can see this is not really the case

but I remember thinking I was a little snowy speed demon back in the day and what is better than nostalgia?

11 Die Hard Trilogy – Sega Saturn & PSOne. Chris

Let’s get the argument out the way now. Die Hard 1 & 2 are Christmas movies. They are both set on Christmas Eve specifically and that fact gives significance for the plot of the movies.

Die Hard Trilogy was an early title for the 32 bit era which included 3 completely different games, one for each movie. Truthfully it’s hard to see the Christmas cheer in the game based on the first movie. It’s a third person shooter charting John McClane’s journey, floor by floor to the summit of the Nakatomi Plaza. It’s largely indoors and largely basic-textured affair so Christmas wasn’t a consideration! The Die Hard 2 game however begins outside in the snowy weather letting you know what season it is. It’s an on-rails lightgun shooter along the lines of Virtua Cop and is arguably the more rounded experience in the package. Admittedly the Christmas tie in is weak on this one, which is why is features so low on the list…

10 World of Illusions Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck – Sega Megadrive/Genesis Chris

So the sort-of-sequel to Castle of Illusion which includes a simultaneous 2 player mode makes the list. Why is that then? Those of you who only every played this in single player are probably thinking…Well just like the howe the levels vary depending whether you play as Mickey or Donald, the game included some alterations to the levels in 2 player mode too, taking advantage of the co-op elements of the gameplay. One such alteration was the inclusion of a Christmas themed level found in the fourth stage of the game where you’ll be jumping on baubles and trees whilst avoiding enemies disguised as Christmas presents… One worth crack(er)ing out in the holiday season for some retro fun! Plus it’s actually a really easy game you’ll still be able to finish (8 hit points!) despite games just being a lot easier than they used to, that’s a gift in itself!

9 Gex – Deep Cover Gecko Chris

So as soon as the topic of Christmas gaming came up there were several nominations for 3D platformers which jumped in, Mario 64 – Cool Cool Mountain, Sonic Adventure – Icecap… the snowy one from Ape Escape (Croc & Spyro had one too I think).. Truth is that most platformers have a slip-slidey ice world somewhere but they don’t all contain the essential Christmas magic we’re looking for here. One title that does though is the second of Gex’s (remember Gex?!) 3D outings. In this winter wonderland you’ll find Presents, trees and even bothersome elves. The game was one of of many attempts to replicate the openness of Mario 64’s 3D landscapes. Prior to this PSOne owners had to do with enclosed environments like Croc and Crash Bandicoot. It was also developed by Crystal Dynamics who later on continued the Tomb Raider games on PS2 & PS3 (plus other forgotten games like Akuji the Heartless). The excellent Soul Reaver used an adaptation of the Gex 3D engine to fine effect too (albeit without any Christmas references #tangents).

8 Borderlands Mercenary Day DLC Mark

Please note I will not use this as an opportunity to gush over the quality and value of Gearbox’s DLC (Although I kind of just did). As far as seasonal DLC goes it rarely extends beyond changing a few trees into candy canes and giving the hero a new red hat. So I rarely actually get involved. Not in a Grinch way but usually a game has been designed with an aesthetic in mind that is not the garish festive red and green palette. So it’s great to see when a company gives a little love and a twist to their DLC. In comes Marcus Saves Mercenary Day. There are obviously snow men but there is something satisfying about taking off their heads with a sniper rifle!

7 The Grinch - PSOne, PC, Dreamcast & GBC Hope Eliza

As well as being one of the best Christmas movies of all time, The Grinch is also a video game (and a book)! A 3D platformer to be precise, released on PC, Dreamcast, Gameboy Colour & PS1 back in 2000. In this game the player shifts between playing as The Grinch and his trusty dog sidekick; Max as you cause havoc throughout the town of Whoville. It follows the plot of the story and movie in the most part (throwing in some artistic licence to pad out the game world naturally) basically involving that you ruin Christmas for the residents of Whoville by exploring the various areas and completing tasks which will ruin the holiday (including squashing the gifts in every area). You obtain blueprints for several of the Grinch’s contraptions which allow access to more areas etc. when completed. Whilst the game is geared toward the destruction of the holiday it invariably has to include a whole host of Christmas decoration and imagery which gives it a place on the list.

6 The Division - PS4 PC & Xbox One Mark

Nothing says Christmas quite like a small fir tree adorned with lights as a beacon of hope in an abandoned, trashed and wrecked NYC after a virus has quickly decimated a huge portion of humanity. It’s almost near to the level of chaos and destruction in the wake of trying to play monopoly with your family. Whether the Division is a Christmas game is the same as discussing whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie in that it totally is. It’s set at Christmas, there is snow, decorations and presents so it’s clear, and whilst I think we are some time away from having the Santa hat DLC I will continue to hum “Dashing through the snow” down the mic at Chris whilst we endlessly search for cosmetic drops to get better woolly hats.

5 Elite Beat Agents – Nintendo DS Chris

Elite Beat Agents is one of those games which wasn’t really possible on any other console before the DS. The touch interface, specifically via stylus was suited perfectly to the device. At a basic level the game is a rhythm and action affair where essentially each stage is its own level which tells a brief story about someone in distress which is identified by the EBA’s who swing into action to turn the tide of the story via the medium of song and dance. The songs are covers of real artists tracks and vary throughout however mostly they have a fast pace. The stories vary wildly and include a disgraced baseball hero saving the day from a monster to Leonardo Da Vinci wooing The Mona Lisa, but all normally have amusing moments and depending on how well you’re performing will dictate as to whether the situation is a success. It’s an upbeat game with many feel good moments. Come stage 12 things take a darker turn. The story set is that of a father leaving his daughter to go on a business trip, promising he’ll be back for Christmas with a gift. You then find out he dies on the trip and the EBA jumps in on a mission to save his widow from depression and his daughter from Christmas disappointment. Following on from the lighthearted jaunts of the previous stages you’re filled with a burning desire to grant this family the magical Christmas they’ll otherwise be denied and all this is wrapped up with Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” playing you along. Assuming you succeed the story has the happiest resolution you can realistically expect but fail and a unique message appears on screen – "Fail 'You're The Inspiration'? Are you insane, or just evil? I've done many questionable acts in games, but let that poor little girl down? I draw the line there. Cut off my hands, and I'll beat the level with my stumps. I. Will. Not. Fail. Her."

…Merry Christmas?

4 Animal Crossing – NDS, Wii & 3DS Hope Eliza

Toy Day is an annual event held on every Animal Crossing game bar Wild World (DS). It starts on the 24th December, the event differs for each game however the overall premise is that Jingle – a reindeer in a Santa costume- comes to town and gives out special edition festive furniture on varying conditions. Other winter traditions within the game include; the Christmas lights as well as snow; from late November until February you’ll find snow in your town and be able to make snowmen!

3 James Pond 2 - Robocod - Everything up to the PS3 basically... Mark

Villains always have a dastardly plan to take over the world or destroy it but Dr Maybe goes too far when he takes over Santa’s workshop! Step in James Pond, Robocod. This puntastic satirical romp was mostly lost on me as a kid to be honest but was still one of my favourite platformers. Also one of the only character’s in video game with waist as elastic as me getting older! (Mark). I can’t claim to have ever completed this game but I can sure say I spend a decent wedge of my Megadrive time trying!

2 Kingdom Hearts 2 – PS2, PS3 & PS4 Hope Eliza

Among the many worlds sandwiched into this epic Disney theme tale you'll find one of the stranger ones to be Halloween Town from the Nightmare Before Christmas (clearly the first xmas movie you should watch each year on 31st October). In the original Kingdom Hearts you also visit Jack Skellington and crew however in the sequel things take a festive turn as the main action here takes place in Christmas Town. For this world Sora, Donald and Goofy have swapped their usual get up for Christmas outfits complete with white fluff detailing and snow boots to defend Santa’s toy factory from Halloween Town’s local misfits Shock, Lock & Barrell as well as fighting the Halloween Town Heartless that has made its way into Christmas Town.

1 Christmas NiGHTS – Sega Saturn, PS3. Xbox 360 Chris

It’s the obvious choice and one I think everyone was expecting to see on this list. A reworked version of the original game to include a festive facade.

The usually sunny climes of Spring Valley are replaced with a winter wonderland called Frozen Bell, Cages are replaced by Christmas Trees, Loops contain Holly wreathes…It’s definitely not hiding it’s Christmas spirit.

The original release (which in the UK was hyped prior to release and was finally given away free on the front of the official Sega Saturn magazine no less!) came out on the Sega Saturn in 1996. Using the Saturn’s internal clock (which can be easily manipulated) playing the game at different dates gave a different result;

NiGHTS: Limited Edition is essentially a demo version of the normal game and was played outside of November to January.

The game becomes Winter NiGHTS in November through to January where the core experience stays the same albeit with a dusting of snow.

Christmas NiGHTS appears on 25th December (naturally) and results in different stages and retextured characters and enemies and even a different story and ending!

The game is still purchasable and playable on the PS3 and Xbox 360 as an extra on the HD update of NiGHTS into Dreams however it doesn’t include all the “Presents” which were present in the original Saturn release. In the original version you would randomly unlock Christmas Presents following the completion of the game by way of a card flipping mini-game. The presents included new game modes, where you could play as Sonic with 3D controls (and an exaggerated jumping mechanic) and even had a further reskin of a boss to make them appear as Dr Robotnik (that’s Eggman to our younger readers). Among other things you could also unlock a karaoke version of the game’s soundtrack which is a questionably catchy fully sung duet…

There’s more to be found too (check out Valentines and April 1st) but we’re looking at Christmas here.

The reason this comes in so highly is due to the fact that it’s more than a mere easter egg or reference to Chrimbo, it’s a fully fleshed out and rewarding experience made purely for the season. It also gets props for the amount of content included despite being a giveaway, that’s true Christmas spirit.