It’s Christmas and if you live in the northern hemisphere its very possibly snowing where you are. So as the snow makes it difficult to travel you might as well stay in the warmth and play video games, but Christmasy video games. We’ve picked our top ten Christmas related video games. The games that just give off that Christmasy feel even if they don’t feature the happy holidays at all.
If you haven’t played Shenmue go out and get yourself a Dreamcast and a copy right now. Even if it is a blizzard outside, you need to play and experience this game. The story of Shenmue begins on November 29, 1986, a perfect time for christmas gaming. As you explore the world of Shenmue the weather will change with snow falling to the ground and building up. Santa will appear in the streets and drunk business men will stumble home late at night. Shops start to feature flashing lights and christmas signs. Shenmue really has a lot of atmosphere thanks to a wonderful soundtrack and great graphics. You’ll really feel the cold as the snow builds up in the streets and notice it getting darker earlier in the evening. The streets become empty over christmas as everyone takes a well earned break. So treat yourself to Shenmue this christmas, don’t rush through it, enjoy the atmosphere, talking to people and slowly let the story develop. OH and check out the Arcade at Christmas.
2. Christmas Nights
An obvious choice but a perfect one. Christmas Nights was offered for free a number of ways, way back when the Saturn was still just about surviving. Nights sees you controlling the titled character to rescue the dreams of two kids. Christmas Nights is a themed two-level game of Nights into Dreams. The game uses the saturns clock to change the games graphics, playing at different times of the year gives you lush green landscapes but playing at christmas gives you snow, christmas trees and much more. Theres a whole host of hidden extras and easter eggs to find too that keeps this demo from being an interesting 20 minute blast into something that’ll keep you busy throughout christmas. Sega do make some great Christmas themed games.
3. Banjo Kazooie
We love Banjo Kazooie, it is one of our favourite platformers ever but it isn’t very christmasy except for one level. Freezeezy Peak. Set in a wonderful snow covered setting with huge christmas tree you can’t help but feel the love of christmas. Run across frozen water and avoid huge snowmen firing snowballs at you as you race to collect jiggys. We can’t not mention the music though from the main theme of the level to the powerups, everything has a wonderful holiday mood. Theres some great challenges to involving delivering christmas presents to lighting up the christmas tree itself. This is one of the best snow themed levels ever made, no doubt helped by being christmas themed all over the place.
4. Christmas Lemmings
Who doesn’t love Lemmings? No one, so this is the perfect mix, adding Christmas themed levels to a great game. If you’ve never played Lemmings before its a puzzle game that sees you trying to rescue as many lemmings as possible using only a few tools at your disposle. Lemmings will do what ever you tell them to do, so if you point them towards a cliff they’ll fall off it to their pixle related deaths. All the Lemmings this time wear santa suits and all the levels are covered in snow, candy canes and other christmas accessories.
5. James Pond 2: Robocod
The best James Pond game released. James Pond’s arch enemy Dr Maybe survived from the first game and retreated to the North Pole where he has taken over Santa’s workshop. Dr Maybe is holding Santa’s workers hostage, which in most versions are penguins but in some are eleves and has turned many of Santa’s helpers into his own twisted and dangerous assistants. James Pond is recruited to rescue Santa and defeat Dr Maybe but this time the stakes are higher so he is now equipped with a robo suit, robocod. This game features tonnes of little easter eggs and cheats, right at the start of the game you’ll find all sorts of items scattered around. Think about what they are and collect them in the correct order to spell a cheat. Being at the north pole the game is themed with all sorts of christmas paraphernalia from giant teddys who want to kill you to presents. A fun platformer that even your kids will enjoy over christmas.
6. Max Payne
Not the most festive of christmas games, but you will paint the town red with peoples blood. Max Payne sees you as a framed detective trying to find out who murdered your wife and daughter, all the while in New York it is snowing. Featuring slow mo jumping ripped straight from the Matrix before the Matrix had even been filmed this classic game has gameplay in spades. As we mentioned its not festive at all, there is no christmas trees only death, followed by more death as you take on New Yorks underworld whilst outside it won’t stop snowing. Some gorgeous outdoor and in door enviroments make this a great christmas game even if it isn’t full of festive cheer.
7. Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy
Much like Max Payne this has death, more death, New York and snow in it. Fahrenheit from the makers of Heavy Rain sees you play a character wanted for murder as well as the police looking for him. As the name suggests this game revolves around the weather as it snows more and get colder. The weather being part of the story as the world is about to be put into darkness. Lots of snow gives this a wonderful feeling and you can’t help but shiver as you place. Be warned the first half is much better than the second half but if you liked Heavy Rain, you’ll get enjoyment from this and see some of its influences. We love the opening scene in the diner, one of the few times atmosphere has felt perfect in a game.
8. Diddy Kong Racing
It’s Diddy Kong Racing! Set on a tropical island you wouldn’t think Diddy King Racing would make a great christmas video game but hidden within the island is some fantastic snow race tracks. Much like Banjo Kazooie these take the classic christmas scene and use it to its full advantage. Race down huge hills covered in snow, weave between little houses radiating warmth. Once again Rare have a wonderful christmassy sound track to compliment the racing and we can’t help but want to spend more time in the village. So go grab a few mates from out in the cold and have some 4 player diddy kong racing around the snow tracks.
9. Animal Crossing
Not really a christmas game but it has a wonderful christmas or holiday season in it. Using the Gamecube internal clock snow will start to fall before christmas and layer up over time. The villagers will talk to you about the holidays making sure to not offend non christians and presents will be exchanged. We love just wandering around the snow and meeting over villagers when it is christmas and dark outside. The fact you can roll snow up and make your own snowman just completes the picture. A great game to play in real time over christmas.
10. Metal Gear Solid
This is great for christmas for many reasons. Released in October in the US and November in europe this is the game many PlayStation owners unwrapped on christmas day and what a game it is. Filled with stealth, killing, crazyness galore oh and whats that? Snow. Thats right this game is filled with snow, it may not be christmassy but it sure feels like it on the island as you leave foot prints in the snow, meet cute wolves and battle sniper wolf in the snow fields. It’s like Die Hard but in video game form and thats why we like it.
A top 11 list would be rather odd but we can’t leave out Mario 64s Snow Mountain level. As with all these games its filled with snow but it also has snowmen, cute penguins, snowballs and much more. It’s such a cute level and comes with a fantastic soundtrack. If you’ve never played it then where have you been? One of the best games ever made and nearly 20 years later still as fantastic as ever.