Christmas is the season of goodwill, peace on earth and giving – or so they tell us. In reality, it’s a time to sit back, relax and cram in as many video games as possible instead of interacting with relatives you barely see all year. It gives us the opportunity to clear some of the backlog that has amassed over the summer months but also allows us to revisit some of our favourite gaming experiences. Over the years there have been many games released that are directly based on Christmas, have a Christmas theme running through them or simply remind us of this wonderful holiday season. So with the big fat man (not me this time) en route, I thought it the perfect time to take a look at the Top Ten Christmas Video Games Ever!
10. Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter
This 1997 spin-off had everyone’s favourite disgruntled wise-cracking hero travel to the North Pole on a mission to save the world from a brainwashed Santa. Facing a whole host of enemies along the way ranging from Snowmen to Hot female Elves before facing off in a final showdown with the big man himself. Although the game didn’t receive critical praise upon its release it was fun to play, with over the top action and the usual barrage of Dukeisms.
9. Home Alone
The name Kevin McCallister instantly brings a shudder to any burglars spine and with a hit movie in the bag it was only a matter of time before the story was translated into pixel form. Releasing on the Nintendo and SEGA platforms of 1991 as well as home computers the plot roughly followed the events of the film. The different releases of the game received a lukewarm reception and fell into the trap of another movie cash-in. The Super Nintendo version shone superior to the rest but there is a case for the NES version introducing the world to the survival horror genre just before it was a thing.
8. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge
Set a year after the events of the movie this PlayStation 2 and Xbox release served as a fun way to jump back into the beautifully spooky world created by Tim Burton. You take on the role of Jack Skellington who once again travels to Christmas Town. This time he must face and defeat Oogie and order to save Santa. For the Pumpkin King Jacks actually a big softie at heart.
7. Batman Returns
Another Tim Burton film to video game adaptation and released on multiple formats in 1993. It was a standard beat’em up and Streets of Rage clone from developer and publisher Konami. The game followed a number of key events from the film so naturally was set around the Chrismas period, with no Bat nipples in sight.
6. Xmas Lemmings
Christmas Lemmings was a festive spin-off featuring those little loveable kamikaze critters. The game itself played exactly the same as previous versions just with added snow and initially featured as two four-level demos. Later it would re-release as a full retail game expanded with an additional 32 new stages.
Shenmue released in December 1999 taking the crown for being the most expensive video game ever created (at the time anyway). It was an ambitious step into the open-world genre that mixed RPG elements with simulation. It also featured a day and night system with variable weather effects, including snow which was handy as the game is set around Christmas time. You even bump into the bearded fella, kinda.
4. Die Hard Trilogy
Die Hard Trilogy was Acclaim Studios and Fox Interactives 1996 take on the Bruce Willis movie franchise. Each game followed one of the first three films and offered a unique experience and style of gameplay. Die Hard is a Christmas film, no argument, and so is the game. It is set at Christmas and includes Christmas things, sorted.
3. Saints Row IV: How the Saints Saved Christmas
Saints Row went from an ok GTA wannabe to an out and out batshit crazy joyride. By the fourth instalment of the series, DLC was a big part of everyday life and thankfully the team at Volition took full advantage of this. How the Saints Saved Christmas featured three insane missions joyfully titled, Miracle on 3rd Street, The Fight Before Christmas and The Santa Clawz.
2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Animal Crossing: New Leaf isn’t strictly a Christmas game but did feature a number of special timed events including a whole holiday season in December. Players encountered a change in the weather and a whole host of winter clothing, furniture and items to collect. You could even don a Santa costume and deliver presents to all of the villagers on Christmas Eve, if they made the nice list.
1. Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams
Our king of Christmas comes from SEGA, it was a promotional version of their now cult classic NiGHTS into Dreams and was given away for free with the official Saturn magazine. Featuring a wintery version of the first level it also contained a multitude of bonus content and modes, many of which weren’t even available in the full release. Joy to the World!
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