Top 10 Christmas games (2014 edition)
Christmas is almost here again, and what better way to celebrate it than with festive themed videogames? Last year I composed a small list of holiday favourites, which today returns bigger and better than before with five additional recommendations. Here’s my list of games that are perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit, 2014 edition.
The case for Bayonetta 2 being the ultimate Christmas game may be a little thin, but as a game in general it’s pretty awesome. It’s only really the very beginning that replaces the Halloween/gothic setting with something a little more festive, but this Christmas intro is only one of many reasons why Bayonetta 2 is worth picking up.
I’m not sure if Home Alone is yet to transcend the realm of bad videogames and enter the territory of ‘so bad it’s actually quite good’. That’s really up to you to decide, you might think the Home Alone game sucks and you wouldn’t be wrong. But what you can’t deny is that it’s a Christmas game. Christmas setting, Christmas music, and of course, digitised audio effects taken from one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time.
Would World of Illusion be higher on the list if it had more than one Christmas level? Maybe. In fact this festive treat is not only a special stage but it’s also only playable in co-op mode. If you’ve got a friend who also likes Christmas, this is an obvious recommendation.
Persona 4 has a calendar system that takes you through a year’s worth of events, and that includes Christmas. You’ll be quite far into the game once you reach this point, but your reward? A romantic evening on December 24th and then a Christmas party the day after. And if you’re a fan of the game, this year’s Persona 4 The Golden Animation also builds on this material and features an excellent Christmas episode.
Snatcher follows the ethos of many great Christmas movies (Die Hard and Trading Places); the story doesn’t really have anything to do with Christmas, it simply provides a backdrop as this is the time of year it takes place. The story itself is straight of out Blade Runner, but now there’s some Christmas music and even a Santa Clause. What more could you ask from Hideo Kojima?
Shenmue begins on the 29th of November, and you’ll only be a few hours in before everyone is getting ready for Christmas. The town of Dobutia becomes covered in Christmas decorations and there’s even a man dressed as Santa walking around. Of course (as with all of Shenmue) he’s fairly creepy, but don’t let that get in the way of your Christmas fun.
Deathsmiles II is set entirely at Christmas, making it the perfect game to enjoy this time of year, especially if you love Japanese bullet hell shooters. Unfortunately it does fall into the category of CAVE games that weren’t released outside of Japan, although it can be downloaded from the North American games on demand service. The rest of the world may be out of luck however, although if you do have a Japanese system (and yes, the game is region locked) then it’s well worth importing. Having said that, the villainous ‘Satan Clause’, as well as pretty much everything else in the game, generally comes off as more creepy than Christmassy.
All of the Animal Crossing games are a joy to play at Christmas, with some extra surprises on Christmas day itself. The GameCube version remains my favourite, but any of the games in the series are pretty much guaranteed to get you feeling festive.
Found on the DreamOn demo disc included with the official Dreamcast Magazine, Toy Commander Christmas Surprise is its own game, as this exclusive level is not available anywhere else. It might be short, but makes up for it by letting you fly around as Santa on a jet pack. If you’re looking to pick this one up (and it’s well worth it) it can be found on DreamOn Volume 4 in the UK and Volume 10 in the USA.
Could there be any other winner? Christmas NiGHTS is easily my favourite Christmas game ever made. Sure, it’s only two levels long, but that means there’s time to complete it every year. It’s an overall magical experience, and there’s even further surprises if you play the game on Christmas day (or, y’know, set the SEGA Saturn’s internal clock to December 25th).
There’s plenty of other games that are great fun to play at Christmas, although few use the subject as a main focus rather than the setting for a single level. You’ve also got plenty of titles where simply the inclusion of some snow gives the experience a Christmassy feeling, and these are also well worth a play. Based on this I’d also recommend the following games: Super Mario 64, Batman Returns, Banjo-Kazooie, Diddy Kong Racing, SSX On Tour, Sonic Lost World, Mario Kart 64, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg and Amped 3.