Until you step outside for more than five minutes and your fingers freeze and snap off like twigs. But hey, it’s all part of the fun.
So I’ve gone ahead and compiled a few games that are Christmasy, Wintery, or just Jolly-y enough to get us in the mood to open presents, pull crackers, and drink way too much booze and inevitably get in a political argument with our slightly racist aunts.
Tis the season, after all.
Super Mario Odyssey
|Initial Release Date||October 27, 2017|
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Lets-a-go! Lets-a-go! Lets-a-go!
Did I put Super Mario Odyssey on this list just say I could make that unbelievably awful joke? Possibly. But still, I think Mario Odyssey is a fantastic game to get you in the holiday spirit. No, it’s not entirely a snowy or wintery game, but in my opinion, Snow Kingdom is one of the finest snow levels ever put in a game, right next to the one in Mario 64 where you can murder baby penguins.
Once you get to the village and meet the bubbly and adorable Shiverian’s, you’re hit with this wonderful sense of cosiness, and hospitality. Seeing them wrapped up all warm, with their adorable floppy jumpers with arms that are way too long, in their happy little village lit by candlelight. It makes you feel like your snuggled up in a blanket with a mug of tea, not even caring how cold it is because you’re just happy to be here.
Plus it is literally impossible to do that bouncing race game thing, without having a huge smile on your face.
Seriously, you can’t do it. It’s physically impossible.
It’s kind of scary, actually…
|Initial Release Date||November 18, 2014|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox One|
|Developer||Upper One Games|
Just going by the title, Never Alone may sound like the most creepy and disturbing psychological horror game you’ve ever played, but trust me that ain’t the case. It’s actually an incredibly beautiful and well-made puzzle-platformer, that tells the story of a little Iñupiaq girl called Nuna, and her fox called Fox.
No, not the wave dashing one.
The gameplay is fun, interesting, and makes very good use of the setting and theme, but it’s really the story that’s gonna make you feel all warm and gooey and fuzzy and sh*t.
It’s adorable, sorrowful, uplifting, and one of the few games that manages to draw you in without saying much at all. And the gorgeous snowy visuals are more than enough to make you wanna go sledging, build snowmen, and enjoy the snow for yourself.
That is unless you live in a place like California, where the only way to enjoy white powder is with cocaine.
But regardless, Never Alone is a beautiful little game that should provide you with all the wintery cheer you need. Plus, it’s probably the only game out there that attempts to teach the player about Alaskan Native culture.
Like how they can throw fireballs, and travel on ancient spirits.
That’s pretty dope.
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Batman: Arkham Origins
|Initial Release Date||October 25, 2013|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360|
|Developer||WB Games Montreal|
|Publisher||Warner Bros. Interactive|
Ah, Arkham Origins. Also known as, the one that everyone forgot about, including the people who made it. Seriously, when they made Arkham Knight they referred to it as “The last in the trilogy”. So I guess Origins is just like the fourth musketeer that no one wants to acknowledge, or something.
But really, I don’t think that’s fair. Even though it had its weak points and I’m pretty sure the PC port was handcrafted by a blind mole with restless leg syndrome, it was still a solid game. The
combat was on point, the story was pretty good, and let’s not forget, it takes place on freaking Christmas Eve!
I guess everyone in Gotham must have been on the naughty list because the only thing Batman’s giving out is broken legs.
This isn’t exactly a “Holly Jolly simply having a wonderful Christmas time” experience like most of the other games here. Being an Arkham game it’s more of a “Curb stomp a dudes face until he can’t see colour anymore” kind of experience. But hey, the list of games that take place on Christmas and are actually good is so short, I felt like I had to give props to this one.
Merry Christmas, Bats. Send my love to the folks!
… oh, wait.
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Animal Crossing: New Leaf
|Initial Release Date||November 8, 2012|
Well, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons coming out early 2020, this might be the last Christmas celebration a lot of people have in New Leaf, which is a little sad when you think about it.
The residents of my village “NUT-TOWN, U.S.A” will not be happy.
But for me, whipping out Animal Crossing: New Leaf at least once every December has become a little ritual of mine since the game came out. It may not be all that exciting, but seeing my villagers in their festive coats, woolly hats, and disgusting sweaters still makes me feel wholesome and jolly.
And for a 22-year old British cynic with a heart that’s usually colder than nipples in a blizzard, that’s saying something.
Really, I don’t even need to explain to you why Animal Crossing is the perfect game to play at Christmas. If you’ve played it yourself, you know exactly why. And if you haven’t played it yourself, well, you’re missing out on one of the finest mundanity simulators out there.
To me, Animal Crossing is everything Christmas should be. Just apart from the rush, stress, and all your money abandoning you like a deadbeat dad.
… Happy Holidays, btw.
|Initial Release Date||November 5, 2001|
|Platform||PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox|
|Publisher||EA Sports BIG|
Now, this one belongs on this list for two reasons. One, it’s snowy. (In case you couldn’t tell) and two, playing games that you’re super nostalgic for is a great way to get you in the festive mood. And I’m not usually really nostalgic about games, but honestly SSX Tricky was a huge part of my childhood.
Almost as much as Spongebob and discovering porn way too early.
I can’t help it, man. This game just brings back way too many memories for me to not want to play it every Christmas. It was one of the very few games me and my older brother played together. He would be Moby, I would be Marty, we would shred it down Garibaldi, and he would win every time.
It wasn’t until years later I discovered he would use a shortcut I didn’t know about.
But yeah, SSX Tricky is my jam, and honestly, I know a lot of people love the third one, but to me, Tricky will always be the best SSX out there. Or at the very least It’s a hell of a lot better than the one for the Wii.
Also, It’s been 8 years since the last one.
There’s no joke there. That just makes me really unhappy.
|Initial Release Date||December 2, 2016|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
And from one extreme winter sports-em-up to another, here we have Steep. The game that proved that you don’t have to be perfect to be really f*cking entertaining.
Whilst Steep may not have the endless charisma or sick Run D.M.C track of SSX Tricky, it’s still a fun game, and perfect for the winter. The gigantic and stunningly gorgeous snowy mountains make Steep an absolute joy to traverse and explore, even if 90% of what you’ll discover is just more trees.
But still, just Snowboarding, Skiing, Wingsuiting, and Paragliding around the wintery alps of wherever the hell we are, is more than enough to keep you entertained. It’s simultaneously really exciting, and also kind of relaxing to plummet down a smooth snowy summit with nothing but sheets of beautiful white powder ahead of you.
Until you slip and crash from a slightly too big jump.
Seriously, the G-Force mechanic can eat my Yule Log.
Sorry, I’m nitpicking too much. Steep is actually a really fun experience, and a great game to play this time of year. I’d definitely recommend giving it a look if you’re looking for a game where you can soar through the air with the greatest of ease.
Like a majestic flying squirrel, with a Red Bull sponsorship.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!
|Initial Release Date||November 18, 1996|
|Platform||SNES, Game Boy Advance|
Now, apart from being a part of the utterly stellar Donkey Kong Country trilogy, and featuring the only appearance of the absolute legend that is Kiddy Kong, before he was shipped off to Guantanamo and was never heard from again, this game has another reason to make ya happy.
Strangely enough, if you enter a super special secret code in the select game menu, you can unlock a “Christmas Mode” for the game, where some of the bonus games will become all Christmasy. Like the regular collectables will be replaced with Bells or Presents or something like that.
… hey, I didn’t say it was anything mind-blowing, but I still think it’s pretty neat.
I know it’s not a huge change, but I still think it’s really cool that they added in something as obscure and weird as this, just for the sake of wishing their audience a Merry Christmas. God, I really wish the days when developers would just put strange and cool things like this in their games for some unwitting kid to find.
These days they’d charge you $7.99 in microtransactions just for the Santa hat.
Sam and Max Episode 201: Ice Station Santa
|Initial Release Date||January 10, 2008|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
In this game you can tell a little elf that you murdered his dog in an attempt to make him cry.
This is a good game.
Yeah, the first episode in season 2 of Sam and Max is all about Christmas. Specifically It’s about Sam and Max going to confront Santa, because he sent a giant killer robot to destroy them both. And if you don’t know much about Sam and Max, that’s actually pretty standard practice for these fellas.
Maybe like a 6/10 on the weird scale.
But this episode is Sam and Max at it’s very best, with all the utterly bizarre characters and scenarios that make these games great. Like a giant statue of Abraham Linclon’s head going on a date. Or a group of talking out of date machines opening an auto body shop. Or a mini game where you use a deformed baby doll to beat up a sleazy rat in a tiny boxing ring.
This. Is. A. Good. Game.
And even though it’s weird, surreal, and oddly dark as all the other Sam and Max games, there are still some wholesome moments that make it more festive.
You do end up sending Santa directly to hell, though.
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Daze Before Christmas
|Initial Release Date||1994|
|Platform||Sega Mega Drive, Super NES|
And last on our list we have the only game I’ve mentioned where you can actually play as the big man himself, and yeah, I know there are a lot more games like this out there where you can play as Santa.
But the thing is, this is one of the very few that’s actually good.
Yeah, unfortunately most of the games about good ol’ Father Christmas are either terrible flash games, terrible Wii shovelware games, or battle royales where Santa’s kill other Santa’s to see who is the greatest Santa of them all.
Seriously, that exists. It’s called Long Live Santa. Google it.
But Daze Before Christmas defies all expectations by actually being a pretty solid platformer. The pixel art is nice, the music is pleasant, the bosses are interesting, and when you hold down, Santa disappears into his hat with one of the most weirdly adorable animations I’ve ever seen.
To me, Daze Before Christmas is the shining star in the sky of otherwise dull and dreary Santa games. It’s like the one present under the tree that you instantly know is going to be your favourite, and make all the other mediocre presents totally worth it.
And then you check the label, and it’s for your older brother, not you.
And if I may get serious for a moment, I know this can sometimes be a tricky time of year for some people, but from me to you, I hope you have the very best Christmas that you can. Whether you’re relaxing with family, drinking with friends, or just chilling in your PJ’s watching Home Alone 2.
Have a good one, and Merry Christmas!
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