With Christmas approaching, what better time to engage in some festive themed gaming, and while it might seem a holiday ignored by the gaming industry, there’s actually a surprisingly large number of games set during the holiday season. Here are the essentials. Happy gaming holidays.
Originally an idea which started out as a pair of four level demo discs released in 1991 and 1992, they would be followed by two full length games in 1993 and 1994 in total giving Lemming fans 64 Christmas themed levels to frustrate themselves over the holiday season.
The gameplay itself remained the same as you guided your Lemmings past various obstacles using their various skills such as digging and floating to reach the exit point. What these games brought though was purely ascetic with levels being Christmas or snow themed, while most charming is the fact that your Lemmings all wear Santa suits.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
OK this one is kind of a cheat but put “MERRY” in the file select screen and you’ll soon find the game given a festive overhaul to its bonus levels as the stars become bells and banana’s turn into presents. The music also gets changed over to something more festive and while its not a big change it adds a fun new element to those wanting to revisit it over the Christmas season.
Duke Nukem 3D: Nuclear Winter
The definitive Duke Nukem game has a number of expansion packs released for it with this being one of the more random ones as Aliens brainwash Santa Claus into causing trouble on Earth. Now Duke must battle evil Snowmen and even Feminist Elven Militia on his way to the North pole and while it might not have added any new weapons it did see the return of the Pig Enforcers who like so many of the enemies can be found wearing Santa Hats and reindeer horns, even the ever popular strippers can be found in festive clothing while the clubs are full of the traditional lights and trees.
Considering how every Duke Nukem game which came after this addition has been, let’s face it, garbage, it makes it only the more fun to go back and discover these expansion packs, with this one certainly being another memorable outing for him, after all, how many games let you have a shoot out in a toy factory?
Saints Row IV: How the Saints Saved Christmas
Saints Row has never been the most subtle of games. Thankfully, they don’t hold back with this festive-themed DLC for the forth entry in the series which parodies pretty much every well-known Christmas movie as you have to battle to save Santa from the Warlord Clawz while you also get to kick ass in a Christmas sweater, something we never knew we wanted until this DLC gave us that option.
There are several versions of this game floating around that all played slightly different from each other while sharing the same idea of playing as Kevin as you attempt to stop the Wet Bandits from stealing valuables with the Mega Drive / Genesis version having you trying to save all the houses on the street the truly definitive version and certainly the one closest to the film is the Amiga version.
In this version you spend the first five minutes running around the house finding objects to be setup as traps at various key locations around the house. Once the five minutes is up, Marv and Harry arrive and attempt to capture the player, who can attempt to guide them into the various traps or just leave them to wander into them by themselves. Once Harry or Marv have been injured 10 times they will give up and once both have given up, the player wins. However, if they catch Kevin, the game instantly ends.
While the game was essentially broken in the fact that if you destroyed too many of your own traps or didn’t setup enough then the game would continue despite the fact you couldn’t win. Still, on the flip side, you could set up pretty much every trap from the film, including the option to use both a bb gun and tarantula, making this a must have for fans of the film.
Die Hard Trilogy
Seeing how two of the films are set at Christmas, it pretty much covers the quota for this game which is actually kind of unique in its approach to adapting the films into video game form as each film came with its own style of gameplay
Die Hard is a third person shooter, Die Hard 2 is a on-rails shooter while Die Hard With A Vengeance is a driving game meaning that you essentially got three games for the price of one and leaves you wondering why this format was never attempted again, much less why we are yet to see a remaster of this Playstation classic.
Long before we got the definitive Batman experience with Arkham games, there was huge number of games which attempted to capture the Dark Knight in video game form with the quality of these games really varying greatly. That being said, this movie tie-in for the Genesis / SNES is one of the better ones as it takes a “Streets of Rage” style approach as well as driving sections perfectly capturing the dark tone of the film alongside its Christmas setting making this still a fun is basic beat-em up.
James Pond 2: Codename Robocop
James Pond is a fish secret agent who, in this sequel, trades in his dinner jacket for a Robocop style suit which enables him to stretch to any length as he makes his way through the 50 levels to save Santa’s helpers from his nemesis Dr. Maybe.
Packed with colourful and vibrant characters and settings, let alone a baffling sponsorship deal with Penguin (a British chocolate biscuit bar), which sees many of the levels being blocked out with giant Penguin bars.
Christmas Nights into Dreams
The original “Nights into Dreams” was packed along with “Panza Dragon,” one of the few reasons you would have bought a Sega Saturn (the first of the console missteps for Sega). This festive version of the game that chances are you either picked up on a demo disc or bundled in with another game. However, unlike so many of the other Christmas-themed games, which just re-skinned the game here we got an actual Christmas-themed plot based around retrieving a star for the Christmas tree.
True, it might only be a small number of gamers who remember this game, no doubt due to the small number of people who bought a Sega Saturn, but if you stumble across a copy, much like the original game, it’s still worth giving it a look.
What are some Christmas-themed video games on your list?