Last year, we compiled a list of some holiday games that aren’t always brought up around the holiday season. There’s a packed month of reviews ahead, a lot of them related the Christmas in some way, but I still wanted to cram another one of these articles here. If you’re like me, and like playing games themed to the season, then it can be hard to find games that feature a Christmas aesthetic, so I’m here to help.
So, while the sun may be M.I.A. for most of these days, and the weather can’t decide between winter wonderland and misery-filled hellscape, I’ve compiled a list of some hard plastic games for you to warm your thumbs with. Enjoy.
DIE HARD (NES)
There’s apparently a debate around whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, which is absolute hogwash. Both Die Hard and its sequel take place around the holidays, and you’re trying to tell me that’s not some sort of significant theme?
Anyway, the NES game is a pretty good, festive time. Following the events of the movie, you play as John McClane, who is stranded on the top floors of an office building infested with terrorists. The neat thing about the game is that you’re given a set number of terrorists that counts down as you kill them off, and the Nakatomi building is fully roamable and explorable. This means it’s up to you to strategize where you go and take out the terrorists. Just good, wholesome Christmas fun.
It’s also a really difficult game, and it sometimes requires you to actually know the plot of the movie to figure out where to go next. It’s a short game, but that relies on you being able to beat it in your first, second, or fifth attempt. Not an easy feat.
BATMAN RETURNS (SNES)
Don’t try and tell me that Batman Returns isn’t a Christmas movie, the last lines in the film are just Bruce Wayne and his butler sadly wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Just because it also involves Danny Devito vomiting on himself and Christopher Walken being flash fried, doesn’t make it any less festive. Anyway, I could have probably gone with any version of Batman Returns since about a kajillion different versions of it were dropped on every console imaginable, but I’m going to recommend the SNES version, since it’s the only one I’ve played.
Batman Returns is a pretty typical conveyor belt beat-’em-up. You start on the left, then walk to the right until you hit the end of the stage. Along the way, you beat the stuffing out of clowns with one of the coolest combat systems that allows you to fling those jesters around until the shattered landscape is left smeared with blood and facepaint.
In typical Konami dickery, Batman Returns features a limited continue system, meaning it may take a few attempts before you learn how to cheese the bosses enough to reach the end. On the other hand, it doesn’t do anything to hide its Christmas-y atmosphere, making it a great game for the holidays.
Don’t look at me like that. Last year I put Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes on my list because it had a single radical holiday-themed level, and I’m doing it again this year.
Banjo-Kazooie has a world in it about half-way through the game called Freezeezy Peak, and it’s easily one of my favourite worlds. Your objectives include climbing a snowman, racing a walrus, and helping Christmas lights avoid getting eaten on their way to a Christmas tree.
Not only that, the world is decorated by Christmas presents and features a ringly, jingly theme that helps get you in the mood. It’s also one of my favourite games on the N64, so if you haven’t played it yet, the holidays are the perfect excuse to do so. You can consider it my Christmas gift to you.