Top 10 Christmas Themed Video Games
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and I am excited. Not only am I going to MAGFest in just a week or so, but also it’s Christmas! I love everything about Christmas from the music, to the specials, to the snow. So while all other list writers are counting down their favorite games of the year, I decided to count down my top 10 Christmas-Themed games.
For this list I am going to be counting down games that are about Christmas. The majority of the game has to be about Christmas and not just one level so no, Banjo Kazooie and Freezeezy Peak. Also these are all retro games, from the PS1/N64 era and prior.
10.) Christmas Lemmings
Christmas Lemmings or Holiday Lemmings refers to a series of games, expansions, and demos with a holiday theme. The length of these games vary with some being 64 levels long, but there is not much to them.
The original Lemmings games were about getting humanoid lemmings past obstacles to a designated exit. This was accomplished with lemmings’ skills such as digging, building ladders and more. It was an addictive, and fun puzzle game. Christmas Lemmings is that with snow/holiday environment and the lemmings wore Santa hats. That’s about it.
Lemmings are dumb.
9.) Christmas Nights into Dreams
The original Nights into Dreams is an action game released on the SEGA Saturn. In the game you control Claris and Elliot in a dream world where they are aided by the titular character, the jester, Nights. The gameplay basically involves controlling Nights as he/she (the character is left androgynous) flies through a 2D plane collecting items, orbs, and defeating enemies.
Christmas Nights into Dreams is a two level, Christmas themed basically demo of the original Nights game. It was released for free in magazines or bundled with other games. The gameplay and characters are the same; however the graphics, levels, and music are all Christmas themed. Unlike Christmas Lemmings, Christmas Nights into Dreams adds more than just a Christmas themed cover. There is a whole new story with the main antagonist revives, and the children from the original game re-joining Nights on a quest to retrieve the star that sits on top of their tree.
Plus this game is absolutely gorgeous, so play it!
8.) Special Delivery: Santa’s Christmas Chaos
We’re going real obscure with this entry, but it’s a game I remember fondly from my childhood. It was a Commodore 64 game with a simple premise and arcade-style gameplay.
Special Delivery: Santa’s Christmas Chaos was the first game where you could play as Santa Claus. You play as Santa on Christmas night and must deliver presents to all the girls and boys. Even though you are just delivering presents throughout the entire game, there are three separate game modes that get harder as time goes on.
In this game you’ll fly in Santa’s sleigh collecting good presents from angels and avoiding bad presents from devils… don’t ask. Also in the flying section you’ll occaisionally drop presnts down the chimney of smaller houses. When you see a large house you can land on the roof and enter the second gameplay type by climbing down the chimney and avoiding fire (this is the toughest part). Then you’ll have to sneak through the house to put presents under the tree and avoid the sleepwalking children.
7.) Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter
Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter is a premise so bizarre, that it just has to make this list. Nuclear Winter is an expansion pack developed for 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem 3D. While it wasn’t the best or best received expansion pack, it’s definitely the most interesting.
The alien horde defeated in the original game is back and this time they brainwashed Santa Claus. In addition, Duke must face a new enemies known as the Feminist Elven Militia (pictured above) and evil Snowmen. Duke has to go to the North Pole to stop Santa and the evil alien maggots from completing their diabolical plan.
This expansion pack is criticized because it doesn’t offer much new. Pig Enforcers are back, there are no new weapons, Duke says the same lines, and Duke traverses some of the same locations from the original game, but with a winter/Christmas theme. However, this game deserves a spot because Duke Nukem saves Christmas is just a fantastic premise.
6.) Frosty the Snowman aka Frosty’s Busy Night
This is another game you may not have heard of, but it’s another fun one for the Commodore 64. Frosty the Snowman aka Frosty’s Busy Night was a free game packaged with an issue of Your Commodore magazine.
This game is actually quite similar to Dashin’ Desperados on the SEGA Genesis where the screen is split in two and your goal is to race player 2 in a platforming/racing game and avoid obstacles. If you hit an obstacle or pit you’ll melt.
For a free game, this is quite fun. It’s very competitive as you race and constantly look at your opponents screen to see who’s closest to the goal.
5.) Die Hard Trilogy
If it’s Christmas you know we have to talk about Die Hard. Some people don’t think the Die Hard series are Christmas movies, but the first and second took place during the holiday season… so they count! Just like Gremlins. Since Die Hard Trilogy on the PS1 has three games each based on one of the movies, 66% of this game is Christmas themed, so it counts.
I’m going to ignore the Die Hard with a Vengeance, for this list. The game for Die Hard 1 is basically a third person shooter as you make your way through Nakatomi Plaza and shoot the baddies and save the hostages. It’s fun, but about as tough as the NES version of Die Hard. However, the second game is by far the best. The game for Die Hard 2 is an on-rails shooter, where you are taken outside and all through Dullus Airport to stop the terrorists. It’s one of my favorite light gun/on rails game. I’ve spent hours in this trying to get a little bit further or beating my score.
It’s better than the NES game. That’s for damn sure. However, the Die Hard arcade game might be the best, but that’s got nothing to do with Christmas.
4.) Daze Before Christmas
Another game where you play as Santa Claus? Yes, but you also get to play as demonic-Santa, which is awesome. Daze Before Christmas was a game released in other countries for the Mega Drive and Super NES… I don’t know how I got my hands on a working copy, I think I had a modded Genesis or something back in the day.
An evil snowman has captured all of Santa’s elves and reindeer. You must save them and thus save Christmas. Also you must destroy the evil Mr. Weather. Daze Before Christmas is a semi-solid platformer, with a few issues, but still fun nonetheless. As mentioned above you play as Santa. You use Santa’s magic to turn your enemies into presents. The best thing about this game is that if Santa ingests coffee he will turn into Anti-Claus. He’ll be invincible, but cannot pickup presents, and must only attack with his sack.
The best thing about this game is that it’s quick. The game changes things up with sleigh rides and boss fights that prevent it from getting stale or frustrating.
3.) Batman Returns
When people are talking about Christmas movies and games, this one is often forgotten. However, the majority of the film and game based off the film take place during the holiday season, so it counts.
Batman Returns was a beat-em-up released for numerous consoles, however the version I’m most familiar with is the SNES version. This was a sidescrolling beat-em-up, very similar to the Final Fight series. In this game you play as Batman as you punch and kick members of the Red Triangle Circus Gang. In addition, Batman has numerous moves where he can slam enemies in the background, and use gadgets such as the Batarang. The gameplay is broken up with driving sections, and boss fights that require strategy.
The best thing about this game is the atmosphere. It’s dark like the movie but an ironic juxtaposition with the Christmas and snow decorations. Plus the SNES remixes of the Danny Elfman soundtrack are great.
2.) James Pond II: Codename RoboCod aka Super James Pond
James Pond II: Codename Robocod or Super James Pond as it was called in the states, is a Christmas game often overlooked. I assume it’s because the James Pond series just never seemed to get the same recognition as other platformers of the time.
I’m going to be talking about Super James Pond for the SNES for this list, because it’s the one I’m most familiar with. Super James Pond takes place right after the original. James’ rival, Dr. Maybe has escaped and taken over Santa’s Workshop. He took Santa’s workers hostage and converted them to evil. James Pond must save Santa’s workers and stop Dr. Maybe once and for all.
The game is a typical platformer with a few twists. There are 50 levels in all but this time, James Pond has a robotic suit (hence the robocod subtitle) which enables him to stretch his abdomen across the majority of the screen.
This game is just fun and full of vibrant colors to get you in the Christmas mood.
1.) Home Alone
There are a lot of Home Alone games, and while none of them are bad, my favorite and my favorite Christmas game has to be Home Alone for the SEGA Genesis. Many people don’t like this game… but they’re wrong.
The Genesis version of this game basically follows the film. Kevin must stop The Wet Bandits from stealing valuables. However, in this game Kevin has to protect all of the houses on his street. Eventually the cops will show up and save the day.
Similar to the NES version, this game is all about time. You must stop the Wet Bandits from robbing and flooding the homes on the street for 20 minutes of real time on normal difficulty, and 40 minutes on hard difficulty. The Wet Bandits will drive around in their van looking for a house to burglarize. You follow along on your sled, (which is the best part of the game) until they decide on a house.
Once inside, you must fill the Wet Bandits’ pain meter up all the way before they steal everything and flood the house. How do you fill the pain meter? With guns of course! You use a BB Gun, a Rifle, an RPG, a mortar to defeat the Wet Bandits.
I think this is my favorite Christmas game because I got it for Christmas when I was a kid. I remember playing it in the living room with my family for hours, just spending the day together.
Christmas isn’t about the things, it’s about the memories.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.