It’s Christmas! And Gamify is getting into the Spirit of the season, by giving the gift of a listicle, in the form of our 10 favourite Christmas themed games. You’re welcome.
So whether you’re feeling festive or you’re just trying to avoid your annoying cousins during a family gathering, we have the perfect games to play at this time of year.
If you feel that we have overlooked a real gem of a Christmas themed game, please let us know in the comments below. With that in mind, lets take a look at the rank of our 10 favourite Christmas themed video games.
Dead Rising 4
Much like how George A. Romero’s original “Dawn of the Dead” was set in a shopping mall and was a commentary on the zombified undertones of consumerism, Dead Rising 4’s mall setting during Christmas time seems to be an even more specific comment on the consumerism within a holiday period.
I’m sure there are plenty of you thinking, ‘Boo, you nerd. I just want to know if I can destroy zombies with festive weapons”, to which I say, ouch my feelings and you betcha!
Dead Rising is iconic for its large list of imaginative and innovative weapons that can be found or built to fight off hordes of zombies, but nothing warms the heart quite like dressing up as Santa and shooting into a crowd of the undead with an explosive candy cane crossbow, or clubbing a corpse with a baseball bat outfitted with barbed wire and Christmas lights.
Whether you’re a complete cynic around the holiday period or you want to feel extra jolly while you beat the snot out of some zombies. This game has what you’re looking for.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with catchphrases like, “He’s on fire!”, “Is it the shoes!?” and “Boomshakalaka!”, I feel sorry for you and whatever childhood you managed to have. NBA JAM is a cornerstone memory of my upbringing, whether it be dunkin’ on my big brother or just having fun with friends, NBA JAM was there.
I could talk until I’m blue in the face about how this game is an enduring arcade classic that anyone can play and enjoy, but instead I want to address how the game was known for having quirky bonus teams, in this particular case Santa and his elves.
If you want to play a game that is universally praised for its fun and easy gameplay, but feel that you’re not quite getting into the spirit of the season, then NBA JAM is for you. What better way to show some Christmas spirit, then to have Santa dunk on LeBron!
Not every game needs to strongly detract from its main game elements in order to pay respect to the holiday period. Overwatch is a perfect example of this, with “Winter Wonderland”, a season game expansion that offers festive character skins, snowy landscapes and brawls: Yeti Hunter and Mei's Snowball Offensive.
Simple but effective.
Super Mario Odyssey- Snow Kingdom
Sometimes it’s the little things that go a long way. In the latest Super Mario game, in amongst a range of diverse locales, including sunny beaches and hot deserts. The Snow Kingdom, is peppered with Christmas flair.
The sound of sleigh bells in the distance and certain enemies wearing Santa hats makes you almost not want to jump on their dumb heads, almost. All that being said, you will be filled with Christmas cheer while you defeat your foes and try not to think too hard about how these creatures dawning Santa hats obviously celebrate the holidays just the same as you and that they probably do so with friends and family that they will probably never get to see again once you’re done with them (heavy).
Hitman- Holiday Hoarders
Now onto a lighter subject, assassination.
Ok, I’m gonna level with you here. Most games that have Christmas incorporated into them usually don’t lean towards lighter material, and Hitman is a prime example of this with its “Holiday Hoarders” DLC. As Agent 47, you work your way through a decorative Paris on a mission to stop two thieves who plan on stealing Christmas presents. In amongst all of the Christmas cheer, you can saunter through in a Santa outfit and take care of business. You can almost think of it like Home Alone, only more deadly.
The crazy part is, for a game series about a Hitman, this isn’t the first time there’s been a Christmas themed mission. In Hitman: Blood Money, there was a mission called “You Better Watch Out” which you guessed it, you can dawn the Santa outfit and get to work.
All heavy material aside, the game's developers are also asking players to donate to the World Cancer Research Fund (oh thank God, a ray of sunshine).
The Escapists- Santa's Sweatshop
... and we're back into the heavier material.
Despite its retro, almost "cute" aesthetic, The Escapists is a pretty brutal game about surviving and escaping prison. Santa's Sweatshop is a free add-on to that game in which you play as an elf named Buddy. Much of the moment-to-moment action is the same, but with a lot of festive flair.
It turns out that Santa isn’t the loveable character we’ve all known him to be and is in fact inflicting suffering on his elves under his cruel regime. Wanting to escape Santa’s sweatshop, you will need to be smart & cunning, patiently waiting for opportunities to present themselves. In a series of thefts, crafted weapons and well-timed distractions, escape from Santa’s clutches is imminent.
Die Hard Trilogy
I’m not going to get caught up in making arguments that are either for or against, but what I will say is this; two of the movies from the original trilogy are set around Christmas time and the third one is set in July and makes multiple Christmas references (Christmas in July anyone?!).
All that being said, since Die Hard Trilogy is made up of three games each based on one of the movies, 66% of this game is Christmas themed (That’s more than most of the entries on this list). The game I feel has the strongest Christmas ties would have to be the first-person shooter based around Die Hard 2.
As you make your way through a Christmas themed airport at night, the snow falls outside and the terrorists come for you in droves to have a festive shootout. Warms your heart.
When people are talking about Christmas movies and games, this one is often forgotten. However, the majority of both the movie and game take place during the holiday season. Batman Forever's video game tie-in was draped in just as much tinsel n' shiny decorations as its filmic counterpart, so it counts.
This side-scrolling beat’em up has Batman, Christmas decorations and an 8-bit remix of Danny Elfman’s soundtrack. What more do you want?
Saints Row IV- How The Saints Save Christmas
Much like Dead Rising, Saints Row has always been a self-aware and over-the-top game. The creators were never interested in making an introspective and thought-provoking narrative, filled with timely messaging and symbolism, they simply wanted to give the players an outrageously fun experience.
Framed entirely as a tale told by a crackling fire, How the Saints Save Christmas spins a yarn of your own character losing sight of 'the real value of Christmas', just as its revealed the future world itself is enslaved by a very evil 'Santa Claws'. You'll fight demonic gingerbread men, sing carols and wear appropriately garish Christmas jumpers.
This game is vulgar, laugh out loud funny and nonsensically entertaining. Christmas is a time for enjoying all three of these details.
First off, Home Alone is one of the greatest Christmas movies off all time. This is not up for discussion, this is just a fact.
Secondly, with it being a classic, comes a lot of games inspired by the movie, some of which are just unplayable pieces of garbage. However, the SEGA Genesis game managed to rise to the occasion and create a memorable experience.
Considering the time period in which this game was released, gaming technology had little to offer in the way of a versatile and well-rounded affair. Trying to create a game that holds any kind of resemblance to the original source material was going to be a challenge, and yet the Genesis version hasn’t done too bad of a job.
Kevin must stop The Wet Bandits from stealing valuables. However, in this game Kevin has to protect all of the houses on his street, and some of these houses do not have your standard suburban interiors, filled with ghosts and robots, the game takes some creative license with the original story.
The Wet Bandits will drive around in their van looking for a house to burglarise. 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.
Is this game by any means a great game? No, but just like Christmas I believe my fondness stems from the memories created with others while playing this game.
So that is our list. Make sure you set yourself up with at least one of these titles, around the Christmas break. If you want to put forth your own top 10 for Christmas, then please enter your list into the comments below. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.