The search for the perfect Christmas video game – Reader’s Feature

A reader lists some of his favourite Christmas themed video games and laments the fact that there aren’t more.

Christmas always evokes nostalgia and without fail there will be a large proportion of us who will embrace it fully.

It’s perfectly acceptable to listen to the same old Wizzard or Pouges track year on year, despite few having any knowledge of either’s extensive back catalogue or even being able to name a second song of theirs. Yet we are still happy to listen to the same songs on repeat every year because… Christmas.

Likewise, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone in the school or workplace that hasn’t seen Home Alone or Elf at least once in the past few years and there’s always new seasonal movie sections each year. Everyone will have an opinion on their favourite Christmas songs, or Christmas movie* yet nobody will have a favourite Christmas video game, namely because there are so few!

Sure there are a some that spring to mind, there’s James Pond 2, the obscure Christmas Daze by Sunsoft, Christmas NiGHTS by Sega (which is more of a reskin of the first level of NiGHTS), and a downloadable episode of Saints Row 4 that I quite enjoyed.

There are the movie tie-ins from Home Alone and Batman Returns of the 16-bit era, but these offered little in terms of that warm fuzzy December feeling – or any appeal to today’s gamers. There are some more recent battle royales and MMOs that offer seasonal skins, but again there’s very little in the way of story or nostalgia.

It seems crazy that when it comes to entertainment products and services that video games are by far the biggest market, well above film and music, yet so underrepresented by seasonal content. It’s bizarre that no publisher has exploited this and created an AAA Christmas related title.

It’s not like it would need to be a lot of work. You take most existing games and with a few changes to the assets make it Christmassy. Take any Zelda game, give Link a beard and a red outfit, replace the sages with reindeers to rescue, have Link open presents instead of treasure chests and add some weak dialogue about having to save Christmas and boom. Christmas classic! And don’t get me started on Mario! He wears red already and all he needs to do is grow his moustache out a little!

While the above approach may be a lazy one, it’s not like we crave variety (given that Call Of Duty and FIFA are best sellers year on year) and given that the games would only be played for the six weeks leading up to Christmas I’m sure gamers would prefer something shorter that they are familiar with, rather than getting invested in a 50+ hour game that will take them months to obtain all the collectables.

If developers were to create something original? Even better! With any investment there’s risk but done right I’m sure it would be one that pays dividends year on year. Sure, it might only be played for a just over a month each year, but do it right and create a game that evokes nostalgia and creates new memories and people will still be playing it 20 years from now!

There are games aplenty trying to take the title for best in class for first person shooter, football sim, platformer, or best racer. But I believe developers are missing a trick here and the crown (or red velvet hat) for best Christmas game is one I hope does not remained unclaimed for much longer!

By reader Huw

*My favourite Christmas album: The Killers Don’t Waste Your Wishes, favourite movie: Die Hard

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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