Arts & CultureTechnology

Gaming recommendations that'll get you in the holiday mood

Saints Row IVHow The Saints Save Christmas (PC, PS3, 360)

Saints Row has always been a franchise that pushes the limits. Crude, over-the-top and consistently hilarious – it’s safe to say the last thing one would expect out of this franchise is a new holiday classic. But this is a franchise that’s always been at its best when it surprises. The seasonal DLC pack for Saints Row IV finds the Boss begrudgingly accepted into a quest to remind people of the spirit of the season. Deliver gifts (and devastation) in a rocket powered sleigh, invade the North Pole, and remind people of the true religious origins to Festivus. It’s a holiday adventure that lampoons everything from A Christmas Story to Terminator, and boasts some phenomenally morbid twists on holiday traditions. All of this wrapping is surrounding an already phenomenal base game – Saints Row IV’s gunplay and superpower shenanigans are great, and giving the option to smoke fools with a gun that shoots Christmas-themed dubstep only adds points.

Kirby’s Epic YarnSnowy Fields (Wii)

Kirby’s Epic Yarn is already one of the cutest games that Nintendo has ever produced. The craft-inspired take on the titular pink puffball reimagines enemy, landscape and character in the form of yarn, felt, buttons or other Jo Ann Fabrics goodies. All of this on top of a fun platformer so friendly and forgiving, you’re unable to even die. It’s a game that sparks the sort of jolly, carefree emotions you want to evoke in the Christmas season. But Epic Yarn kicks it into overdrive during the Snowy Fields section of the game – which is decked out in full holiday decor. Climb up mammoth Christmas trees, float on the rising smokestacks of chimneys, and venture through the softest, coziest goddamn cabin you ever did see (in a level appropriately titled “Cozy Cabin”).

Animal CrossingJingle (GCN, NDS, Wii, 3DS)

Even if you’re not guaranteed a white Christmas this year in Eugene, December always brings snow on the ground to Animal Crossing’s holiday celebrations. The game runs on a real-world calendar, so your village will plunge into the Christmas season right as the rest of the world does. Colored lights adorn every neighbor’s home and the jolly reindeer Jingle will recruit you personally to act as official gift-giver on December 25. For a game all about making friends, maintaining relationships and growing a community, there’s no better place to visit during the season of joy.

Bad Christmas Flash Games (Shady websites that haven’t been updated since 2006)

The holiday season is a time for tradition. It’s a period when we shamelessly revel in nostalgia, watching the same old movies and TV specials from our childhood. While plenty of these traditions have stood the test of time, others have lost a great deal of luster. Yet we’ll tune in every December to Nester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, because it doesn’t feel like Christmas without it.  For me, games aren’t any different. Back in my childhood, it was old flash games that I’d return to for a hit of that holiday cheer, and I’ll still return now. “Classics” like Super Santa Ski Jump, a borderline impossible game of timed spacebar presses that boasts one of the catchiest 20-second loops in all of public domain Christmas music.

A highlight of going to Christmas at my Grandma’s house was always being able to play the full version Polar Bowler with her unlocked MSN account. A pinnacle of 3D graphics technology of the early 2000s. Or any of the various “games” starring Oliver the Elf, a foul-talking Santa’s helper who loathes penguins and is constant trying to sell the player on a premium subscription service for his game. From an objective standpoint, all of these games are miserable. But isn’t ignoring the facts and reveling in knee-jerk reactions of pleasure what the holidays are all about?


Follow Chris Berg on Twitter @Mushroomer25

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Chris Berg

Chris Berg