The Festive Gamers Itch

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Games aren’t just for Christmas so where have all the Christmas games gone!?

As Christmas draws ever closer I for one get the gamers itch to dig out some seasonal classics and nostalgic favorites. Sure, I can name a few Christmas games and there’s been many games that have featured the odd Christmas themed level or character(s) over the years but in modern times where have all the Christmas games gone?

This year it dawned on me that there hasn’t been any significant recent game releases that I feel could contend for a top spot in my festive gaming binge.

It’s not the end of the world though, I’ve given it some thought and tried to compile a list of my personal, most memorable or go-to games at Christmas. While yours will most probably differ to mine I’d like to share with you my personal top 5 most gamer itching games in chronological order.

The Official Father Christmas

1989 – Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2

The Official Father Christmas was the first and perhaps the most festive Christmas themed game that I’ve ever played but unfortunately it has only made it to this list out of pure nostalgia.

In this little lost gem you take on the role of Father Christmas (Santa) starting on Christmas Eve, preparing for the big day. Unfortunately even after a solid year of making toys, your elf slaves still have the energy to rebel! They’ve dismantled and hidden parts of your sleigh around the workshop and it’s your job to put the pieces back together while avoiding the elf scum… or they’ll mug you!
Once done you have to select and collect multiple presents before venturing off to deliver them via parachute while avoiding Grinch clouds, magpie-eagle hybrids and government planes all of which are trying to stop you bringing joy to the world. If a parachuting present comes into contact with any of the previously mentioned menaces it’s whisked off screen, never to be seen again!

On the cover Santa’s clearly stood in front of a fireplace and is not flying at a great height bombing presents down chimneys but false advertising aside this game has a special place in my heart.

Playing this game as a young child was pretty much like being catapulted into puberty almost a decade early, experiencing feelings that a young child could not comprehend nor express. I believe that this was the beginning of what would grow to become GAMER RAGE!

Christmas Lemmings

1991-1994 – Commodore Amiga 500

All the Lemming games from my childhood were simply awesome! Developed by DMA Design and published by Psygnosis, these puzzle games rocked my little socks off and a Christmas version just made it extra special and festive for Christmas.

The aim of the games is to help the lemmings traverse from a starting point to the end safely by assigning them jobs to help them navigate the layout of the level. Simple and brilliant.

Die Hard Trilogy

1996 – Sony PlayStation

As per tradition, the movie Die Hard will be watched over Christmas and the old tube television complete with light guns will be dusted off for Die Hard Trilogy.

Die Hard Trilogy is one of the greats on the PlayStation. It offers 3 different game modes for each of the movies released.

Mode 1: Die Hard is a 3rd Person shooter based inside the Nakatomi Plaza. You have to battle terrorists and free hostages. (Single player).

Mode 2: Die Hard 2: Die Harder is a rail-shooter based at Dulles Airport. You have to shoot the terrorists that occupy the area. Light guns are supported with this game mode as well as 2-player co-op.

Mode 3: Die Hard: With a Vengeance is a crazy joyride through New York where you have to find and defuse explosives before they explode. I usually find myself running over quite a few pedestrians which isn't very festive but it is fun!

Parasite Eve

1998 – Sony PlayStation

A horror themed RPG may seem like a strange choice to play around Christmas time but it’s possibly one of my favorite games of all time and the opening FMV has “Merry Christmas 1997” written on a big beautiful red bauble!

You play as Aya Brea, a rookie New York police officer based in Manhattan. Aya soon finds herself going against Eve, a biological entity who has plans of her own. Since this is the only game on the list with an actual story I’ll not spoil anything by going into detail of what transpires. The RPG elements are a mix of action and turn-based mechanics. Like most RPGs there’s a leveling system, abilities and a fair bit of customization.

The game is actually a sequel to the novel Parasite Eve written by Hideaki Sena. Every year I tell myself that I’m going get a translated copy and read it just before I start the game in December… Well, maybe next year…

If you live in the UK you’ll have to scour the web for a copy and import it as Europe never got a release but if you live in America the you’re in luck as it’s available from the PlayStation Store here.

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage

2013 – Microsoft Windows (PC)

If you take a look at Santa’s crazy Judo stance from the cover of The Official Father Christmas game, it’s apparent that he was starting to crack up back in 89’. At least publishers were more responsible back in the day; Alternative Software Limited was so concerned with Santa’s erratic behavior and mental deterioration that they felt it was necessary to alert all parents to “Save the Children”.

Sadly though, Santa eventually had a psychotic mental breakdown and butchered 90% of his elf slaves but fortunately, the children were saved thanks to the efforts of Alternative Software Limited.

It’s really tragic but on a plus side you’re employed! Even in these hard economical times you managed to find employment at Polar Sanitation Inc. and now it’s your job to clean up the grizzly horrors that took place in the workshop. That’s pretty much it, it’s a janitorial simulator after all but lets face it; we’ve all had to resist the urge of releasing all that pent up Christmas shopping frustration in one huge crowd destroying rampage.

While this games graphic nature is not child friendly, RuneStorm’s vision of a twisted and warped Christmas can be a breath of fresh air from all the goody-goody over-the-top niceties of Christmas.

If you fancy a change of pace this Christmas or just like cleaning then Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage is available on Steam here.

So what games do you itch for this time of year?

Is it the latest and greatest?
Maybe the festive few?
The immortalized nostalgic classics?

Whatever they are we’d love to hear what you’re playing this Christmas.

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David Widdows

Birth Weight: 10lbs

Dave is somewhat of a reclusive creature who predominantly resides in what has come to be known as 'The Man Cave'. Self-proclaimed nemesis to the Sun and its warm embrace, he relies heavily on background radiation and tea for sustenance to fuel his insatiable lust for gaming.

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