Family, friends, and lots of eggnog are what the holidays are all about. Video games have captured the spirit of the season well throughout the decades, giving us titles with snowy environments to roam around in and daring capers to squander right before Christmas. The titles on this list may not be the best of all time, but they do a good job of putting fans in a festive mood. If you’re tired of wrapping gifts and writing cards, the games below may help rejuvenate your holiday spirit before your annoying cousin arrives.
The Best Holiday Games – Ice Climber
Ice Climber for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a winter-themed game that’s best experienced alongside a friend or family member. The goal of the title is to constantly move up a series of cliffs without getting hit by the yetis, polar bears, and other obstacles that may stand in a player’s way. Success could grant worthy mountaineers the chance to collect an assortment of vegetables during the game’s bonus stage. Failure would send players right back to the beginning.
Playing with another person links your icy expedition together, though the caveat is that one player may knock another off the screen if he or she is too slow and struggles to find a good pocket to climb through. It’s the ultimate revenge you can get on your sister for telling your parents that you ate all the Christmas cookies the night before.
The Best Holiday Games – Home Alone
If you love good holiday movies, you’re probably a fan of the original Home Alone and its sequel. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System games of the same name allow players to play as Kevin McCallister to face off against the infamous Wet Bandits, Harry and Marv. Fans can lay traps for the criminals around the house just like in the films, plus find pizza pie in the hamper upstairs because… why not? This 2D side-scroller may not be the best licensed game ever made, but it is funny enough to dust off your good old SNES in time for the holidays.
The Best Holiday Games – Batman: Arkham Origins
Set on Christmas Eve, Batman: Arkham Origins has players take on the role of the Dark Knight in order to put an end to another one of Joker’s schemes. Gotham City is fast asleep, dreaming of sugar plums and Santa Claus, while the caped crusader faces off against some of his fiercest enemies like Black Mask, The Penguin, and Deathstroke. Featuring the series’ signature gameplay mechanics and a story that’s fitting for the Arkham universe, Origins will make fans feel like a superhero right before grandma humiliates them during the holiday dinner.
The Best Holiday Games – Dead Rising 4
Dead Rising 4 has zombie fans play as the series’ beloved Frank West in order to purge another mall of the undead horde that lies inside. This Colorado shopping center is filled with holiday decorations from the outset, the likes of which include Christmas trees, colorful light strings, and lots of snow. Frank himself can join in on the celebration with an assortment of costumes ranging from Santa Claus to a workshop elf.
Of course, one could always just don an ugly sweater while cruising along in a reindeer motorcycle, casually bashing heads in as they pass by. Whatever the celebration may be, the Dead Rising series does a good job of making people merry.
The Best Holiday Games – Fable II
Fable II doesn’t change much during the holidays, though its recurring winter theme continues to mesh so well with its colonial setting. There are few other RPGs that capture the season’s cozy vibes quite like this Xbox 360 exclusive. This holiday might be the best time to revisit the title, given how it celebrated its tenth anniversary this past October. A second player can experience the subtle magic too, dropping in and out of the title whenever he or she sees fit.
The Best Holiday Games – Overwatch
Overwatch‘s Winter Wonderland returns this year, bringing with it the opportunity to play holiday-themed events like Yeti Hunter and Mei’s Snowball Offensive. The former pits five Meis against one overpowered Winston. The latter pits two six-player Mei teams against one another to see which group will be able to rack up the most amount of snowball kills.
Given the game’s popularity, there’ll undoubtedly be someone in your family who’s eager to play this seasonal celebration before it ends on January 2. Of course, all of the holiday skins, emotes, intros, and more of the past will be able to be unlocked again. Don’t forget to add Sugar Plum Fairy Mercy to your collection.
The Best Holiday Games – Animal Crossing: New Leaf
In December, Animal Crossing: New Leaf gives players a host of festive events to participate in. Fans are encouraged to check out the shops around town to buy holiday-themed furniture, a Santa outfit, and even a Christmas tree. As they scramble around town to get some shopping done, they’ll be able to see snowflakes float above them, covering everything in a nice white blanket.
An aurora will appear too if players are lucky, plus the adorable Isabelle will gift people with a stocking to hang up just because she’s nice. New Leaf captures the holiday spirit so well that it’s worth cracking open your 3DS today, even with a new entry in the series slated for next year.
Though we may not have played all of the year’s biggest video game releases, it’s the perfect time to appreciate those titles we do have and share it with the people we care about. The medium has a remarkable ability to bring people together so that they can simply have fun and forget about the trappings of everyday life.
This holiday, don’t forget about those that gave you the freedom to enjoy your hobby and complain about it later on the internet. The industry wouldn’t be what it is today without its players and the people who encourage us to use a little imagination. Whether you’re a casual or hardcore gaming fan, be sure to have a wonderful holiday season.