You don’t see many good exclusively holiday themed games (Santa Saves the Earth anyone???) but you may come across some instances of Christmas and the holidays scattered throughout your favorite games. Whether it be full themed DLCs, to those times your system’s internal clock surprised you with a fun easter egg, here’s a quick list of some of my favorite times games got into the holiday spirit.
Fallout 4: Christmas in Diamond City
Just out this year and already on my list, Fallout 4 supplies this jolly easter egg just in time for the holiday season. When the in-game date hits December 25th Diamond City gets a Christmas makeover, complete with lights and pine trees (which I’ll have to assume are plastic). If you’re patient, you can play as usual and keep track of the date, but waiting in a chair or sleeping repeatedly will also pass the time until you can see Diamond City all aglow. It’s a cute addition on Bethesda’s behalf and while largely just an aesthetic change,the idea that the traditions of the holidays have survived nearly two centuries after the Great War is both inspiring and heartwarming.
NiGHTS into Dreams: Christmas NiGHTS
Being firmly on the Nintendo side of the console wars for a while I regrettably missed this game when it first came out, but since its re-release on next-gen consoles I’ve gotten to take a look at the original NiGHTS into Dreams, and by extension its Christmas mode. The Christmas NiGHTS expansion was initially only playable via a Christmas-themed sampler CD found in most gaming magazines at the time. The expansion features colorful holiday themed stages, a new story, enemies, and festive music to match. With a few more levels and bosses, it could almost be its own holiday themed game all by itself, and seeing as it can now simply be unlocked in the HD rerelease, its much easier to get ahold of nowadays rather than going through old PlayStation magazines.
Undertale: Snowdin Town
Undertale‘s Snowdin is a town of adorable music, igloos, and strings of colored lights, but what I like best about of the obligatory snow level was the reasoning for a Christmas-esque holiday in this world. The story goes kids would harass a local deer monster with tree-like antlers by decorating him, so villagers left him gifts to cheer him up. This turned into the tradition leaving gifts under a large tree in the center of Snowdin proper, as well as decorating the trees and houses to resemble the poor creature. The funniest part is telling the monster about this tradition; turns out he’s disgusted that people would commemorate his suffering as a holiday.
Saint’s Row IV: How the Saints Saved Christmas
One of my favorite guilty pleasure games also happens to contain one of my favorite DLCs. How the Saints Saved Christmas centers around the gang trying to stop the evil Clawz, who threatens to destroy Christmas with robotic reindeer and a gingerbread army. This becomes an even more difficult task when it turns out the Boss of the Saints is something of a scrooge, and refuses to get into the holiday spirit. I found it funny just how seriously everyone takes Christmas, especially in the face of the Boss’s dismissal of the whole affair. It quickly becomes a delightful sandwich of It’s A Wonderful Life and Terminator, with the absurd backdrop of explosions and violence Saint’s Row is known for holding it together. It’s silly, stupid, and full of vulgarities, and as an entire DLC completely devoted to parodying old Christmas tropes, its a whole lot of festive fun.
Animal Crossing: Toy Day
Games that run on your system’s internal clock will often have holiday easter eggs, but Animal Crossing makes it a full event. Villagers will celebrate Toy Day on December 23rd in the original GameCube version and on the 24th in later installments, complete with decorated trees and a visit from the Santa-esque Jingle the Black-Nosed Reindeer. Earlier versions of the game has the player play a game of hide and seek with Jingle to receive presents, but the newest game New Leaf has the player dress as Santa and deliver presents to your town’s residents. Animal Crossing was a game I’d gotten for Christmas as a kid, so seeing that the little animals in the game were celebrating at the same time I was blew my tiny child-mind, and even if I haven’t played in a while, I find I still like to check in every Christmas.
Have a holiday moment you love that wasn’t on the list? Leave it in the comments!