It’s probably not that odd that you get bespoke Christmas films and yet not bespoke Christmas games. While a decent film and a decent game take roughly the same time to develop once you factor in all the pre and post production, a film is designed to be consumed within a couple of hours while a game needs to have lots, lots more. That could get tired if your game’s theme is ‘help Santa’.
Then again, some of my favourite Christmas films are merely set in Christmas, and not intrinsically Christmassy. Die Hard 2: Die Harder is awesome, for example, but the game of the film is a light-gun shooter through Dulles Airport.
Does that count as a Christmas game or not? It’s hard to see any Christmas-ness from the game at all apart from the snow. If snow is all you need to make a game Christmassy, I’ll stick with Skyrim. Yay!
Apart from that, all I can think of is a Christmas Lemmings game, and the less said about that, the better.
Can you remember any good Christmas games Harry?
Skyrim - Is snow all you need?
I don't remember any good Christmas games really; it's such a limited window in which to set a game, and no one really wants to combine the season of goodwill with assault rifles or jumping Italian Plumbers anyway. I think there was a limited Xmas Edition of Nights: Into Dreams, but that's about it.
However, I've got plenty of memories of playing the absolute best games at Christmas time. I remember ploughing far too much of my teenage festive periods into Christmas-released games such as Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy 7 or the aforementioned Die Hard Trilogy. My defining memory of Christmas 1996 was Samuel L. Jackson yelling 'Are you aiming for these people?!'
While there aren't really any good Christmassy games, icy or wintery levels do seem prevalent across gaming. It's not a modern first person shooter without a bit that's all covered with snow, and most platformers also throw in the token snow level, even when it might not fit with the rest of the game. Perhaps they just want to tap into that feeling of running around in virgin snow - what do you think, Ant?
GoldenEye 007 - Obligatory snow level
I remember some chilly-feeling first person shooters, but actual Christmas-themed games are a bit rare I think. I certainly haven't played any. GoldenEye on the N64 had some great snow-filled levels. I remember running between huts beneath the Severnaya satellite dish with a snow storm going on. Oddly, when you shot the snow, there were scorch marks, but the howling wind and low visibility did make it quite atmospheric.
Some of the winter maps for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault on the PC were great too. I remember using my 5.1-surround speaker set to locate and stalk other players; the snow-filled forests felt very quiet and creepy - just like something out of Band of Brothers when Easy Company were holding out in the forest over-looking Foy. You couldn't see much through the snow-covered trees so this tactic worked quite well!
I dunno. Maybe we should start a petition to the game developers, insisting that they start weaving more Christmas cheer into their games? Or maybe we should stop indulging Joe's silly ideas and start heading home for the holidays? I'll be online for some Battlefield 3, if anyone wants to play a game that definitely doesn't have a snow level?
Can you think of any games which you'd classify as a Christmas game? Since every game these days seems to have a snow level, which is your favourite? Let us know your thoughts in the forums and have a Merry Christmas!