Ho ho ho!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s that time of the year again folks. Unwrapping gifts, decorating homes, and enjoying sumptuous meals with your family and loved ones.
But you and I know there’s really one Christmas tradition that beats them all – playing some retro video games! That’s right. Getting together with your friends orsiblings, your beverage of choice, and fragging or exploring new & old worlds together is what the holiday season is all about.
And if the games you’re playing are true to the spirit of the holidays, there’s nothing quite like it. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best winter video games you can sink your teeth into this season.
- Jazz Jackrabbit: Holiday Hare (PC, 1995)
Made by the mad genius Cliff Bleszinski, Jazz Jackrabbit was like the cooler, gun-toting version of Sonic The Hedgehog. Jazz was a wise-guy, one-liner spouting bunny who blasted foes who dared step in his way. Interestingly, it also featured some Holiday Hare missions, where you got to shoot tortoises in the face in a Christmas-ey world set to the soundtrack of punk-rock versions of your favorite Christmas songs.
- Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter (PC, 1997)
Everyone’s favorite manly man set out to save a world gone insane in Nuclear Winter. The plot was simple enough. It’s Christmas, but Santa has been brainwashed by evil aliens and you’ve got to stop his nefarious plans by battling all manner of Christmas-themed characters along the way – snowmen, elves, and even monsters, all of whom look appropriately dressed for the holidays. Even the strippers in this game are dressed for Christmas.
- Daze Before Christmas (SNES, 1994)
Daze Before Christmas is probably what Santa’s acid trips look like, in a good way. You play as Santa himself, fighting to keep the holiday cheer alive as you jump, shoot and use magic to turn critters into gifts on your way to rescue your beloved reindeer and elves. Oh, and I should mention you can also drink coffee to transform into a demonic blue Santa called Anti-Claus.
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (SNES, 1996)
Donkey Kong Country 3 is a fun game to play during the holidays as it is. But if you enter the secret code “Merry” during the file selection screen, you’ll turn the game into a true Christmas delight. All of the bonus levels now start playing Christmas music, and you are now collecting bells and presents instead of stars and bananas. Joy to the world!
- Costume Quest: Grubbins on Ice (XBLA, 2010)
Coming from the brilliant minds of Tim Schafer and the folks at Double Fine Studios, Costume Quest was a delightful, heart-warming and often hilarious adventure. The expansion, Grubbins on Ice picked things up right at the end of the original game, taking players on a magical journey as you and your companions fight monsters in your favorite Halloween costumes, but this time it’s set during the winter holidays. Nostalgia feels guaranteed.
- Nights Into Dreams: Christmas Nights (Sega Saturn, 1996)
Nights Into Dreams is one of those games that people who’ve played swear by. It’s a wonderful-looking, relaxing platformer that always brings a smile to your face. Christmas Nights adds two holiday-themed levels to the already stellar package. There are a lot of secrets and Easter eggs that are fun to discover, and the act of retrieving a star to put on your Christmas tree remains as charming as ever. And the best part? It’s free.
- Christmas Lemmings (Amiga, 1993)
Who doesn’t remember Lemmings?! The cute, if often grim task of guiding your lemmings safely through a level is still intact in Christmas Lemmings – a game which gives you a whole host of holiday-themed puzzles to play through and, often, watch your lemmings die trying. And did I mention they’re all wearing Santa outfits this time around?
- James Pond 2: Codename Robocod (SEGA Genesis, 1991)
James Pond is back, and this time, things are serious. Well, sort of. You’ve got to fight against your nemesis Dr. Maybe, who has fled to the North Pole and assumed control of Santa’s operations. But fear not young agent, to rise up to this ice-cold task, you have the help of RoboCod, a robotic suit that makes you stronger and faster than ever.
- Saints Row IV: How The Saints Saved Christmas (PS3/X360, 2013)
If you can believe it, this Saints Row IV DLC is even more delightfully insane than the original game was. Chuckle in glee (and sometimes in horror) as the Saints parody all of your favorite holiday movies while shooting at ridiculous enemies, with ridiculous weapons, while wearing ridiculous costumes. It’s hilarious, and while the kids are off getting their candy fix, the adults can fire up this game for some real holiday festivities.
- Home Alone (SEGA Genesis, 1991)
For people who grew up during the 90s, Home Alone was a huge part of the holidays. And while the series has spawned many video games, Home Alone for the SEGA Genesis is in a league of its own. Basically, you get to relive the entire adventure of the movie as Kevin, setting up elaborate traps and saving not just your own house, but all of the houses on your street from the Wet Bandits. There’s a ticking clock to make things more interesting.
- Honorable mentions
- Snatcher (PC, 1992)
- Sam and Max 2: Ice Station Santa (PC, 2007)
- Batman Returns (NES, 1992)
- Johnny Platform Saves Xmas (XBLA, 2009)
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge (PS2, 2004)
So, there it is. Our top 10 christmas video games list of the best holiday-themed retro video games that you can have a ton of fun with this holiday season. Are there any other games that you like to play during the holidays? Maybe have some interesting ones we can pick up this season? Make sure to browse the rest of our website to find great trade in prices when you sell used video games online to The Old School Game Vault.