Merry Christmas, boys and girls! I know it's very early, but it's that time of year again, the time where "'Tis the season to be jolly", and "the most wonderful time of the year"! I know that back in 2006, some contributor (Lisanne) posted the list of "The Top 10 Most Memorable Christmas Games Ever", but even then, she missed most of the other Christmas games. If this contributor were around today, she would see many other video games that are Christmas-related... which will be on this top 10 list that I'm writing to you. So, without further ado, I give you... the Top 10 Christmas-Related Stuff in Video Games!

The first one is Christmas-related, and it happens to be on the very first video game... the Famicom video game called Mother (released in Japan in 1989, ported to the U.S. as the finished NES prototype called Earth Bound (later EarthBound Zero) before the SNES came along, and rereleased in Japan as a compilation to Mother 2 (EarthBound) in 2005 for the GBA). In this game, you control the young protagonist Ninten, who is on a journey to save the world from some alien named Gyigas. Along the way, you meet up with Lloyd, and the two of you set off on a quest to find the eight Lullabies of Queen Mary. During the quest, you come across a train station (called the Santa Claus Station, no doubt) and see that one of the places is called "Reindeer". So you take the train there and meet up with someone who asks you if you are on the way to a place called "Snowman". She then gives you a hat that she found there... a hat that belongs to some girl named Ana. So you make your way through Reindeer, which is swarming with nasty bag ladies, and eventually take the train to Snowman (which rides past Halloween), where you meet up with some people, one of whom says, "If you run into some camel bones in the Advent Desert, tell them I said hi." Another one tells you that there is a church in the mountains to the east of Snowman, which is where you meet up with Ana, who joins your team once you give her her hat back.

Now I know what you're thinking: "What does this game have to do with Christmas?" Well, you see, the places called "Reindeer", "Santa Claus Station", and "Snowman" are named after Christmas-related holidays, like the rest of all the holiday-themed names (like Ninten's hometown of Mother's Day), and they were there in the original Famicom release right before their names were changed to the towns in U.S. states (some of them punny names) when the game got ported to the U.S. and was in development as a prototype in the early 1990s. When the game got rereleased as a compilation with Mother 2 for the Game Boy Advance in Japan in 2005, the developers kept the holiday-themed names in the towns as it was in the Famicom original, while using the changes carried over from the NES cartridge prototype. So there you go. The first Christmas-related stuff in the first video game ever. Moving on to...

Here's another game that has Christmas-related stuff, this time in the SNES game called Secret of Mana. In this game, you have control of the protagonists, which consist of a teenaged boy, a coming-of-age girl, and a little sprite, on a quest to restore Mana to its natural balance and save the world from the clutches of the Empire. One of the places you get to is Ice Country, where you meet a bright, red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph, who tells you that his master is missing and that you need to find him if you want to find one of the Mana Seeds. Eventually, you make it to the Ice Palace, where you have to fight a monster called Frost Gigas, who casts some ice spells on you and has a weakness to fire (duh!). Once you beat him, he reverts to a jolly old man named Santa Claus, who tells you that children are losing their Christmas hopes and dreams while Mana is fading away, and that he wanted to find some way to restore their hopes... by growing huge trees that nuture Mana; so he set off and stole the Mana Seed from the Fire Palace in the Kakkara Desert in hopes of "grow[ing] a huge Christmas tree". However, because he had abused the power of Mana, the power of the seed transformed him into the Frost Gigas. Now that Santa has been returned to normal, he no longer needs the Mana Seed and now has to find some way to bring children's hopes and dreams to the world. That, my friends, is a way of saving Christmas. Moving right along...

This next game, Banjo-Kazooie for Nintendo 64, has a fun Christmas-related stage, called Freezeezy Peak. And it is home to the Ice Key, which is very useful in the game's sequel called Banjo-Tooie! Anyway, in this level, you get to accomplish tasks, like saving the Christmas lights called Twinklies from getting eaten so that they'll light up the pine tree for you, and finding the Christmas presents scattered around the level so you can deliver them to children for Christmas joy! Besides these, you have a lot of notes to find, along with empty honeycomb pieces and Mumbo Tokens. And I guess that's pretty much it. Despite pretty much the short tasks, Freezeezy Peak is quite a breeze (pardon the pun!) to go through in Banjo-Kazooie!

The next game I'm showing to you is Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko for PlayStation, the last game in the Gex trilogy. And, no surprise, it has a Christmas-themed TV show-like level called "Totally Scrooged". In this snow stage, you have to create five ice sculptures in five different places, knock off the snowboarding elves, and defeat an Evil Santa Claus to find the remote controls. Whoa! And they say wrecking Christmas is bad and very Grnich-like, in my opinion. Besides the remotes, there are also bonus coins and paws you have to find all over this snow stage! Oh well, nothing says "Christmas fun" like the episode named "Totally Scrooged"! Get it?

RuneScape is a fantasy MMORPG released in January 2001 by Andrew and Paul Gower, and developed and published by Jagex Games Studio; it's a graphical browser game implemented on the client-side in Java or HTML5, and it incorporates 3D rendering. As you may know, RuneScape has many various holiday events. One of the most memorable ones is Christmas, which started in 2001 and is hosted by Jagex every year in a specific location in Gielinor. There are items to find on Christmas events, like Christmas crackers in 2001, Santa hats in 2002, Christmas wands in 2011, and so forth (although there was no event in 2003). Whoever finds a Christmas-specific item gets a reward such as a special item or emote, allowing you to perform a gesture conveying an emotion. Holiday items released prior to 2002 are tradable among players and worth significant amounts of money on the player market due to their rarity; while holiday items released after Christmas 2002 are untradable and limited to one player, and they can be retrieved if lost. The 2005 Christmas event requires adventure that involves saving Christmas, and Santa Claus makes an appearance every other year that began in 2004. What can I say? It's a Christmas adventure, even in the world of MMORPGs!

The next game I'm showing you is a cool one, called Kingdom Hearts II, and it's a sequel in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. You control the protagonist, Sora, and his Disney friends Donald and Goofy as they travel the worlds to solve problems created by not only the Heartless but also the Nobodies (empty shells left over when strong-hearted people become Heartless) and stop the plans of the leaders of the Nobodies, Organization XIII. One of the worlds you travel to is Halloween Town (from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas), and it's not just the same old world you've visited before in the first Kingdom Hearts. When you see Jack Skellington again, he now wishes you a Merry Christmas instead of "Happy Halloween", and wants to show you something. Once you go through the graveyard and into the tree with the Christmas door in the Hinterlands, it takes you to a jolly place called Christmas Town, where Sora visits Santa's workshop. The jolly "Sandy Claws" tells him that according to his list "seven years ago you told everyone you did not believe in Santa Claus". Just then, Lock, Shock and Barrel cause trouble, and Sora and his team follow them, unaware that Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty) sees that her plans to destroy Christmas Town are foiled, and makes a change of plans by bringing Oogie Boogie back from the dead. Eventually, Oogie kidnaps a wandering Santa and takes over his workshop; Sora and his team arrive there and, with help from Sally, they save the day and destroy Oogie once and for all.

Later on, when the Nobodies take over, Sora and his team return to Yuletide Hill and Christmas Town, where they find that someone had stolen the presents the Santa-dressed Jack has returned. They interrogate the three mischievous kids only to suspect that the Heartless are the culprits in stealing Christmas presents, and they return to Halloween Town to find that these Heartless have taken over Dr. Finkelstein's experiment. The team eventually heads back to Christmas Town, where they learn that Finkelstein's experiment was the present thief responsible for all this mess, and they destroy the experiment and save Christmas once again. At the end, Santa wishes the residents of Halloween Town a "Happy Halloween" by bringing Christmas to them; and everyone learns that "What really counts--what's really special--is the act of giving the gift. To wish deep in your heart to make someone else happy." What a memorable Christmas after all! Well, that... and the gift-wrapping mini-games, of course.

This next game is a first-person shooter called Duke Nukem 3D, the third game in the Duke Nukem series, released for the PC on January 29, 1996. This game has you in the role of the titular character, who has to fight off hordes of evil aliens while saving women and keeping the world safe from evil. The game was met with high acclaim because of the environment, level design, gameplay and unique risqué humor. Not long after that, many add-ons and expansion packs were produced in the following years, among which are the Plutonium Pak/Atomic Edition (released in November 1996) and the one Christmas-related theme of all, the expansion pack called "Duke: Nuclear Winter". Released on a day before New Year's Eve 1997 by Simply Silly Software and WizardWorks, "Nuclear Winter" tells a story in which aliens supported by a new enemy force called the Feminist Elven Militia have captured and brainwashed Santa Claus to make him cause havoc on Earth itself, and it's up to Duke to travel to the North Pole and stop Santa from taking over the world... and Christmas as well. This expansion pack has wintry versions of previous levels Duke visited before in Duke Nukem 3D, and it has a new level called the North Pole, complete with Santa's headquarters, a large town village, and a toy factory; and you encounter new enemies like snowball-throwing snowmen and machine gun-wielding female elves! Talk about a butt-kicking Christmas!

However, "Nuclear Winter" was met with negative reception by fans of the Duke Nukem game, who didn't like the fact that the player visits two familiar levels and considered it a lazy move by the developers just to fill out the expansion in order to make it last longer; players also felt that the new levels lacked detail and were largely dull and uninspired compared to the original game and the expansions called "Duke Caribbean: Life's a Beach" and "Duke It Out in D.C." (both made by Sunstorm Interactive), and that "Nuclear Winter" didn't offer any new weapons or items but instead recycled old ones from the original game. Looks like somebody who acts like a Scrooge is gonna get a large lump of coal in their stocking for criticism of this expansion pack!

We're getting close and down to three remaining games with Christmas-related stuff, and what better way than to put on the list two games in the Metal Gear series? The first one is called Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Released only in Japan for the MSX2 computer standard on July 20, 1990, and included as a bonus game (along with the original Metal Gear) in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence for PlayStaiton 2 in the U.S. in 2006, Solid Snake takes place on Christmas Eve 1999. During the oil crisis, NATO discovers that the leaders of Zanzibarland, a Central Asian country established in 1997 after a successful independence war against the CIS, plan to hold the world hostage by controlling the oil supply through OILIX and nuclear warheads pillaged from old stockpiles marked for dismantling in light of global efforts toward nuclear disarmament. So the new commander of FOXHOUND, Roy Campbell, brings Solid Snake out of retirement and sends him to Zanzibarland to save the day once again. This Christmas Eve is bound to be a journey wrought with adventure and peril, as Snake will have to face the Big Boss once again! What a Christmas development this is.

The second one in the series is a fan-made freeware game series called Merry Gear Solid, and it's an affectionate parody of the Metal Gear series and Christmas specials of all kinds, by the creator of The Underside. The first Merry Gear Solid is a game where you play as St. Nick, codenamed "Solid Santa", during his mission to sneak into 14015 Hideo Drive to deliver presents. The second one, Ghosts of Christmas Past, is where you play as Cold Snake during his mission to infiltrate the Outer Savin' Mall. There are funny puns and shout-outs aplenty, and hilarity ensues. Recently, a third Merry Gear Solid game, "The Dead of Winter", has been announced and is under development, but who knows when it will be released? Maybe next Christmas, perhaps?

Here's another Christmas-related journey wrought with adventure and peril in this videogame: the PlayStation game called Parasite Eve, a game developed and published by Square (now SquareEnix) and released in 1998. Believe it or not, this game is actually a sequel to the Japanese novel, also called Parasite Eve. The game starts on Christmas Eve 1997 in New York City. The female protagonist, Aya Brea, an NYPD rookie, attends an opera at the Carnegie Hall with her unnamed date, and during the opera, the entire audience spontaneously combusts, leaving Aya and her date as the only survivors along with Melissa Pearce, an actress ill with kidney disease and infected with the mitochondria of Maya Brea (Aya's sister). When Aya goes after Melissa, the latter says that Aya's mitochondria needs more time to develop. As Melissa escapes, she transforms herself into a hideous beast who now calls herself Eve before fleeing into the sewers. The next morning, Christmas Day, Aya and her partner, Daniel Dollis, visit a scientist named Dr. Klamp at the Museum of Natural History, who tells them things about mitochondria that they find useless for their purposes. They soon discover that Eve is at the Central Park theater where an audience has gathered around, intending to see a performance that Melissa was to give. Aya enters the theater alone to see Eve, who causes the audience's mitochondria to rebel against their hosts and turns them into a slimy orange mass. Aya confronts and fights with Eve, but gets knocked out unconscious. With everyone at Manhattan evacuating due to the threat that Eve poses, a Japanese man named Kunihiko Maeda sneaks into the city and tells Aya and Daniel about the origins of Eve (reflected in the events of the novel). Maeda believes that Eve may be trying to give birth to an "Ultimate Being". Now it's up to Aya and Daniel to stop Eve and save the day. This is a Christmas worth remembering if not for the fact that it's overshadowed by the #1 Christmas-related video game on the list...

We're closing out the top 10 list with the most recent game of all... and that game is Batman: Arkham Origins, the third game in the Batman: Arkham series, which has the voice talents of Roger Craig Smith (of Assassin's Creed fame) and Troy Baker, filling in the roles of Kevin Conroy's Batman and Mark Hamill's Joker from the previous two games. Though Origins is a game that is set in a time between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the game itself was released on October 25, 2013, which is exactly two months earlier before the upcoming Christmas 2013. Probably too early, perhaps, as many gamers (and some critic reviews) complained about the game being rushed with so many numerous bugs, typos in subtitles, and glitches, some of them game-breaking. Fortunately, the game developers were able to patch many bugs and glitches; the patching and fixing is still ongoing at the time of this top 10 list. Although the game was criticized, many reviewers began to praise it for the one thing in the game: its story (though some of it is a bit of a retcon).

The story starts out on Christmas Eve, when eight of the world's deadliest assassins hired by Black Mask are gathering in to collect his bounty, and at the same time a number of corrupt police officers in the GCPD are also looking to claim the reward; and now Batman has to figure out why Black Mask wants him dead, fight off his assassins, and prove to Gotham that he is a hero to be trusted. Throughout the game, you'll notice that everything is beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go. Examples: Batman interrogates Ricky "Loose Lips" LeBlanc atop a clock tower before dropping him onto a giant Christmas tree; the enemies' lairs have lit-up Christmas trees with fewer pine needles, while fine places like the GCPD Building and the Royal Hotel have more fanciful trees and garlands; the interior of the Final Offer's Boiler Room has Christmas light decorations; the muzak plays such Christmas songs as "Joy to the World" in both the Final Offer and the Royal Hotel elevator; the Joker eats a slice of the fruitcake on the table in the hotel's penthouse and says, "This fruitcake is fantastic! ...Anyone want a piece?"; his theme is a dark, chilling version of "Carol of the Bells"; and (SPOILER ALERT!) the same Clown Prince of Crime, on seeing Batman being taken to the penthouse by Bane, tells the Dark Knight, "You see, it's a tradition in my house to open one present on Christmas Eve...", then selects one of the detonators and uses it to blow up an empty construction site before laughing and singing a bit of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" ("And a partridge in a pear tree!")... all the while watching a Looney Tunes cartoon called "Rabbit of Seville"! There's just too many Christmas-related things to list here, but once you've played the game, you will learn that after completing a long, hard game as Origins, you will still make it back home for the holidays... just in time for Christmas dinner. This is a game that should be memorable as a Christmas game that almost no one will forget.

And there you have it. Before I finish, let me go over some of the Christmas-related stuff in games I may have missed.

Honorable mentions:
Batman: Arkham City: If you talk to Calendar Man on Christmas Day, he will tell you about how he strangled Judge Harkness on a Christmas (which took place during the events of Arkham Origins right after he had been freed by the Joker from the same gas chamber that was used to kill Commissioner Loeb!).
World of Warcraft: Has the "Feast of the Winter Veil", which seems to be the in-game counterpart to Christmas and other holidays at the end of the year.
League of Legends: Snowdown Showdown is a yearly Christmas event that has several X-Mas-themed skins, available for a limited time only.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Has Alex Kidd being unlocked on December 25, 2012.
Twisted Metal: The Vehicular Combat Blood Sport is held annually on Christmas Day by Calypso; naturally this results in death and destruction.
Snatcher: Takes place in the last week of December, when "Jingle Bells" plays in the Alton Plaza, and your contact, Napoleon, appears before you dressed in a Santa Claus outfit at one point.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The fourth case, "Turnabout Goodbyes", has the tragedy start on Christmas Eve, and your case starts from Christmas Day all the way to December 28 (which happens to be the Feast of the Holy Innocents, no doubt).
Infected: The game starts with zombies crashing the Tree Lighting Ceremony in New York and keeps going from there.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time: It has a bunch of things related to Christmas: Santa Claus, snowmen, tree monsters, Santa boots, and elves.
Towns: Has a pretty X-mas theme.
Infectonator!: One of the areas is the North Pole, and you have to fight off an infected Santa Claus.
The Grinch: A video game based on the 2000 film version of the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (there's also a Nintendo DS game based on it too!). Enough said.
Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Two video games based on two classic Christmas films. Enough said.
Winter Games: The NES version's figure skating stage has "Waltz of the Flowers" from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite.
Tetris: One of the background music songs is The Nutcracker Suite's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies".
Brain Dead 13: Though more of a Halloween haunted house adventure, the Conservatory Room has background music that sounds like The Nutcracker Suite's "Trepak" while you avoid the clutches of a marionette.

And I guess that's it. As you know, Christmas is coming soon, so for all you game players out there, it's okay to say "Merry Christmas" to me. So have a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, have a kickin' Kwanzaa, happy Festivus... you know what? I'd like to quote the Angry Video Game Nerd in saying: Everybody, happy holidays... and if you have a problem with "happy holidays", then happy shut-the-bleep-up! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Merry Christmas!

List by angeldeb82 (12/19/2013)

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