Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins is seen by many as the weakest entry in the Arkham series, mostly due to being developed by WB Montreal rather than Rocksteady, as well as its similarity to Arkham City. However, it tells an excellent Joker vs Batman story, is a great entry in the franchise, and it is a shame that it wasn’t included in the remastered collection this year. Many of Batman’s foes, including the Joker, launch their plans on Christmas Eve in a snowy Gotham City. Whilst the city is still dark and threatening, festive iconography litters the street and snow flurries sweep around as Batman takes out the thugs. It is interesting to play an Arkham game set in a different time of the year and fans of the series shouldn’t dismiss it as a subpar entry.
Dead Rising 4
Dead Rising 4 sees the return of the series’ popular protagonist, Frank West, as he makes his way to a snowy Colorado for Christmas. However, as you’d expect from a Dead Rising game, the area has been taken over by a zombie horde that you, as Frank, have to exterminate. Christmas plays a huge part in the setting with lights, trees, snow, and other items littering the world. Just as malls do in the real world, the one you explore in Dead Rising 4 has decorated itself to celebrate the time of year. You can also dress Frank in Christmas-themed clothes and some of the festive items that litter the world can be used to invent some truly crazy weapons. Killing thousands of zombies in a snowy Colorado town can create some of the most enjoyable moments in gaming this year.
Originally an arcade game released in 1990, Snow Bros is entirely based on Christmas and the fun you have growing up. The game can be played alone or with a friend, with each player taking the part of one of two snowmen, Nick and Tom. Each player can throw snow at the enemies. You must throw snow at each enemy until it is completely covered, at which point it turns into a snowball. Snow Bros was later ported to the GameBoy, NES, and Mega Drive so that people could play at home over the holiday period. It might not be the easiest game to get hold of nowadays but if you have it gathering dust in a cupboard, maybe you could give it another try.
Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter
Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter is a weighty expansion pack that was added to Duke Nukem 3D in 1997. Just as in other Duke Nukem games, the action and story are both ridiculous. In Nuclear Winter, Santa has been captured by the enemies from the core game and Duke must travel to the North Pole to complete his mission and defeat snowmen and elves along the way. Although many of the levels are snow covered versions of previously visited locations, the new aesthetic and theme makes it feel very different. With its ridiculous, Christmas themed game world, Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter may be your best choice this season.
Christmas Lemmings was released as a series of short games released between 1991 and 1994. It doesn’t require the base Lemmings game to play but the gameplay remains completely unchanged. The new version of the game features levels that were similar to those in the original but they were littered with Christmas items. Stages were made from ice, with icicles hanging from the platforms, and snowmen were present everywhere. It isn’t very different to the main game but the festive theme may catch your eye at this time of the year.
Just as the classic movie did, the Home Alone video game sees little Kevin McCallister attempt to stop burglars entering his house whilst his family is away for Christmas. By using traps laid around his house, Kevin aims to take the intruders out one by one to protect himself and his families belongings. It doesn’t follow the story of the movie but the general idea is the same. Each version, starting with the SNES version in 1991, was slightly different but each features the same objective. If you’ve watched the movie too many times this winter, maybe give the game a chance.
Johnny Platform Saves Xmas!
Johnny Platform Saves Xmas! is a relatively unknown game that was originally released on Xbox 360 at the height of Xbox Live Arcade’s popularity. It was cheap, but was also a fun platformer that sees the titular character, that had appeared in similar game, navigate over 100 stages to ‘save Christmas.’ If you cannot purchase the game on Xbox One, it is still available for free download on PC via the developer website. Johnny Platform Saves Xmas! may be a good choice for a Christmas themed game you are unlikely to have played.
It isn’t clear whether Steep is actually set during winter but most aspects of the game match what we see winter as. If you can’t get away for some extreme winter sports this Christmas, Steep allows you to hit the slopes with a few friends and master the disciplines without those hours of falling over. You can’t build snowmen, and Christmas lights are nowhere to be seen, but Steep offers all the snow based fun you can wish for at Christmas. Having released only a few weeks ago, the community is still strong and it allows you to explore the beautiful Alps at your own pace.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Whilst Animal Crossing: New Leaf isn’t always Christmas themed, between mid November and late February, winter takes over the lighthearted game. Between the set dates, snow covers the ground, Christmas themed items are available for your characters, and special events take place to mark the time of the year. The game does not change dramatically but it is great to see a game embrace the time period so well. It is also a great excuse for players that have spent time away from the game to return.
One of this year’s biggest releases, The Division is one of the most detailed portrayals of a city taken over by a harsh winter. After a virus spreads during Black Friday, New York quickly becomes a desolate wasteland, covered in snow as the world falls apart around the player. The time of year plays a huge part in The Division, not only in the way the city and player look, but in how characters act in the world. It makes the world quieter and more threatening, with snow flurries hiding threats that may be lying around the next corner. It may not be the most jolly of winter themed games but it is a fantastic representation of the harshness of the season.