The eggnog running down my chin tells me that it’s that time of year again.
As we all frantically get ready to celebrate, it’s difficult to avoid the seasonal bombardment of the usual yuletide media: Christmas music, Christmas films, Christmas-themed episodes of TV shows, and Christmas books to a much lesser extent.
But what about Christmas-themed video games?
They do exist, believe it or not. There are quite a few of them, in fact, though they’re not exactly prominent releases. One of the better ones is Daze Before Christmas, a Super NES and Sega Mega Drive platformer that never released in North America. Shaun Jex, another writer here at Old School Gamer Magazine, just did a post about this odd title.
There are a few “Christmas-themed” games that are based on such classic holiday films as Home Alone, Home Alone 2, and Die Hard.
Of course, those films and the games based on them are not really about Christmas. They just happen to be set during the holiday season. If you’re going to play a classic video game that’s set during Christmas, I’d recommend Parasite Eve on the original PlayStation. (If you have a hard time finding a physical copy, the game is available on PlayStation 3 for $5.99 as of this writing).
Instead of pointing to a specific holiday-themed game or a holiday-themed expansion to one, I’m going to talk about how you can get into the holiday spirit with two classic games not usually associated with Christmas.
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble (SNES, 1996)
The Donkey Kong Country games let players traverse snowy mountains and icy caves, but only the third game in the original trilogy gives you the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in an odd, but endearing way.
Donkey Kong Country 3 has cheat codes that have a variety of effects, such as giving you extra lives. One in particular is “MERRY,” which makes all of the bonus mini-games Christmas-themed. The collectibles become Christmas presents or ornaments while the music becomes “Jangle Bells”—a track that sounds suspiciously similar to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”
To enter this cheat code, highlight a saved game on the main menu and press L, R, R, L, R, R, L, R, L, R. When the code entry comes up, enter “MERRY” and you’re good to go.
Again, this only applies to the bonus areas of the game, so you’ll have to find as many as possible to really enjoy the effects of this cheat code.
Nights into Dreams/Christmas Nights into Dreams (Sega Saturn, 1996)
This one is somewhat tricky, because the original release of the game does not include the holiday-themed content.
Christmas Nights into Dreams (pictured at the top) was originally a separate “sampler” disc given away with issues of certain magazines like Sega Saturn Magazine and Next Generation Magazine. While it seemed to serve as a demo disc for Nights into Dreams, Christmas Nights features several unique modes and features not found in the full game.
For example, there’s a time attack mode as well as a special mini-game where you control Sonic the Hedgehog. Levels across all modes feature seasonally-appropriate theming and decoration and will change based on the time of year (or even time of day) that you’re playing the game.
You can look for standalone copies of Christmas Nights if you still have a Sega Saturn.
The HD version of Nights into Dreams has Christmas Nights included with it, but you have to beat the main game at least once to unlock it. As of this writing, this version of Nights is still available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Steam.
The downside to going with this release is that it does not include some of the Christmas-exclusive bonus features, most notably the Sonic the Hedgehog mini-game.
Regardless of which version you play, you should try Christmas Nights into Dreams during the holiday season so that you can get the most out of it.
Thanks for reading.