Holiday season

The best Christmas video games to play during the holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which can only mean one thing: in the land of cinema, people spend centuries wondering whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not. (It doesn’t, but it’s a great movie, set over Christmas – so feel free to watch it over Christmas. Okay?) But what’s the video game equivalent?

We started to think about it and we couldn’t stop because we like to think about completely stupid and unnecessary things. So, as we head into the holiday season, here are our picks for some of the best Christmas video games, that is, games that feature or set during the holiday season. This isn’t an exhaustive list, just our favorites – feel free to mention yours in the comments.

Dead Rising 4

While this is arguably the worst title in the series, Dead Rising 4 is still an absolutely decent video game – and it’s probably one of the best games to harness the energy and attributes of Christmas to enhance its setting. . Although it technically takes place sometime after Christmas, the town of Wilamette is frozen in this post-Black Friday period, before Christmas during the events of DR4, with the zombie outbreak having taken place in the middle of the holiday season. .

Everywhere is decorated for Christmas, and the game has a sort of Die Hard approach to its season, frequently using traditional Christmas tunes. What could be more festive than beating a zombie to death with a candy cane?

Spider-Man: Miles Morales

The most recent game on this list, one of the main ways the Miles Morales game differs from the main Insomniac Spider-Man is by placing it on Christmas – giving the designers an excuse to mix up the New York look. It might be the same menu, but now it has all the holiday trimmings!

The holidays only have the lightest impacts on the game theme, but swaying the fairy-lit streets as Miles surely has a festive feel, and if you aren’t playing it yet, during the holidays could be the perfect time.

Batman: Arkham Origins

What could be more Christmas than having a grueling evening where loads of old acquaintances come out of the woods and cause you a lot of hassle? It’s Christmas Eve in every pub across the country, and it’s also just another night in Gotham for Batman. That’s what pretty much all Batman Arkham games are, but the previous title, Origins, actually takes place on Christmas Eve.

Gotham isn’t the most festive city, even when it’s snowy and made up for the holidays, but, you know, it actually happens on Christmas. So in the list it’s fine.

If you want more of Batman, by the way, the Batman Returns movie also takes place on Christmas, just like its eponymous movie. To play this, however, you will need to release an SNES, Mega Drive, or other consoles from that era.

Hitman 2016

Okay, this is only one level, and it’s not even a completely original level – but this one is good. Hitman’s 2016 reboot features “Holiday Hoarders,” a free add-on level that tasks Agent 47 with taking down two professional thieves. The whole mission is a reference to Home Alone, which is itself a classic movie.

This special Christmas scene takes place on one of the existing levels in Hitman 2016, but the map has been changed and adjusted to give it a festive feel. Besides being playable in Hitman 2016 itself, you can of course use the compatibility of this trilogy to play it in the more recent games as well.

Elves Bowling

Doesn’t anyone else remember it? I spoke about it on a VG247 podcast a few months ago and Tom has been laughing at me relentlessly for it. Released in 1998, Elf Bowling is a low-rent PC title where Santa Claus commits horrific acts of abuse on his employees by forcing his elves to act like living bowling pins. Dude, these guys should unionize! (Shouldn’t we all?)

Wikipedia tells me that Elf Bowling’s DS and GBA ports received “extremely negative reviews”, but my main memory of this game is that it took over my school’s computers; There was a time when everyone was playing Elf Bowling, because it was stupid, addicting, and because the elves did rude things like swearing or showing their asses to Santa.

While playing, maybe you could watch the movie spin-off? Elf Bowling the Movie: The Great Elf Strike of the North Pole. It has an average IMDB rating score of 1.9 / 10!

Bayonet 2

As we all patiently await the release of Bayonetta 3, it’s important to remember that not only is Bayonetta 2 good, but it’s also a Christmas game – at least in the same way that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. , using the attributes of the season lightly, as it takes place just before Christmas, until around New Years.

There are also some cute Christmas outfits that you can put the characters in, if you like.

Christmas nights in dreams

Listen. The truth is, I actually think NiGHTS sucks a bit. I think it’s that first game where you really start to see the cracks in Sonic Team, and in Year of Our Lord 2021, it’s also hard not to compare some aspects of the game’s presentation to the disastrous Balan Wonderworld. of this year, which of course was created and run by the same man. But I digress. Some people really like NiGHTS, and here it is.

While I don’t really agree with you about how good NiGHTS is in general, the Christmas version of the game, which was a free bonus version, is pretty neat. It’s Christmas at the base, where you work to unlock “gifts” and even have to place a star on top of a tree. One of the freebies is the Sonic the Hedgehog into Dreams playable scene, which, back on Saturn, was like a holy look at what 3D Sonic might look like.

Christmas NiGHTS is included in the Xbox 360 port of the main NiGHTS, which is also backward compatible on all modern Xbox consoles.

Parasite Eve

If you want to extend that Halloween feeling to Christmas a bit, consider checking out the classic PS1 genre Parasite Eve mash-up. Part horror game, part action RPG, it’s actually based on a Japanese horror novel and follows protagonist Aya Brea as she goes through complete hell on Christmas Eve.

Don’t bother with the most recent game in this series, The 3rd Birthday – although it’s also set during the holidays, it’s a real turkey, and not in a good holiday sense. But the original Parasite Eve is brilliant and features an opening where hundreds of people spontaneously burn. It’s Christmas Eve, and hundreds of people are starting to die out of nowhere! Happy Holidays!


Rockstar’s Bully takes place over the course of an entire school year, which of course includes Christmas. There are a lot of games that do that, obviously, and it’s usually just a bit of a bit of background talk – but in Bully, Christmas really matters and is a mainstay of one of the game’s chapters.

Bullworth is a boarding school, so most of the kids don’t come home for Christmas. The school and the surrounding town get dressed up for Christmas, and there really is a pretty cool party atmosphere, even if you’re not good at it.


Following on from what we said about Bully, Shenmue is another game with an advanced calendar that heavily features Christmas. While having a murdered father and a thirst for revenge isn’t very festive, there is a misinterpreted man walking around as Santa as Christmas approaches in this game. It must count for something.

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

There isn’t much Christmas about monkeys and tropical islands, but there is a cute little Easter Egg in this game if you ever play it on Christmas – and it’s still a great platformer to play. holds up well, so it’s worth it.

At the file selection screen, enter “Merry” as the name of your file. Start the game. It will play normally, but every time you enter a bonus stage there will now be Christmas themed music, while the collectibles you are looking for are replaced with bells and gifts. Festive! It works on GBA and SNES versions.

Die Hard Trilogy

If you really want to go meta, how about this one? Take out the PS1 and play this, one of the best movie adaptation video games – which is basically three games in one. The original Die Hard gets a third person shooter, Die Hard 2 is a rail shooter, and Die Hard 3 is a driving game. Of course, only the first two of these are set for Christmas, so for the purposes of this article, forget about the latter.

The truth is, these games are even less Christmas than the movie. I’m pretty sure the developers forgot that the first two Die Hard movies are set over Christmas; you climb many floors of Nakatomi Plaza with little vacation references in sight. But there’s one voice actor who does an extremely dubious Bruce Willis impersonation, and his name is Die Hard – so play him, then go to Twitter and shout out to anyone who will listen how he’s a ” Christmas game ”, yeah?

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