With the festive season upon us, what are your gaming memories and staple classics of Christmas? And what are you playing/do you expect to play this year? Some of you have probably seen similar topics from me on other forums in the past, but I basically can't get enough of Christmas gaming!
For me, the first game I actually remember playing at Christmas was Mr. Ee on the BBC Master in the same year my parents picked up the machine for us (at reasonable educators' rates!) It's basically a fantastic clone of Mr. Do and really showed that the Beeb could handle itself when it came to games. I recall that as I was so young at the time, my brother was in charge of character movement, while my job was to fire off the crystal ball. I also recall that I basically had no sense of timing or strategy, so would instantly fire it off every time it recharged. Probably explained why I don't remember us getting too far...
Aside from that early experience, these are the games which really define the festive period for me and regularly get a run out when the time comes around:
Repton 3 - BBC Micro
Received on the same Christmas that we got our Master. While it was perhaps a little advanced for me at the time based on my Mr. Ee prowess, I enjoyed watching my brother and dad try their hand at figuring out its tricky puzzles. As the years have gone on, it's become one of my favourites, mostly due to its fairly relaxed pacing and satisfying challenge. And - having played the other titles in the series - 3, for me, is perhaps the best refinement of the formula, with 1 and 2 laying the groundwork, and the spin-offs (Life of Repton, Repton Thru Time, Around the World in 80 screens) using the same great format, after which Infinity blew everything out of the water and got a little too polished/complex (and apparently slower due to the ask on the hardware).
Still haven't got around to completing it yet, but as I say every year, maybe this one...
Chuckie Egg - BBC Micro
Another game that I believe we received that same Christmas and has become a staple for me to play during the period. The simplicity, responsiveness and speed all make for a great high-score chaser. It's a shame the rumoured extra screens/features didn't make it in in the end as it does become a little repetitive after a while, but it's one of my favourites nonetheless.
Stryker's Run - BBC Micro
Turn on BBC. Drop in Stryker's Run. Ctrl+Break. Floppy drive buzzes. Title screen appears. Tinny speaker blares Rydeen. Load into game.
Fail miserably to get to HQ once again.
The story of me playing Stryker's Run at Christmas every year. Never gets old.
Sonic The Hedgehog - Mega Drive & Master System
As the old tale goes - I asked for (and was supposed to get) a Master System for Christmas back in '92, however, my sibling secretly engineered something with my parents so that instead we ended up getting a Mega Drive with Sonic. My brother and I ended up taking turns in playing for basically the entire day and, needless to say, this was a mind-blowingly awesome Christmas for me - potentially my favourite. Since then, MD Sonic has become a solid regular around this time of year.
SMS Sonic also gets a regular run out as I have great memories of playing it on my cousin's console when we'd visit relatives on Christmas Eve, and it's just a fantastic game in its own right.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World - Master System
Pretty sure this was another that became a Christmas classic as a result of family get-togethers. Always seems to be the first game I fire up when we get into the season, and this year was no exception. Love the colourful graphics and familiar platforming action, but I'm always reminded how unfair the game can be too. Like some of the other games, it's one I always tell myself I'll finally complete this year.
Mega Bomberman - Mega Drive
Got this the Christmas on the year it came out. Couldn't wait to play it as I'd always pined after a home version, to the point that I remember Bad Influence ran a phone competition to win a SNES with Super Bomberman 2 and I must have called up to enter about 20 times. And no, I didn't win.
Anyway, that was definitely a great Christmas, filled with many, many battle games.
Christmas NiGHTS - Saturn
Considered by many to be one of the greatest giveaways ever, Christmas NiGHTS never fails to instil an immediate sense of Christmas. Always enjoyed the music, wintry scenes and present-earning mechanic.
Last Bronx - Saturn
Probably the most random on the list, but we picked this up one Christmas and enjoyed it enough to keep playing it in subsequent years. Its main hook is the weapon-based combat, but is otherwise a pretty standard one-on-one fighter.
Qwak - PC
Always enjoyed the BBC version of this back in the day, and its creator - Jamie Woodhouse - did an excellent job of bringing it into the (then) modern era. Still really worth picking up if you're a fan of single-screen platformers - it's fun and gets really challenging as you progress. I'd love to see it on Steam one day with achievements and better support for modern resolutions.