Christmas in Gameland

by Steve Bowler on December 22, 2007 · 1 comment

in general

For the past twenty five or so years, I think I’ve always played at least one game on Christmas day.  I mean, if you get a new title in your stocking, of course you’re going to bust it out of the shrink wrap and give it a go.  You’d be shirking your patriotic duty as an American (or video game consumer whore for you folks up north or across the pond) not to.

Some of my favorite memories are from playing games that made that extra effort to throw in a little easter egg for the folks who made a point to play them on Christmas day.  It’s one thing to crack open a new game and play it Christmas morning/afternoon, but sometimes it’s nice to just curl up with an old favorite by the fire and become re-aquainted.

It takes an extra special designer to put in Christmas easter eggs (which sounds funny and confused out of context, by the way).  Some games should have them by default; the ones that are expected to be played year round, for instance.  And then there’s a special game or two where you get that extra special surprise…

Maelstrom was one of those extra special ones.  You didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary on Christmas day, but there it was, staring you in the face:  all of the menu navigation buttons had been replaced with ornaments.  I thought maybe the Alien spacecraft had been changed as well, but it’s been a looooong time since I’ve played it.  It doesn’t really seem like much, but it was a really great surprise.  One of the very first Christmas easter eggs I can think of (1993).

Phantasy Star Online probably shouldn’t have been played year round, but it was.  For whatever reason that simple repetitive gameplay was a lot of fun to run and gun with three of your buddies night after night after night.  Set your Dreamcast clock (what, mine’s still plugged in) to 12/25 and there should be some fun holograms waiting for you in your town’s waiting lobby, right across from your lockers (Bonus:  I think Easter and Valentine’s Day are also represented).

Animal Crossing was/is another of the rear-round contenders.   The game’s very design scope means you log on, every day, for ten minutes, if for no other reason than to check your mail and pick weeds.  If you log on Christmas day, you should have a couple of little challenges at your disposal.  I think if memory serves you can find a reindeer character to talk to who will give you special Snowman wallpaper/furniture for completing his request, or something to that effect.  AC took the whole seasonal easter egg thing over the top, since there seems to be a special event for every major (U.S.) holiday of the year.

So what about you?  Any fond Christmas day game easter egg memories?

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