Feature: Staff Memories of Nintendo at Christmas

Merry Christmas, one and all

Thomas Whitehead

My Christmas Nintendo memories are fairly scarce, which feels like a real shame having read the other contributions. Much like Mark, my experience with Nintendo didn't kick into gear until the N64, due to my Sega allegiance in the 1990s. That was my brother’s console, however, and his departure to University prompted a spell of PC gaming.

I eventually returned to console ownership with the Wii, and every Christmas since has featured plenty of family gaming: Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros. Wii have all featured prominently. My favourite Wii Christmas memory, however, is the most recent: Donkey Kong Country Returns in 2010.

Since becoming a grown up with boring things like jobs and personal bank accounts, I’ve often bought major releases on release day. Last year I made an exception and asked for DKCR as a present, simply so I could relive the magic of playing a new game on Christmas Day, just like the good old days. Christmas morning came, and I was transported from being 26 to ten years old in an instant, firing up an eagerly anticipated game on the best day of the year.

The game is a triumph and one of my favourite platformers of all time, and blasting through the gorgeous early levels in single player was immense fun. The best was yet to come, however, when my older brother, his fiancé and two teenage kids came around on Boxing Day. After eating too much party food and Christmas cake, we fired up the Wii to try out the title’s multiplayer. In the next three hours everyone took turns, passing Wii Remotes around and loving the experience. The entire room turned into a kid’s playroom as we all – even the young’uns – went back to our innocent past of indulging in festive gaming. We could have played all night if the Wii Remote batteries hadn’t run out.

That’s easily my favourite Christmas memory as an adult. It was so memorable that I’ve deliberately held out from buying Rayman Origins and Mario Kart 7, both waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas morning. I can’t wait for more quality time with my younger self.

Zach Kaplan

The temptation is so strong sometimes, especially around the holidays. You think it will make you cool. You think it's ok because you've seen it on TV. You think you'll win some acclaim for it, but all you get is a holiday sweater drenched in sticky regret. That's right: peeking at your presents before your parents can wrap them. Everyone wants to do it — but once you cross that threshold, there's no coming back.

The year was 1997 and the Nintendo 64 was at the height of its powers. I had fallen in love with the system more than I ever had about any entertainment device. I had given my parents a few game suggestions on a Christmas list and could barely stand the anticipation. Luckily – or so I thought at the time — my mother had the easiest gift-hiding spot to find of all: right inside her closet. So, one day while I was home alone, I said to myself, "If Bart Simpson can do it, why can't I?" And I peeked.

Mischief Makers was there, along with two others I don't remember. But it didn't feel right. I could sense the pre-emptive excitement dying and predict an entire month of false wonderment. Sure, I played the part and acted surprised when I got the game. But it didn't feel right.

Peeking at your gifts pre-Christmas is neither fun nor glamorous, kids. Just wait for the surprise and you'll enjoy the gift a lot more.

This has been Scared Straight: Nintendo Life Edition.

We'd love to hear all about your Nintendo Christmas memories in the comments below. Finally, a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to all of you from the Nintendo Life team.