Round Table: Let's Talk About Festive Gaming

It's all so jolly

Well, it's Christmas Eve, and as the famous song said we're "simmmmply haaaaving a wonderful Christmas time" here at Nintendo Life. With Santa currently loading up his sleigh with those rather weighty Wii U consoles for the good gamers of the World, a few members of the team decided to have a chat about festive memories and the current state of play for Wii U and 3DS.

Joining features editor Tom Whitehead are reviews editor Mike Mason, events correspondent Katy Ellis, news contributor Orla Madden, and our wonderfully bearded US reviewers Ron DelVillano and Morgan Sleeper. Grab a festively spiced hot drink and enjoy!

Tom: First up, please introduce yourselves to our lovely readers.

Katy: Hi there everyone! I'm Katy, Events Correspondent at Nintendo Life, but you'll probably know me best as the one who writes all the news articles about obscure Japanese games from time to time.

Ron: I'm Ron DelVillano, US based game reviewer and guy with a pretty big beard.

Morgan: Hey everybody! I'm Morgan, I write reviews here in the US and, like Ron, sport an impressive beard.

Tom: I'm features editor Tom and I also have a proper beard, making Katy the odd one out so far...

Mike: I'm Mike Mason, Reviews Editor and a complete and utter failure on the beard front.

Orla: Hi all! My name's Orla, the wee Irish lass who brings some of your daily dose of news. If Katy grows a beard first, then I will too!

Tom: First up, what's the first festive gaming memory that pops into your head?

Ron: My first festive gaming memory is always playing the newest N64 games with my cousin on Christmas morning. He had the console before me, so he always got the good games first!

Katy: A recent but excellent festive gaming memory of mine was opening my Wii for Christmas and spending all day playing Wii sports with my family - the first time they had ever really wanted to play video games with me. It was great being able to share my excitement for the new console with my family, but at the same time I wanted it to be Boxing Day so I could get underway playing Twilight Princess!

Morgan: My first gaming-related holiday memory was unwrapping my beautiful silver Game Boy Pocket on Christmas morning - my first system! It came with Super Mario Land, and after jumping up and down for a while, my cousin and I sat on the stairs all day, passing back and forth and playing as far as we could. Just hearing the level 1-1 music from that game takes me back to the holidays every time!

Mike: The best time that I recall is when I got a SEGA Mega Drive as a child. I wanted one desperately for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but when the gifts were all said and done there was no console sitting under my tree. I was fine with it — I had other things to play with! — but then my parents pulled off the trick of a lifetime by producing a final treat from behind the sofa. I proceeded to act like the legendary Nintendo 64 kid and went into a Sonic-fuelled haze for a while.

Orla: My first festive gaming memory goes as far back as opening my brand new SNES in 1995 on Christmas Day. Super Mario World came packaged with the console, so I played with my dad for the whole day.

Tom: My memory isn't particularly vivid, as many of my early systems arrived on birthdays, but I do remember getting Sonic 3 on Mega Drive for Christmas, and that was a special game.

So, has gaming been a big part of your Christmas routine from an early age?

Mike: Gaming doesn't actually play much of a role during Christmas for me, unless you count guessing what time dad'll fall asleep as a game. However, I do tend to get games as presents!

Katy: I guess gaming has always played a large role as there has always been that one big title or console that I've been dying to get my hands on for Christmas, but it wasn't until the Wii that gaming really became a family Christmas affair.

Orla: For me it has been. It's the only time of the year where I get enough time to play games all day, and the past couple of years have seen big names being released. I spent all of Christmas last year with Skyward Sword, and the previous year with Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Morgan: Definitely - I very happily unwrapped a game or two most Christmases, and the post-Christmas lunch food-coma has always been the best time to sit down with family and test them out. But more recently, my sister and I have started a tradition of playing Christmas NiGHTS each year on the big day, and that's been my favourite gaming ritual yet!

Ron: Like I said, I've always spent a lot of time gaming with my cousins, so we've always connected over that, especially on the holidays.

Morgan: Same here Ron, I spent many happy holidays locked in gaming marathons with my cousin. Finishing Bangai-O one year is something I'll never forget!

Tom: What about in the past five years, are there stand-out gifts or memories in recent times?

Morgan: For me, getting The Beatles: Rock Band was a huge holiday highlight. My whole family rocked through the game in one sitting!

Katy: Ahh yes, Rock Band was a biggie a few years back with my family.

Orla: Guitar Hero 5 for me! My sister actually joined in on the action with me (she got me the present), and she's not a big gamer like I am.

Ron: To be honest, as I've gotten older I tend to just buy games whenever I want them, which is usually on launch day, so I've kind of deprived myself of that fresh Christmas surprise experience as far as gaming goes.

Mike: Nothing that's stood out hugely, though last year I did get Super Mario 3D Land which was just lovely.

Tom: I'm in the same boat as Ron, but I normally have one game that I request from the family for Xmas. It's a great time of year to catch up on multiplayer games (Mario Kart Wii is an old favourite), so this year I'm hoping for some Nintendo Land fun.

Ron: I'm much more of a solo gamer. I love playing with others, but my immediate family isn't too into it.

Katy: I think I'm the same as Ron - Wii Sports is about as far as my family will go. But in honesty, I prefer playing alone - especially when it’s a deep time-consuming adventure game.

Tom: Do any of you think Wii U is struggling to get the family around the TV like Wii Sports?

Orla: I'm trying to persuade my family to try out the Wii U with me over Christmas, I haven't been lucky enough to try multiplayer in Nintendo Land!

Ron: I don't think my family really knows what Wii U is, as much as I've tried to explain and show it to them! They might be more interested when Wii Fit U finally comes out, but until then I'll be flying solo.

Morgan: Not around here - Wii Tennis was always a fun thing to pop in to show off the system, but we never really got into it in a big way; Nintendo Land is already a huge hit though. Everyone wants to play Mario Chase when they get home!

Mike: I've not had the chance to try it with family yet, but it's gone down very well with my friends so far. I think, if anything, I might find it easier to get the family involved this year without the leaping about of Wii Sports.

Katy: I've only just got back home for Christmas, but since I've been back my 26 year old sister and I have been playing quite a bit of Nintendo Land - she seems to be really enjoying it, especially the Pikmin and Animal Crossing mini-games, which is a huge improvement seeing as the only game she has ever been interested in before was Just Dance!

Tom: I'm yet to test Nintendo Land on the family to a great degree, so will be curious to see how they react.

In terms of festive gaming, which system currently takes up most of your time. You can be honest, doesn't have to be Nintendo!

Ron: Netflix! But seriously, I love my 3DS so damn much. I bring it everywhere, and I play it daily. I'll definitely be taking it with me on Christmas day when I travel from one family's house to the other.

Morgan: I'm on the road right now, so it's been the 3DS all the way. In fact, like Ron that's what I'd be playing even if I was at home! I finally saw the end credits in Style Savvy, have recently rediscovered the Denpa Men, and the latest Layton is perfect for fireside yuletide gaming. But when I get home on Christmas day, I'll have to put it down for the Saturn, of course!

Tom: I'll be jumping between 3DS and Wii U, but there will be Steam sales, so the PC may take a hammering.

Ron: Ugh. I'll be watching the Steam sales too. I really want to grab The Walking Dead.

Katy: At the moment I'm all about my PS3, so many great games out this year and even more to come! I've got a copy of Far Cry 3 on the way too now, so I presume that will take up most of my time this year. Although I agree with Morgan and Ron, my 3DS also gets a lot of use all year round!

Orla: For me right now it's all about the Wii U and PS3. I'm focusing on completing NSMBU on the Wii U, and Assassin's Creed 3 on the PS3. I have such a PS3 backlog right now that Christmas is the perfect time of the year to spend some quality gaming time.

Mike: No particular system. I use it as a time to clear out backlog, so it can be Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, 3DS... newcomers Wii U and PS Vita will no doubt play a role this year! And I got a better PC this year too, so Steam as well.

On the next page we talk about the state of play of both 3DS and Wii U, as well as some other less serious topics…