Video Game Christmases
Image: Nintendo Life

In the magazine business, the Back Page is where you'd find all the weird goofs that we couldn't fit in anywhere else. Some may call it "filler"; we prefer "a whole page to make terrible jokes that are tangentially related to the content of the mag". We don't have pages on the internet, but we still love terrible jokes — so welcome to our semi-regular feature, Back Page.

Today, Kate's dreaming of a 30FPS Christmas...

This year for Christmas, I'm doing what I did last year for Christmas. And the year before that, too, thanks to that whole cheeky pandemic thing. I'm staying at home, accompanied by my partner, my tree, my big pile of gifts, and my partner's family (not in that order of preference, of course) and we're going to cook a big turkey that I bought just last night, which is fun — I usually cook chicken. You didn't ask, I know, but I'm telling you anyway.

However, my cosy family Chrimbo doesn't mean I can't dream of a fantasy one inside of a video game, where the Christmas trees are low-poly, the stockings are voxels, and Santa looks a lot like an Italian plumber. So, join me on a whirlwind winter wonderland tour through the festive vacation destinations of my dreams...

Pokémon Scarlet

Video Game Christmases - Pokémon
Just be careful that your presents aren't sentient. You never know with Pokémon — Image: Nintendo Life

Delibird is coming down the chimney tonight, and hopefully he's bringing me a ton of XL Exp. Candies, a few Nuggets, and a Shiny Ditto (I know, I know — Dittos are for life, not just for Christmas).

I don't know if they celebrate Christmas in Paldea, but if they do, I'd love to partake in some Spanish-inspired traditions with my Skeledirge by my side. Let's get a big ol' Lechonk ham, mull some Rioja, and watch the snow fall on Glaseado Mountain. I'll bring the most festive sandwich I can think of.

Cult of the Lamb

Video Game Christmases - Cult of the Lamb
Friends are the people you brainwash to hang out with you, right? — Image: Massive Monster

I've been in charge of Christmas Dinner for a few years now, and I love it. I feel like a big boss head chef, marching around the kitchen, checking my cooking times Gantt chart, and basting like my life depends on it. But the one thing that makes it a little less stressful is, of course, sous chefs — people I can instruct and direct to take some of the tasks off my oven-burned hands.

Enter Cult of the Lamb, a game in which my ultimate dreams are realised: Having an entire following of cute little creatures willing to do my bidding, even if that bidding involves their own ritual sacrifice. And, listen, even Christmas Dinner is less demanding than that, so I'm sure they'd be more than pleased to chop carrots and peel potatoes instead of having their eyeballs sucked out by some eldritch entity.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Video Game Christmases - Kirby
Time to inhale an entire turkey — Image: Nintendo Life

Admit it: Everyone tends to go a little bit Mouthful Mode at Christmas, don't they? There's always some kind of edible treat in the stocking, and while none of it is likely to be the size of a car, we're all a little inclined to eat more chocolates than would be normal on any other day of the year. Just like Kirby, we all end up a little pink and round by the end of the night, too.

Kirby's delightful Switch outing also includes some delectable snow-themed levels, which include all the cute frosty stuff that makes winter bearable: Little penguins in knitted hats, snowy cobbled streets, ice skating, and a slightly demonic King Dedede waiting to wallop you with a hammer, as is Christmas tradition. Awwww, Dedede, you remembered!


Video Game Christmases - Inscryption
Tell me that Monopoly with Auntie Janice doesn't look like this — Image: Nintendo Life

The creepy nature of Inscryption makes it a non-obvious candidate for a Christmas break, but here's my pitch: A cosy cabin in the woods (wow, so wintery), a cast of people to buy gifts for (Stoat, Wolf, Stinkbug, The Prospector, the Angler, the Game Master, and more), and a board game to play — doesn't that just sound exactly like Christmas?

Sure, there may be some sinister vibes, and the board game isn't exactly fun (because there's the looming threat of death, obviously), but again, that sounds just like Christmas family time to us.

A Little to the Left

Video Game Christmases - ALTTL
The best way to tidy up broken cookies? You already know the answer — Image: Max Inferno

I'll admit it: One of the best parts of Christmas is getting to scrunch up all the wrapping paper into a big bag.

But since I'm an environmentally-minded little so-and-so, my Christmas wrapping go-to for a while has been hand-sewn bags made out of Christmas fabric, with little drawstring ribbons, amplified in fanciness with tissue paper and other decor that I reuse every year. Doesn't sound quite as sexy as the crinkle of fresh wrapping paper, I know, but I still get my fun — after all the gifting is over and done with, I get to fold up the bags and put away the reusable boxes for next year, straightening out wrinkled wrapping paper and carefully peeling off tape from gift tags so I can save them to remember the day by.

So, of course, a Christmas spent in the world of A Little to the Left — where everything has to be just-so — would be a wonderful day, wouldn't it? Imagine lining up all the spare AA batteries in a neat little row; stacking the Christmas cards from distant relatives in size order; placing all the twist-ties that previously had your new Barbie trapped in a plastic prison into a little zip-lock bag for safekeeping. I may be a little bit fussy when it comes to organisation, but I get almost as much fun by doing it as I do from the gifts themselves.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

Video Game Christmases - DDV
I bet Mickey would gift stuff with his own face on. Tell me he wouldn't — Image: Nintendo Life

Your 400 pumpkins need watering, and they won't wait for you just because it's Christmas, so you roll out of bed (just kidding, you can't actually use the beds) to tend to your garden before being accosted by the rat from Ratatouille (who lives in a mansion bigger than your house) and Scar (who calls you ugly and stupid).

Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff — your most likely Christmas companions — drop off gifts for you, in the form of an ugly new jumper and a request for 500 Clay. Scrooge gives you a coupon for 5% off anything in the shop, but informs you that it won't be valid until the new year. You shuffle back to your house, make yourself a Gingerbread House as a snack, and eat the entire thing in one bite.

I actually think that DDV might be a nice place to spend Christmas, since the latest update added a bunch of extremely cute festive furniture and recipes, but its inhabitants leave a little bit to be desired. They never give, just take! The other day, one of Anna's "preferred gifts" for the day was a DIAMOND! And what do I get in return? Friendship points. I mean, I'd bloody hope that you consider the person giving you FREE DIAMONDS to be a friend at the very least, Anna.


Video Game Christmases - Minecraft
Ho-ho-hoh no, we forgot to mob-proof our Christmas tree and now it's covered in skeletons — Image: Gemini Tay/Mojang

Wake up with the sunrise in a cute little spruce cottage of your own design and greet the Christmas Day by feeding your chickens... for... later. Start up the campfire masquerading as a real fire, eat an entire cake, and then gently roast a chicken over a cube of lava before opening all your presents (spoilers, it's more cubes). Unfortunately, Christmas Day is cut short by a Creeper providing you with a new open-plan front door. Well, at least now Santa can get in easier next Christmas.

Minecraft has that perfect cosiness that I love about Christmas — the living room that's just-big-enough, the gentle bleating and mooing from your captive farm animals, and the snow biomes in particular make for an extra-special Christmassy vibe. I'd even be tempted to break into one of the houses in a Tundra village just for that unique (Muppet) Christmas Carol atmosphere of waking up to a bustling town centre, sharing treats with the other villagers, and meeting up by the well to swap tales of what you just unwrapped. Doesn't that sound lovely?


VG Christmasses - Astroneer
Astroneer even has a gift-giving mission for you to complete! — Image: System Era Softworks

On the opposite end of the spectrum to all this cosy family time is that point during Christmas Day where you've spent a week's worth of social energy in just five hours, and you really, really just want to be alone. You could lock yourself in the bathroom, but at my house, we only have one, and I don't want anyone wondering if the turkey came with a surprise Christmas gift of food poisoning.

But what if I could just jettison myself into the cosmos and float around for a little bit? What if I could zip over to another planet, gather up some materials, make myself a little base, and zone out completely? Astroneer is an incredibly lonesome game, but in the best way. There's no one to mess up my neatly-organised storage system, no one to steal all my oxygen, no one to bang on the door and say KATE YOU REALLY CAN'T HOG THE BATHROOM FOR THAT LONG, I JUST DRANK A JUG OF EGGNOG. Ahhh. Bliss.

If you could have your wish be granted by the Christmas Fairy, which video game would you want to spend the holidays in? Tell us about your ideal gaming vacation in the comments below-ho-ho!