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The Holiday season has rushed upon us this year, with the time for relaxation and festive cheer right around the corner. We have a variety of the usual end-of-year fare for you, including Game of the Year awards, retrospectives and optimistic glances towards 2016. Naturally, of course, we're also plotting some quality gaming time with family and friends.

In order to celebrate the upcoming Christmas / Holiday / Winter break, whatever you want to call it, some of our team have put together some words to share their gaming plans. If you want to see Part One then click here.

Let's get to it!

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Conor McMahon

Whether it's squeezing through crowds with frantic, military determination, gritting your teeth against the fifteenth Mariah Carey repeat or that torturous final week at the office, the run up to Christmas isn't always so fun. Everything suddenly starts happening at once, and you're left with a hundred things to do and just a couple of days to do it. As that list of chores and miniature miracles slowly vanishes, the 25th eventually arrives and suddenly...joyously...the laziest time of the year can begin.

In the aftermath of Christmas dinner and noisy relatives, the last few days of December are some of the most indulgent, inactive times I've ever spent completely guilt-free. With so little left to do, the bad weather doesn't matter anymore and the couch becomes a place of constant hibernation. On long days with hours of free time, I usually try to dig into an RPG I've been putting off, or a similar kind of open-world experience where the possibilities are far too daunting for shorter play sessions. The shopping lists that caused headaches just days prior quickly give way to far more preferable virtual objectives, and in this regard Nintendo has offered up a masterpiece for my Christmas shut-in.

Yes, Xenoblade Chronicles X will probably end up hijacking the end of 2015 for me, as I spend hour after hour finally exploring the planet Mira in full. I've already played enough to know I'm addicted, but have been waiting till I can commit some real time to it before fully diving in. Much has already been said of the sheer scale and scope of the world so I won't repeat it, but I simply can't wait to immerse myself in it all for whole afternoons and evenings at a time. I'll grimace at the thought of shopping for more than 30 minutes, but running around collecting shiny things for 5 hours? Bring it on!!!! Everything's better when you can take a Skell mech suit instead of the bus.

On a slightly more seasonal note; after greatly enjoying Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam Bros. on 3DS this year, I may end up going back to the original Paper Mario just so I can visit that penguin village in Chapter 7 again. As a kid, I used to wonder how I could apply to live in one of those cosy Winter cottages with a surly penguin author, and at 25 years old I'm still kind of waiting on the answer.

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Joel Couture

It surprised my brother and I when dad slid in beside us as we played Super Mario Bros. on that Christmas morning when we first got an NES. To this day, it's one of only two games my father is willing to play: Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 3. He won't touch anything else. He wouldn't play with us often, either, but when he did, we got to marvel at someone so much better than us. He showed us places we'd never gone before. Levels we never thought we'd reach. We never managed to rescue the Princess together, but it was always a happy time to have dad try with us.

My brother is coming home from Japan for Christmas this year. We haven't seen him in years. Together, we're going to make one more attempt to bring Princess Peach home. We're going to put those old rectangular controllers in our hands again and laugh like we did all those years ago. We're going to struggle together, and we're going to overthrow the Koopa King this time. We're going to finish something we all started on a Christmas morning over twenty-five years ago, and we're going to do it together, as we were always meant to.

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Narelle Ho Sang

When I was younger, my cultural history was filled with ghost stories. Growing up in Trinidad in the West Indies meant those stories were scary. I don't really recall tales of friendly, helpful neighbourly ghosts (or the sort that sounded so ridiculous that they could be unmasked and taken for a Scooby-Doo mystery). Sorrowful and harmful spirits are the ones that fill my memories, and represent Trinidadian Folklore. Since those days of growing up terrified of what could be lurking under cotton bushes, I've been obsessed with ghoulies, spooky things and folklore from around the world. It's why I am really hoping for a copy of Yo-kai Watch for Christmas, sitting under my tree.

I've read some reviews and I've a general idea of what the Yokai in the game do. I know what Cheeksqueek looks like. I'm eager to get my hands on Level-5's 3DS game, which seems exactly the world I want to explore: the normal one that's hiding a lot of mischief and problems brought on by the supernatural. I want to discover just how hilarious they turn situations on their heads. Perhaps I'll discover some hiding under a car, or at the dinner table. Maybe many of them will make me laugh, scratch my head at the absurdity, or make me nod with delightful curiosity. Will I find ones that'll remind of those sleepless nights as a child? When I couldn't fall asleep because someone had told me a ghost story so eerie, that I stared at the corner of my darkened room hoping that nothing would wait to cause me harm while I slept? Well, I doubt I'd find anything so sinister in that little game, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had its small moments of sadness and creepiness.

Unfortunately, I already know I'm not getting Yo-kai Watch for Christmas. I won't be spending Christmas night diving into all the secrets the game holds. There are other Nintendo games waiting to be unwrapped and played, but it makes me sad that Whisper will have to befriend me another night. You see, my friend is gifting me a copy when I see him January. We agreed that Christmas would be extended and no yearly package exchanging rituals will happen this year via the postal service. He insisted that we save money and the hassle but I'm not sure why. It's almost as if something was telling him to ruin my Christmas fun. Oh sure, maybe it was just common sense since he'll be visiting soon enough. Or maybe, just maybe… #yokaiiswhy.


Arjun Joshi

Every year's build-up to Christmas always makes me think of one song in my head - and that's 'Delibird's Delivery' from Pokémon Stadium 2. My brother, cousins and I used to play Stadium 1 & 2 a lot, and we were particularly fond of that song (don't ask) - so much so that we've kept it a tradition to revisit that mini-game every December!

So that's what we'll be doing here and there, but in-between frantically grabbing presents while avoiding Swinub, we'll most likely be on Smash 4, Mario Kart 8, and any one of the ten Mario Party titles we're feeling. Maybe even some good old Track & Field for the N64! If I get some alone time (which I doubt), I'll attempt to beat those cold-hearted final bonus levels on DKC Tropical Freeze - a fitting touch to this winter holiday.

Evan Chambers

Not only are the holidays a chance for family to get together (local multiplayer shenanigans are where the Big N shine), but it's also the season of giving, and everyone always knows that if they can't think of anything else, my brothers and I always enjoy Nintendo games.

This year we'll be spending Christmas Day at my parents', where my brothers and I will no doubt be spending an hour or so in Smash. Follow that up with Boxing Day at the in-laws, where my brother-in-law will no doubt pull out the NES or SNES for some retro holiday gaming.

As for the gifts, I grabbed a whole slew of amiibo (possibly the best thing to happen to the birthday/Christmas-gift lists). Which means we be playing all sorts of crazy things. Mario Maker levels with strange characters showing, Yoshi's Woolly World, with some really unique Yoshi colours. Mario Party 10, and their amiibo party board. The list goes on. Plus they look good on a shelf, so even if my gift recipients don't plan on using them in games, they get to toss them up on a shelf to display their Nintendo fandom with pride.

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Jonathan Bee

I recently moved from the midwest to southern California, and as such I don't have any local gaming friends for some local Christmas co-op. I'd love to be playing Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash with my friends online, but since Nintendo decided to omit this seemingly obvious feature in their online ecosystem, I needed to find a different game to play over the holidays. I still love playing Splatoon and Mario Kart with online friends, but Christmas feels a like I should mix it up a bit and play something different.

Not content with my current list of my favorite 25 games of all time, I'm in the process of composing a list of my top 50. Looking back at my lists, I realized that there was a gem in the top 5 that I haven't played since the dawn of the millennium: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Suddenly I wasn't so bummed about Ultra Smash anymore. I downloaded the game again on my Wii U, and my Christmas will be all about exploring the Light and Dark Worlds of Hyrule while listening to the stellar soundtrack and observing the beautiful pixels that easily stand the test of time. Game on, friends, game on.

Jose Acosta

'Tis the season of gaming, there's no better moment of the year to fire up the fireplace, prepare your favourite hot drink of choice (mine is either a very milky coffee or a hot chocolate) and curl up in the couch with a controller in hand. I could tell you all how I managed to conquer the gusty peak of Snowman's Land in Super Mario 64, but the fact is… I don't think I reached that area until a year after the game came out. I could also mention how I soared the skies of Freezeezy Peak in Banjo-Kazooie, but that would be a lie cause I played that game in August of 1999.

You see, gaming and me don't mix well during the festivities. The tradition in my family revolves around never ending dinners on Christmas Eve, feasts so large they extend into the wee hours of the morning. Christmas in Venezuela and probably in many Latin American countries are different… quite different if I do say so myself and as a consequence there's no time for gaming.

Although… I would be lying to you all if I say I don't have memories of holding a controller during this festive season. There is one memory, a repressed memory, there's one game I remember playing a lot. It's a title that I have such terrible memories with it that I wish not repeat my time with it. There was this time during the last legs of 2006 when I thought The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a great entry in the series, perhaps the best one ever... Oh I was so naïve!

Now that I've awakened this memory I won't deny it, I had a good time with the 11th title of the series, I remember traversing Hyrule Field, exploring the lakebed of Lake Hylia and the countless hours spent in the fishing holes. Back then I didn't know best, it truly felt epic and impressive, a Zelda game that was dark and moody… but as I progressed through the adventure I realized how wrong I was. Twilight Princess lacked emotion and the thrills of Majora's Mask or the sense of adventure and exploration of Wind Waker. The more I played Twilight Princess the more I started to despise it. The game remains at the bottom rank of the Zelda games I've played, waiting to be replaced by the terrible CDi titles.

Nowadays I rather spend the season listening to tunes that remind me of the good times in gaming. Songs with festive moods like 'Snow Rise' from Paper Mario Sticker Star or the soothing 'Up Shuttlethread Pass' from one of the most gorgeous games that has ever graced a Nintendo console, Yoshi's Woolly World, remind me that while I may have never had a white Christmas in my life, there is a chance that maybe one day I'll be able to spend a day curled up in front of a TV with a controller in hand as the snow falls outside.