Christmas FI

James’ Christmas Gaming Memories 

Thanks for the Memories

Many people have some form of Christmas tradition. For my wife, it’s always watching the Muppets’ Christmas Carol, a film that holds up pretty well to this day. For me, gaming has, of course, played a big part of the season’s festivities. It’s a time to catch up on the backlog and, most importantly, attempt to share the hobby with family. Results of which are variable in terms of success, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. I reflect on some of my fondest Christmas gaming memories for this article. Enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

Scene it? Box Office Smash – Xbox 360

Probably one of the most successful party games I’ve managed to convince my family to play. My family have never been the biggest gamers, so finding something to bring them together has always been an entertaining challenge. My wife and I scored well at a car boot sale one year in the form of Scene it? Box Office Smash for the Xbox 360. This is a party game emphasising film trivia where you use special controllers to answer multiple-choice questions.

Sometimes you watch film clips and answer questions other times; it’s just the fastest finger on the buzzer. It’s not the most innovative design, but it sure was fun, even if you guessed many of the answers. Turns out this basic gaming formula was quite the winner with my family, as everyone was battling to grab a controller to try a round. To this day, I consider this one of my most successful gaming wins with my family.

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Fingers on the buzzer

Halo – Xbox

Although I was the only weirdo in my family with a passion for video games, my brother occasionally participated in the hobby. The game we probably bonded over the most that wasn’t a dumb football game was Halo on the original Xbox. We played the co-op campaign of this game so much that we would work our way up to the Legendary difficulty setting.

Even when we both left home to go our separate ways, when we occasionally reunited, my brother insisted we played on this setting. We would also enjoy the remaster on Xbox 360 when I upgraded a generation in gaming. Christmas was, of course, a good time to get a bit of Halo in, and my brother’s favourite level was Assault on the Control. A level with an appropriate snowy theme to it.

A memorable level that really had a bit of everything. Tight knit corridors with small stealth sections. Massive outdoor areas where you can drive tanks and if you were really lucky, hijack a flying ship called a banshee. Since you could only carry two weapons, my brother was the sniper, and I was the rocket launcher guy. We must have played these level hundreds of times over the years, yet playing it with him never felt old. 

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Its warmer in the tank

Spelunky – PS VIta

Gaming Christmas memories are not just with others. I still have a pretty fond solo tradition over Christmas when it comes to gaming. For several years I always have a few runs of Spelunky. The brutal but addictive as heck 2D roguelike with an Indiana Jones vibe. I originally picked this up on sale on the PS Vita years ago and actually ignored the game for quite a while.

Then one Christmas, while the diner was cooking, I whipped out the Vita and started to give it a go. Then for some reason, the tradition just kinda stuck from there. Now I would play this game throughout the year, but it becomes almost mandatory over the festive period. As soon as Spelunky headed to Switch, I instantly jumped onto it so the tradition could continue for many years to come.

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Not the snowball fight I had in mind

Simpsons Arcade Game – PS3

One of the more charming memories from gaming Christmas past. This time heading over to my wife’s family. Scene it? It was a hit with them, but one of my favourite memories was playing a few games with my father-in-law. Much like my dad, he’s not the biggest gamer, but unlike my own father, he is curious enough to give it a try.

One year I brought over the PS3 with several downloaded games on it. I basically let him scroll through the games and take his pick. The first game he settled on was Virtua Fighter Ultimate Showdown. An awesome 3D fighter from Sega. What amused me is he had no interest in learning the controls, he was just happy jumping in and mashing buttons, and to his credit, he was able to get a few lucky wins with this tactic.

The second game he chose was The Simpsons Arcade Game. This was a game I actually played a lot in arcades back in the day; it saw a very brief resurgence on P3S and Xbox 360 (sadly, now delisted). By this time, my wife jumped in, and we played the entire campaign in 3 player co-op. Why this was particularly memorable was at a key moment, he turned to us and said, ‘this game is just button mashing!’ This is probably the most accurate review of a game I have heard. Simple and to the point. It didn’t stop him from finishing the game, and one of my favourite gaming memories with him.

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Family day out

Ingenious – Board Game

I actually love playing board games around the Christmas season. On my family’s side, we often attempted games like Monopoly. This would usually start with us all being a happy family and later devolve into us accusing somebody of cheating. The game ended in one big old rage with us not talking until the Christmas film came on.

On the in-law’s side, the tradition was always Uno, a card game that strangely eluded me for so long, yet once I tried it, I was kinda hooked. This would usually be the last game we played before bed, and games could last a very long period of time, but it was always worth it just to keep the tradition alive.

My favourite board game is something called Ingenious, which I would always play with my wife, just the two of us. This is a game with a hexagonal board where you place tiles with two colours on each side. The aim is to form connections of multiple colours to score points. But you couldn’t just focus on one colour; you had to score points on all the colours as the loser is determined by the player with the lowest colour score.

We’ve played many games over the years together, but this is the one that stood the test of time throughout now four house moves together. We would often play this while watching a dumb film, and it still remains one of my favourite Christmas memories. Ingenious is suitable for up to four players. My wife and I now have a wonderful baby boy, and I hope he might join in the tradition with us one day.

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Make your move

Thank you for reading, and be sure to share some of your Christmas memories below, whether they are gaming or not. Have a great holiday season, and take care.

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