The 12 Games of Christmas

Adam Baird

Holiday guide for the true gamers at heart…

The holiday season is finally upon us, which means it’s time to start thinking about gifts; especially if you haven’t already. For new and veteran gamers alike, the holidays don’t seem complete without receiving at least one must-have game.

One of my earliest memories is when I received “Super Mario Bros. 3″ for Christmas (yes, I‘m that old). I wondered if Santa had enough to go around for all the other kids, and if he didn’t, how would he choose who got it or not? Was I good enough that year? My grandmother thought so, but my mom wasn’t so sure, saying, “You have to be good all the way up until you go to bed the night before.”

Sigh … moms.

Of course, I ran into the living room Christmas morning, and amidt all the other presents under the tree lay a small, inconspicuous package. Those were the early days of video games, so Santa didn’t know to wrap the box in a way that us fledgling gamers wouldn’t know what it was. 

But I could tell. It was still early, so I snuck over, and ripped a tiny corner from the wrapping, looking for the magical glint of yellow that was Mario 3 … and there it was. I had to see more, so in a delirious frenzy I tore the front half of the paper off. Mario, in all his raccoon-tailed glory, smiled back.

I stared blissfully at the box clutched in my hands for a while, before I realized that I was in trouble. We weren’t allowed to pre-open anything. Frantically, I jumped up and dashed to the kitchen, threw open the drawers and after finding some tape, I created such a clatter that I woke the house up. 

Luckily, I had developed some gamer skills by then. With a steady focus and furious dexterity, I mended the shredded gift, and piled a few gifts on it. Later, when it came time to open it, my mom picked it up, gave me ‘the look,’ and knowing that I had been caught, asked, “ What happened here?”

Now at the time, I didn’t realize the genius in my reply. I was desperate, and had to say something quickly.

“I dunno, Santa must have dropped it on the way.”

There was a brief silence, followed by my grandmother exploding with laughter. My mom just stared at me, shook her head, and sighed. To this day, my mom suggests that I should invoke Santa anytime I get into trouble.

I still sometimes get that golden-ticket-feeling when I get a game for Christmas. Back then, I would get to play it later at night, so it effectively felt like opening another present. Even today, I still wait until everything is winding down before I pop it in.

With an avalanche of quality games that are recently, or soon to be released, making a list (and checking it twice) would take me until New Year’s Day. Instead, I present to you highlights of some of the better games, as well as some older ones that may have passed under the radar.