Can you believe it? We’re a week away from the greatest holiday ever! As a gamer, there’s only one way to prepare for celebrating Christmas. Here are the seven most Christmas-y levels out of any video game. Play one a day as you approach December 25 and you’ll be filled with enough holiday cheer to easily handle putting up with your distant relatives for the day:
1: World 5-1: “BLIZZARD!” – Yoshi’s Island
If there’s any one level to first get you excited about the holiday season, it’s this one. You start off running through some grassy plains, light snowfall in the background. You duck into a cave, then once you come out the ground is covered in a full blanket of snow! It’s just like waking up to the first snow of the season, except you’re a dinosaur. Carrying a baby. (I don’t get it, either.)
2: Ice Cap Zone – Sonic the Hedgehog 3
What does any happy kid do after waking up to the first batch of winter snow? Play in it, of course! Ice Cap covers it all: Snowboarding down the first leg of the level, getting buried in piles of fresh powder, dodging instant-freeze cannons, sharp icicles and evil robot penguins… What, you don’t ever go out dodging evil ice-themed technology for fun too? Man, your Tuesdays must be boring.
3: Frappe Snowland – Mario Kart 64
It’s a joyous drive through a snowy landscape in Frappe Snowland. Look around; there are trees that look like they’re covered in powdered sugar, massive walls of ice, and… Exploding snowmen? Looks like the kids who were playing outside had a bit too much fun… At least there’s another ice level in Mario Kart 64, where you can play with some cute penguins… Oh wait, they’re annoying too. At least the music makes it feel somewhat like Christmas…
4: Frosty Village – Diddy Kong Racing
Now, this is more like it. No serious road hazards, just a scenic mountain village covered in snow, followed by a drive through a quiet woodland park dimly lit by a few lampposts and Christmas lights. It’s a video game Christmas scene straight out of a Currier and Ives painting.
5: Freezeezy Peak – Banjo-Kazooie
This wouldn’t be a list of Christmas levels without mentioning one of the most famous Christmas levels from the Nintendo 64. Freezeezy Peak also has a feel of Christmas spirit like Frosty Village, though Freezeezy Peak is much less subtle: missions in the level include lighting a giant Christmas tree, sled-racing with a polar bear, and climbing a giant icy snowman. Freezeezy Peak takes every kid’s dreams about Christmas and wraps them all into one (literally) big mash of Christmas imagery.
6: Halloween Town – Kingdom Hearts II
This level is your chance to play in the setting of the only films that celebrates two holidays, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Although taking place after the events of the movie, Sora plays a central role in a new tale that could easily be made into a sequel: saving Sandy Claws from Maleficent and Oogie Boogie.
7: A Christmas Gift – Elite Beat Agents
I don’t even care that the song in this level is “You’re the Inspiration.” I dare you to play this and not tear up. This level has the Elite Beat Agents helping a seven-year-old girl and her mother rekindle memories of the girl’s father, who died in a car accident shortly before Christmas. By the end of the song the girl and her mother are reunited with the ghost of Daddy, who one year later makes his promise to come home for Christmas. It’s incredibly touching, and reminds us of how important it is to spend the holidays with close family.
So this week, sip some eggnog, sit by a cozy fire and play these levels. You’ll get into the mood for Christmas in no time at all.
The Minus World is written by Steven Brasley. You can keep up with his thoughts on gaming via Twitter.