The 12 (Mostly Terrible) Games of Christmas
6. Daze Before Christmas
Finally, a visit to the classic consoles, with this SNES and Genesis game that has one item that makes it stand out, because it's probably censorship.
One of the power-ups Santa can grab is a cup of coffee, and it turns him into "Anti-Claus". We don't know about you, but grabbing some coffee generally makes us the exact opposite of evil. We've got a few people on the bus that we see every day we would have fed their earbuds to them by now if not for a 24 ouncer of dark roast.
What happened, of course, is that originally it was something a bit stronger, but nobody really wants to explore the idea of Santa being a mean drunk. Unless you're Billy Bob Thornton, and sadly there's no "Bad Santa" video game.
5. James Pond II: Robocod
Photo: Millennium Interactive
Speaking of classic console gaming, here's the one game that gives Chicken Invaders a run for its money in the "heavy drug use" sweepstakes. Here's the plot: a fish superspy receives some bionic upgrades to fight his nemesis, who has taken over Santa's workshop.
Amazingly, the cartridges did not, in fact, reek like a freshman dorm of pot smoke. Still, we've really got to wonder what these guys were thinking, or rather taking. Were drugs really that good in the early '90s?
4. Home Alone
Hey, speaking of bizarre games that are patently ridiculous and on every console possible, how can we make it worse? Let's make it a tie-in!
Seriously, you want a Christmas game that's kind of insane, play a Home Alone game. Which one? Pick one. And it doesn't matter which movie, either. You'll be attacked by toys, or have to avoid characters that seem to have nothing to do with video games, forget the franchise, and...yeah...it's kind of weird.
3. Raw Danger
Stretching the point a little bit, here's an action adventure survival game, kind of like a cross between "Die Hard" and "The Day After Tomorrow". The idea is that you lead six different characters to safety before the city they live in gets wiped out by a flood.
It's generally a pretty solid game that consists pretty much of rescuing survivors, and even has a unique control scheme with the right controller that lets you create your own gestures to rescue them (being escorted characters, they're all dumb as bricks), but it has one problem: the voice acting, which makes those synthesized voice samples on the NES sound amazing by comparison. It turns a decent game into an unintentional comedic tour de force. But, hey, at least it's entertaining.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge
We know what you're thinking: this list has been all about beating on tie-in games with a blunt object. How'd one of them make it to the second spot? Are all Christmas games that bad? Is there any good game for this holiday?
Yep, this game is actually pretty good. That's for two reasons: one, it wasn't slammed together to exploit the release of the original movie, but made to exploit the goodwill goths and other Hot Topic bait have for it well after the fact, and two, it's "Devil May Cry".
No, really. It's "Devil May Cry", except with slightly easier difficulty. Capcom essentially just copy-pasted a classic film onto a classic game.
Well, that's one way to make a tie-in not suck, we guess.
1. Sam and Max: Ice Station Santa
Photo: Telltale Games
Finally, because this is the season of giving and love and other stuff that generally makes us barf, we're going to end this on a good note and talk about a Christmas game that's genuinely awesome.
"Sam and Max" started life as a comic book, and would have been doomed to obscurity except that LucasArts, back when they rocked, got their hands on it and turned it into a classic point-and-click adventure game, right before point-and-click adventure games vanished in the wake of "Doom". Years later, Telltale Games would revive the franchise with episodes released on a real schedule instead of Valve Time.
Ice Station Santa opens the second season, and features giant killer robots, a machine gun wielding Santa, and evil demons running amok amid a winter wonderland. It's enough to make even the hardest man tear up with joy.
God bless us, every one of us, and have a merry death-bot-riddled, violent Christmas.