by Austin Beattie
It’s that time of year again! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to play some wintery, Christmas game levels?
5. Cool Cool Mountain
Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
Everything about this level bleeds winter holiday cheer. From the snowmen to the frost laden pine trees, it’s all a winter wonderland.
This level brought a lot of joy and a love for snow levels in general. Then you got to level 10, better known as Snowman’s Land, and you were like “Yeah, fuck snow.”
4. The whole friggin’ game
Parasite Eve (Playstation 1)
There was a demo for Medieval, which scared the crap out of me. There was Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, which I would play to scare my sister. Also there was a snowboarding game that I can’t remember the title of, but I remember you could punch people in the face. Good times.
But there was one trailer that peaked my interest. The game was called Parasite Eve.
The whole thing is such a big red stain on the holiday spirit. One moment you’re in an opera house enjoying a lovely show.The next moment you’re fighting off a demonic mutant that looks like someone flipped a hard boiled egg inside out.
It’s a real creepy clash of splatter gore and Christmas time that will stay with you like a bad taste in your mouth.
3. Home Sweet Home
Mafia 2 (Playstation 3)
Playing Mafia 2 on Playstation 3, that feeling is very palpable in the first 30 minutes. Albeit, most of us aren’t hardened mafiosos with zero qualms about killing people, but it’s apples and oranges at this point.
Vito Scaletta, the protagonist of this game, returns home from serving the army in Palermo at the peak of WW2. When he returns to Empire City, he is greeted by his best friend, Joe Barbaro.
People dash out of shops with presents stacked high above their heads. All while this goes on Let it Snow is serenading out of the radio.
It’s a brief moment in a gritty and violent game that manages to hold some semblance of peace and tranquility.
2. You Better Watch Out
Hitman: Blood Money (Playstation 2)
Want to go stealthy and garrot wire your target? Go for it. Want to swap out an actor’s stage pistol with a real one? Be our guest. How about spraying down the place like your Christian Bale in Equilibrium? Here’s some extra ammo. Who couldn’t see the appeal in that?
The mission You Better Watch Out was one of the most unique though. Set in Colorado during the Yule Tide, Agent 47 is tasked with killing three targets: Porn Tycoon Lorne de Havilland, Senator’s son Chad Bingham Jr., and a mysterious assassin.
All of this takes place on de Havilland’s mansion/studio. It has everything you’d want from a Christmas party: Christmas lights, a great big Christmas tree, people dressed in holiday themes attire, they even hired a Santa Claus for the occasion.
The whole level caters to juxtaposition. Holiday cheer is forced to do aesthetic battle with perversion.
That’s one reason this memorable level is on this list. The other is that there’s a sort of hint of vengeance to the whole thing. You feel like a sort of avenger of winter tidings as you shove de Havilland off his balcony and poison his yapping, little dog.
There’s a holiday comeuppance when you spike Chad Bingham Jr’s drink with Spanish fly and shove him down the stairs. And you’ll get that holly jolly feeling when you put a bullet in that mysterious assassin that’s out to stop you.
1. Love Makes the World Go Round
Bully (Playstation 2)
Allow me a moment to wipe the slobber from my mouth to explain my number one more concisely. Bully captured perfectly what it meant to be in the mind set of a young teen. Everything is dramatized and larger than life, and if you were an angsty boy (which I was) everyone is out to get you (which they were).
The game chronicles protagonist Jimmy Hopkins’ entire school year at Bullworth Academy, a treacherous private school in the New England area. Upon the end of the 2nd chapter, snow begins to fall from the sky as you put the Preps in their place.
Once Chapter 3 starts, it’s full blown winter. Snow covers every inch of the school and nearby towns.
Outside of the Greaser gang that you square off against (seriously, what decade does this game take place in?), this whole chapter played out like any kids Christmas time at school. Even down to the lousy presents.
Jimmy’s mom sending him a terrible Rudolph sweater and him being forced to wear it was a page taken right out of many of our childhood Christmas days.
All that put together with an awesome musical score by Shawn Lee and a terrific level and character design, and you have a recipe for what has to be hands down the best representation of the best season all year round in gaming.