The Best Unexpected Christmas Content

The Best Unexpected Christmas Content

Bob looks back at a game that surprised him with holiday merriment when he least expected it.

Despite its status as the biggest holiday of the year, Christmas doesn't have as much of a presence in video games as you'd think.

Sure, the holiday manages to work its way into games with a yearly schedule--real-time or not--and I've definitely celebrated Christmas in Persona 4 and Animal Crossing. But only a few games tackle The Season explicitly, and the ones that do would make Baby Jesus cry. Elf Bowling? Santa Claus Saves the Earth? That Game Boy Advance platformer based on Tim Allen's The Santa Clause movie franchise? Odds are you don't remember these, and for good reason. Heck, Batman: Arkham Origins can be considered the best Christmas-themed game at this point, simply because it takes place during Gotham City's most wonderful time of the year. (And while it's not the best Arkham game, it's certainly no Daze Before Christmas.)

"Remember, kids: Believe in me... or I'll kill you."

Of course, there are times when Christmas content sneaks up on you. One of the first instances of this I encountered can be found in 1993's Secret of Mana, a SquareSoft RPG that actually features Santa Claus as a boss. Well, it's a little more complicated than that: Since children no longer believed in him, Santa sought out a seed from the Mana Tree, which changed his form into that of the terrifying Frost Gigas. Once you end the fight, Santa returns to normal and is reunited with Rudolph, who seems to be the last living reindeer of the sleigh team. (We can only assume santa needed a huge supply of venison to fuel his monstrous form.)

Since that's the most obvious example of surprise Christmas content, let's fast-forward 17 years to the overlooked-but-lovable tri-Ace RPG, Resonance of Fate, for something a little more unknown. Now, RoF's trio of protagonists are essentially guns for hire, taking on any and all requests--which often results in some zany situations. But since these requests typically involve dispatching enemies through the game's complex battle system, the non-violent objective in Chapter 13, "Christmas," would definitely be memorable, even if it wasn't related to the holiday in question. But the way Tri-ace goes all out to dress up RoF's combat with Christmas trappings makes this segment one of the most memorable RPG quests ever.

So, instead of turning Christmas into a standard fetch quest and tasking Leanne, Zephyr, and Vashyron with a more expected way of delivering items to NPC, Resonance of Fate builds a battle-focused level around the concept itself. Your characters find themselves trapped in ridiculous Christmas garb, the standard enemies are replaced with children, and gifts supplant bullets as the instruments of destruction. Granted, these encounters are much easier than what you'd normally encounter in Resonance of Fate, but the sheer goofiness of the situation--and how much Tri-ace commits to it--completely makes the idea worthwhile. As characters whip wrapped gifts at high velocity that literally explode in children's hands, you know someone on the team had a lot of fun putting together this chunk of content.

So, has any Christmas-related content snuck up on you when you were least expecting it? There have to be more games out there to do justice to the one time of the year we can all take a break--even if it's only for a day.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Related articles

Eric's Farewell | Off to Find a New Challenger

It's time for us to move on, but we'll carry USG with us wherever we go.

Mat's Farewell | The Truth Has Not Vanished Into Darkness

This isn't the real ending, is it? Can't be.

Press Start to Continue

A look back on what we tried to accomplish at USgamer, and the work still to be done.

You may also like

Kat, Mat, and Eric's Top 10 Games of 2020

Our favorites of the year, from those who remain.

USG's Top 20 Games of 2020

From thirsty gods to avaricious raccoons, these were our favorite games in 2020.

USG Game of the Year 2020: Hades Isn't Just About Escaping Home, But Rebuilding It

This Greek myth feels like the culmination of everything Supergiant Games has created thus far.