13 Alternative Video Games to Play this Christmas

Find your Christmas Spirit by unwrapping this list of alternative festive games to enjoy this Christmas.

The tree is up, the wreath is on the door, the gifts are wrapped and the freezer is stuffed full of Turkey and Vegtables ready for the Christmas Dinner/Boxing Day Lunch – but you’re still not feeling it. The pre-Christmas buzz is still MIA. We’ve all been there. Some Christmas’ just don’t feel Christmassy, or even worse, you could be overloaded on the Christmas craziness – but it’s not too late. Find your Christmas spirit by trying out Thumb Cultures list of alternative video games to play this Christmas.

The Division

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Christmas is a time of giving to loved ones and those less fortunate. It’s the main time of the year when people donate to charities, volunteer at homeless shelters and do “feel-good” things to help others. Who could be more in need of your help than those trapped in New York after surviving a smallpox pandemic? Log into The Division this Christmas and donate a few bottles of water and a medkit to those civilians in need, roaming the snow kissed streets of Hell’s Kitchen.
Note – Also, do some real world volunteering eh?

Hasbro Family Fun pack

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One of those classical Christmas traditions is to get everyone together and play a family friendly board game. In my house, we switch off the TV, put “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” on the Stereo and play Monopoly until it degenerates into an argument over Mayfair. This year, try something different with the Hasbro Family Fun Pack, available on the PS4 or Xbox One. Boasting the tag line “4 Great Games in 1”, the Family Fun Pack contains Boggle, Risk, Trivial Persuit and, yes, Monopoly Plus. If you’re in need of a bit of Christmas Spirit, you can play these classic board games alone against the games AI, online or offline with hot seat multiplayer. At least until you end up arguing over Mayfair for the 6th year running.

The LEGO Harry Potter Collection

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Christmas is an important time during the Harry Potter Books/Movies. It’s when Harry receives the invisibility cloak, dons those fashionable “H” and “R” Jumpers with Ron and the trio of protagonists delve into a mountain of food in the Great Hall. The festive spirit is also an important part of The LEGO Harry Potter Collection game, available now on PS4. A number of the game’s levels are blanketed in snow, you can visit Hogsmead at Christmas and there’s even a Red Brick ability to put a Santa Hat on every LEGO Minifigure. What could feel more festive than that?

Telltale’s The Walking Dead Season 2

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If you went shopping on Black Friday, you probably already know what it feels like to be caught up in a zombie apocalypse and I can’t imagine you’d want to try that again. At least for another 12 months anyway. But Telltale’s The Walking Dead, set around Christmas time, has some very touching moments and if Clementine and Company can find their Christmas spirit when the world has fallen apart around them, there’s hope for the worst of us.

The Die Hard Trilogy

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I don’t want to get into the whole “Is Die Hard a Christmas Film or is it a great film set during Christmas?” debate*. What’s for certain is that John McClane’ing your way through an airport covered in Christmas decorations with a light gun is damn good fun. Dust off that PlayStation 1 and work your way up the Nakatomi Plaza. Ho Ho Ho.

*It’s not a “Christmas Film” but it’s still really bloody good.

Rise of the Tomb Raider – 20th Anniversary Edition

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For some, Christmas is a time to reconnect with Family. It’s a time to meet up with aunts and uncles we’ve not seen in months, exchange gifts and chat about the past 12 months over a packet of Mr Kipling’s exceedingly good mince pies. One video game heroine that recently reconciled some family issues is the first lady of gaming – Lara Croft. The main Rise of the Tomb Raider campaign absolves some family feuds which are expanded ever further in the Croft Manor DLC which comes as part of the 20th anniversary Edition. It’s hard not to get a warm, fuzzy feeling from it all. Plus, the game contains a lot of snow and what’s more Christmassy than snow?

James Pond II: Codename Robocod

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Look, I’m not going to lie to you. James Pond II looks like Christmas threw up all over it. It’s bright. It’s garish. It’s like Rudolf is having a psychedelic fever dream after eating a tad too much reindeer dust. But I’ll tell you something for nothing, it sure does feel Christmassy. Set at the North Pole, titular hero James Pond must liberate Santa’s Workshop from his nemesis Dr. Maybe. For added giggle, see if you can get your hands on the Amiga, Commodore or Atari version so you can witness some of the oddest produce placement ever seen by human eyes – James Pond rescuing the penguins from the McVitie’s biscuit company’s Penguin Biscuits. No. Really.

LEGO Dimensions – Doctor Who Level Pack

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Settling down to watch the annual special of Doctor Who on Christmas Day is a time-honoured tradition – but why settle for just an hour-long episode of The twelfth Doctor when you can play around with all of them in their own dedicated LEGO levels? Defeat the Cyber Men, the Weeping Angels and a Dalek or two as John Pertwee, The Bakers or Christopher Eccleston this holiday season.

Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter

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It’s time to kick ass and drink eggnog, and we’re all out of eggnog. This officially authorised expansion to Duke Nukem 3D challenged the titular hero to rescue the brain washed Santa Clause (now going by Santa Claws of course) from an army of alien maggots and the Feminist Elven Militia… Oh lordy… *insert PicardFacePalm.gif here. Featuring snow kissed versions of classic maps like Red Light District and Hollywood Holocaust as well as new levels and Christmas skins for all the classic enemy troops, Nuclear Winter might be just what you need to kick those holiday blues. Nuclear Winter is a bit of a relic these days but if you’d like to pay a visit to the Ghost of Christmas Past, fire up DosBox and give this a go.

Holiday Lemmings

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This festive version of hit puzzle game Lemmings has made this list for 2 reasons. Firstly, it’s incredibly christmassy. The Lemmings are wearing Santa hats, the levels are covered in snow and there’s all manner of festive decorations for you to mount/destroy. Secondly, if you’re feeling a little “Bah Humbug”, you could always start a level, drop in a hundred Holiday Lemmings and Nuke them for a short-lived but cathartic experience.

Batman Returns

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Fighting crime as the caped crusader might not sound like a very jovial activity but there are Christmas decorations everywhere in this 90’s action game. It’s difficult to play Batman Returns without at least some Christmas spirit osmosing from the background of the game into the foreground of your subconscious.

Blinx – The Time Sweeper

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When I started to draft up this list, I asked the other members of Team Thumb Culture for ideas. Paul Collett suggested Blinx – The Time Sweeper. Confused as to why this original Xbox game had any link to Christmas or the festive season he replied “You know, it’s a bit festive, you know” in typical Paul Collett fashion. Having researched Blinx, I can’t see what the hell Paul was talking about. Sure, it looks like a little festive in some of the levels when snow is falling but that’s about it. Still, if you have fond memories of Blinx, you could always dust it off and see if you can discover what Paul was on about.

Clay Fighters 63 & 1/3

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What could be more enjoyable this Christmas than pitting Sumo Santa against Bad Mr. Frosty The Fighting Snowman in a battle to the death at the Frozen Fortress? Nothing. That’s what.

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