30 Christmas Nights into Dreams... - The stunt ribbon
Given away free as a Christmas present for loyal Sega Saturn owners in 1996, Christmas Nights is still a magical, perfectly-judged slice of gaming. In fact, we're fonder of it than the full Nights game.
While there are many special moments, such as splashing through the waterfall, the Christmas card-style end sequence, or the appearance of Santa in his sleigh on real-life Christmas Eve (one of the first internal clock-using masterstrokes), we'd have to pick the stunt ribbon as our top Christmas Nights moment.
Above: Nights soars through December skies in search of a Christmas Star for the children. Aaah...
As lead character Nights you're flying through beautiful 3D snowfall with a J-Pop version of "Jingle Bells" accompanying you, when you come across a different colored hoop. Passing through it, a drum fill introduces a new music theme, and your stunt ribbon session begins. Now all those twists and pirouettes you've been doing with the triggers for no apparent reason make perfect sense, as you twirl and loop with the flowing fabric trailing behind you, scoring bonuses all the while. Then it's over after just 10 seconds, which is another reason it's so special: it's a rare and anticipated joy.
While Saturn may have barely dented PlayStation's steamroller-like domination of the market, Nights still plays in the 32-bit skies with serenity and magic. And when he flings his arms out wide and circles that tower of rock with a flowing, twisting band of color in his wake that special feeling's still there.