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Christmas expansions through the ages

If the cliche for this time of year is “it’s better to give than to receive”, then game developers have always been flush with the spirit of the season. Christmas is, after all, the time when consumers flock in droves to malls, game stores and DLC servers, flooding developers’ coffers with holiday lucre. And in return, there’s a long-standing tradition of developers tossing a bone (or candy cane) to the punters who’ve kept them afloat for another quarter. So prepare yourself for a merciless onslaught of ho-ho-horrible Christmas punnery as we look back on 10 of gaming’s more memorable bonus baubles.


10. Soulcalibur IV

What did you get? Santa costumes. You could dress your characters up and use them to traumatize viewers too young to have had their notions of Kris Kringle marred by the film Silent Night, Deadly Night.

How clunky were the additions? For a series that had previously endured the bolting-on of everything from bug-catching nets to diminutive Jedi warriors, the ability to make your characters dress like a pissed-off mall Santa was par for the course. As long as certain constants remained in place, the spirit would endure.

Above: Certain constants 

Were you filled with holiday cheer? Like fun you were. A couple measly red suits cost two bucks! Sure, in more prosperous times that might sound like chump change; but in today’s cash-strapped economy, charging for this kind of frippery is basically forcing hardscrabble penny-pinchers to choose between seeing new outfits, or eating Christmas dinner.


Above: Christmas Dinner (Recession Edition)

Christmas miracle rating:


9. Jazz Rackrabbit: Holiday Hare

What did you get? Jazz Jackrabbit is a hare who collects carrots and fights turtles (convoluted Aesop shout-outs FTW). And in his three(!) holiday games, he does those things in the snow, set to a sleighbell-accented backing track.

How clunky were the additions? Audiences were disgusted by the games’ slapdash approach to seasonal biology (neither jackrabbits nor turtles are greatly active in the winter months, and good luck finding carrots in any great quantity past September). And that is the only reason Jazz Jackrabbit is never today mentioned in the same breath as Mario or Sonic.


Above: He coulda been a contender. (No he couldn’t)

Were you filled with holiday cheer? Holiday Hare’s leading modern-day purveyor calls the game “one of the most entertaining side scrolling platform games of all time;” another source speculates the Jackrabbit holiday games “may become part of the next generation’s holiday traditions.” Evidently, adding a “snow on the rooftops” effect to the game’s menu fonts went a long way.

Christmas miracle rating:


8. Sonic Adventure: Christmas in Station Square

What did you get? A couple of Christmas trees that would sit in Station Square and display messages wishing best of the holidays, joining you in waiting with bated breath for then-impending Y2K.


Above: “When everything will go great for Sega!”

How clunky were the additions? Well, you were hardly whisked away to a winter wonderland. By and large, the whole affair stayed the same, but the sunny downtown Square had a couple ropey-looking trees in it. Being as this wasn’t even DLC so much as a limited-time key for pre-existing content, you’d think there could be some dodgy late-‘90s snow effects or something.


Above: Although the little Sonic tree ornaments are a nice touch

Were you filled with holiday cheer? You were if you went close to the trees and listened closely: the best bit of the Easter egg was the way it would play you an acapella version of the music from Christmas NiGHTS.

Christmas miracle rating:

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20 comments

  • vitoruss - December 28, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    Next Christmas, Rockband should put in some "Halford: Winter Songs" along with that Trans Siberian Orchestra :D
  • FanofSaiyan - December 26, 2009 9:53 p.m.

    The LBP expansion pack looked incredible. I'd love to see some Christmas levels online. XD
  • Embolado - December 26, 2009 8:01 p.m.

    I remember changing the Saturns clock just to do the christmas level, and it still looks a mess
  • jackthemenace - December 25, 2009 10:46 a.m.

    Oh my god, there is so much crap at christmas. although i'd probably get the SC4 xmas stuff if it got free on the XBLMP :/
  • Harmonator - December 25, 2009 2:42 a.m.

    yes. I agree with you all, The Pogues should be in Rock Band. Definitely.
  • Americanadnan - December 25, 2009 2:17 a.m.

    @nik41507 Yes animal crossing does celebrate christmas by putting lights on the trees and having a reindeer dressed as Santa come and give you and your neighbors presents
  • garPOW - December 24, 2009 10:49 p.m.

    what about Scooby Doo on the original xbox? (it was my little brothers game I swear) but when the internal clock was on a holiday, the environment would change for that day, ie snow would fall on christmas and such. I thought it was a neat concept that needs to be added to other games.
  • nik41507 - December 24, 2009 5:56 p.m.

    oops The question mark was an accident Im such a bad typist. The Little Big Planet onw was the best
  • nik41507 - December 24, 2009 5:54 p.m.

    The Little ?Big Planet one was the best
  • oryandymackie - December 24, 2009 11:29 a.m.

    I created a Santa in SR2, and then set fire to Technically Legal with tens of happy clubbers inside. It doesn't seem right somehow.
  • Dolan88fan - December 24, 2009 1:24 a.m.

    happy birthday jesus. jesus lol
  • nik41507 - December 24, 2009 12:49 a.m.

    Didn't Animal Crossing have some kind of Christmas thing?
  • FriendlyFire - December 23, 2009 11:06 p.m.

    Why no Guild Wars holiday festivities? Free, original and fun. One of the few cases where the game has entirely new activities just for Christmas.
  • Multivac - December 23, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    What! No Duke Nukem: Nuclear Winter, I'm appaled GamesRadar! That expansion was so badass. But still, nice article, very funny.... Jazz Jackrabbit FTW!!!
  • TheDude - December 23, 2009 9:56 p.m.

    It's funny, right before I went here, I watched this: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/15087-swchr
  • Defguru7777 - December 23, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    Lots of GR references to the Star Wars Christmas special lately. First the podcast and now this... I'd like to take this moment to hate on the track We Three Kings released for Guitar Hero III. What a piece of crap.
  • Gahmah - December 23, 2009 8:17 p.m.

    Jazz Rackrabbit sounds like a prickly game
  • garnsr - December 23, 2009 4:23 p.m.

    Were there any combs around on Wookiee Life Day? And Christmas Nights was clearly the coolest Christmas add-on ever.
  • Cyberninja - December 23, 2009 12:10 p.m.

    i wish i could have been around for christmas nights i have the wii one though
  • sexyman500 - December 23, 2009 10:28 a.m.

    no thank, i'm voodoo

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