Put down the egg nog and turn off that Christmas movie about a city type moving to a country inn, because today we're sharing our festive gaming memories. You know that feeling, when you've been begging for the latest machine or game for months, and Santa finally delivered? This article is a lot like that: an unexpected treat that smells faintly of your local GameStop. This is the latest in a series of big questions we'll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter.
A Nintendo 64 (again)
Stop me if you've heard this before: my parents got me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas when I was like 5 and I loved it to bits. Well, I eventually moved onto other systems like the PS2 and PC, so I wound up selling my N64 when I was a stupid teenager. Lo and behold, a few more years passed and I started to get a hankering for some old favorites: Pokemon Snap, Banjo Kazooie, Kirby: The Crystal Shards, and most of all, Yoshi's Story, the GOAT. I could've easily emulated these and other games, but I wanted the true-blue N64 experience (literally, I wanted a blue controller), so I started sleuthing around Ebay and my local game stores for a new N64. My family caught wind of this and surprised me with another Nintendo 64 as a Christmas present that year. I still have it, of course, and I'll never give it up. Sometimes you just need to play Yoshi's Story. Or at least I do. Austin Wood
Sega Mega Drive
Probably a Sega Mega Drive (AKA the Genesis) circa 1991 when I was a little too old to do laps of the living room and shout "BEST XMAS EVER!" But in my heart, that's exactly how I felt on hooking up Sega's console to my cutting-edge 14-inch CRT and hearing the words 'SEGAAAAA' boom out of the TV. It sounds absurd today, but this was the first game machine I'd ever owned with actual color graphics and a comfortable controller, having muddled through with a ZX Spectrum 128k in my early teens (the bar was so low, I'd almost died when sidescroller Karnov managed to do vaguely colorful visuals that were 40% as good as the arcade version… which is what growing up with 2D festivals such as Jet Set Willy will do to you). Let's be honest, though: 20 years from now, kids will be laughing that they were impressed by the visuals of Red Dead Redemption 2, and we should never diminish the magic of youth, where a game console can open doors you never knew existed. Those memories burn bright, and - however cynical you think you've become - it only takes hearing a familiar jingle, or watching an old video, for nostalgia to work its tingly magic. I still recall going to a cousin's house at age 11 and seeing Commando run on a C64 with - what felt like - an actual chart-worthy stereo soundtrack, and it blew my tiny mind. Dan Dawkins
FIFA International Soccer and Sensible Soccer
I’ve spent the best part of three decades clinging on to the magazines of my youth, and there’s none tattier than the December 1993 issue of Mean Machines Sega. That’s because, in the build up to Christmas exactly 25 years ago, it contained reviews for both FIFA International Soccer (94%) and Sensible Soccer (85% - lolwut?!). Just look at this beautiful cover. Before and after school, I’d flick back and forth between the two to the point that I knew practically every word and screenshot off by heart. Sure enough, December 25 arrived and Momma Claus delivered both. No cruel twist, no sting in this tale. Except THERE IS. I just had to wait a fortnight to receive it, turning on the machine one early 1994 morning to discover that two weeks of comprehensive player and team name edits in Sensi had been wiped by my kid brother ‘accidentally’ selecting the ‘RESET BATTERY RAM’ menu choice. We’re pretty much over it now, though he still has no idea why I ignore all his text messages every January 4. Ben Wilson
Katamari Damacy was an afterthought when I added it to my wishlist in 2004. It came out back in September, and I had mostly forgotten about the handful of positive reviews I'd read until I needed a few more gift ideas in early December. Being a too-cool-for-everything 15-year-old, I wasn't sure I'd vibe with a game where you play a colorful little prince who rolls miscellaneous objects into a giant ball. I was wrong! I still remember the smell of shrimp lo mein as I opened the box and loaded the disc into my PS2 after dinner. I didn't stop playing until 2 or 3 in the morning, thumbs sore from twirling analog sticks and the soundtrack intractably stuck in my head. I wanna wad you up into my liiiife... Connor Sheridan
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
As a wee lad of single-digit age, I was already obsessed with video games - but with no disposable income or yearly salary, I didn't have the means to buy my own. My parents wisely realized that if I had gratis access to consoles from a young age, my life probably would've taken a turn towards full-on hermit as I ignored all other sources of entertainment or human interaction. To get by, I would cut out pictures of game cartridges from Toys'R'Us catalogs, tape them to the back of cardboard handhelds I had carefully crafted, and pretended to play those games in the theater of my mind. During playdates with friends, you better believe I was all over their NES and Game Boy systems. Eventually, my parents deemed me old and responsible enough to get my hands on the real deal, so on Christmas at age 10, they gifted me a present for the ages: a Super Nintendo and a copy of Donkey Kong Country 2, which is still one of my all-time favorite games to this day. The rest is history. Lucas Sullivan
What's the best gaming gift you ever got? A Gameboy? That beloved copy of Final Fantasy 7? That OLED 4K TV you bought yourself last year? Let us know on Twitter.