Christmas time is here again (if you haven’t noticed by the snow falling on our page) and I am sure (well at least I hope) we all have great Christmas memories. Dinners we spent with family, Christmas specials on Television (Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer, and Peanuts for example) and of course what would have been most peoples favorite as a child, presents. Since you are here I would assume some of these memorable presents would be games and/or consoles. One of the first big Christmas presents I remember was my Nes. Christmas 1989 at the young age of 3 1/2 “Santa” brought me the Nes and kick started my passion for video games. Conveniently Christmas is also my favorite holiday so the two go hand in hand, leading me to put together this list of Christmas themed Nes games.
The snow here would be what classifies this as a Christmas NES game. Snow Bros. plays almost identical to Bubble Bobble if you have played that before. The main differences would be that Nick and Tom are snowmen that shoot snow instead of bubbles. Enemies can be covered in snow and then pushed, bowling over anything in their path. After all enemies are defeated, the level is cleared and you move on to the next. Some foes will drop potions when defeated, which can increase movement speed, attack power, or attack speed. Every tenth level there is a boss fight, which can be quite difficult.
I personally like Snow Bros. better than Bubble Bobble, but it very well may be from nostalgia because I used to rent it every chance I got. The bad news here, is that Snow Bros. is incredibly rare even though it was a Capcom release. Expect to spend in the realm of $250-$500 dollars for a good cartridge. “Reproduction” cartridges are available like many other high priced NES games, so make sure to check out any copy thoroughly that you are willing to shell out big bucks for. Another thing to note is that Snow Bros. generally pops up on most multicarts, so if that is something you would consider then it is another option. This is the best multicart I have come across and contains Snow Bros.
Check out Snow Bros. here on Ebay.
Home Alone was actually the first movie I ever saw in theaters. The NES game follows the same general plot as the movie. Young Kevin McCallister was accidentally left home when his family went on Christmas vacation, which is the reason I considered it a Christmas Nes game for this list.
Game play follows Kevin setting traps in the home and avoiding being caught by Harry and Marv, which are the intruders from the movie. The game actually requires you to avoid them for 20 minutes to complete, but there is no in game timer. Needless to say, this is INCREDIBLY difficult as the enemies seem to get more intelligent as time goes on. I personally have never managed to finish Home Alone.
Is it a good game? Well, Not really, and that is a shame because the movie was so well received. The gameplay gets to be repetitive with the constant rigging of traps and hiding. After a few failures it is hard to motivate yourself to try again. If you really want to give it a shot, even if just be because you are in the festive spirit, then at least it can be gotten on the cheap. Cart only copies tend to hover in the $5-$15 dollar range on Ebay.
Home Alone 2
How can you just forget your kid twice?? Not only that but at Christmas again?? Anyways, as much as I would rather not double up on games from the same series, there just aren’t that many Christmas themed Nes games.
Same basic story applies as the last one, but instead of Kevin’s parents forgetting him at home, this time they forgot him in New York when returning home. Harry and Marv are back, chasing after Kevin yet again but this time there is more going on. This is where it stops making sense. Basically Kevin runs around the hotel avoiding enemies, but this time enemies include vacuum cleaners and suit cases. Eventually you end up climbing a Christmas tree, much like the movie, but this tree just looks pure evil. Watch the end of the video above to see what I mean.
To be completely honest, Home Alone 2 is a terrible game. Pretty much every review online is abysmal. The game was actually voted by EGM to be worst sequel in 1992, and worst movie to game adaptation in 1996. (wikipedia) Even if you are in a Christmas mood, I don’t think I could really recommend playing Home Alone 2. With the lack luster game play time can be better spent elsewhere. However if you absolutely feel like it cannot be that bad, or you have already played everything else on the list then the good news would be that it can be found cheap at least. Cart only copies can be found from $5-$10 dollars on ebay, and at the time of writing this there was even a complete copy that ended for $10.50. What is even more humorous is that if you would prefer a SNES copy (NES, SNES, and Gameboy are essentially the same game) I saw a copy that sold on ebay recently for $1.04.
Die Hard on the Nes follows the movie quite well for a change, and since Die Hard takes place on Christmas Eve it gets a spot on this list of Christmas Nes games. This isn’t like many other licensed games that do not follow the movie and have crazy unrelated content (see Home Alone 2 above). You basically play through the Die hard movie from John’s intent to visit his wife at the Nakatomi plaza for a Christmas party, through the final showdown with Hans Gruber.
For its time, Die Hard was actually a pretty complex game. There were multiple floors, the ability to listen in on your foes over a radio, and enemies that seemed to get smarter with time. Keep hiding in the air ducts? Eventually Hans will tell the terrorists to begin shooting in the air ducts. This kind of learning was unheard of back when the game released.
The controls are relatively tight. John controls well, but unfortunately can only shoot at 45 and 90 degree angles. The bullets from the standard issue gun bullets do not go very far, but there are other weapons that can be found which also are able to remedy the 45/90 degree angle issue.
I would definitely say that Die Hard is worth a play just because it is a good game, even more so if you are a fan of the movie. What is disappointing unfortunately is that the game does not come cheap. Granted it isn’t crazy expensive as some Nes games have become as of late, but expect to spend around $100 dollars if you look for this one on Ebay. Personal opinion would be though, that at that price Die Hard is definitely worth it.
To round out the list of Christmas Nes games we have a first party Nintendo title. It probably goes without saying, but Ice Climber is on here for the same reason as Snow Bros. since the icy atmosphere can help put you in a festive mood.
The game plays as a vertically scrolling platformer. There are 2 playable characters Popo and Nana who are trying to retrieve vegetables from the top of the mountain. If the game is in 1 player mode then both are controlled together, but in 2 player mode the first is Popo an the second Nana. The idea is to keep climbing the mountain by jumping and breaking the ice above with your mallet. The mallet can also be used to defeat enemies that stand in your way.
Ice Climber is an early release Nes game and it does show. It is a simple and somewhat repetitive arcade style game like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. (Arcade not Super). This does not mean it is not worth playing however, as it is definitely good for at least 15-30 minutes of play at a time. The Ice Climbers themselves actually caught a lucky break by being featured in some of the Super Smash Bros. games and have gained quite a bit of popularity, which may have slightly increased desire for many to own a copy. Ice Climber luckily is a fairly reasonably priced game too, ranging around $20 dollars on Ebay.
That is that last of what I could consider to be true Christmas Nes games.
This is not to say however that there are not more games that can bring on a holiday mood. Many games have winter or snow themed levels that can be considered to be Christmas related. Some of which we have covered in the past, most notably would be Ducktales (see our review), Adventure Island (our review here), and Yo-Noid! (second level is a skating rink, and the game was featured in our Nes Hidden Gems article here). All of which are definitely worth giving a shot
Christmas is only a few days away. Get a glass of eggnog, throw on some Christmas music, and spend some time enjoying these games.