For a large chunk of us, this is going to be one of the weirdest holidays in a long time. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Cha-noo-ka as Smokey Robinson calls it, you’re probably spending it alone this year. You know what will still be there for you though? Video games.
While I can’t indulge in my typical holiday traditions of getting drunk, eating food, and seeing a movie with the family, there are still good times to be had. So pour up that cocoa, throw on a sweater and boot up that console. It’s real comfy hours.
Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Nintendo Switch)
Like clockwork, I get the urge to play Nintendo games every December. A large part of it is just due to the fact that they’re such pleasant experiences. The art styles, soundtracks, and gameplay all coalesce into an experience that, while occasionally challenging, is usually just plain delightful. The recently released Super Mario 3D All-Stars perfectly embodies this. It contains Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and my personal favorite, Super Mario Galaxy.
Galaxy, in particular, is a very nostalgic experience for me. It was the first Mario game I ever personally owned. The unique space setting and the gorgeous soundtrack made me understand why the character has endured for so long. The other games are great in their own right and surprisingly hold up to this day.
In my opinion, Mario games are perfect for curling up in a comfy ass blanket and bouncing around colorful, excellently designed stages. High key, just about every first-party Switch exclusive is perfect for this time of year. If you’re looking for some cute ass fun, the Switch is where it’s at.
Final Fantasy XV (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
I know, I know, you can flame me in the comments, but dammit this is the comfiest Final Fantasy game. It really boils down to the comradery between Noctis, Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis, the game’s four main characters. You really feel like you’re just on a road trip with your buddies in the early hours of the game. You can mainline the game’s story in under 30 hours so you can put a decent dent in it over the course of a long week. You might be like me, though, and just enjoy the vibe and how gorgeous the world is.
Also, the fucking cooking mechanic in this game is ridiculous. The graphics on the food are just too good, so be sure to have snacks on deck just in case. You’ll be mad the Flaming Hot Cheetos aren’t the food on the screen but at least you’ll have something.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, PC, Mobile)
This is my nostalgia pick. The game I go back to because it just feels like revisiting an old friend. Also, the Disney marketing machine is too good and has now conditioned me to associate “Christmas” with “Star Wars.” That being said, Knights of the Old Republic is just one of my favorite games of all time for very obvious reasons. It combines my favorite franchise (Star Wars) with my favorite genre (the Role Playing Game). Not only that, it delivers one of the best damn Star Wars stories that can honestly stand toe-to-toe with the movies.
Now for this slot, I’m less recommending Knights of the Old Republic, and more recommending you revisit one of your old favorites. Bust out that PS2 and get down on Def Jam Fight for New York. See how NBA Street Vol. 2 holds up. Hell, I know some of y’all got the NES and SNES Classic hanging around from previous Christmas’s. Boot those up and remind yourself why you got into this shit to begin with.
The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the pandemic has made one of the loneliest times of the year even lonelier. Despite all that, there is still some joy to be had. All you have to do is pick a controller to find it.
So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and shoutout to my nigga Oscar who I’m 98 percent sure is the only person celebrating Kwanzaa in Japan.