Round Table: Holiday Gaming Memories

What’s the best game you ever found beneath the Christmas Tree?

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 12/27/2017 22:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Favorite Holiday Gifts Round Table

Once again, Christmastime is at an end. While it’s almost time to drag the tree out to the curb and pack up the decorations, the holiday likely brought many Nintendo fans something that will stick around a bit longer: new games! Here are the some of the Nintendojo staff’s greatest holiday gaming memories!


Marc Deschamps

For me, Christmas and video games have been intertwined for as far back as I can remember. When I’m trying to differentiate Christmas memories, I can often remember the year simply based on what games I found tucked beneath the tree. As such, I have a lot of gifts near and dear to my heart. There was the year I got a Game Boy alongside my prized Applause Super Mario doll, and of course the year I got my Super Nintendo, with the cartridges you no longer had to blow on to get working. The greatest game I ever received for Christmas, however, came in December of 1998.

I had a strong feeling I would receive Pokémon Red that Christmas. After picking up the first two issues of the Pokémon comic, I had started watching the anime sporadically. My mom not-so-casually asked me if the games were “only out for Game Boy.” At the tender age of thirteen, I was more than able to crack the code on that one. While I was ready for that gift to appear under my Christmas Tree, I was unprepared for just how much I would come to love that game. My parents also got my sister and I a PlayStation that year, and while it seemed kind of cool and all, I couldn’t pry my Game Boy from my hands all day. I played it the entire day at my aunt’s house only stopping for the car ride home because my dad wouldn’t let me turn on the reading light while we drove home. I can still remember staring out the window, thinking about that game. My Pokédex was already nearing double digits, but that was the first time I can ever recall playing a game and knowing that I didn’t want it to ever end.

For me, it never did end. I’ve played every game in the franchise, never missing a single new entry in the series. But what’s more, it sparked a far greater passion for video games than I had ever had before. Pokémon led me to pick up Nintendo Power, which got me to try Mario Party, which got me to pick up Smash Bros. which got me to give that Zelda series another shot. And that renewed passion led to even more wonderful video games showing up under the Christmas Tree over the years. This year, I added Batman: The Telltale Series for Switch to that illustrious list alongside Injustice 2 and Deadpool on PS4. But Pokémon Red is still one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten on Christmas morning.


Robert Marrujo

I think there’s no question that for many gamers, Christmas is a special time of year because it represents memories of being gifted video game consoles and games that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them. Honestly, for the bulk of us growing up it wasn’t an option to ask mom or dad for a new Sega Genesis outside of Christmas or maybe a birthday. Those videos online of people becoming hysterical opening a Nintendo 64 or a PlayStation 2 hit very close to home for many of us.

For me, Christmas makes me think of Ocarina of Time more than any other game. I’ve written on here before that I anticipated that game for years; I spent a lot of time drooling over screenshots in Nintendo Power that showed off the game’s cutting edge graphics. I never played A Link to the Past before Ocarina, so it acted as my gateway to the franchise. When it arrived on Christmas, it was the first thing I played after opening gifts that morning. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a problem once I did.

Ocarina was visually stunning and very entertaining. I made my way around Kokiri Forest snagging Rupees, gathering Link’s sword and shield, and eventually journeyed inside the Great Deku Tree. I was thrilled every step of the way until I set sight on my first Skulltulla. The little guys were creepy enough, but the enormous, man-sized ones dangling from the ceiling? Yeah, no, I was done, I was frightened, I was convinced I’d never beat the game. Christmas seemed suddenly a bust.

I wouldn’t give up, though, after waiting so long to play the game, and eventually I found that playing music on the stereo allowed me to get past my fear. I’m super arachnophobic, in case it wasn’t obvious! Anyhow, once I discovered a workaround that worked for me, I was able to keep playing and eventually was rewarded with one of my greatest experiences in gaming in my entire life. Every Christmas that comes by, I can’t help but think of this game and the wonderful memories it has given me.


Joshua A. Johnston

I was in elementary school, and my brothers and I tore off the wrapping paper to reveal a Nintendo Entertainment System, in all of its 8-bit glory and its pack-in game, Super Mario Bros.

But first, there was the lecture. Dad took us upstairs and gave us this talk about games being a “brain suck,” warning us that we couldn’t spend too much time playing it. (Hint: we did anyway.) Then he sent us back downstairs in our split-level home to fire up our small tube television and plunge into the difficult world of the Mushroom Kingdom. I remember dying a lot as I tried to figure out the game’s physics.

A couple of days later, dad went with us to pick up another game, Kung Fu. Dad literally swiped the last copy, with a few teens behind us saying, “Where’s Kung Fu?” as we marched off to the checkout aisle.

I died a lot in Kung Fu, too.

The one thing people forget is how expensive those games were, too. An NES game in the 80s was $50, but adjusted for inflation that was over $100 today. And most of those games didn’t have nearly the depth that we see in games today. But we still loved them.


Jon Stevens

One of my strongest memories of gaming at Christmas isn’t even particularly memorable in the grand scheme of things – it wasn’t playing the original Pokémon or unboxing a console, for example.

Despite having never played a Star Fox game, Star Fox Adventures was high on my Christmas list back in 2002. The GameCube was a great console for so many reasons, and it’s hard now to imagine how noticeable a jump there was between graphics on it and the N64. Star Fox Adventures was just gorgeous to behold (and it still is now in my head!). Never mind that it wasn’t what true Star Fox fans wanted, it transported me out of a dreary English village into a vibrant world filled with dinosaurs and strange creatures.

To my surprise, I was also given a WaveBird controller on Christmas (also recently released) to play it with. Now, if you only started gaming in the late 2000s, you won’t have had to suffer through the pains of wired controllers. To this day, a twisted controller cable still makes me shudder! Meanwhile, the WaveBird worked seamlessly, had a smooth rounded grip and was just a joy to play with. Wireless controllers were greatly improved upon on Xbox 360 and PS3, but Nintendo’s WaveBird was a revolution at the time.

It’s strange which memories stay with you over time, but my first foray into the world of Star Fox that day was a moment of pure gaming joy — the sort of magic that Nintendo is so well known for.


That’s it for the staff! What are your favorite holiday gaming memories? Did you make any new ones of your own this year? Let us know in the comments below!

One Response to “Round Table: Holiday Gaming Memories”

  • 3 points
    Blackstar says...

    My memories are most like Joshua’s. I remember my dad tricking us and saying all of our gifts had been opened and then bringing out the final ultimate gift, the NES Action Set. I died so many times in Super Mario level 1-1. I had no idea how to handle Mario after spending years only playing Atari games. I was only 7 too. As Joshua mentioned games were expensive so the next game I was able to afford was Rambo which was on clearance for $20. To put that in perspective that was my only birthday gift. Lucky enough I was able to score a copy of Mega Man on clearance for $20 a short time later and I still have it today. I play it all the time.

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