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Five of the Best: Games to play over Christmas

We’re doing things slightly differently today with Five of the Best. Instead of talking about a particular part of a game we like, we’re going to talk about what we always talk about at this time of year it seems – the games we’re going to play during the end of year break. And we’re opening it up to everyone, not just Eurogamer Supporters.

You know how it goes: you earmark an ambitiously long list of games to get through and then end up playing something completely different instead. Maybe you snuggle up with a game you don’t have to think too hard about, or maybe you close out the real-world for a while and lose yourself in an imaginary world that’s less grey. Whatever the games and whatever the reasons, please share yours below.

Meanwhile, Chris has curated a little list of his own – of the games he thinks will fill the vacuum between Christmas and New Year perfectly. Have a lovely break.

-Bertie


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Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

I’ve always loosely associated Star Wars with Christmas, maybe because of that infamous holiday special, or maybe because early 80s sci-fi and fantasy is always a go-to for terrestrial TV Christmas film offerings over the years, or maybe because I have a Christmas jumper with Chewie singing carols on it. Regardless, Jedi: Survivor is in my mind the ultimate holiday armchair video game. It’s melodramatic but still never anything but charming, it’s sort of lightly challenging but never a huge obstacle (read also: all family holiday films labelled with “mild peril”), and it’s big. Maybe slightly bloated even, but crucially, not by too much: get your head down and your leftover sandwiches ready and you could hundred percent this thing in a week.

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This is crucial: you must not under any circumstances start a big blockbuster game that you can’t finish in this period – once you’re out into the new year, you won’t be able to turn back. Which is why Jedi: Survivor is so great. It’s the ultimate brain off, vacant grin on, alarmingly heartwarming paint-the-map mop-up game. With the added bonus of theming that around biffing Storm Troopers with a lightsaber.

Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG.

The best game to play over the winter break, bar none, is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. It has the best colours, the best sense of expansive possibilities, the best weird asides about the brothers’ domestic lives. This year, though, we got a lovely remake of Super Mario RPG, so this could fill the Superstar Saga slot pretty well. The forest level is definitely the most seasonal. Play it while you’re backing something and filling the house with delicious baking aromas.

Pokémon Gold, Silver or Crystal

Po-ké-mon! Great, now the theme tune is stuck in my head.

If nothing else, it is essential that you use this five-day time warp to regress as much as is humanly possible. You must return to your childhood bedroom. You must wear pyjamas. You must give in to that little voice that’s been nagging you all year, why must we go to work every day? Why can’t I have just one lie in? Why can’t we just go back? Well for five days – max – you can. At least in theory.

If you’re going to, I strongly suggest you pick the most nostalgic game possible, on the most nostalgic device possible. For me that’s the second generation of Pokémon and the Game Boy Color, but for you that might be something else. Something on the ZX Spectrum maybe, or I don’t know, a big hoop with a stick. Whatever: Gen 2 is my hoop-n-stick, a flashback to a simpler time. A handheld game is always a strong option for this time of year, where one is forced to recline wherever one can. Plus, if I choose to play one of these games myself it might finally force me to unbox my Analogue Pocket, which I bought months ago and like so much I’m almost afraid I’ll ruin it by putting it to use.

Street Fighter 6

How hard can a fireball in Street Fighter 6 be?

Again, this is as much a stand-in for a concept as it is a suggestion in itself, but hear me out: you should use these five days to play a game in a genre you have never really “got” before, which for most normal people means fighting games.

This is a good idea (I’ve decided) because there will never, ever be another time for you to do this. There will always be a wistful, “I always wanted to get into…” thought in the back of your head; there are five days per year in which you have to do it. This is your chance. Spend the best part of a week learning how to zone people with Dhalsim, and how to punish them when they get too close. Also learn what “zoning” and “punishing” means. Get really, stupidly good at something that you do see any possible purpose for, and do not expect to ever put to use in your life again. If you’re lucky, you may discover some harsh truths about the world: that utility is not the end goal of learning a skill, but the joy of mastery itself.

Civilization 6

Meier oh Meier, it’s Chris Bratt.

See also: any other iconic grand strategy, 4X, or classic RTS game. I’m thinking Age of Empires 2 (or Age of Mythology), Stellaris, maybe a Total War… Shogun? The point is, these games can technically be infinite, which I would typically assume is quite back for a period that’s all about giving you a false sense of achievement while you actually achieve nothing whatsoever. But the trick is, these games in particular give you an immense feeling of achievement, because it’s your job in them to conquer the entire world (or galaxy).

They’re also perfect for playing on a laptop, Steam Deck, second screen streaming device or dangerously hot Nintendo Switch, while also watching a very long film with whoever else might be lingering in your home. Have you ever sent a small cluster of Hoplites to attack one unguarded mill against an average difficulty AI while your TV blasts out the The Ride of the Rohirrim? I haven’t, but now I very much want to.

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