The Games We Play During The Holidays

The Games We Play During The Holidays
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I’ve always found the holidays to be a fascinating time for games. We just play slightly different things, in a slightly different way…

For example. I always tend to save a game for the Christmas break. A game I’ve been looking forward to. I also play a lot of Wii/Wii U. Mainly because I’m married into a massive family that loves its video games.

Handheld games also tend to get a lot of play. Your main TV might be cannibalised by hungry media consumers watching Love Actually or (hopefully) Die Hard so having some sort of handheld game up your sleeve, I find, works wonders.

With that said, here are the games I mostly played over the holiday break.

Super Mario 3D World

In a lot of ways, Super Mario 3D World is the perfect Christmas game. It’s multiplayer, so it allows everyone to join in. It’s relatively simple, which lets just about anyone pick up and play.

But Super Mario 3D Land is also just a very, very good video game. For me it ticked a number of boxes. Personally, it was ‘Christmas break’ game. It was the game I was saving to play when I had a large enough chunk of spare time. I had my brother visiting from Scotland, so it doubled as a game we could play together. When everyone else came over for Christmas we had a fair number of people jumping in and out. I quickly learned just how well designed this game is: it works equally as well for single or multiplayer.


At first glance Tearaway was a game I appreciated, but I didn’t necessarily enjoy it. I put in one hour and it felt a little gimmicky and, worse, underdesigned.

I was wrong.

Goddamn, my second play of Tearaway just changed everything. I must have had a killer headache the first time I played because, second time round, everything just clicked. The delicate cut-out art, the quirks, the elegant use of the back touch pad. It was love at second sight. When everyone is watching a dreadful movie, or when the hordes of sprogs in my family insist on watching Monsters Inc for the 34th time, I just disconnect and play Tearaway.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

I think it speaks volumes about 2013, and the kind of year it was, that my two favourite games were Nintendo games released on the 3DS. The first game was Luigi’s Mansion 2 and the second was The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

I’ve always had this weird connection between Zelda and Christmas holidays.

I got A Link to the Past for Christmas when I was younger, then Ocarina of Time as a gift during a later Christmas. Now that I think about it, I’m fairly sure I spent a Christmas inbetween playing Link’s Awakening. Point being: Zelda and Christmas has always seemed inextricably ‘linked’.

I had already playing roughly half of A Link Between Worlds heading into the Christmas break, but I played the tail end of the game over the last week or so and ‘ermahgerd’. It’s close to perfect. The dungeon design in particular is stellar, but it might be the feel of the game — the controls, the items, how it feels to swing a sword — that makes it the incredible experience it is. I named Luigi’s Mansion 2 as my game of the year in 2013, but I’m already wondering if that was the right decision. A Link Between Worlds might be my favourite Zelda game since Ocarina of Time.

What were your ‘holiday’ games? Let us know in the comments below.


  • Got a vita at the Boxing Day sales, so will be playing that, loving dragons crown looking foward to playing killzone and persona, and bravely default best jrpg I have played in years, and Lego marvel and Ac 4 on the xb1

  • I played so much Super Mario 3D World with my 3 (almost 4!) year old daughter, now that I’m back at work all I hear about is how much she wants to play “The Cat Mario” on the weekend. All the recent Mario games are just made to play with your kids – the way you can pick them up and help them through tricky bits, or they come back in bubbles after they die (“Pop me daddy!”), so they don’t feel too bad – and the way you can give them a stored powerup if they lose theirs.

    Man, just so many good feelings enjoying that game with her. I always purposely aggro a goomba or bee and let it chase me in circles until she can come and save me by swiping or fireballing it. It’s just constant excitement and laughter.

    Another thing I love about playing with her is how much she wants to replay levels and really soak it up, which reminds me of how I played as a kid, compared to now I tend to just speed through a game to beat it due to crushing time poverty. 😀

    Up to the World 2 Castle, can’t wait to play on the weekend!

    I love all consoles, and especially my PC, but nothing has delivered on the family fun like Nintendo over the past few years, from Wii Sports to Mario World, they know their stuff.

    • I had to reply and tell you my nearly 4 year old son can’t stop saying “dad can we play Mario, can you get me the cat?”.

      There is just so much magic in that game which I’m sure the kids pick up on

  • I have been playing luigis mansion 2 after a certain kotaku editor raved about it… I think I liked Zelda better but LM2 is very good… Except for the bosses they are terrible.

    • [high five]

      Yeah, I reckon my game of the year is for sure one of those two games. I chose LM2 on that day mainly because I feel like I can’t trust my own nostalgia with A Link Between Worlds.

      • I never played link to the past, so I got to be gobsmacked by the brilliance of a link between world’s. I am still horrified by a boss battle between liugi and a staircase.. Thankfully the rest of the game is truly joyful

  • I’ve been alternating between Pokemon X, Zelda Ocarina of Time and AC4: Black Flag.

    I really want Professor Layton though. It sucks that Nintendo doesn’t reduce the price of old games..

  • There are three @markserrels articles up on the Allure network today. Two of them mention porridge, this one does not. I think he’s got someone to cover Kotaku for him!

  • I just finished Super Mario 3D World and really enjoyed it, I’m, now just going back through the game and collecting all the missed stars and stickers. I must admit, as good as this WiiU version of 3D world is, I thought the one on the 3DS was a better overall game.

  • I’ve spent the past few days playing Minion Rush on my phone, because my sister started playing it and God Dammit I have to be better than her since she isn’t even a “gamer.” Also, ridiculous fishing. I reached the “end” the other day, but that still leaves me with a lot to do.

  • I didn’t play any video games in the last few weeks but did still manage to watch Die Hard and A Muppet Christmas Carol. All in all, I’d call that a successful Christmas.

    There were also board games aplenty. I recommend Hive. It’s bugtastic!

  • Haven’t played much games over this break due to camping but what I have played I’ve loved. Bravely default is my go to game on the go while rocksmith is the game I feel I’m learning something from while also playing a’s a good thing

  • I was away from home for xmas so my 3DS got a lot of play (I forgot how damn good the console is!). I’ve been slowly getting through OoT 3D for the past couple of years, so I got a good chunk of that out of the way. I also picked up a Link between Worlds, but haven’t had enough time to really sink my teeth into that. I was hoping to finally knock off Luigis Mansion 2 too, but alas, the holiday period just isn’t enough time.

  • Finished Zelda Link Between Worlds and loved it. Gotta get back into Arkham Origins Blackgate on the 3DS now.

    Almost finished Mario 3D World, up to the final final final world which I have to finish off, but I have gone back and gold starred everything else. Loving the game even if it is just a polished version of stuff we have seen before.

    I have also started replaying Red Dead Redemption which I rebought on PS3 after trading in my 360 version with all of my 360 stuff. That game still holds up. I still need to finish GTAV 100% as well.

    Funnily enough I haven’t really played too much PS4. Knack still isn’t finished and Killzone I have barely touched. I’ll aim to get through them before inFamous comes out.

  • Holidays is a funny time, normally having to run around and do a lot of other things, so most gameplay is stuff that can be done in short bursts. I may have relapsed into a little Animal Crossing… Got temporarily excited about transferring some pokeys with the Bank around the end of the year, but that still didn’t appear to be on our eShop yesterday.
    If a day can be set aside, I might finally make a start on Bravely Default, although that could wait until the train trip to work starting back next week. The one bulk gameplay time so far was Starbound, and I suspect I may be getting back into Path of Exile if I get a bit more time.
    I guess the pile of shame (that expanded a little with the Steam sales) isn’t getting smaller any time soon.

  • I’ve done so little gaming over the holidays, it’s horrible. Rayman Legends, 3D World and Link Between Worlds are all sitting there waiting to be opened. But the only thing I’ve played in the past month since school finished was Battletoads.

  • Not much gaming at all really. But I finally finished Gears of War with a buddy and put a ton more time into GTA5 Online. Also picked up AssCreed4 on PS4 so I have some AAA game to play on my new shiny.

  • About a quarter way through Luigi 2 cause Mark said it was really good. So why not. I also like it. It’s so animated and alive. Luigi has a great personality. I am glad you recommended it. Thank you.

    I have that and zelda ww:hd going at the moment and then Luigi wii u and zelda lbw, but not enough time.

  • I ran into the perplexing issue of having 10 days of capped internet so I have started chipping away at my pile of shame/not quite finished pile.
    First to check off was LoZ: Link between Worlds which I thoroughly enjoyed though felt a bit more emphasis could have been put on developing a story and sense of impending doom.

    Second was Bravely Default which was far better than I expected it to be. If there is anyone stuck looking for an excuse to finish it because they are at the loop, consider this a recommendation, the alternate ending was out of left field due to the “hmm, I wonder how long I have been able to do this for?” factor (anyone who has played it will know) and the final ending itself was rather good. I especially liked scene right near the end that I had a good chuckle over (spoiler tags just in case though I am making it vague)
    You crash the airship into a something and Ringabel says to Edea “Its massive, and hard, are you ok Edea?” which is fine in context but made more amusing because he has been hitting on her most of the game and I have a gutter mind

    I have half of the last dungeon in Wind Waker HD to do (Ganon’s Fortress thing) but haven’t had time and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

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