The best video game Christmas Days ever

A reader looks back at Christmas Day gaming presents, with favourite gifts including a Sega Master System and a Lego NES.

As a gamer there is nothing better than receiving a game, gadget, or console for Christmas.

Time with family and friends is precious but when it comes to presents, for me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without some form of video game related gift. I’m sure everyone reading this has their own thing, but for me I would always be happy with a game or a book about games, with lots of pictures to reminisce over, or getting a new console..

These are some of the Christmas memories I treasure most as a gamer. This list is personal to me, not everything in hindsight is as fantastic as it was at the time, but these memories are just that. They capture a moment in time, and we are probably all a little guilty of putting on the rose-tinted glasses every now and again. So here we go…

Christmas 1980 – Grandstand Invader From Space

I had nagged my parent’s silly about how I really wanted a Space Invaders toy and I was desperate for Santa to be placing one of these machines under our tree for me on Christmas Day. I had even used my creative skills to make my own game from a cardboard cereal box, complete with invaders drawn on the back of the box and a cardboard laser on a stick I could pretend to shoot them with.

There were several different machines available at the time, but this is the one my parent’s chose for me. Boy did it eat batteries, but it was totally amazing! When I look back, this is where it all started for me. Sure, I had had a few brushes with my cousin’s black and white Pong game on his TV, but this was mine, in my own home, and I was one very happy little boy. My parents could obviously tell I was over the moon with my new toy, though I do remember my father telling me to ‘give it a rest’ on Christmas Day afternoon, as the beeping noises were starting to grate.

Christmas 1984 – Ghostbusters (Commodore 64)

A lot had happened between 1980 and 1984; no longer a child at primary school, I was a 12-year-old at secondary school in the middle of one of the biggest battles the playground had ever seen: Spectrum vs. Commodore! I was firmly in the Commodore corner at the time and my parent’s had just bought us a Commodore 64 in the run up to Christmas.

On Christmas Day my father produced a copy of Ghostbusters. It blew my mind, it had speech, the music, and it was great fun to play. Christmas 1984 was spent playing this classic game sat beside my dad and sister taking turns with the only joystick we had.

Christmas 1985 – Bruce Lee (Commodore 64)

What I remember most about this Christmas was I wasn’t a fan of many of my other gifts; it was one of those years when I got clothes I didn’t really want or ask for. I know that sounds very ungrateful, but I was a grumpy 13-year-old at the time, so you can imagine the anticipation and excitement when I came across a small cassette sized present and opened it up to discover this absolute gem of a game.

At the time I had never heard of it, but I would be so bold as to say that this is still my favourite C64 game. So much so that I recently picked up the Evercade C64 collection to enjoy it all over again. I don’t remember it being that easy at the time but what a game. I will never know how my parent’s managed to choose this over all the other games on the shop shelves that Christmas but what a cracker it was. You could say they struck U.S. Gold with that one (sorry).

Christmas 1986

This year it was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128K James Bond bundle with a lightgun, the first time I’d ever seen a lightgun, so it blew my tiny young mind as I was only four. Learning about James Bond at the time, as he was an avid fan, watching all the films together, so I was elated when he revealed the 128K. I had a 48K, which was the first video games machine I had played, so that alone made my eyes light up, but with this new lightgun thing and James Bond… what a present!

Paperboy (Commodore 64)

By now my parents knew that the best thing to do when choosing which games to get for me for Christmas was for me to give them a list. On this year’s list was Paperboy. I loved the arcade machine with the handlebars but here was the dream of playing it at home on my beloved Commodore. Being honest, I can’t remember how good a conversion this was, what I do remember is disappearing upstairs with it once we had all opened our presents and being dragged downstairs for Christmas lunch a good few hours later. So, it couldn’t have been that bad?

Christmas 1987 – Sega Master System with Hang-On & Astro Warrior combo cart

I’m slightly cheating with this one as I didn’t actually receive this as a gift. It was instead bought with all the Christmas tips I received as a paperboy. This year I had done very well and was keen to purchase this new and exciting machine after spending months drooling over screenshots of games in magazines. The first day Dixons was open after Christmas I pleaded with my father to take me, and I proudly came home with the Master System and the combo cart which was exclusive to them. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the Christmas holidays playing on my new console and being amazed at the fact I didn’t have to wait for the games to load.

Christmas 1991 – Original Game Boy with Tetris

I think anyone who received a Game Boy for Christmas, during the peak of its popularity, will be able to relate to this memory. What had been an isolated, except for when friends came round, bedroom hobby was now something being passed around the family lounge for brothers and sisters, mums and dads, aunts and uncles, even grandparents – all eager to have a quick go on Tetris. This was the first time I had seen a video game have this effect on people of different generations and it was lovely to watch as I sat there with a degree of smugness on my face, as I had managed to secure the highest score.

Christmas 1992

The next Christmas I’ve chosen for this feature is 1992, when I got Sonic The Hedgehog 2 for my Sega Master System 2. Sonic 2 remains one of my favourite Sonic games ever. I do love Tails almost as much as Sonic, despite the fact that actually he’s a bit of a hindrance rather than a help when you’re playing, unless another person is controlling him. Always catching me when I don’t want him to, carrying me up high and usually resulting in me losing all my rings and cursing at the cute little fox. I can’t stay mad at him though and would never play without him. He is like that annoying younger brother that you can’t help but love.

Christmas 1996

1996 was when I was first introduced to a certain Lara Croft and what would become my favourite ever video game series on the original PlayStation, the jump to 3D was already mind-blowing. Tomb Raider was one of the first games I played on it, and it blew me away at the time with how vast the levels were. With its huge environmental puzzles, platforming and climbing, cinematics and voice acting it felt like games were moving towards feeling like you were playing a film.

Christmas 1998 – Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 and GoldenEye 007

Very much helped by the six months interest free credit deals at the time. Two games that were played extensively during the Christmas break. The best part of this was my I could spend all Christmas morning enjoying my new console whilst she prepared our Christmas lunch. Those being the days before we had children. For the record, I have predominately been the chef in the kitchen during our 32 year relationship, so I really appreciated the fact she took over that morning so I could enjoy the pleasures of GoldenEye and Super Mario 64.

Christmas 1999 – Capcom Generations (PlayStation)

With our first child on the way this was not a Christmas for excess, certainly not a new games console or anything as expensive as that. I reverted to a shortlist of a couple of preferred games and I was very pleased she chose this brilliant compilation of some of Capcom’s greatest arcade games. A Christmas spent reliving some of the best arcade games of my teens and no need for another 10p when it was game over. It also felt this was the first time I was playing the arcade machines at home, as they all looked to be perfect conversions. They were obviously great games as I still play them all these years later but now on my Nintendo Switch.

Christmas 2001

2001 was when I got the original Xbox and Halo: Combat Evolved. What led me to getting the original Xbox is prior to that I had a PC ‘for college’. I didn’t need the latest Nvidia card to run Microsoft Office, now did she? Even if she did I paid for it with my student loan, which I’ve only just recently paid off. Anyhow, I’d got into a lot of games like western role-playing such as Elder Scrolls, Baldur’s Gate, and BioWare’s games, that weren’t available on consoles at the time, until the original Xbox came along that is.

So that was my main draw and having gotten fed up with needing to upgrade my PC I decided I wanted an Xbox. My sister got one first, actually, and my nephew showed me 007 Nightfire, which blew me away with how good the graphics were at the time. Then he showed me Halo: Combat Evolved and that was it, I had to get an Xbox. I also learnt that The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind was coming out, as well as other role-playing games. The Elder Scrolls has always been a favourite of mine, having played the first two to death at the time.

Thus begun my love of Xbox, that has lasted for the past 20 years. Here’s to another 20 or more. Halo too is also a favourite series of mine and I have played every game since.

Christmas 2005 – Panasonic 3DO and a pile of games

Originally released around 1995. 3DO Company was extremely liberal when it came to ensuring quality games on their console. A few of the systems highlights include Doom, Samurai Shodown, Lemmings, Need for Speed and Road Rash. On top of that, the 3DO benefited from having ports of arcade games such as the immensely popular Super Street Fighter II Turbo in its catalog.

Christmas 2006

This one actually was April, as the job I had at the time gave me a bonus at the end of the financial year. So I bought an Xbox 360 bundled with The Elder Scolls 4: Oblivion and Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. I played Ghost Recon first, as I knew once I started Oblivion that’d be me for months on end. Ghost Recon blew me away with its graphics and I very much enjoyed it. I’ve always liked more tactical shooters like that, and they don’t really make them anymore, where you can command groups of soldiers and vehicles as well as your character. Oblivion is an amazing game and even bigger and more dense than Morrowind. Although I still remember Morrowind more fondly, Oblivion showed off what the 360 was capable of right from the start.

Christmas 2009 – Xbox 360 with Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

I remember some late nights between Christmas and New Year working through the campaign and enjoying every little bit of the new HD quality graphics of my new next generation console.

Christmas 2012

Having played the Xbox 360 for most of the generation I was inspired by The Last Of Us coming the next summer, which had blown me away with previews. There was also all the previously released games to catch up on, that were now available cheap, and Gran Turismo 6 coming out that year so I bought a PlayStation 3. I had an amazing time with it, playing as many exclusives as I could get my hands on. The Last Of Us was a standout, as was Gran Turismo 6, but I also enjoyed InFamous, Resistance, Killzone, God Of War, Ratchet & Clank and lots of other games so much that it was a year after the Xbox One launched before I decided to get Microsoft’s new console.

2017 – Classic Mini SNES

All I can say is that I was very pleased to get one! Boxing Day afternoon was spent ‘educating’ my sons and showing him some true gaming classics.

2020 – Lego Nintendo Entertainment System

I really wanted this, I made so many unsubtle suggestions about this and lovingly gazed at it through our local Lego shop window but was overjoyed when I unwrapped it on Christmas Day. Not a real games console but a perfect homage to a classic console. Another aspect that makes this present very memorable was that both my sons couldn’t resist and joined in with the building of it. That alone makes it a precious gaming memory.

Christmas 2022

So this year I ordered a 3rd PlayStation 5.

Merry Christmas to Gamers all readers from MarKMeets, and all the contributors who make this the site and community it is and a very Happy New Year.

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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