Twelve Days of Gaming Christmas

To mark the holidays and the end of the year and along with the rest of my little WordPress community, Kim from Later Levels has us looking at our Christmas plans to answer a daily question. So, starting today I’ll be answering one of these each day about the season to be jolly, or in my case, a bit less cranky. Make sure to check back every day for new questions and my responses to these carefully concocted scenarios!

1 – You need to choose a gift for someone special and go online to check out the video game item catalogue. Who is this person and what present would you select for them?

Definitely my brother in law, Josh and picking a game for him is challenging but also financially save. Josh isn’t your average gamer going for the latest releases and playing them on a super-powerful PC. He has a passion for classic titles, specifically in the Strategy genre. But it’s not any RTS he fancies, but those strategy games where you must micro-manage every aspect of development and economy, and where a single screw-up can have lasting consequences down the line. It’s funny because it’s in direct contrast with how laid back and chill he is as a person.

But out of the many games out there, I think this year I would give him XCOM 2 with the War of the Chosen expansion. Though he loves the classic XCOM game and its spiritual successor Xenonauts a lot more than Firaxis’ take on the alien hunting titles, he did enjoy XCOM: Enemy Unknown. In fact, he liked it almost as much as I did, so I’m sure he would thoroughly enjoy the sequel, especially since it has an added emphasis on managing resources, connections and contacts. It helps that I reviewed this title can gave it a really high score!

2You’re wrapping presents while listening to cheesy festive tunes, and start to reminisce about holidays past. What’s your favourite Christmas gaming memory?

I’ve mentioned this one in the past, but it’s one of the last Christmas eves with my father. We were having dinner with some extended family and when it came time to give presents, my dad and my sister pulled out a Nintendo Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess from some unseen place under the tree.

With my dad sick and my sister saving up to leave for Canada, while I had thought of the Wii, I didn’t think I’d be able to get my hands on it. I wasn’t working at the time, finishing up my studies, and without my own income I depended on my father or sister for this, so I was sure the Wii wouldn’t be in my near future.

The feeling of getting the console and playing Twilight Princess non-stop for hours the moment I got home was only overshadowed by the sheer surprise at how these two had managed to keep this a secret from me for so long. I’m usually good at knowing when my really-not-subtle sister is keeping things from me and was even better at knowing when dad was BS-ing me, but this time I didn’t, they upped their game just to make me smile.

And they did.

3 -You receive a call from Santa, as the elves desperately need a hand in the workshop getting all the toys ready. Which video game character would you recruit to help out?

Mario’s the best replacement for Santa, I maintain that position. But for helping out in the workshop it’s gotta be Kirby. He’s cute, fluffy and incredibly innocent, but always willing to help out people. It’s just the mindset you want for helping to make toys for the kids of the world. And he’s cheap, you just need to keep him fed. He’s a bottomless pit in that, but a snack every few minutes should be enough.

The best bit though is that if at any point any of the other elves collapse due to exhaustion or old age, you just feed them to Kirby. It’ll re-energise him and he’ll absorb the elf’s skills and knowledge, which means he’ll be a perfect replacement. As other elves lose energy, repeat the process. It’ll have two bonuses: Kirby will keep working, and the sheer horror will keep the others motivated.

I may have a dark mind…

4 – It’s now Christmas Eve and you’re throwing a lively party for all your friends, family and favourite characters. Which video game soundtracks would be on your playlist?

For the Christmas Gaming Bash I would have a mix of oldies and goodies and some epic stuff as well. For the epic, I’d pull soundtracks from Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade series, each of the titles having some amazing instrumental tunes, as well as some amazing performed ones on Xenoblade Chronicles X. The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and even Skyrim would get some nice picks as well. Classic Final Fantasy soundtracks would be the closer.

For the classics, it’s all oldies Nintendo and Sega, with Super Mario Bros. tunes across the ages, culminating with a Jump Up Superstar singalong, Sonic the hedgehog across all games, especially the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack which is frankly amazing. If we go for something a bit harder, Castlevania gets some tracks, Mega Man rocks the house and maybe even some Devil May Cry.

And if we need something a bit more groovy, then it’s time to break out the Persona soundtracks, especially Persona 5 and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, the Persona & Fire Emblem crossover.

The rest will be an eclectic mix of every other game I’ve ever played. My gaming tastes are as varied as my music ones, so there will be some strange mixes there. Some instrumental pieces followed by Superfly’s White Light and Flow’s Burn, the opening themes for Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria. The languages will range from Japanese and English to made up crap!

Wanna know the best bit? This playlist already exists, it’s my go-to playlist on Winamp, because I still use winamp!

Here’s a sample of what’s in there, a beautiful theme that’s soothing and might even work for Christmas Eve. Xenoblade Chronicles – Satorl Marsh at Night

5 –  The party is still going strong and you find yourself conveniently positioned under the mistletoe. Which video game character would you call over for a cheeky kiss?

Considering every woman I’ve ever kissed has been completely out of my league, why not continue that tradition and get a little smooch from the most badass woman in the galaxy, Samus Aran?

6 – You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?

Santa needs to get his butt in gear, and he needs speed, lots of it, so I’ll get him a fat stack of Golden Mushrooms from Mario Kart, each one of these beauties should give him the insane burst of speed he needs to make it to every home on his list. He might crash into them, but those are the risks a tardy Santa must take!

7 – Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

Over the past few months, most of my energy has gone into the creation and preparation of my custom Dungeons & Dragons world, and with that and all the games I’d like to play, what I would love to see in that box is a box-set of tabletop RPG books. I’ll take the D&D books (which are on my Amazon basket right now and will remain there for another month until I can afford them) with joy but I would do the same for any of the other games I’m keen to play, especially Shadowrun, the cyberpunk science-fantasy setting where hackers and magic combine for sheer madness and epic heists. The current edition has lots of books and they’re quite pricey, so anyone taking that financial hit for me would be very much loved and adored! But I’ll take anything!

I’m good on video games, but with the many plans I have for tabletop goodness in 2018, I want to see rulebooks under my tree!

8 – It’s now time to head out to the kitchen to put on your oven gloves and start preparing Christmas dinner. It consists solely of video game food; what’s on the menu?

Well, as someone who’s plundered the depths of the Eastern Kingdom’s dungeons, explored the vast and tranquil forests of Pandaria and even explored the blasted regions of Argus, I would delight my guests with the traditional plates of the World of Warcraft, especially those of the Winter Veil festival.

We’d start with a few snacks, such as Crab Cakes, Buzzard Bites and some Cheddar Beer Dips with Mulgore Bread, before moving to our main dish, The Winter Veil Roast, served with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes of course, but not any mash, but Malfurion’s Mash, straight out of the Inkeeper’s cookbook.

Then, we’d get some deserts, like a Delicious Chocolate Cake, or Dalaran Brownies or just a Cheery Cherry Pie, to go with the jovial nature of the evening.

And for drinks, we’ll down it with some of Greatfather’s Winter Ale and for those such inclined, some Winter Veil Eggnog or Hot Apple Cider.

And best of all, all those recipes exist and I have the cookbook!

9 – The presents have been opened and dinner has been eaten, so you’ve got a bit of time for gaming while Gran is snoozing on the sofa. What’s the best video game to play during the holidays?

After the Christmas eatery, and trying to avoid having to cleanup, there are only two options available: binge watching a long show or playing a really long game, the kind you can enjoy while your body struggles to digest whatever deadly combination of food you’ve ingested.

For that, I always go with an RPG, and JRPGs most of the time as they tend to be rather lengthy. For these holidays, I have my JRPG of choice. It meets all the requirements: fun gameplay, intriguing plot and it’s really long. Also, it has a Japanese language pack, a blessing for those who hate bad localised voices.

So I’ll be on the sofa, regretting every eating choice of the past hours while exploring the cloud sea of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

10 You’ve been invited to a swanky New Year’s Eve party but have nothing suitable to wear! Which video game character do you call to ask if you can borrow an outfit?

For this emergency, there is only one man fit for the job, one man who can save me from embarrassment, the master of disguise himself, Agent 47, The Hitman.

He’s been around the world and dressed as anything from a waiter at a Chinese restaurant to a soldier in the Russian army, with plenty of James Bond attires in between. His basic look is also pure style, the black suit, white shirt and the distinctive red tie that tells you he’s here for business.

Now, even in the best of cases I never look good in anything, but it’s 47, he’ll be up for the challenge and on the upside, I’ll get a few lessons on how to walk to make the suit look good. And as an even bigger bonus, I’ll learn how to kill people with a garrote and where to hide the bodies.

I’ll just need to make sure to never mention any of the movies they’ve made about him, he doesn’t take kindly to them.

11 – Midnight rolls around and it’s time to pick a New Year gaming resolution to see you through the next 12 months. What’s your choice for 2018?

My gaming resolutions are twofold:

  • First I will clear my gaming backlog, starting with the WiiU and Switch backlog, completing the games I have on it, including collecting every moon in Super Mario Odyssey, finishing the rest of the Xenoblade Chronicles X and do the same with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. On the Steam side, I’ll finish the games I’ve already started before I let the shiny shiny new games distract me. This includes the amazing yet difficult strategy game Blades of the Shogun.
  • I will finally get my D&D campaign off the ground so my players and the people who watch the sessions can join me in exploring Telia, this little world I’ve spent so much time writing about. There are so many good stories to tell, and my players have given me so much ammunition to use for, with and against them!

12 – You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

I don’t usually do Game of the Year things, because I play so many games and enjoy them all, otherwise I wouldn’t play them, so I’ve always felt like Game of the Year is an insult to all the other games that don’t take the spot.

But, in the spirit of seeing this collaborative effort through and answering questions for the twelve days of gaming Christmas, I’ll base my decision on the game that gave me the most enjoyment. After all, as Iwata once said, “games are meant to be fun!”

This is a game that challenged me in many ways, with strategic combat and puzzles, with exploration without markers, forcing me to go out into the big bad world and discover things for myself, giving me opportunities to be awed by the things I found. I loved the world, the new lore, the character stories and the revelations of why they behave how they do. And beyond all that, there was so much to do and I kept coming back for more.

There is only one game that fits that description for 2017, the launch title for my Nintendo Switch, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.