It’s coming around the bend faster than you can cheer, “ho, ho, ho!” The winter season is upon us and, as gamers know, that means torrents of fresh new video game golly pouring about as well as an extra little slice of time to delve back into some old goodies. There is a little nuance for the common gaming enthusiast, however; a want to engulf themselves in the digital world as a reflection of their current world. It seems to make the game feel more real. Horror games see a spike in the fall as Halloween nears, so why should the joyous winter season not receive the same sensation of digital embodiment?
Defining a video game can be boiled down to three main devices: the story, the gameplay, and the setting. From time to time the latter is overlooked when discussing games and their impact, yet it is still one of the big three. The setting is what engulfs the game, immerses the player, and pushes play forward through completion. The art of game design ranges from hyper-realism to surrealist and even playfully cartoony, but all leave a mark in their own way.
The winter season is upon us, and for, so many, that means time with family and friends, festivities galore, and plenty of video games. With this joyous time of year afoot, let’s take a look at some of the video games with the best winter settings. From bullets and bloodshed to fantastical beasts and endless side quests, no gaming genre is free from the grasp of Old Man Winter.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
In Super Mario Galaxy 2 you eventually find yourself in the Freezy Flake Galaxy. This area of gameplay is predominantly covered in snow or ice, leading to some classic Mario wackiness in the beautifully cartoonish Mario world.
Pokemon Diamond & Pearl
The 2006 return to the beloved Pokemon universe in Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl brought about a polished Snowpoint City. Moving through the top-down pokemap we have all grown to love, players trudge through the snow hunting for the rarest of all ice type pocket monsters.
Santa Claus Saves the World
The game Santa Clause Saves the World pits Santa himself against an evil fairy, Nilam and countless other enemies. What makes this classic, pixilated beauty noteworthy is the brightly colored holiday world rendered in 3 dimensions for one of the first times.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Moving through The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess you eventually came to Snowpeak Ruins. In the dilapidated ruins of an old Yeti couple’s home, Link embarks into the fifth crawl of the game surrounded by snow flurries on the mountain top
As the playful, purple dragon Spyro, you work your way through Avalar and eventually land at the Crystal Glacier. Through the layers of ice and snow, the little dragon has to use his flame breath to free the frozen victims of the land.
Mario Kart 64
One of the most cherished and playful racing games of all time, Mario Kart 64, you have the option to race through Sherbet Land. This snowy land of banana dodging and fear of the dreaded blue tortoise shell looks like what nostalgia feels like.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
What could be harder than being the new kid? Well, try being the new kid as the town’s children are at war. Though it must seem like a strange addition to a list about winter setting, South Park: The Stick of Truth brings the layered paper aesthetic of a little Colorado town to gaming in a way that only South Park can.
Jumping in at the start of a psychological breakdown, Lucas begins fearing for his life as his psyche betrays him. The wondrous winter world of New York in January sets a stunning contrast to a rather dreary tale.
Shooting your way through Metroid Prime you find yourself in the Phendrana Drifts. This icy coated space rendition of Seamus’ journey even incorporates snow themed versions of the enemies you have grown accustomed to.
Donkey Kong Country
As you enter the world of Donkey Kong Country you get a chance to move through the Snow Barrel Blast level. In the same cartoon vein as the Donkey Kong realm, this little slice gets a winter coating with textured snow and draping pines in plenty.