One of the fun things about looking into Christmas themed video games is that so many of the games are authored at the grass roots. With the exception of Daze before Christmas and license games like Home Alone, almost all of them were made by folks in their homes, usually modifying (modding) some larger game.
BBS Door Games (search this site)
I wish that I had more concrete evidence of Christmas-themed BBS doors. Searching around the internet, mostly on Jason Scott’s excellent cd.textfiles.com, I can see some of the programs I remember from the late 80s to early 90s. Some just offered Christmas trivia at logon. The more complex ones allowed the user to send email to the North Pole or have an Eliza-style chat with a computerized Santa. Cute and fun, most of these games found their way to the Internet in one form or another.
The ZZT Christmas Special (download here)
If you aren’t aware of the game ZZT, learn about it now. Tim Sweeney’s 1991 offering from Epic Megagames provided gamers with something that no other video game did: a built-in object-oriented programming language. As a result, three things came together: the hackish impulse extend programs beyond their original intent, ANSI artwork and a BBS community to share the results with. It was Web 2.0 before there was a Web 0.9.
So, eventually, someone came up with a Christmas-themed game, uploaded it and shared it around the BBS networks. The theme is pretty spartan: Santa got trapped by a home alarm system and it’s up to you to save him. To get past the alarm system yourself, it’s a timed Sokoban-style box-pushing adventure! Here’s what it looked like:
I never realized that the old Wolfenstein 3-D still had an active mod community around it. The site linked above, the Wolfenstein 3-D Dome, is a treasure trove of packages to change the original game. One on their front page now is a like to Hotel Romanstein 6 (download it here).
It’s a much better version of the XMASWOLF game that I posted earlier. The artwork is much nicer, the santas a little more compelling and the game is full of elf-girls in skimpy elf-outfits. What’s not to love? See screenshots here.
Doom 2 X-Mas Nightmare Mod (download here)
There’s almost no words. Imps wearing santa hats. Rampaging Santas that give up their gifts in exchange for hot lead through their skulls. Just watch the video. But not for too long.
Star Wars is in on it too! I haven’t played Knights of the Old Republic, but something about it seem to just scream out, “The main female leads in this game need red, furry bikinis!” Apparently. Follow the link above for screenshots and a download link.
Wolfenstein 3-D wasn’t the last game in the series to get Christmas themed mods! The link above has screenshots and a download link. Return to Castle Wolfenstein can now offer Grinches instead of Nazis, snowballs instead of hand grenades and little red bows on ammunition boxes. Heartwarming, no?
Enjoy the mods! Something about the spirit of Christmas encourages gamers and hackers to give the gifts of the violent mods to their favorite games! Perhaps the game companies aren’t foolish by staying away from this concept after all…
That’s it for this series! Merry Christmas!
Save the lemmings, kill the Nazis, destroy the Empire and have a cool Yule!