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Feature: ' Persuasive Games - The Holly and the Ivy'

Ian Bogost's latest 'Persuasive Games' column takes a seasonal twist, as he examines the history of holiday-related themes in games - from Christmas NiG
Amid a popular seasonal trend of holiday everything, it seems to be a somewhat less popular trend among traditional video games, and Ian Bogost's latest 'Persuasive Games' column takes a look at some games that do embrace the holiday spirit. Even the common "snow level" in various platformers can have a different sort of appeal at the right time of year: "Not all such levels treat the holidays directly, but some do. One is Freezeezy Peak from Rare's 1998 Nintendo 64 title Banjo Kazooie. In addition to the usual snow and ice, the level featured wrapped gifts and holiday music. Among the many tasks to complete in this level, the player can help reunite a lost polar bear family for the holidays. Of course, the winter level is only one of many themed levels in games like this. In Banjo Kazooie, it's necessary to get through the pirate, underwater, and swamp levels before reaching Freezeezy Peak. And nobody advertises a new adventure game for the holidays by highlighting its wintery level, although one can imagine that such a highlight might move the needle at Christmastime." Then again, some titles do go all-out festive for the holidays, as Bogost describes: "One of the more unusual promotional holiday editions was a special version of the acclaimed Sega Saturn title NiGHTS into Dreams. Christmas NiGHTS was a two-level expansion pack for the game released for the holiday season in 1996. In some cases it was bundled as a promotional giveaway in magazines, in others it was given away with other Sega game purchases. Sega's Christmas NiGHTS offered much more than the traditional demo. Christmas NiGHTS had a unique way of integrating with the original title. When run, the expansion made subtle changes to the original game based on the console's internal clock, including altering in-game objects like boxes to Christmas gifts and adding holiday music during the month of December. More than adding a level, the edition Christmasified the game." You can now read the full feature, with more examples and in-depth discussion on this holiday vibe in gaming and the games that build on it (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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