The Christmas season is about many things, one of them being gatherings of family and friends. Most of the time, that means sitting around, talking and catching up with each other’s lives. That’s great and all, but why not try to introduce some fun into the mix too? If you’re able to get it set up, these are the games I’d recommend most.
Mario Party (1-8)
There’s nothing quite like Mario Party when it comes party games. It’s supposed to be about fun, smiles, bright colors and good times. In many ways it really is just that too. Playing a fully staffed Mario Party with your friends/family is some of the best fun to be had in gaming. That fun doesn’t all come from the game’s happy-go-lucky demeanor though. It helps, but the real fun is the surprisingly intense competition going on in these bright and sunny games. Alliances are forged one turn, only to crumble in the next. Stars are stolen, coins are purloined and trash talk abounds throughout. Mario Party games are a wonderfully chaotic mess and can easily make for some warm/intense holiday memories because of that.
Mario Kart (any)
It’s already been said countless time across the ‘net, so saying it once more won’t hurt: Nintendo knows how to do party games. As chaotic, manic and frustrating as it can be, Mario Kart always makes for some the most fun and lasting gaming memories. It’s the kind of game we love to play, love to hate and love to challenge our friends with. Anything can happen in Mario Kart. Absolutely anything. A series of unfortunate events can send even the most skilled racers to last place, and a similarly likely series of lucky breaks can shepherd even the most awful kart pilot into a first place finish. It’s one of the most even playing fields one can find in gaming, and that makes it the perfect candidate for forming some holiday memories. (Maybe even some rivalries too!)
Donkey Kong Country (any)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Donkey Kong games over the years, it’s that they’re much more fun with a friend. I don’t mean to say that they’re bad by any stretch of the imagination; they’re wonderful on their own and are widely considered classics for a reason. I just mean that they get even more fun when you have someone to hand the controller off to. It doesn’t matter if you just switch-off levels or make it into a competition to see who can conquer the most stages, showing-off your Donkey Kong skills makes for some of the best fun to be found on the SNES, N64, Wii, or Wii U. If you’ve got these games, I highly recommend finding a buddy to play them with this holiday season.
Kirby Super Star
Kirby may not immediately come to mind when thinking about games to play with friends and family, but you should really consider it. Buddying-up and trying out all the powers to be found in Kirby’s bright and colorful worlds is just plain fun, perhaps more than it has any right to be. The Great Cave Offensive is probably the highlight of the entire bunch. It’s short as far as Kirby games go, but it’s obviously been designed from the ground up as a co-op experience. Working together is essential if you want to solve all of its puzzles and collect all its treasures and easter eggs. The SNES cart is a bit hard to come by, but thankfully the game is also available on the virtual console. If you’ve got a friend who can enjoy a classic co-op experience, then do yourself a favor and invite ’em over to play this now 20+ year-old classic!
Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy
The original Crash games were always good for controller-switching fun, and now they’ve gotten even better! The N’Sane trilogy may only be for PS4 owners at the moment, but if you do happen to have this console, you’re really missing out if you haven’t picked this one up yet. It’s everything the Crash games used to be, just dressed up in stunning new art. All the old challenge is there along with all the old charm, silliness and frustration. Much like the Donkey Kong games, this one is fun to play alone but really shines with a buddy or even with a group. This game can carry a fun night all on its own. Just get yourself some friends, some food and settle-in for an evening of controller-passing fun!
Of course these are just a few suggestions out of a great many excellent games perfect for livening up any day or party. You probably have several that you’d put on this list instead, and we wanna hear about ’em! Which games do you play to liven-up your holiday season? What about them makes them so enjoyable?