For gamers, the holidays can be a special time, laden with holly-decked memories of gift-giving, cookie-baking and quality time with friends and family. But more importantly, new games. We asked some of the elves hard at work on top secret Halo stuff members of our studio to take a moment out of their preparations and share a few fond holiday recollections. Brace yourselves, Spartans. It's about to get warm and fuzzy up in here.
On a snowy Christmas in 1996, my brother and I got a Nintendo64 with Mario64. We were living in a small town at the time so our friends came over see this AMAZING new system and game. We spent the entire day in front of the TV playing. Everyone wanted a chance to play, so we set the timer on the microwave for 6 minutes and took turns with the controller.
In 1989 my twin brother and I had begged our parents for a Nintendo Entertainment system. On Christmas morning, we opened our regular gifts and were disappointed not to get our one coveted gift. But hidden behind the tree was a big box! My brother tore it open and inside was our new NES along with 5 games – Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Ikari Warriors, Elevator Action and Duck Hunt. It was glorious and we didn’t sleep much for the rest of our holiday break.
It was the Christmas of 97’ and I received Diddy Kong Racing from my aunt and uncle. As I am from Norway, we open up presents on Christmas Eve and not Christmas morning. I was over the moon, looking forward to play it all night long. My mom, on the other hand, said I had to wait until the morning. I woke up at 4AM just to play and then I invited my neighbor over to play with me at 8AM or so. I was in heaven: Video game, cocoa, fire in the fireplace and 2 feet of snow outside.
In a deliberate attempt to date myself, a Holiday gaming memory I have that I still remember as if it was yesterday was waking up on that special day in the mid 80’s and instead of bolting out to go open presents, logging on to a RPG-driven bulletin board system called “The Proving Grounds” so that I could write the FIRST POST of “Merry L33T Christmas!” to my fellow adventurers. Unfortunately upon signing in, my Christmas cheer and youthful innocence were ruined when the BBS informed me that, while I was away, my character had been killed by another user: A hig level unscrupulous mercenary who went by the rather inventive name “YOUR MOM!” Nobody wants to get killed by YOUR MOM! on Christmas Day.
Every Christmas Eve at my family’s house, my brother and I play Mario Kart until we can’t stay awake anymore. It started out as a way to keep us busy so that we didn’t pester our parents while they were preparing for Christmas festivities, because most of the time we weren’t allowed to just play video games for hours and hours, but now it’s our tradition. I’m always Yoshi and my brother is always Toad. Grand Prix, 150 cc. If we managed to make it through all the cups, we’d start a 50-turn round of Mario Party on Peaches’ Birthday Cake, and that plus too much dinner would usually knock us right out.
Every Christmas my brother and myself would receive a bounty of Flea Market games, ranging from Sega Genesis games to N64 games. After all the gifts were opened, we would retreat to our glorious Fortress of Solitude (my brother’s room). In this Fortress of Solitude we’d spend the rest of the day playing the “hidden gems of mighty cheapness” while the rest of the family worked hard on our Christmas dinner.
I immediately think of legacy of Kain. Christmas 1996, back in Northern Idaho, the day after Christmas I went and purchased Legacy of Kain with my Xmas money and that night it snowed two feet and kept on snowing. Being snowed in, I immersed myself in the land of Nosgoth and I played it for two weeks straight. I will always think fondly of that Xmas and to this day it remains one of my favorite games of all time. “Vae Victis!!”
Christmas 2008 –
I heard that around 30 of my best friends and some of the best Halo players in the world would be traveling to a house in Chicago to meet up and play Halo 3 at what would become one of the biggest Halo LANs of all time. I immediately booked a flight for the day after Christmas, and as the snow fell outside, we played unending hours of H3 and arcade games and certainly didn’t get much sleep. We all slept in ridiculous spots on the floor, made life-long friendships and Chicago became the home of competitive Halo for the next 3 years, as most of us would return at least a dozen times over the next 3 years to practice for tournaments and get away from the terrors of “real life”.
In December 1991, we were heading back from a friend’s house when we hit a patch of black ice and our van collided with a truck in someone’s drive way. We were invited inside their home while we waited for a tow truck. My brother and I met a new friend that day: The Super Nintendo! The son of this family was sitting down and invited us to join him as he played Super Mario World. Don’t remember how far we got, but it was a blast to play and it made my brother and me giddy as all heck.
It was a perfect Christmas day; Halo 2 had just shipped and I was on vacation. I remember eating the most delicious meatloaf I've ever had in my life. The dessert was Crème Brûlée with Master Chief's helmet burned on the top. It was insanely good. Then I played some Halo and got 9 kills with only 2 deaths in one game. Those of you who have played with me know that's virtually impossible because I suck so bad. After that I took a really long nap. It was indeed, the perfect Christmas Day.