Since the web became a commercial platform in the mid-1990s, scores of online holiday games have graced its pages. These titles started as virtual Christmas cards and were typically created by web agencies to tout their wares. One of the earliest was agency IconNicholson's now-classic Snowfight a simple Shockwave snowball fight. Elf Bowling got its start on the web before being picked up on the Nintendo DS several years later, as did the popular software toy Line Rider.
Since the web has become a ubiquitous
distribution platform, the number and variety of these titles have expanded
greatly. Holiday-themed advergames are popular on brand sites and portals
large and small, but other curiosities also abound. Among the weirdest
is a Doom II elf-killing
mod -- note the bow on the rifle.
Surprisingly, there are relatively few titles developed specifically for the holiday season. Some are forgettable budget titles like Telegames' Santa Claus Saves The Earth for Game Boy Advance, a simple, forgettable platformer. Others are licensed from popular holiday media. Most of the time the license comes from a film, like The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Santa Clause, but other media also lend their names to holiday games.
This year's most prominent license might be the equally forgettable Nintendo DS title Dr. Seuss: How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which sadly offers less intrigue and cleverness than than the book, television show, and even the film.
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.
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.