Ben's Gaming Memories - Road to Christmas!

Ever since I was a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday. The wait for Christmas morning to come was always killer, and I always found myself trying to find something to pass the time. A lot of the time I'd watch TV shows or movies (like Christmas Specials) as I waited, but gaming played a major role as well. In fact, it still does. So with that being said, today I wanted to share a list of games with you guys. Games that sort of "defined" each Christmas for me, and ones I have very fond memories of. Many of these are actually games I rarely talk about here, so I figured it would be a fun change of pace. (At least for me?) Anyway feel free to think of your own list as well!

2008 - Need for Speed Pro Street:

One of my favorite racing games of all time, that I almost never talk about. Christmas of 2008 was my first year of owning the Xbox 360, and I was excited to finally get more Xbox games. I remember putting quite a lot on my list that year, but funny enough it's the games I played leading up to Christmas that stood out the most. With the main one being Need for Speed Prostreet.

While other NFS games are mostly open world arcade racers, Prostreet was fully track based, and was more simulation like. Rather than racing down tracks at high speeds without a care in the world, Prostreet made you play both safe and smart. Car damage was a thing, wrecked cars were expensive to repair (or replace), and you couldn't use the same car for every event. Instead you had to think about what you wanted/needed for each type of race, and then you would have to fine tune each car to suit your needs. A lot of planning went into the game outside of races, and any mess up would cost you greatly. And I loved it.

Prostreet was something I spent a lot of time playing, and it was THE game I used to kill time while waiting for Christmas. In fact, it wasn't just me. My cousin would come over almost every day as well, and Prostreet was both of our to go to game. We both had a save file on my console, and we both took turns working through the game's campaign mode. In fact on 12/23/2008, that's exactly what we were doing when midnight came and Christmas eve was officially here.

Now days NFS gets a lot of hate, with a lot of it's games receiving mixed reviews, and sadly almost no one remembers what the series used to be. Really, if you're into track racers, Prostreet is something you should really check out if you get the chance. Especially considering how cheap it is now days.

2009 - Rock Band:

2009 was my first year of college, and it was when I started putting more time into working at my family's bakery. Because of this I had extra money to spend, and was able to buy more games myself. This is when Assassin's Creed really entered the picture for me. Coming out just the month before, Assassin's Creed II was the game that completely blew me away, and it was something I would continue to play for quite awhile. Although it didn't take me long to finish it, it was one of the few games I kept returning to during December as well. Even so, the real game that took a lot of my time back then was none other than Rock Band... Despite not owning it myself.

That was the Christmas I decided to ask my parents for something big. The Beatles Rock Band had just come out, and I really wanted it. Up until then I had only been able to play games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band at friend's houses, and it was a game I liked. (Heck we even played it in high school from time to time!) The only thing that really kept me from getting it though, was the lack of songs I was interested in, but the Beatles changed that. So, I put the game at the top of my list, and set out to play it as much as possible before then. Yep. I played it at every Best Buy I visited, and even at a few clothing stores. There's no telling how much time I put into the game before I actually got it, but it did help cut back on the wait. Well, that and the fact I had to spend a lot of time at the bakery. Christmas was a busy time of the year, and I had to be there pretty often.

After Christmas Rock Band would go on to becoming a pretty special game for me. Something I still play all the time. 

2010 - Heavy Rain:

Heavy Rain was one of those games I was really interested in, but couldn't get at the time because I didn't have a PS3 yet. Something I changed only months before. So, the moment I finished college for the semester, I went out and got a copy of the game, and went to work playing it.

As a huge fan of crime dramas, Heavy Rain was the perfect game for me. The story pulled me in, the fact that scenes could play out in different ways kept bringing me back to it. Even after I finished the story I would load up random scenes, and try to see all the different ways I could play through it. I'd even invite friends over to check it out. I spent a surprising amount of time with the game leading up to Christmas day, but of course it wasn't the only one that held me over. Tales of the Abyss helped with that too. Even so, Heavy Rain is the game that stood out to me the most, and one I'll always have a special place for. Although, Abyss comes pretty close.

2011 - Resident Evil Mercs 3D:

A game you never see anyone talk about. The full Resident Evil Mercenaries game was an extended version of a gameplay mode found in past RE titles. It was a game mode that put you in different maps filled with enemies, and asked you to survive as long as possible. Right from the get go you have a time limit counting down, and mobs of enemies start spawning all around you. The idea is to either last until time runs out, or kill every single enemy before they get you. To do that though, you have to extend your playtime by killing enemies and breaking special items found across the map. Of course doing so also means you're more likely to die as ammo and resources become more limited, and stronger enemies start to spawn. Really it's a pretty simple game mode, but it can be a lot of fun for those who like to shoot for high scores. This is how I spent killing time in 2011.

Playing online with a friend, was great. Even though the game was simple, it was filled with challenges/missions for us to take on, and we actually did them all. Our goal was to achieve the highest ranking in them all, and somehow we actually did it! Of course getting called to the bakery prevented me from playing as much as I wanted, but it was still a great way to pass the days. Mercs 3DS quickly became one of my favorite 3DS games, and is something I still play once in awhile.

2012 - 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors:

2012 was the first time a Netto's Game Room review won GameFAQ's review of the month, and with it came a nice little gift card for Amazon. So, how did I spend it? By buying Borderlands 2 of course! That was a game I was really looking forward to playing, and the day it came I was pretty excited. I raced home from college, pulled it out of my mailbox, defrosted it using my heater (yes, the disc physically had ice on it...), and put it in my PS3 to play. That's when I realized it was in Chinese.

After sending the game back and getting a refund, I used the money to buy three 3DS/DS games instead. Golden Sun 3 (which is still wrapped up in it's package), Doctor Lautrec (does anyone remember this game?), and 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. Now I really didn't expect too much from 999, but it was a game that seemed interesting. I had put off buying it for so long, but after trying the demo for the sequel on my Vita, I decided it was finally time to give it a chance. Man, I'm glad I did.

Not only was 999 a great way for me to pass the time leading up to Christmas, but it also became one of my favorites of all time. It was something I would discuss with friends for years, and one I would recommend to almost everyone I met. I really can't stress how much I like this game, as well as it's sequels. The only down side is that every playthrough after the first is no longer as special, and knowing the plot twist greatly changes the experience. It's still a great game though, and worth playing through again (or for the first time) now that the updated version has been released. The voice acting doesn't change the script by too much, but it's still nice to hear.

2013 - Ys: Memories of Celceta:

Christmas of 2013 is one of my worst memories. The week leading up to it was spent worrying about my uncle in the hospital, the day after was the day he died, and the following week and new years was spent dealing with funeral stuff and accepting the fact we had lost him and the bakery. It's not something I like to think back to, but if there's one good thing about it, it's that Ys: MoC was there to help keep my mind off of things. To put it simply, I love this game. The action was great, the story was interesting enough, and I liked the characters. I put a lot of hours into it, and it really did help me get through a hard time. Of course now days Ys 8 outclasses it in almost every way, but that doesn't change the fact that MoC is worth playing.

2015 - Trails of Cold Steel:

Skipping over 2014 (which was mostly me replaying Resident Evil Mercs 3D, and BlazBlue), 2015 is when I jumped head first into the Trails series. Finally picking up Trails in the Sky just the summer before, Cold Steel came out a few days before Christmas, and everything changed. Not only did Cold Steel (and the Trails series in general) become a fond Christmas memory, but it also became my full on go to series whenever I wanted to relax. It's a game I've played on nearly every major holiday (including today right before I started typing this post), and something I can see myself playing for many years to come. Considering it's something I've talked about in great detail in the past, I'll just leave it at that.

2016 - Steins;Gate 0:

And finally we come to 2016, and Steins;Gate 0. Although I continued to play Cold Steel during this time, Steins;Gate 0 is what really took the cake. I loved the original Steins;Gate, and it's sequel had me just as hooked. Funny enough, on Christmas was the day I reached the Christmas event in game, and on New Years I saw the characters in Steins;Gate celebrate it as well. I just thought it was funny how things happened to match up. Sadly I can't talk about the game itself without spoiling anything, but I can say it became yet another one of my favorites that left a hole in my heart when it ended. Thankfully Chaos;Child released this year, but a part of me still misses the old cast.

Well, I guess that about does it for this post. Guess I'll go back to watching Iron Blooded Orphans on Toonami, and playing Cold Steel 2. Just one more day to go, and Christmas will once again finally be here! Thank you guys for reading my post, and I hope to see you all again soon. (Game of the year list here I come!)

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