The best winter themed levels in gaming

Christmas is almost upon us and to celebrate the most wonderful time of year, I have revisited several different games with christmas or winter themes. Snow levels can either be dreaded or loved and this list celebrates some of the best of the best. Merry Christmas!

Bully: Scholarship Edition– Chapter 3

One of the most memorable chapters in the entire game, Chapter 3 of Bully is also easily the most fun. Although most of the chapter features Jimmy trying to take down the Greasers in his attempts to win over Lola, a significant portion also features Christmas themed activities and missions, as well as several different festive outfits (including a homemade jumper from Jimmy’s own mother). The whole town of Bullworth is also covered in a blanket of snow, making exploring the town feel fresh again to see how it has all changed.  Added content to the Scholarship Edition includes the Nutcrackin’ mission wherein Jimmy takes part in the Christmas musical, continuing the chapter in a way that feels very much like a student’s Christmas.   

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Kingdom Hearts II– Christmas Town

Although only appearing as a subsection of the Halloween Town world in Kingdom Hearts II, the Christmas Town section is also the highlight. In the first Kingdom Hearts, we only got to explore Halloween Town, which seemed odd considering the plot of the film is all about Jack’s obsession with Christmas, something that Kingdom Hearts II managed to rectify by putting a lot of effort and time into the new area. Sora, Donald and Goofy are all given new Christmas themed outfits, the music changes and Santa’s workshop becomes a new area to fight heartless in. The final boss of the world is even fought in Christmas Town, showing that the developers really wanted this area to be considered the highlight. Every Kingdom Hearts player looks forward to this world just to explore Christmas Town.

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Crash 3 Warped– Snow Go

The debut of snow in Crash Bandicoot 2, one of the most fun levels in the game and also featuring a great soundtrack, Snow Go is a particularly memorable level in Crash Bandicoot 2. Before this, snow had never appeared in Crash Bandicoot, with this level inspiring many others to come. This level will always be remembered as a classic Crash level and many people’s first experience of what Crash Bandicoot 2 had to offer. Bear It is also a fantastic snow level and also the introduction of Polar but Snow Go is on the list because of the heavy nostalgia that it delivers- as well as the fantastic level design.

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Saints Row 4– How the Saints Save Christmas

An often forgotten DLC pack, How the Saints Save Christmas from Saints Row 4 is certainly worth the purchase. Despite all of the prior DLC mostly being filler and uninteresting level packs, How the Saints Save Christmas delivers on a big front. The new area that the player visits is fantastically Christmas themed with snow and candy canes and even gun-toting snowmen. The only downside to the pack is its short length, but this isn’t so bad when you consider the cheaper price of the DLC compared to the new content packed inside. Also inside the DLC is new costumes for the player to wear back in Steelport, allowing you to be festive wherever you like.

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Super Mario 64– Cool, Cool Mountain

Perhaps the level that people will remember best on this list, Cool, Cool Mountain is remembered best for one thing: allowing you to chuck a baby penguin off of the top of a mountain. In all seriousness, the ice race against the boastful penguin is easily one of the most fun and replayable moments in the whole game. Despite the fact that this whole level is essentially a fetch quest, the level design of Cool, Cool Mountain really showed what the N64 was capable of and the fantastic gameplay of Super Mario 64 shines through here as much as any other level in the game. The music is fantastic too.  

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Jak and Daxter Precursor Legacy– Snowy Mountain

One of the best features of the original Jak and Daxter was the huge levels that it gave for players to explore, all with different elemental themes such as lava or water. The level itself features the introduction of Yellow Eco, a fort filled with lurkers and an infinite supply of yeti’s to deal with. One of the final levels in the game, Snowy Mountain ramps up the difficulty of the game, making each of the precursor orbs much harder to find and creating much more difficult enemies (such as the aforementioned unlimited yetis). Snowy Mountain is an often forgotten winter themed level, despite the fact it has the main feature of one- snow. 

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Banjo Kazooie– Freezeezy Peak

Freezeezy Peak is the fifth main level of Banjo Kazooie and a refreshing change of pace from all of the other levels in the game. As with all other entries on the list, the music of Freezeezy Peak is fantastically upbeat, really hammering in the winter theme even more. This level is also home to a well beloved character in Boggy (with his famous Bare Babes “DVD”) and his family as well as several new jiggies to collect. The most memorable part of this level is of course the Christmasy theme, including the music and the snow that coats the ground, making it the perfect game to play in winter.

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Dead Rising 4

No, I haven’t gone mad. Dead Rising 4 may not yet be released but the absolutely insane amount of effort that has gone into creating the Christmas version of Willamette as well as all of the outfits and weapons that relate to Christmas, means that no matter what the actual game plays like or how different of a Dead Rising game it is- it’s the best winter themed game around.  

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