With the sound of silver bells and raging shopping-mall mobs, the holidays are upon us. For gamers such as ourselves, the cognitive dissonance between predatory gift-hunting and Yuletide joy is easy to reconcile – we’re fully accustomed to the fetch-quest and reward system. We love the challenge of fending off crazed hordes. Plus, the musical soundtrack to our holiday adventuring is always catchy and cheerful. So, to celebrate, I’ve pulled together some video game music that sets an appropriately festive mood for the challenges and trials of the holiday season. This week is devoted to game music that evokes the cute and cuddly emotions we remember from our childhood holidays.
Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams (1996)
This short game was released by Sega in a bundle with their Sega Saturn console, and was also provided as a free giveaway on CD-ROMS packaged with various game magazines. Christmas NiGHTS is an upbeat holiday experience, set within the fantasy world established in the Nights Into Dreams video game. “Christmas in Nightopia” offers a cutesy soft-pop rendition of Jingle Bells.
Since Christmas NiGHTS provides such a wealth of VGM Yuletide cheer, let’s listen to another track from the same game – this is the Christmas NiGHTS rendition of “Joy to the World.”
Jazz Jackrabbit 2: Holiday Hare (1995)
Jazz Jackrabbit is a green bunny from a sci-fi future in which tortoises and hares have waged war for generations. Despite the oddly grim premise, the games featuring Jazz Jackrabbit are light-hearted cartoony platformers developed by Epic Games (best known for Gears of War and the Unreal series). In 1998, Epic released a Christmas edition with additional levels and a new boss. This is the music from the first level of the Christmas edition.
I composed the music for this game about taking care of the natural world and providing a good home for a growing animal kingdom. Much of the music for this game fell into the “cute and cuddly” category, including the main theme of the game, which is sparkly and spritely enough to make it a possible soundtrack for holiday shopping and decorating.