Think back to holiday seasons gone by… Are you there? OK, now, tell me about the most awesome video game or console during that holiday.

Now, flash forward to today: Have you played that game or console lately? What was the experience like? Did it hold up to what you remember?

Monday, 1:12 pm – Gavin

Being a December baby, my birthday coincides with the “holiday” season.  As such, pretty much any gift I got for my birthday doubled up into Christmas.

Overwhelmingly, the best game that I got during any holiday season was for my birthday in 1995.  I got Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and it was phenomenal.  However, while I enjoyed it thoroughly, I didn’t appreciate how fantastic a title it was until much later in life.  I took the glorious art style for granted and just chalked it up to “I guess they’re trying something new”.

I admit that it’s been a while since I replayed it, and the last time I did, it was via (legal) emulator.  However, not only does it hold up, but I tend to think that it’s gotten better with time.  I don’t know if I would say that it’s competitive with what’s out there today in 2D platformers, but the art style is so unique that even though it’s 20 years old (almost), it could have been released yesterday and I wouldn’t be able to tell.

I’ve often heralded this game as a paragon of game design and artistic vision.  I won’t get much more into it than that, but it’s pretty damn glorious, and absolutely deserves your time.  The best decision they made was scrapping the timer; doing so allowed the player to explore the secret areas without the pressure of a countdown (as an aside, that’s easily my biggest complaint about Super Mario 3D World).

It absolutely helped that the levels were ultimately incredibly creative and the boss battles were varied and distinct – they all ended up boiling down to “hit opponent in vulnerable spot”, but getting there was the tough part.  Between perspective shifts, convention subversion, and an inability to take itself seriously, I think it’s a game that is a timeless classic.

Monday, 7:01 am – Ricky

Auto-post. I’ll be on the road this week, but I’ll be sure to share some of my thoughts later in the week!