A Video Gaming New Year

new year

New Year’s can be a stressful time. Only a week after Christmas you’re expected to party hearty even though you’re overwhelmed from travel, spending time with family, the crummy weather, or finishing up important projects at work in time for the holidays. Plus there’s the pressure of making it a night to remember. Why not simulate the New Year’s experience by enjoying some of the key New Year’s tropes through gaming?

Drinking a lot – Tapper (Arcade, 1983) – You might be fancy and drink champagne, but the rest of us pleebs are just fine with beer. And what video game celebrates beer better than 1983’s Tapper, where you play the role of a stressed-out bartender trying to serve a very busy, very demanding bar full of clients? Re-released on Xbox Live Arcade and iOS, Tapper’s frantic action-puzzle gameplay stands up quite well. Fun trivia bit: the Tapper bar was a key location in Disney’s video-game-world-set Wreck-It Ralph.

Fireworks – FantaVision (PS2, 2000) – As the second-biggest fireworks holiday in the US (after the 4th of July), flaming magnesium is key to a successful New Year’s celebration. Early PS2 puzzle game FantaVision is all about fireworks: setting them off and matching their colors. The game is really a glorified tech demo expanded to fill out the PS2’s roster of launch games, but gathered quite a few fans at launch for its easy-to-understand gameplay and enjoyable visuals. It’s actually a great game after you’ve done a lot of drinking: very soothing and simple.

A kiss – Chulip (PS2, 2007) – A custom for luck in love in the new year, the New Year’s Kiss can best be experienced through Chulip, a very very niche PS2 game that was originally released as a GameStop exclusive but was re-released digitally onto the PS3 in 2012. The entire point of Chulip is to impress everyone in your town and eventually kiss them. Yes, it’s a weird game. But it’s both highly amorous yet extremely chaste (nothing goes beyond kissing), like a proper New Year’s kiss should be. Chulip is a perfect primer for your two lips.

Dressing fancy – Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2, 2003) – While this one might be a stretch (some of the costumes in Final Fantasy X-2 aren’t exactly fancy), our love of dressing to the nines for a New Year’s party can be approximated through Final Fantasy X-2’s Dressphere system, in which the main three characters access different abilities based on the outfits they choose to wear. I like to think that similarly I access a suave, sophisticated alter ego when in my tuxedo or fine tailored suit. I’ll have that martini shaken, not stirred, and I’ll have my version of Final Fantasy X-2 be the HD remaster on PS3 or PS Vita.

The countdown – Countdown (Wii and Nintendo DS, 2009) – Everyone loves a good New Year’s countdown, usually from 10. It gets everyone pumped for the relatively arbitrary demarcation of a new year. So many video games are a race against the clock, but for this New Year’s experience, we’ll go literal with the video game version of British game show Countdown. In the UK the show has been running since 1982 but the French show on which it is based has been running in France since 1965. Countdown is a basic word game, and hopefully for you it will spell out H-A-P-P-Y N-E-W Y-E-A-R.

Photo by Chris Skitch