What are the Best Games to Play in Autumn?

We missed Halloween by a few days. Oh well!

Autumn, fall, whatever YOU call it – the question is, what do you play during the season? We’ve got a list of timely games to play that might surprise you.

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Forgotten Gaming Holidays

As I was considering a topic for this blog, I realized two things. Firstly, I realized that I had already written a blog titled “October’s Nintendo Experience“, so it would be either redundant or I would have to lie and call it “November’s Nintendo Experience.” Secondly, I realized, of course, that the publication of this blog will arrive on the eve of two holidays, and it would be culturally ignorant of me not to address them.

Matt wrote a blog recently called “Seasonal Gaming” (a recommended read), and he spoke about how he enjoys certain games during certain times of year. Sometimes this is due to seasonal weather (Sun, snow, etc.), but sometimes it is due to the holidays surrounding the season. For instance, he enjoys Luigi’s Mansion this time of year because of the spooky theme paralleling the Halloween holiday. This got me thinking: If we celebrate Halloweeen with certain video games, why not other festivities?

Certainly, many people associate Halloween with all sorts of creepy stuff: spooky decorations and costumes, horror movies and scary games. Be it Resident Evil or Slender, if it’s scary, it’s in season this time of year. But to me it begs the question: Why don’t we do the same with other holidays?

Sure, Christmas has its movies and a handful of games… kind of (if you consider “Elf Bowling” a game…?). But we don’t say, “This game is about hope and cheer, ergo, we shall play this game during Christmas!” Many games have “ice” or “snow” sections, but very few (on Nintendo consoles, at least) that are focused on said climates or seasons. For New Years, we do not go, “Okami is a game about rebirth and fresh starts. Let’s pop it in!” Or, at least, I’ve never heard anyone say that. I’ve yet to play New Super Luigi U on St. Patrick’s day (my wife’s favorite holiday), nor have I ever played Whack-A-Mole on Groundhog’s Day. The only holidays I could see myself celebrating with a certain kind of game are holidays created by games: Wii day (November 19th), and Dreamcast Day (September 9th, which, sadly, I missed this year).

This train of thought has led me to two realizations. First, even though I’m not a fan of it, Halloween has an interesting distinction as a holiday in relation to media. Its themes tie into whole genres of both films and video games, enough that it creates a special opportunity to enjoy them. Second, it has opened my eyes to the fact that there is a vast, unexplored territory of holiday gaming. Maybe this year, as a Crew, we’ll play Okami for New Years. Perhaps I’ll celebrate Boxing Day with a few of my favorite fighting games. And you can bet that I’ll be playing Mega Man x Street Fighter on Memorial Day.

Maybe this will never be a thing, and a certain spooky festival will always be the exception to the rule, but I couldn’t let the moment to point out this anomaly pass. So, If you are celebrating Halloween, I hope you party safely and responsibly. Or, if you’re like me, happy Reformation Day! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rent Luther and hammer some nails into doors.

Seasonal Gaming

With the autumn season upon us, what initially comes to mind? For most, probably colder weather, leaves falling, pumpkin spice x (where x = everything), hoodies, haunted houses, Halloween, and so on. I greatly appreciate the fall season and everything that comes with it. In fact, it’s probably my favorite season. But for me, it’s more than black cats and apple cider. It’s a time where I can enjoy certain types of video games at their best. Nintendo is absolutely fantastic at creating games that burst with seasonal energy. That is; games that display the best a season has to offer.

Of course, every game does it differently. Being the season that it is, I’ll start with the original Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube. This game is built around one theme: a haunted house. My October would not be complete if I didn’t spend a weekend replaying through this game with the lights off. Not because it’s terrifying, but because for me, this is how the game should be played. I just get so much more out of it. Playing this game on a hot mid-summer night, or when snow is flying just doesn’t feel right. When running through the mansion vacuuming up ghosts and exploring dark rooms, I want to be able to look out my window and see colorful leaves. Another fall favorite of mine is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Why? This answer why may not be as obvious, but here it is: the chapter “For Pigs the Bell Tolls.” Yes, I know that there is a chapter where Mario travels to a tropical island and where there is snow, but making the trek to the Creepy Steeple (about 5 times), to me, is the most defining chapter. Everything about that section: the music, the characters, the lighting, the setting, creates a perfect Halloween experience.

Admittedly, I am biased when it comes to what season a game should be played because some of it has to do when the game came out, and my nostalgia for a game always peaks based on what time of the year I played through it and enjoyed it for the first time. The Thousand Year Door was released in October (yes, I may be a bit weird about my timely nostalgia). But seriously, if you haven’t experienced this glorious gem, there is no better time than now, and when you get to chapter 4, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

And of course, there are games like Animal Crossing, where the game is set up to follow the time of year no matter what, so it can be played to the maximum level of enjoyment all year. This game has become immensely popular, and I attribute that a lot to what I referred to above as seasonal energy. It just feels right. Nintendo was brilliant to realize this and capitalize off of it. I remember playing the game and running around my town on Halloween looking for Jack, hearing my real world doorbell ring, and passing out candy to kids. This created a full 360° experience for me, and I’ll never forget it.

I won’t make a complete list of games I like to play during specific seasons, but here are just a few others that really stick out: Mario Baseball (spring/summer), Super Mario Sunshine (summer), Banjo Kazooie (fall/winter), Resident Evil 4 (fall), Splatoon (summer), Pikmin (any season – these games capture them all greatly), Wii Sports Resort (summer), Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (all but winter), and Kirby’s Epic Yarn (winter).

Lastly, the intention of this write-up is not to tell you when you can and can’t enjoy a game. Of course, this is 100% subjective, and everyone is going to have a different take. If you enjoy cleaning off Isle Delfino in the middle of winter to get some virtual sun and cure those winter blues, more power to you. I would love to hear comments about certain times of year you prefer what games, or if you don’t care at all and anytime is the best time. Now excuse me as I eat a freshly picked honey crisp apple and take on King Boo.

About the author: Matt has been a Nintendo fan since 1996 after his parents got him a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64. His love for gaming took off from there with games such as Diddy Kong Racing and Banjo Kazooie. When not playing video games, Matt can be found cycling, golfing, playing with his cat, reading math books, and partaking in anything nerdy. Once in a great while, he even may play a game that is… gulp… out of season.