As well as delivering Christmas toys, Santa Claus also takes the time to appear in a variety of video games. Here's Game Rant's pick of the best Santa Claus video game appearances.
As we edge ever closer to Christmas, many a video game fan will be hoping that Santa Claus is able to bring them something special. With so many games available on the market, Christmas lists are likely to be chock full of the likes Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian, and many more of those games that saw a late 2016 release.
However, Santa Claus himself is something of a veteran when it comes to video game appearances. From early console generations through to releases that came this very month, Santa has been a character in many different games. Here’s our pick of the best Santa Claus appearances in video games.
10 Dead Rising 4
Let’s start with one that will still be fresh in the memory. This December saw the release of Dead Rising 4, and as usual for the Capcom-helmed zombie-killing franchise, there was a variety of weird and wonderful characters on show. Among those available was Santa Claus – although Saint Nick was shown in a very different light from what gamers may be used to.
Rather than the jovial, present-giving Santa of old, Dead Rising 4 instead made Santa Claus into an optional boss encounter. This axe-wielding 'Sadistic Claus' certainly has the player on his naughty list, and the only present he’s likely to give is the swing of his axe. Hardly one to leave cookies and milk out for.
9 Secret of Mana
Dead Rising 4 is not the only time that Santa has turned up as a boss to be overcome. Indeed, Father Christmas had a similar role in acclaimed RPG Secret of Mana. One of the locations in the SNES title was Ice Country, which held the Ice Palace – and a particularly fearsome boss – within.
The boss itself, named Frost Gigas, is discovered after Rudolph (of red nose fame) advises the player that Santa has been kidnapped. Running to his aide, the player then proceeded to take down the aforementioned Frost Gigas, only to discover that it was Santa Claus all along. Advising that he turned into Frost Gigas because “kids just no longer believed” anymore, Santa’s plans to recapture the imagination of children backfired, only for the player to return him to his former self.
8 ToeJam & Earl
Not every video game Santa purely wants to take the player down, as seen in ToeJam & Earl. During the titular characters’ adventures, a variety of different presents will be discovered – some of which aiding the hip alien duo on their journey.
As it turns out, Santa Claus has been leaving these presents around. As well as this, Santa can actually be found in-game, and by sneaking up on him, players can even get the Christmas icon to drop several more presents. Of course, this being ToeJam & Earl, not all of these presents will actually help matters – as seen with the rocket skates – but it’s the thought that counts.
7 Sam & Max: Ice Station Santa
The Santa Claus that starred in the Telltale Games adapation of Sam & Max was not quite as useful, however. Found in the second season of the acclaimed return of the crime-solving duo, Sam & Max discovered the character in the aptly named Ice Station Santa episode.
The Santa found in the episode is more than a little worse for wear, however, equal parts paranoid, gun-toting isolationist and demon-possessed entity. Eventually, Sam & Max are able to prevail, but not before taking part in enough adventures to make more ardent believers in the Christmas spirit feel a little uncomfortable.
6 Bully: Scholarship Edition
A somewhat subverted Santa Claus can also be found in Rockstar’s Bully: Scholarship Edition. Closer to Bad Santa than Miracle on 34th Street, the Santa that starred in the school-based title is that of Rudy, an alcoholic homeless person who Jimmy can work for.
The missions that Jimmy receives from Rudy are hardly the stuff of Christmas legend, however. Instead, players will be asked to destroy a more traditional Santa’s Castle found in Bullworth Town, as well as setting up a back alley Santa’s grotto. A fun diversion – if not one that will go down as a particularly festive story.
5 Saints Row 4: How the Saints Save Christmas
Bully: Scholarship Edition isn’t the only free roam game where Santa Claus plays his part. Saint Nicholas can also be found in the Saints Row 4 DLC How the Saints Save Christmas, where the player is tasked with saving Santa Claus.
Of course, this being a Saints Row story, it’s hardly going to follow a typical holiday route. Instead, players have to contend with beheaded reindeer, an evil version of Santa Claus, and Matrix-like simulations. Still, what else could be expected from this series?
4 Clay Fighter 63 1/3
Given how violent video games can be, it’s sometimes made more sense for the normally placid Santa to take on a nastier side. That’s the case in Clay Fighter 63 1/3, where an evil version of Santa Claus known as Sumo Santa is available as a character.
This Santa prefers to settle differences with vicious attacks rather than acts of kindness, and does so with aplomb. Given that the Clay Fighter franchise also includes Bad Mr. Frosty as a character, it’s certainly a go-to title for those after a bit of festive fisticuffs.
3 Daze Before Christmas
Although Santa Claus has appeared as a minor character in a variety of games, it’s rare to see this beloved figure taking a leading role in a title. Those after a more direct look at Santa Claus in action could certainly be tempted to check out Daze Before Christmas, which was released for the SNES and Genesis.
Unfortunately, this platformer is almost as rare as a real life sighting of Santa himself. Released only in a limited run in both Australia and Europe, the title has become something of a collector’s item for retro game aficionados – particularly the Genesis version.
2 Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko
Another game where Santa has taken a turn to the dark side is Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko. Here, the player is tasked with defeating Evil Santa during one of the best Christmas-themed levels ever, and this Santa Claus would certainly have a spot on the OG Santa’s naughty list.
Thankfully, Evil Santa doesn’t take much to defeat him, as the player can simply hit nasty presents back at the fake Santa Claus with a simple flick of the tail. Nonetheless, this miniboss is certainly one that lives long in the memory of fans of the franchise.
1 World of Warcraft
Although not named as such, it’s hard to think of a character in video games that more accurately reflects Santa Claus than that of Greatfather Winter in World of Warcraft. Found in Ironforge, this Dwarf just happens to be fashioning a big, white beard and red robe, and appears but once a year – during the Feast of Winter Veil world event.
Not only that, but Greatfather Winter is something of a gift-bringer. Outside of the lore of Warcraft, however, this Santa Claus also brings gifts of sorts to players, with the limited time events that accompany his presence giving gamers plenty of fun activities to take part in.
That brings our list to an end. Did we miss off any of your favorite Santa Claus video game appearances? Do you think that Santa Claus Saves the Earth or Elf Bowling deserve a spot on our list? Would you like to see more games in general that include Santa Claus? Let us know in the comments below – and have a Merry Christmas.