2021 has been another one of those years, and if you’re like me, you might be struggling to let loose and get into the holiday spirit. My go-to way to decompress has always been to play some video games, and, for me, the best kinds of games to play on breaks are JRPGs. For those of us enjoying or about to enjoy more free time during this Christmas season, here are some cozy JRPGs to relax with.
Secret of Mana
Let’s kick this Christmas games list off with a classic JRPG where Santa Claus turns into a monster because kids stopped believing in him. Honestly? Relatable. Secret of Mana is all over the place seasonally; one location even has you going around a forest that progresses from spring to winter as you explore it. That Santa (and Rudolph) is in the game at all is such an imaginative, fourth-wall-breaking choice, and exemplifies the sheer originality—and weirdness—that Squaresoft had in its glory days. (READ: Top 5 most romantic video game scenes for the tito/tita gamer)
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl
The Sinnoh region is definitely the coldest Pokémon region to date, being analogous to the island of Hokkaido on Japan’s northern end. Granted, most of the map is a lush green, but you’ll be trudging through a field of dense snow to reach the gym at Snowpoint City. It’s a great vibe that I wish they’d return to. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl aren’t explicitly Christmas games, but they’re wintry and are about as cozy as a nice mug of eggnog. Also, Ice-type Pokemon is the best type.
Persona 4 Golden
One of the best Christmas games some might say. You do get to celebrate Christmas in Persona 3 and 5, but 4’s themes of family and friendship complement the holiday mood especially well. In-game, the season serves as a cooldown in the story after the climactic boss fight (though it’s just the first of many in Golden), where you get to reap the rewards of the time you invested into your Social Links. If you romanced someone, you get a nice little scene on Christmas Eve that, personally, took me back to my high school days sheds a tear. Even if you stay single, you get to spend some time with the guys, which is its own fun. This is why the series more than earns its reputation as a life sim.
Look, you need to accept that Yakuza games pre–Like a Dragon are actual JRPGs, just like the Souls games! Did that piss you off? Then take your anger out on fools in Yakuza 5. The plot didn’t necessarily have to happen during the Christmas season, but it did, and it’s better for it. I first played 5 around this time last year. While it was sad not being able to visit public spaces and take in the sights like I usually would, getting to wander around part of Sapporo and see all the seasonal decor as Saejima went a long way to make me feel better. Of all the reasons to love this series, virtual tourism is arguably the best. Also, you can dress up as Santa and beat up a gang of incels who hate Christmas. Just Yakuza things. (READ: Underrated JRPGs that deserve a remake)
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