Crikey, is it that time of year again already? At least the festive season is usually quite a good time to get some gaming done. In my case it invariably involves ridiculously over-ambitious plans to finish several games and come up with a shedload of new content before the end of the year – plans which, of course, never come to fruition.

Still, it’s rare to have such an acceptable excuse to lock out the outside world and laze around doing whatever the hell you like. For us retro-bores, that usually involves picking through a bewildering collection of old game boxes and downloads and trying to decide how the time might best be spent, weighing up the balance between oldies for review and more recent titles that we want to play but haven’t got around to yet.

However much I might enjoy being a grumpy, out of date, fuddy-duddy, though (and I do – very much) I do miss the excitement of getting a brand new game or two at Christmas. As a teenager I would usually ask for the latest FIFA and Need for Speed (or whatever other new racing game was out) and whet my appetite for the big day with repeated exposure to extremely brief demos of my anticipated presents from magazine cover discs. (I’ll tell you what, those two-minute demos of sports games always work like a charm – dazzling you with new presentation but never giving you long enough to really get the hang of things, creating the illusion of hidden depths to be unearthed in the full game).

Of course, to enjoy the latest games, you usually need the latest hardware, and on the couple of occasions that my Dad’s latest upgrade of the family PC coincided with Christmas, these were some happy times indeed. 1996 brings back particularly strong and happy memories – playing FIFA ’97 (a terrible game, but boy did it run smoothly) and Red Alert (the daft music, bizarrely, still manages to engender some kind of festive nostalgia), two brand-new releases, with no frame-rate or other compatibility issues whatsoever. (It was especially sweet considering the previous year’s attempts to get three of 1995’s high-spec racers – Need for Speed, Screamer and WipEout to run on a 486, with mixed results).

Part of me still hankers for that feeling. But to complain about the current situation would be ridiculous when there’s such a wide range of games, new and old, available to play with but a few clicks of the mouse – and (during sale season at least) all at fairly silly prices too. (Although this does bring us back to the problem of deciding what on earth to play during your precious few days off…)

Anyway, whatever you happen to be doing over the next few days, have fun, and all the best for Christmas and the New Year. We’re hopeful of some new content before 2011’s up, and I’ll return here soon to have a quick look back over the year.

Have a good one!