Holiday gaming guide 2020: The best in puzzles & platformers and simulation games

Deagreez/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This winter, there’s no better way to spend time in isolation than settling in with a video game. And while not everyone is getting a new console for Christmas this year—they are going to be difficult to find—there’s still lots of games you can gift this holiday season. Part 3 of my list includes things for all the different systems and for gamers of different ages and with different interests. Game on.

Puzzles and platformers

Alto Collection (Snowman)

The Alto Collection (Snowman)

Two of the best mobile games ever made are now available on computer and console with the release of this collection, which includes Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey. The endless runner games have you boarding down slopes of snow and sand. The outstanding soundtracks and unique art style are perfect complements. Find it here(PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One.)

Paper Mario: The Origami King

Paper Mario: The Origami King (Nintendo)

The Paper Mario games transcend the platforming genre that you expect from the mustachioed plumber, introducing some clever puzzles that you need to solve in order to progress through the story. The Origami King goes further, but having your two-dimensional, paper Mario fight enemies using a turn-based combat system. Find it here. (Switch. Rated everyone.)

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Nintendo)

This curious game finds new life on Nintendo’s Switch and introduces new gamers to the plight of three astronauts, stranded on a strange planet while on a mission to save their own. Using careful strategy, the astronauts employ the abilities of the native Pikmin creatures to navigate the environment and collect food, while trying to survive the dangers that are all around. Find it here. (Switch. Rated everyone 10+.)

Simulation games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintend)

New Horizons is the game that got many people through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s perfect for the second wave, too. You get to customize and personalize a desert island in exactly the way you want, and by visiting the islands of other people you can collect other things to add to your ecosystem. A recent update to the game brought snow as well as holiday events like Toy Day on December 24. Find it here. (Switch. Rated everyone.)

FIFA 21 (EA Sports)

FIFA 21 (EA Sports)

Among the world’s most popular games about one of the world’s most popular sports, FIFA 21 has been updated for the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X consoles, promising faster load times and dynamic lighting. EA Sports says that the movement of the soccer players is more authentic and their behaviour when they don’t have possession of the ball is more realistic. Find it here or here. (PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X. Rated everyone.)

NHL 21 (EA Sports)

NHL 21 (EA Sports)

If you prefer the fastest game on ice, NHL 21 introduces an expanded “Be a Pro” mode in which you create a hockey player and develop them into a prospect in the Canadian junior system or a European hockey league before taking a shot at the NHL. This year’s game also includes NHL 94 Rewind, which uses today’s rosters with the controls and graphics from NHL 94, accepted as one of the best hockey sims ever made. Find it here(PS4, Xbox One. Rated everyone 10+.)

Star Wars: Squadrons (EA)

Star Wars Squadrons by EA

Squadrons is for everyone you know who, when they’re watching Star Wars films, moves around in their seat as if they were flying the ships. More flight simulator than arcade game, Squadrons puts players in the cockpits of both Rebel and Empire fighters, bombers, and support ships. There’s a story that gamers can play through, but there’s also multiplayer modes, Dogfight and Fleet Battles that will test even the most accomplished pilot. Find it here for Xbox or here for PlayStation. (PS4, PS5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X. Rated teen.)

This is Part 3 of the eCentralSports Holiday Gaming Guide 2020. Read Part 1 here and check out Part 2 here.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information see our disclosures here.

Leave a Comment