I hate video game buyer's guides. I know that I'm waging a losing battle, but there's something about them that just doesn't sit right to me. Anybody that is already going to a video game website is already hardcore enough to know what games he wants and what to ask for. What's more, most buyers' guides are completely useless to the non-gamer. At best these guides tell you what the biggest games are, but you can figure that out based on what's on the wall at your local game store. These video game buyers' guides aren't useful, and that's why I have made it my battle to pre-empt the upcoming onslaught of buyers' guides and give you something useful.
That's right; it is my intent to give you a guide that is truly helpful to at least one segment of the game buying population. This is a guide for all of you non-gamers out there who desperately don't want to get the wrong gift. If you're a parent or a non-gamer who plans on buying a game for a child, Don't ..... Buy That Game ... at least, not until you've read the Non-Gamers Guide to Getting the Wrong Gift! Below are eight cautionary examples of what can go wrong if you buy the wrong gift. Don't let this happen to you!
They Asked For Rock Band 2 ...
So Don't Give Them Rock Revolution:
Fake plastic instruments are all the rage these days, apparently making more money than even sports games! But not every music game is equal, so it's your job to not get completely confused when you make it to the game store. It's going to be hard; nobody ever said that shopping for fake plastic musical instruments was going to be easy. For one thing, you're going to be tempted by Rock Revolution's attractive price tag. I know little Timmy had his heart set on Rock Band 2 or Guitar Hero: World Tour, but those games are tipping the scale at almost $200. Have you seen the economy outside? It's hard not to be tempted by the $130 price point for Rock Revolution, but it's important to fight the urge. Heck, even the stand-alone game is a whole ten dollars cheaper than Rock Band 2. But this is not a sign; it's just Konami trying to sucker people into buying inferior products.
What about the game store employees, they're here to help me, right? Not even close, let's face it they don't care what you buy. They're getting paid the same whether you buy ten copies of Rock Band 2 or just think about buying Rock Revolution. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if some of those employees make it their mission to sell every last copy of Rock Revolution. Have you seen the kind of jerks that work at a game store? These are people you never want to smell again, which is why you would much rather buy that ungrateful kid a sweater at the Gap. Stupid kid.
The Logical Conclusion:
After spending all their time looking forward to rocking out with Rock Band 2, little Timmy's heart is shattered when he unwraps Rock Revolution. Oh the humanity, it's clear that Santa Claus doesn't really exist and that your parents have been lying to you the whole time. Worse yet, from this moment on you learn to hate all music and refuse to every hear another note made from a guitar or drum kit. This means he stops going to movies, never picks up women at the bar and lives a miserable life in the forests with the coyotes far away from music. All because you decided you wanted to save $50. It's your cheapness that ruins this boy's life; I hope you're happy with yourself.
They Asked For Mario Kart Wii ...
So Don't Give Homie Rollerz:
When you ask little Timmy what a "Mario Kart Wii" is he throws his hands up in the air and concludes that you must be stupid. I mean, it's Mario ... everybody knows Mario. And he's on a Kart, just when you bought him the original Super Mario Kart, or when you surprised him with Mario Kart 64, or when he kept bagging for Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! In fact, now that you think about it, little Timmy sure does have a lot of Mario Kart games. Maybe it's time to wean him off of his Mario addiction and give him some variety?
At that exact moment you see Homie Rollerz for a shockingly cheap price. And right next to that you see seven more copies, all used for $7.99. Mario Kart Wii is $50 right now, yet this Nintendo DS kart racing game is less than ten bucks. What's more, you see this as a wise investment, since this may give him some foreign language practice, ultimately helping him pass Spanish class. Even when the well-intended game store employee gasps and tells you not to buy it, you still put the money down. After all, you know these Homiez characters. I mean, you see them every day when you go to your local supermarket. You don't know what kind of trouble those Mario Brothers could be getting into; Homie Rollerz is definitely a safer choice.
The Logical Conclusion:
Given the game's terrible controls and downright racist cinemas, one of two things is going to happen to little Timmy. On one hand he could learn to fear driving anywhere, since apparently everybody has bigger and faster cars. Or he could learn to hate Mexican Americans ... especially when driving on the street. Every time he drives to school he'll worry about what kind of object the next car over is going to throw at him. He'll be afraid that the car in front of him is going to throw down an oil slick, or that the car next to him will get really aggressive after eating a hot pepper. He'll be concerned that everybody is going to run him off the road and get there before he does. This is going to scar him; he'll never want to leave the house again. He'll become fearful of the car and, even worse, xenophobic. All because you didn't buy Mario Kart Wii. What kind of animal are you?
They Asked For Dead Space ...
So Don't Give Alone in the Dark:
Apparently Little Timmy wants to be scared, but he's not willing to wait until next spring for Resident Evil 5. Your job is simple, go to the local game store and get that little guy a truly scary experience. But you have a lot on your mind these days and completely forget what game little Timmy wanted, so what do you do? You look for the scariest sounding game title you can find. You see a lot of terrible names (Wario Land: Shake It!, Skate It, N+, Too Human, etc.), but there's only one scary name that stands out to you: Alone in the Dark. While Silent Hill: Homecoming sounds a little creepy, the prospect of being alone in the dark is just about the scariest thing you can think of right now ... well, standing in the middle of the pee-drenched mall chain buying a video game is the scariest thing you can think of, but Alone in the Dark is a close second.
See, to you being alone in the dark IS scary. It forces you to sit there, all by yourself, thinking about all of the terrible things you've done in your life. How you can never forgive yourself for cheating on little Timmy's dad. Or how you have this secret addiction to pain pills that nobody knows about. Or how much better life would be if little Timmy wasn't always bugging you for gifts. These are the things that keep you up at night, the things that scare you when you're alone in the dark. Unfortunately little Timmy is going to be scared for a much different reason, and chances are he's also going to be a little pissed off that you bought him Alone in the Dark and not Dead Space. Seriously, mom, being dead in space is way scarier than being alone in the dark. Duh!
The Logical Conclusion:
Despite his initial misgivings, little Timmy will reluctantly open up the game and try to get scared. Unfortunately Timmy won't find the New York City setting to be very scary, nor will he be frightened by the silly looking enemies. What will stick with him, much to your chagrin, is a life-long fear of fire. Arsonphobia is what the doctors call it, but to it's just your son always carrying around a fire extinguisher and making sure there's never anything flammable close to fire place. At first it makes sense, after all you can never be too careful when you're talking about fire. But soon enough he's opening doors with his fire extinguisher and having a hard time sleeping knowing that the house could go up in flames at any time. If you had just bought little Timmy Dead Space then he would be afraid of going into outer space, something he would never do anyway. But no, you had to buy him Alone in the Dark. Way to go, I hope you have enough room for all those fire extinguishers.
They Asked For Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood ...
So Don't Give Golden Axe: Beast Rider:
When talking about all of the reasons why he should get Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, little Timmy tells you that it's a brilliant reimagining of a Sega franchise, that it stars one of his favorite Sega characters and that it's finally going to show us the gritty side of one of his all time favorite games. He said a few other things, but you've found that it's better to just tune him out and shake your head in agreement every few seconds. By the time you get to the game store all you remember is "Sega", "reimagining" and "gritty". So, when you explain that information to the game store clerk he has no choice but to show you Golden Axe: Beast Riding.
Despite having nothing to do with Sonic and his animal pals, Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a re-imagined Sega game that is a lot grittier than its predecessors. Little Timmy's mistake was not drilling into your head that it's "Sonic" and he's "blue". How are you expected to know who Sonic the Hedgehog is? You can barely tell the difference between Pong and Grand Theft Auto IV, to you they are all Godless killing simulators that are going to destroy our youth's innocence. Still, you know buying him Golden Axe: Beast Rider is going to shut him up, so you pay the $60 and wrap it up in that novelty Jeff Foxworthy wrapping paper you've been using for five years. You're an awesome mom, and you know it.
The Logical Conclusion:
Expecting cute, adorable Sonic the Hedgehog critters, little Timmy is scared out of his boxer briefs when he sees that dragon thing on the cover. He'll be even more mortified when he discovers that Golden Axe: Beast Rider is a fundamentally flawed resurrection that fails to get even the basics right. His world will be shattered and it's all because you didn't get him Sonic Chronicles. After suffering through Golden Axe little Timmy will start to wonder why he ever loved Sega in the first place, disillusioned by their terrible quality control. He'll start to wonder if maybe Sega has been bad all this time, but he was too blind to see it. He'll start to see his love for what it is, not the lust that it once was. He'll forsake Sonic, NiGHTS and all of the other Sega characters he once loved. Instead he'll get strung out on the harder stuff, like Nintendo games and those movies adapted to Lego. Oh the horror!
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