It's that time of year again, where people storm stores looking for the
perfect gifts for the loved ones in their life. What do you do if
you've got a gamer in your life? Gamers are a rare breed identified not
only by what they like but what they hate. To help frustrated
shoppers we present the following holiday guide as a list of things
that have our staff want to have in their grubby mitts by the end of the
month. The responses are varied (new writer Shawn sent in a mere
paragraph while long time writer Cyril sent in something that could be
considered a gaming manifesto). We hope these lists help you find
something that will help you spread some digital cheer this holiday
Shawn Kendrick - Staff Writer
An XBox 360
with all the trimmings (spare wireless
controller and wireless network connection). Just as obviously a Sony
with a copy Clerks
on UMD. Of course I'll need a big new HD TV to fully enjoy that
new XBox 360. More importantly I'm going to need a lot of time to
enjoy all this stuff so some personal QT would be nice.
Matt Mirkovich - Staff Writer
Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented
- After the last Fatal Frame
game for PS2 and the stellar directors cut for the XBox it'
s about time a new one came out, and it'
s looking even freakier than the last two combined.
Word on the street is that it also runs in progressive scan, sign me up!
Beatmania IIDX 10th Style - For the music minded importer out there, this is
a fabulous must have game from our friends in the far east. 88 tracks of music
with a new Beginners mode will teach every gamer that it's
okay to be a fan of house music.
Deep Discounted Sleeper Titles - For twenty bucks or less right now you
could get any of the following games: Shadow Hearts Covenant, Psi-Ops The
Mindgate Conspiracy, Front Mission 4, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Phantom
Brave. A lot of these games are still readily available at your neighborhood
Slime Hori Controller - Remember those damnable slimes from Dragon Warrior?
Well they are back, in controller form, it fits great in the hands and just
looks cute. For those who are straight up collectors you can display it in its
case for all the world to see.
X-box 360 Peripherals - You want to help out that friend who just bought a
360 for Christmas? Get him another controller, or a battery recharge kit, there
are a tons of things out there to accessorize a 360 with, so help a buddy out
and get him something he needs, maybe even a Gold Membership to X-box Live.
A new HD-TV - Really grasping for straws on this one, but if you've got a sweet-heart who's
still rocking the 19' CRT television
with outdated RCA inputs, maybe it's
time to pick him up something new, or at least better than what he/she's got now. About four hundred bones will get you a
good flat screen TV or a small but decent HD ready monitor that can double as a
A Prinny plushie - It's a Prinny
dood! If you loved them in Disgaea then you have to get them in plushie form.
Available at the Nippon Ichi website, you'll
find a new undead friend to go along with your teddy bears.
Tyler Sager- Senior Staff Writer
While I would be happy to see a shiny new Xbox 360 under my
tree come Christmas morning, I’m just thinking that’s not going to happen. Instead, my Christmas list consists of some
great games that I somehow missed through the past year.
Actually, most of my wishlist titles are PS2 games this
year, as I’ve managed to pick up most of the interesting PC games. Shadow
of the Colossus has been calling to me from the store shelves for a while
now. I’m a sucker for non-traditional
games, and this beauty from the makers of Ico is almost irresistible. I’d also like to hit the slopes again with SSX On Tour, as I’ve been a
long-time fan of the series.
To scratch my RPG itch, Dragon
Quest 8 looks to do the trick. I
just need a dose of RPG goodness every so often, or I start to get cranky. Moving to handhelds, I wouldn’t mind finding Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones for the
GBA to help pass the time on the long holiday drives.
On the PC side of things, there’s really only one title I
feel I need: Civilization IV. Yes, I
almost feel ashamed that I haven’t picked this gem up yet, but I’m sure that
Santa will be kind this year. (note
from the editor: Tyler just got his review copy in the mail so he's all
good but this is still a game the strategy gamer in your life needs).
And finally, on my “it’ll never happen” list, I would be
ecstatic if Square Enix made a surprise announcement about Kingdom Hearts 2 actually releasing before next year. Wishful thinking, I know, but it is that time
of year for miracles…
Cyril Lachel - Senior Staff Writer
It's been a great year for portable gaming, what with both
the PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS finding themselves overloaded with
amazing games. Who can forget going
through Advance Wars: Dual Strike, causing havoc in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty
City Stories, or racing through Burnout Legends and Mario Kart DS? But as amazing as the portable line up was
this year there's still room for quite a bit of improvement, especially when
you look at the games the Japanese have been playing for months.
The good thing about the Nintendo DS and the PSP is that
both are compatible with all games no matter where they're from; there is
simply no region lockout when it comes to these games. That means you can buy Japanese games online
without a worry in the world, and those Japan-only titles make for a great
gift. Take Daigasso! Band Brothers for
example, now here's a game that has been promised for the U.S. DS unit, but why
wait when you can ask for it now as a holiday gift? Heck, there are currently two different
versions of this game available in the land of the rising sun, and us American
gamers are left waiting for them to figure out what to do with the product. The same could be said about Electroplankton,
the quirky little "game" that is all about creating your own music
and sharing it with your friends. The
game is going to get a U.S.
release, but Nintendo is only going to sell it via their online store … not
exactly a vote of confidence, if you ask me.
The PSP has a few notable Japanese games worth importing as
well, including Guilty Gear XX #Reload, a port of the super-cool Xbox
fighter. This thing has been out for
months in Japan
and these days you can import it for half the price of your regular U.S. PSP
game. And the Japanese aren't alone; the
European PSP launch brought us TOCA Race Driver 2: the Ultimate Racing
Simulation (their subtitle, not mine).
If you're looking for a portable game you know the person doesn't own,
then mining other countries for games is a brilliant idea!
Championship NES Cartridge
There are a lot of rare games in the world, a few that you
might already own. But chances are you
don't currently have the Nintendo World Championship NES Cartridge, perhaps the
rarest of all the NES titles. This cart
contains no more than three games (Tetris, Rad Racer, and the original Super
Mario Bros.), and to make things even more pointless, none of these three games
is the full version. So what makes this
thing so rare? There just aren't that
many copies of this "game" lying around. You see, this thing was only given out to
finalists at Big N's one and only Nintendo World Championship, a traveling
event that featured dozens of game demos and a full-fledged game tournament. Nintendo also managed to give a couple of
these game carts out as prizes in their issues of Nintendo Power, but beyond
that nobody else could buy them.
But these days you can buy anything … just as long as you
have enough money. On Ebay this Nintendo
World Championship NES Cartridge is going for thousands of dollars, and you
have to be lucky just to find somebody willing to sell this collectors
item. But if you have thousands of
dollars you want to spend on something this valuable then what's going to stop
you? This would be one gift that any
gamer over the age of 25 will cherish for the rest of their life, the rarest of
gaming gems. If you want to give the one
gift that nobody else would think of, then this one NES cartridge is the gift
of choice as far as I'm concerned.
A Break from Annual
Granted this is not something you can wrap up and give to somebody
during the holidays, but if any of those guilty companies out there want to
give me the ultimate holiday gift then a moratorium on annual sequels is a
great place to start. It's not that I
don't enjoy a good sequel now and then, but it's when you have less than twelve
months to come up with something bigger and better that you ultimately run into
problems. This is not a race, all we ask
for is some time and effort to be put into these games so we aren't forced to
upgrade around the same time every year.
I'm not talking about Madden and other sports games (those
would be the obvious choices), but rather the Ratchet & Clank series, those
good (but too frequent) Jak & Daxter games, Prince of Persia, and of course
Tony Hawk's endless extreme sports titles.
It's not that I dislike these games; it's more of the fact that I don't
feel the need to spend $50 on their games each and every year. Enough is enough, it's time to give some of
these franchises a year off. And don't
even get me started on the Dynasty Warriors, a series that seems to pride
itself on releasing a new version every six months. Just imagine how much better these games
would be if their developers had more time to come up with new ideas and better
level designs? Annual sequels breed
nothing but disappointment, just look at Prince of Persia: the Warrior Within,
Jak X, and Tony Hawk's American Wasteland.
If this list is about games, accessories, and the consoles,
then it's about time you ask Santa for an NEC Super Grafx unit. Don't get this thing confused with the Turbo
Grafx, the long-dead NEC system that made its way to the U.S. in the
late 1980s. The Super Grafx is a whole
different beast, even though it will play the Turbo Grafx games (well, it'll
play the P.C. Engine games, the Japanese version of the Turbo). With only a half dozen games it's easy to
collect each and every one of them … easy if you have enough money to pay the
high prices you see on Ebay.
There aren't that many Super Grafx units out there, which
makes this one of the rarest consoles ever to be created. The games are primarily shooters (including
stunning ports of Capcom's 1941, Darius Plus, and Battle Ace), but it's the
port of the arcade smash Ghouls 'N Ghosts that really makes this system worth
owning. Sure the game is also on the
Genesis, but it's the Super Grafx version that everybody drools over. Unlike the Nintendo 64DD, Nintendo's rare
Japan-only disc drive for the N64, the games on the Super Grafx are actually
pretty good and well worth the investment.
The high prices might scare you, but this is one system that is only
going up in value. If you know somebody
who is a collector of old game systems, then this is the gift for them!
After all this talk about dead systems, Japanese games,
weird NES carts, and annual sequels, I figured it would be nice to recommend
something that doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to track down. I recommend Lumines; perhaps the best puzzle
game since the original Tetris hit the scene.
That compliment has been bandied around for years, but it's hard to deny
the greatness of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's masterpiece. This is one game that will have you going for
hours at a time without noticing it; it's more addictive than any other game
that came out this year. It offers a
simple concept, but once you've mastered its core mechanics you'll be spending
the rest of the time working on improving your score and skills.
Despite being released alongside high profile racing games
and licensed fare, Lumines managed to be the most endearing PSP launch title; a
game that I'm still thinking about all these months later. It's not just the best launch title, but Lumines
is easily the single best PSP game on the market, which may stun people who
bought the system primarily for the great graphics and fast game play. Your average Lumines game is a roller coaster
ride of excitement, going from slow paced to full on tense excitement all in a
few seconds time; it rewards you for thinking ahead and not second guessing
your actions. Best of all, Lumines
features a nice collection of songs, each manipulating the look and feel of the
level. A lot of people ignored this in
order to pick up Ridge Racer, but now that you've grown tired of that game's
limited replay value, it's time to get sucked into one of the most challenging
games of the year. This is one idea that
is so simple it's shocking that nobody else had tried it before; it's easily
one of the most exciting games you can play.
If you don't already own it, it's time to hit the mall and let Santa
know which PSP game you want next.
Charles Husemann - Editor in Chief
God of War (PS2)
- I don't own a PS2 but I almost bought
one to play this game after playing through most of the demo at
Gamestop earlier this year. The game is aimed at an adult audience
(lots of blood and violence) but it does so with purpose rather than
just adding the elements in for attention.
Guitar Hero (PS2)-
A game that lets your rock out and
comes with a cool guitar controller? How can you beat that?
This game just has cool, party fun written all over it and it's
something that everybody can enjoy.
Sony Playstation Portable
- I know the DS seems to have more(better?) games
right now and there's a certain part of me that longs to play
Nintendogs but the PSP is just pure geek sexiness and the games will
come. Besides the obvious gaming and multimedia goodness that
Sony packs into each unit the system is the most modified system out
there which means all kinds of cool home brew stuff is and will be on
the market for the system.
Lego Star Wars (Xbox)
- This isn't a game I would necessarily
buy for myself but something that I would play the hell out of being a
Star Wars nut and Lego fan.
Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
- One of those few games that helps
show video games as an art form rather than just another mundane form
Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse (Xbox, PC)
- A fun game
from start to finish (I'll have a review up soon I promise) with a
great sense of humor and an amazing soundtrack. It's a bit on the short
side but it's a lot of fun while it lasts.
Logitech G5/G7 Mouse (PC)-
The gaming mouse market really grew in 2005 and you're not going to find a better mouse than the G5
from Logitech. You probably could live with the corded G5
but if you really someone you might plunk down the extra ducats for the wireless G7
Mad Wax/Xtrac Gaming mouse pads (PC)
- If you're looking for a cool stocking stuffer for the PC gamer in
your life then you might want to check out the fine line of gamer
gadgets from Xtrac. I would avoid the soft fabric mouse pads and
go for one of the nice hard plastic optical pads and throw in a little
bit of the Mad Wax to go with it.
These return from my list last year and they make great stocking
stuffers for the gamer in your life. The soft suede controllers
reduce stress on your hands and absorb sweat which is perfect for those
long gaming sessions.