With the holidays rapidly approaching (or here if you celebrate Hanukkah) it can be stressful to find the perfect gift for the gamer in your life. That’s why we’ve put together our mostly annual holiday guide that will hopefully help you find the perfect gift for that gaming guy or gal in your life.
Rock Band 3
- What better gift than a game that calls for a group of players to be truly experienced? With someone on the microphone, guitar, drums, and the new addition of the keyboards, Rock Band 3 offers a communal experience great for impressing with your skills or otherwise mocking for a lack thereof. If you’re really feeling generous, you can always purchase the ultimate guitar package for your loved one and let them play the guitar on a fully 6-stringed equipment.
Super Meat Boy
- For a retro experience with incredibly hard challenges, this platform game is a great way to occupy your video game time and at an arcade game price. The concepts and controls to Super Meat Boy are basic, but the maps are challenging and well worth the effort to completing them. Be prepared to die often, but the satisfaction of living is ever more appreciated because of it.
- Nintendo is really prepared to hit gamers hard with nostalgia and win back their affections. Epic Mickey is a classic character, and certain scenes in the game will even play out in the familiar black and white designed Mickey, but the gameplay is just as artistic and unique. Armed with a paint brush and thinner, Mickey has the ability to draw or erase objects in his way to complete his quests. The game features clever ways of utilizing the paint, like drawing a clock to slow time. Clearly a game to inspire creativity, Epic Mickey is as cute as it is inspiring. Plus, it comes out on my birthday.
Mass Effect 2
- Bioware’s literally epic scifi sequel is nearly a year old now, but it was released in January 2010 so it still counts. Tedious planet mining aside, it’s still one of 2010’s best games. The good thing about it being a (relatively) older game is that it’s cheap—20 bucks on Steam—and more or less complete now. All of the important DLC is out now, and while the main game is a lavish adventure of galactic proportions, the added chapters and characters add a lot of meat too. The whole package shouldn’t cost you much more than a brand new game. If you know someone who still hasn’t experienced this landmark RPG, gift it to them on Steam or get them the 360 version and a handful of XBLA point cards. If you’re feeling generous, toss in the (even cheaper) first game—no serious gamer or scifi fan can call themselves such without experiencing Mass Effect.
- After this I promise I’ll stop gushing about Eurocom’s remake of GoldenEye 007, but it really is an excellent game. As a longtime hater of reboots and prequels I was dead-set on despising this modern re-imagining of my favorite game of all time, but its bold, different direction from the original game is precisely why it’s great. Eurocom could’ve taken the easy, generic JJ Abrams Star Trek pop culture reboot approach (yeah, I said it) but instead they went full Casino Royale, taking the spirit of the original game and making it relevant with new FPS conventions and just a dash of tasty nostalgia. The result is a solo adventure that mixes stealth and action into a seamless vodka martini of gameplay, better balanced and varied than any of the recent Call of Duty’s. The multiplayer is excellent too, also managing to retain just enough of the N64 game while adding 007 style to CoD mechanics, producing a wholly different flavor of multiplayer that is no less habit-forming than the original. No matter how proud you are or how much you hate the Wii, the new GoldenEye is just one of those games you must play as a gamer.
- It might have a few balance issues but n-Space’s portable version of GoldenEye is a serviceable solo FPS with an incredibly deep multiplayer. You’ll feel that it’s just a bit too much for the DS to handle but when it really works you’ll be hooked. Avoid the cheaters online and track down some friends for this one—you can keep the GoldenEye addiction going even when you’re far from the Wii version. Warning!—may lead to sudden loss of employment if played in the cubicle.
Blood Stone DS
- While Blood Stone was something of a disappointment on the 360 and PS3, n-Space delivers this year’s standout 007 adventure on the DS. Everything that didn’t work on the HD consoles somehow does on Nintendo’s ancient portable, mostly because n-Space added real variety, stealth and balance to the rather bland formula and distilled the superfluous story down into a potent concentrate. It’s also damn impressive for the DS—if you can get past the hardware’s inevitable hand cramps, you’ll find a compelling action adventure that at times will make you forget what you’re playing on. DS-owning 007 fans are the real winners this year; get GoldenEye for the multiplayer, and Blood Stone for the story mode.
Red Steel 2
- It might be somewhat short but Ubisoft’s sword-slinging actioner is one of this year’s best games, period. It’s the first game I gave an A+ to and with good reason—the gameplay is fast, relentless and fluid, executing a seamless mixture of sword and gunplay through peerless use of Wii MotionPlus. The art style mirrors the gameplay, as a finely blended tapestry of old west and far east, perfecting the aesthetic pioneered in shows like Cowboy Bebop and Firefly. Red Steel 2 is less of a game and more of a living art statement of gameplay, style and grit—short, electrifying and satisfying for sight, sound and even touch.
Powered USB hub
- With so many controllers now days and so little open USB ports, every gamer could use and appreciate a self powered USB hub for charging their various accessories. A powered USB hub could be plugged in separate from their console(s) and be kept out of the way; controllers and accessories would be powered and ready for each gameplay session. Decent priced, powered hubs can be found online at places such as Amazon or Monoprice
Netflix subscription cards
- Netflix is now available on every console and even iOS devices; retailers such as Best Buy sell prepaid subscription cards for terms as low as 1-3 months, and higher for the big spenders.
Wii Shop Channel / PSN / XBLA Point Cards
- There are a variety of options available to gamers on their various platforms in terms of the marketplace options; gamers could use gift cards for each service to buy not only games, but music and movies as well.
Rock Band supplies / accessories
- The funny thing about the Rock Band craze is that there are as many accessory options for the game itself as their are for the consoles they are released on. These are often viewed as the sort of things gamers would consider pretty cool / neat but wouldn’t necessarily spend their own cash on. The prices of these things range too with options as cheap as decals, drum sticks, and instrument storage to full blown audio accessories like amps and speakers and official drum stools.
- This PC game has been out for over a year but it’s a title that not a lot of people have heard of. Not only is the game a ton of fun to play but it will run on older hardware and laptops making it a perfect choice for someone who hasn’t upgraded their hardware in a while.
PDP Tron Controllers
- OK so they are wired controllers but how freaking cool is it to have Tron controllers? I think there are still nerd drool markings on the case these were housed in at E3 this year as they are just too freaking cool looking for words.
Free time to game
- You know those cheesy coupons people give each other every year for free hugs and kisses? Well how about giving the gamer in your life a coupon for four to five hours of guilt free gaming?
- Most gamers have a wide variety of things that need to be charged on a regular basis and the Powermat is a great central place to charge all your stuff. It’s worth noting that the accessories for charging a Nintendo DS and other devices are sold separately so be sure to pick those up as well for the complete gift.
Madcatz Tournament Edition Stick
- If you've got someone who's big on fighting games but a little short on cash, this is an excellent gift. The stick is flawless and the buttons are arcade perfect. Madcatz managed to get me to swear off playing fighting games with a controller.
Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Box Set
- Gamers everywhere were in for a treat with the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World movie earlier this year, but the source material is still a great read. Having all the volumes in one neat little package with awesome artwork by Paul Robertson only sweetens the deal.
Anything from Fan Gamer
- Seriously, these folks
know how to make some swank products. I picked up their Chrono Trigger collection released this summer and was blown away by the quality of this package. If you're stumped for a gift check out all their wares, shirts, figures, or even the Mother 3 guide, all of these things would make a great gift.
Since I've been a good boy this year, I'll be asking for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Epic Mickey to show up in my stocking. But what about a few ideas or gems that many gamers will enjoy, but may not make the top of the list?
Dawn of Discovery
- This one is actually from last year, but I came across it lately and have been having a blast. This city-building RTS just worked for me, bringing back fond old-school memories of playing the classic builder Zeus. Certainly a niche, but a blast for gamers who enjoy this sort of thing.
- . OK, while it's not exactly full of Christmas cheer, this psychological thriller grabbed and dragged me through several tense, riveting, and even unsettling hours. I haven't had a chance to try it with the new Move controller, but I can imagine it being even more engrossing. One warning, though--this is not for the faint of heart.
- Sure, I'm cheating with this one--most strategy gamers will have already picked this up, and those that haven't certainly put this at the top of their lists. But, if for some reason it's overlooked, this instant classic is sure to please. And this leads me to my next and final addition:
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (tabletop)
- I always like to throw a tabletop game into the list, just to highlight my other gaming passion. This new offering from Fantasy Flight Games is designed by one of my favorite developers, Kevin Wilson, and offers some top-notch mechanics and tons of great fiddly bits, all the while maintaining the flavor of the PC game unplugged. Take care, though, to ensure you pick up the 2010 Fantasy Flight Games version, and not the 2002 clunker
Alice Vorpal Blade
- It's hard to believe that American McGee's Alice was released 10 years ago. The extremely twisted version of a familiar story is still one of my favorite gaming memories. Thanks to Epic Weapons, you can now purchase a beautifully crafted version of the Vorpal Blade
. This item will shine in your gamer's trophy case.
Plush Sack Boy and/or Sack Girl
- Are you excited for LittleBigPlanet 2? Sure you are! I don't know any better way to wait than getting a Sack Boy or Sack Girl
to keep you company. Plus, the Sack Girl has a large "Aw, she's so cute!" factor that makes her perfect for the gamer girl in your life.
- Sure, it's old. However, the 10 year anniversary that was celebrated this year encouraged me to revisit the game. What better way to reminisce than actually playing what many consider as one of the best video games of all time? You can purchase it from the usual places (I picked mine up during a Steam sale for $2.50). Be sure to look up the various mods and texture packages that help the visuals (suggested link: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1235278).
- I was skeptical that the glasses from GUNNAR Optiks would work. When I bought them, I didn't think it did much. After a few days though, I was a convert. The glasses lowered my eye fatigued and reduced the strain I felt staring at a monitor for 8+ hours a day. I now find myself reaching for these glasses anytime I sit down in front of my computer or when playing a game.
Wii Points/ MS Points/ PSN GC
- If you have gamer friends, there's plenty of DLC that can be had and what better way to do it then to give them the points they can use. It's tough deciding on specifically what game to get a person, but if you give the points, they can use it to purchase new songs for Rock Band, horse armor, or over priced map packs. You know they'll be used as there are plenty of things in all three stores to spend the points on.
20+" LCD monitor
- Like TVs, computer monitors have fallen a bunch in pricing and a good 20+" LCD can be had pretty cheap these days. If you've got a friend on a CRT or even an old square LCD, get them a widescreen LCD monitor. Some can take multiple inputs so they can run a console off of it as well.
We hope this guide provides you with some good ideas and helps to get your creative gift giving juices going. Be sure to leave us comments if you have any ideas we missed or questions about any of the items listed above.