Ho-ho-ho-ho! Merry capitalism! 'Tis indeed the season for festive goodness and wanton purchases. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday barely behind us, the question needs to be posed: if you failed to do your Christmas shopping last week, what now? Never fear. Now that we've exhausted the cheaper options, it's time to delve into the eclectic, the eccentric and the all-out weird. We have an absolutely expansive selection of gift ideas suitable for, well, pretty much anyone. As long as they enjoy good things. We can't help you if your friends have bad taste.
Gifts for the Power Players
The Delta Six
Realism is often a big, big thing for the hardcore first-person shooter fan. The heft of a gun, the accuracy of the recoil, the velocity of each individual bullet as it rockets across the distance -- all these idiosyncrasies can weigh into a devotee's appreciation of a game. If such a person exists in your life, you may want to consider pre-ordering The Delta Six for them this year. All things taken into consideration, your gift-ee probably won't get their mittens on their present till sometime in spring but I suspect ownership of the "most realistic, fun and immersive gun controller on the market" will probably dull the agony of a long wait. Maybe.
Atlantic 33935702 Gaming Desk
Gaming isn't easy. Gaming can bring bad posture and tangled cables, spilled soda and inefficiently managed gaming cartridges. A miracle of ergonomic engineering, the Atlantic 33935701 is a gaming desk intended to make your next Team Fortress marathon a more comfortable and better organized one one. The desk comes with eight different accessories, including a sweet little cup holder on the side and an in-built cable management system. Ideal for anyone who keeps losing their keyboard under the clutter.
SeV Alpha Jacket
For the player addled by caffeine and empty calories who can neither sacrifice desktop real estate nor waste valuable time with unnecessary walking or, you know, the guy/girl with far too many electronics. This jacket is capable of discreetly storing everything from your cadre of retro handhelds to mountains of sweet and starchy snacks. You could kit it with veggies and soy beans too, if you felt like it. Or books. Thick, archaic books. You deviant, you.
Razer Blade Gaming Laptop
The Razer Blade is like a knife against the throat of conventional logic. With its anorexic 0.66" profile, it defies the belief that gaming laptops must be capable of doubling as riot shields. Slick and black as Cruella de Ville's heart, the Razer Blade features a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-7402Hq Quad Core Processor, a darling Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics card and the envy of every gamer-on-the-go your gift recipient will ever meet. ( Bonus points if you somehow succeed at extricating yourself away from it and delivering it to its rightful owner. Me? I'd just keep this luscious morsel for myself.)
The Peregrine Glove
Can you hear that? That's the sound of my heart fluttering like a peregrine on espresso shots. The Peregrine Glove is yet another of those new-fangled peripherals, the sort that promises to both decrease your response times and elicit loud appreciative sounds from visiting friends. It purportedly allows for 30 user-programmable actions and 250 APM -- a pittance compared to the records set by certain KeSpa members but purportedly more than enough clicks for the would-be challenger to compete. Honestly, though. It isn't about the practicality of the device. The Peregrine Glove is probably the only peripheral out there that compels its users to function like a character out of Naruto in order to get anything done and that, ladies and gentlemen, is totally rad.
Gifts for the Quirky
Have money to burn and a science nerd in your circle of people-I-would-humiliate-important-religious-figures-for? Get them The Cube. Voted "easiest to use" and "most reliable" by MAKE magazine, The Cube is a crisp, compact 3D printer that is easy to use and safe around the children. It's also rather trendy-looking and would make a rather smashing addition to anyone's living room line-up. I know. The Cube isn't quite related to video games but who needs store-bought memorabilia when you can custom-print your own Metal Gear Solid collectibles?
Companion Cube Die
What's iconic, cubical and just made to be brusquely tossed around? This Companion Cube Die, of course. Available in frosted plastic, stainless steel and silver "alumide" plastic, the Companion Cube Die will be 3D-printed to match your exact specifications. Now, how cool is that?
Eat, drink and be pun-ny, for tomorrow you may be engaged in terrible word play. The Discworld Ales are a thing of bubbling, decadent beauty. Each taster box, lovingly embellished so as to look like they came straight from the Unseen University, consists of four mouth-watering beers. I barely drink and I want a shipment of my own. Aroma of tropical citrus fruits and resinous pine? Honesty, earthy and refreshing ale with a classic aroma of cedar and herbs? Tell me that doesn't sound inviting.
Super Mario Cat Complex
If you've ever found yourself moping over no one ever sends "Thank You!" cards in spite of all the effort you put into holiday gift-giving, here's a suggestion to consider: get something for your cat instead. At least they're honest about taking you for granted. What makes this stylish Super Mario Cat Complex most excellent, however, is its decorous pigmentation. Want to please your cat and demonstrate your love for Italian plumbers without brutally mauling your home's color scheme? No worries!
Drew Wise's Geeky Christmas Apparel
Christmas is coming and you know what that means: ugly sweaters. But don't let that defeat your need for style. Show tradition who is boss by armoring yourselves with these woolen wonders. My personal favorites include the Gotta Catch 'Em All Hoodie and the Handheld Hoodie, both of which practically scream for snappy, slightly inappropriate captions. Bulky Christmas sweaters not your thing? Don't worry. Designer Drew Wise has an armada of other geeky pieces in waiting.
Mass Effect Nerf Gun
There's nothing more depressing than feigning adulthood on Christmas morning. Who really wants to sit around with a bowl full of sensible oatmeal when you could rampaging across the backyard with a nerf gun in each hand?This hand-painted, Mass Effect-inspired delight is the perfect excuse for anyone to reignite their passion in relatively harmless projectile weaponry.
Gifts for the Stylish Nerd(ette)
Portal 2 Turret hoodie
This Portal 2 Turret hoodie is a two-in-one present just waiting to happen. All you need to do to make your gift recipient love you forever is pack a voice modulator thingamabob along with the hoodie. I mean, who doesn't want to politely trill classic lines like, "Excuse me, you're squishing me," and "Owowowowowowow." Obvious enough to elicit nods of approval from fellow fans but discreet enough to be worn out without evoking glares from the mundane folk, this Portal 2 Turret Hoodie is a sure winner. (Unless the person you're sending it to already owns one in which case, you're screwed.)
Mistress of Pain Socks
Know a svelte cat with a penchant for action-RPGs and thigh-high stockings? You do? Lucky bugger. While this snuggly number may have been inspired by a menacing arachnid of a she-devil, the actual product will only raise heart rates, not alarms. The perfect finish for a perfect geeky winter outfit, you'll suffer no pains from these babies.
Legend of Zelda cuff links
Express your love for the Legend of Zelda with these insanely twee little cuff links. Though it isn't uncommon to see vintage video games jewellery, these cuff links are some of the few that eschew popular characters in favor of the cartridges themselves. They're really quite precious. Not terribly manly but certainly something to ponder if you're short on gift ideas and need something to submit to the sharply-dressed retro gamer in your life.
Piece of Heart: Legend of Zelda Necklace
Give a Piece of (Your) Heart to someone special this festive season. This hand-crafted testament to a love for all things Zelda may not be what all the cool kids are wearing but it does carry a certain quaint charm of its own. More importantly, perhaps, this Piece of Heart necklace will provide you with that all-important boost to your health bar -- who needs the approval of your peers when you can have that edge over the despicable Ganon instead? Sadly, this neither ships with a necklace nor an immunity to torrential downpours.
Gifts for the Retro Gamer
Help someone re-live the glory days of the Nintendo 64 by sending them this excellent interpretation of Kokiri's Emerald from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Though far from the most elegant piece of video game-inspired jewelry you'll be able to find on etsy, dweebishdelights' Kokiri's Emerald is charming, cheaply available and easily paired up with these equally delectable earrings.
A380 Pocket Emulator
Pffft. Developers these days. They think they know what gaming is, what with their crazy save points and their intricate plots. In my day, we had nothin' like that. You were lucky if you could walk for ten minutes without having to start from the beginning. The A380 Pocket Emulator is everything that is good about the contemporary generation brought together for one noble cause: to provide its users access to every classic console game ever. The retro handheld is fully configurable and will work with any of the ROMs you find online. (We don't officially condone the usage of such software, of course.) It even doubles as an eBook Readers and an audio recorder.
The Hyperkin Retron 5
The Hyperkin Retron 5 was supposed to be available December 10th but complications arose. On the bright side, this may mean you now have the perfect excuse for present-related tardiness. Want something great? You're gonna have to wait. And the Hyperkin Retron 5 is honestly quite spectacular. It's nine vintage consoles rolled into one, a hardware emulator that comes packaged with a custom Bluetooth controller purportedly capable of working with any system. It's supposed to be less than $100 and, unless something else comes up again, will be available next year. Woo.
NES Controller Print Set
You'd probably have to work real hard if you want to turn these into something truly revolutionary but why go out of your way to design toddler-sized origami masterpieces when you can use these as the final accents in your Nintendo tribute chamber? There's not much to be said here. They're prints. For the wall. For your nerd cave/game room/(wo)man bunker. How much more awesome did you need them to be?
Gifts for the Aww-dorable
Animal Crossing Plushies
Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a bit of a smash hit in this year's line-up -- a rather remarkable thing, honestly, if you stop and think about it. After all, the game's practically a menial labor simulator. Weeding. Participation in the retail cycle. Household chores. The works. Yet, cocooned in its twee environment and fenced in by all those candy-colored bipedal animals, Animal Crossing: New Leaf succeeded in doing something no mother ever could: it made all of those activities compelling. If there's someone in your life who still rigorously checks into portable town every other day, you may find boundless gratitude if you surprise them with this armament of plushies.
Zerg Overlord Plush Pattern
Who said hardcore gamers can't have cute things? Etsy merchant Arixystix's Overlord Plush Pattern is a two-pronged attack: it's one of the rare attempts at making hardcore RTS Starcraft cute and it allows for the opportunity to smugly expound on the virtues of making your own gifts. Fair warning, though, Ariyxstix's wonderfully squishy-looking Overlord sits on the "advanced difficulty" tier so you're likely going to want to have some talent with the needle before delving into this critter's immaculate conception.
League of Legends Rammus Plushie
Sorry, League of Legends fanatics. Rammus is better cute. I don't care how much you enjoy the ominous, razer-spiked version. This plushie version? Far superior. Measuring a comfortable 16" in height and 13" in width, the Rammus plush is a cuddly, smiley fellow that will brighten up any gaming desktop. Added bonus: the Rammus plushie ships with some of the character's most iconic lines.
Aw, what's cuddly and intent on seizing control of your bodily functions? This headcrab plush, that's what! Once so highly coveted that it was literally impossible to even contemplate ordering one without having to wait for months, the Half Life 2 Headcrab, which is lovingly printed with bloodstains, is currently sitting in Jinx awaiting the contents of your piggy bank.
Balloonicorn? Balloonicorn. The disconcertingly precious Balloonicorn is a staple of the Team Fortress 2 landscape. Only visible to those occupying Pyroland, the Balloonicorn is a signal of insanity, of murder sprees disguised by happier hallucinations. Get this for the Pyromaniac in your life and then gingerly request the shiny unlock code it ships with. (Or let them keep it if, you know, you're the nice sort who wants to live.)
Gifts for the Collector
Borderlands Psycho Bandit Mask & 1:1 Scale Buzz Axe
Do you have a friend with a killer bod and an itch to cosplay but absolutely zero affinity for personalized costume design? Excellent! I was hoping someone would come up and tell us that. Made to be as true to the in-game version of the Borderlands bandit mask as is humanly possible, this excellent replica features rather precise LED placement -- perfect to intimate the recipient is a stone-cold killer with radioactive sensory organs. Even more excitingly, this mask also comes with a pitch-perfect Buzz Axe. Yay!
Half-Life 2 Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator Replica
Prove the tensile strength of your friendship and cement your status as the Coolest Person Ever by purchasing this Half-Life 2 Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator Replica for someone near and dear. It's officially licensed piece of merchandise and it comes with the requisite assortment of LEDs, sounds and triggers. So, how long would we need to be friends in order to get you to get something like that for us, hmmm?
Borderlands 2 Limited Edition "Claptrap" Action Figures
Miniiiiiiiiiiiiion! Borderlands 2's Claptrap was the robot everyone loved to hate. He was loud, obnoxious, pathetic in a way that only occasionally engineered pity and something we've all shot at least once. Which is why you absolutely need to give one of these Borderlands 2 Limited Edition Claptraps to someone important in your life. Because everyone needs a gift they can't decide if they love or hate. I recommend making the Gentleman Caller your purchase of choice -- just so you can confuse folk Like A Sir.
BioShock Infinite Motorized Sky-Hook Replica
No, you cannot use this replica as a deadly weapon. No, you may not dangle from overhanging wires this way. No, this is not the new way to tra -- Sigh. Moving on. Rabid Bioshock Infinite fans should rejoice as there is now an excellent Sky-Hook replica you can prominently install into your respective wish lists. Deeply detailed and equipped with the necessary motorized bits, this Sky-Hook replica might not fit perfectly into a standard-issue stocking but it will occupy hearts just fine.
Gifts We Wish Someone Would Get Us
Descent: Journeys in the Dark Second Edition
I actually already own the base game for this, but I have two of the new expansions on my wishlist for Christmas, so it totally counts. Descent is a really interesting game because while it markets itself as a dungeon crawler -- which implies hack and slash, loot whoring cooperative gameplay in my book -- it's actually more of an asymmetrical competitive strategy game, in which one "Overlord" player takes on up to four "Hero" players in a variety of scenarios which can optionally be linked together into a story-based campaign with character progression on both sides. Somewhere between the theme-heavy nature of American board games and the mechanic-and-strategy-heavy nature of Eurogames, Descent is one of the few board games in my collection that can satisfy most types of player, and for my money that's something to be treasured. It's a really enjoyable game with a great combat system, and it would lend itself particularly well to video game adaptation. In fact, in many ways, a video game adaptation would be desirable simply to have fewer cards and chits floating around the table, but there's something inherently satisfying and enjoyable about getting around the table for something like this with friends.
Castle Ravenloft/Wrath of Ashardalon/Legend of Drizzt
I lump these games together because they're all part of the same series and make use of the same mechanics. They're board game adaptations of the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules, with an emphasis on combat and exploration rather than role-playing. Again, though, they're not straight hack-and-slash, loot-whoring games; they make use of some interesting mechanics, and you have to deal with a severely limited selection of abilities to complete an adventure. Better make sure you're really sure you need to use that Daily power before you fire it off.While dungeon crawlers aren't anything unusual in the video game space, these games' use of scarcity -- particularly with regard to the ability to heal and make use of special abilities -- puts me in mind of things like roguelikes and related games such as Desktop Dungeons. They're highly challenging games that would lend themselves well to digital adaptation.
My regular board gaming group refuse to play this ever again after our last attempt at playing the "short" game took approximately eight hours to complete. This was largely due to analysis paralysis on the part of several of our players, but it still nipped the opportunity to play a number of other games in the bud, which was a shame. This isn't to say it's a bad game, however -- far from it! -- it's just long, particularly if you play with five people like we did. Mage Knight is particularly interesting as a board game because it works as well -- if not better -- as a solo game as it does as a competitive or cooperative multiplayer offering, if only to reduce downtime. Its mechanics are peculiar, interesting and deep, too, combining strategy game-style movement and combat with deckbuilding as you collect abilities and make use of them to try and optimize each turn. Again, the simple opportunity to reduce the number of chits and cards on the table by adapting it to digital format would make it a solid video game -- throw in the various multiplayer scenarios, and you have a great turn-based strategy game that could easily rival some of the greats.
A Large-format 1080p Television
Now that I have joined the next generation of consoles, I feel like I'm really missing out on the most lively conversation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have to offer: Endless, bitter, acrimonious arguments about resolution, upscaling, and perceptual image quality. Until those platforms build up some decent libraries, screaming at each other about pixel counts is the definitive next-gen experience! Sadly, I only have televisions capable of 720p resolution, so I don't get to join the angry throngs. Everything I play looks totally fine on my televisions because there are no shenanigans required. Oh, if only I too could become swept up in the tidal wave of graphical rage! Sadly, I'm forced to judge next-gen games strictly by other considerations, like "fun" and "quality of design." It's tough to justify investing in a pricey new TV when I already have two that work perfectly well. Maybe one will fall off Santa's sleigh as he's winging his way overhead.
An iPad Mini
At the other end of the size spectrum, I could definitely go for one of the new high-resolution iPad minis. My first-generation iPad is getting too creaky to run games, and playing too long on an iPhone's tiny screen is known to cause blindness in lab rats. The mini strikes me as the perfect balance of screen size, weight, and other matters of ergonomics. The classic iPad is fine and all, but for extended gaming sessions (or, let's be honest, sessions of movie-watching or reading comics or any number of things that don't involve work) the smaller, lighter system seems ideally compact without being so cramped that my eyes start punching themselves in despair after extended use. I suppose a similarly sized tablet from another manufacturer would work, too, but at this point the hidden cost of all the iOS apps I've invested in make the real cost of moving over to a non-Apple device far more dear than paying Apple's up-front premium.
My old Saturn and PC Engine collection
When I start thinking about all the anger about screen resolution and the secret money traps of microtransactions and platform-specific purchases, I start to pine for the old days when you'd just buy a new game, stick it in your console, and play. Sadly, a financial hardship a few years ago forced me to divest myself of my entire collection of previous-generation games, and I'm really feeling their loss lately. Some of them are easy enough to replace - NES and Super NES software is all over the place, even if it's super-inflated compared to when I had to sell things off. But those consoles that excelled primarily overseas, like Sega's Saturn and the NEC TurboGrafx-16 (aka PC Engine)? They're a real pain to recover without making forays into foreign lands. But then again, I guess I'd need yet another TV to make proper use of those games. Old-school hardware demands old-school CRTs, not modern flat panels. Maybe I should ask for a second apartment for Christmas so I can fit all this stuff in there.
A Wii U-Compatible Back-Up Hard Drive
This is the perfect gift, in that it's something I can never bring myself to spend my own money on. The Basic Wii U (it was the only one I could find on shelves last year!) is hobbled with just 8 GB of memory, only about 3GB of which can be used to store downloaded games. That's not even enough to download the free Wii Fit U trial. So at the same time the Wii U is functionally impaired without that expanded storage, I wonder just how much I would actually use it. I don't play many Wii U games as it is, there aren't a lot of compelling downloadable only titles on the system, and it's not like Nintendo runs a lot of discounts for the retail stuff.
This is the perfect gift, in that it's something I can't currently bring myself to spend my own money on.
Seriously, these floors are gross.
The Planetary Omnibus
Long ago, when Mike was still in that college thing that amounted to little, Warren Ellis and John Cassaday tore his mind asunder with an exploration into comics. Planetary is the story of three adventurers looking into the weirdness of their universe, all backed by the Fourth Man. It was and remains, one of my favorite comics of all-time. It's been released in hardcover and Absolute editions before, but this omnibus collects the entire series for a reasonable $50 on Amazon. Sure, it's not out until Jan 2014, but you can preorder it for a comic-reading loved one.
Persona 4 & Persona 4 Arena: Official Design Works
I love art books. I like seeing the design process and I just love great character designs. Hell, I have a Pinterest dedicated to great character designs I find around on the internet. Though I'm not as deep into the Persona series as Pete, I do see the character work of Shigenori Soejima as amazing. Every time I look at his designs, I just want to grab a pencil and start drawing myself. (Disclaimer: this has not actually led to an improvement in drawing skill.) Udon has been kind enough to translate two art books featuring Soejima's work: Persona 4 Official Design Works and Persona 4 Arena Official Design Works. Like the rest of Udon's art books, they keep of the high quality you'd find in the Japanese art books, in a language you can actually read.
Bond 50: The Complete 23 Film Collection
I'm cheating a bit here. I already own last year's version of this, which includes all 22 Bond films minus Skyfall, but this year's version includes Skyfall in the mix. I love the idea of remixing a concept. Of taking an idea and viewing it through different lenses to see what you find. That's why I enjoy franchises like Bond, Gundam, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, etc. Each is full of different takes on the same idea. With the 50th anniversary of James Bond, there's an entire collection celebrating the entire series. You get the good with the bad here, but there's just so much good! If you're a Bond fan, this set is an absolute must-have.
M.A.S.K Jedi Mind Trix Custom Build Backpack
Dear Santa, I would like to think I've been excellent this year. I've written lots of articles, attended plenty of events and stoically avoided making an embarrassment of myself. For Christmas, what I'd really, really like is a laptop bag capable of supporting my beast of a portable desktop. A 17" laptop and every modern handheld in existence can weigh on one's spine. The Mind Trix Custom Build Backpack appeals not only to my aching musculature but also my innate sense of vanity. Yes, I do want to specify exactly how the lining should look. If I'm going to have a symbiotic relationship with anything, it's going to be with an attractive specimen.
While Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles have stolen all the limelight of late, there's another up-and-coming system I'm looking forward to. It's called the Retron 5, and as you might have gathered from its name, it's not next gen. Indeed, it's the opposite - a many-generations-ago system. Created by Hyperkin, better known for their many contemporary and retro gaming accessories, Retron 5 is so named for its five different ports that enable you to play NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Genesis/Megadrive, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color cartridges.
What I particularly like about the Retron 5 is that it has its own fully programmable controller, but also has slots for each console's original joypads, should you want a fully authentic experience. It runs games through HDMI, so no more wobbly old RF pictures, and the system upscales images to fill the screen. All of that sounds like something I really want - and that's why I'm talking about it here. The only bad news is that its original early Dec release has been pushed out to March of next year. But I can wait. And I'll certainly be doing a full review of it when it finally arrives.
Warhammer Gaming Room
This is nuts, but hey – it’s a wishlist, right? I love playing Warhammer 40k, and by that I mean the real-life tabletop game using painted models.
I just find the physicality and social nature of it completely different to video gaming, and I also like the fact that battles can rage for many hours. The downside, however, is the space you need to play, and it’s something that neither my friends nor I have. So we have to rent out space at our local gaming store, which is not ideal and often results in games being cut short… plus we can’t play any music, knock back the kind of inebriants that help smooth out arguments over those particularly tricky blast template measurements, or indeed get loud over those aforementioned game-making moments.
So that’s all I’m asking for. A Warhammer gaming space with a nice 6 x 4 table that I can finally send my Deathwing army into glorious battle! For the Emperor! Etc etc etc…
Robotron 2084 Coin-Op
There aren’t many arcade machines I want in my home, since I can play emulated versions of them on my TV perfectly well. But there’s something about Robotron 2084 that makes it best appreciated in native form, standing in front of it, using its two stubby joysticks to destroy endless armies of robots.
The game is my all-time favorite: a slice of genius shooter that’s very simple in concept, but an absolute beast of a game in practice. It’s got very few frills, which is what I think makes it such a classic game. It’s the pure essence of a shooter: huge firepower, overwhelming odds, and do-or-die greed bonuses that you need to grab to earn the extra lives you need to keep going. I tend to get bored of games easily, but Robotron is one that I can always play.
So yeah. Robotron 2084 cabinet please.