Modern video games offer an uncanny level of realism; they all but reach out from the TV and punch you in the face. The holidays are the best time to slow down and remember the roots of the pastime. Our holiday gift guide for the retro game enthusiast will make it easy for you and your loved ones to return to a simpler time when we fixed broken games by blowing into the cartridge instead of waiting for a patch. Blowing didn't always work, but blacking out from oxygen deprivation was its own thrill.
From retro consoles to books that dissect everything there is to know about your favorite long-lived game properties, here are 2019's best nostalgic gift ideas.
Gift Ideas for the Nostalgic Gamer
The Analogue Super Nt
The Super Nt is the ideal gift for a retro game fan who's feeling nostalgic about their SNES game library. This great-looking SNES replica plugs into HDTVs and displays classic SNES games at 1080p. There are tons of audio/visual options, including aspect ratio preservation, scanlines, different video resolutions, scalers, and more. It's compatible with SNES games, Super Famicom games, and accessories—including the forever-underrated SNES Mouse that came with Mario Paint. This is a great get for anyone who's thinking of getting back into 16-bit game collecting.
Sega Genesis Mini
Official plug-and-play "mini consoles" are still a hot ticket, and the Sega Genesis Mini is 2019's shining example. This handsome lad is loaded with some of the best games of the 16-bit generation (42 in total), including Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Earthworm Jim, Contra: Hard Corps, and Streets of Rage 2. It even includes games that initially saw a very limited release, like Mega Man: The Wily Wars and the Sega Genesis version of Tetris. For a full game list and a summary of what the Mini is capable of, take a look at our review.
Arcade 1UP Street Fighter 3-in-1 Home Arcade Cabinet
Anyone who spent part of the '90s slumming around arcades for a chance to play Street Fighter 2 is guaranteed to fall in love with this replica arcade cabinet. It's loaded with three iconic iterations of Street Fighter 2: Champion Edition, Super Street Fighter 2, and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. The cabinet is a perfect re-creation of the original Street Fighter 2 cabinet, beautiful art and all. The only significant difference is 1UP's cabinets are smaller and lighter than the real thing at 3/4 of the original size, and with a weight of 58 lbs, so even apartment dwellers should be able to find a corner for this little piece of history. Needless to say, you don't need coins to play this cabinet, but you'll need to supply your own cigarette smoke, sticky floor, and Coke stains.
Tastefully Nostalgic Game Accessories
N64 Neon Light
No matter which system you backed in the 32- and- 64-bit Console Wars, there's no denying the N64 logo is a thing of retro beauty. Plug it in next to a CRT television and bask in its neon glow. It's the ideal accessory for someone's gaming room. If they don't have a gaming room, it's fine in the living room, too. Their cats will be very impressed.
Game Boy Cartridge Pendant
Is a pal's neck looking a little bare? Fix that immediately with this pendant shaped like a "wireframe" Game Boy cartridge. Order it in brass, copper, bronze, or silver. It's stylish, classy, and clever. Perfect for parties, fun outings, weddings, and funerals.
NES Cartridge Coasters
You know when a friend puts a wet drink on your table and you ask them to use a coaster, and they complain that your coasters aren't cool enough? Give your furniture a present this year with this set of coasters designed to look like NES cartridges. If your friend still puts their wet drink on your naked table, throw them out and cut off all communication. They had their chance.
PokeBall Waffle Maker
Is there a video game symbol more timeless than the PokeBall? It's such a sleek, iconic design...good enough to eat, I think. Buy this PokeBall-shaped waffle iron for your friends, and I'm sure they'll agree. Maple syrup is not included, but I'm sure there's at least one Pokemon that produces the stuff, right? Just shake it down.
Sonic the Hedgehog Phone/Controller Holder
Sonic loves nothing more than to run as free as the wind, unburdened by responsibilities. Still, he's fine with you putting him in a box, wrapping him up, and handing him off to a friend so he can stand perfectly still and hold their phone or controller. No, no. it's OK. Really. It's great.
Classic Gaming Books
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia
Dark Horse's Hyrule Historia is an in-depth encyclopedia of everything to do with the Legend of Zelda series. You'll find timelines, character profiles, obscure facts, rare art, developer stories, and tons more: there's enough here to keep Zelda fans warm and comfortable through the coldest, darkest days of winter. There's even an exclusive comic that's a prequel to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. An unquestionable must-have for Zelda enthusiasts.
Good Nintentions: 30 Years of NES
Former Editor-in-Chief and great friend of USgamer Jeremy Parish is pretty much the world's leading authority on retro games. Good Nintentions is a hefty tribute that collects 30 years of NES history and goes into serious depth about the console's history and games. You'll also find features and write-ups about 200 games, and breakdowns of how the titles of yesterday inspired today's retro-themed classics, like Shovel Knight.
Toys for the Nostalgic Gamer
Banjo Kazooie Totaku Figure
If you're not aware, Totaku figures are GameStop-exclusive figurines designed in the spirit of Nintendo's Amiibo. Totaku figures can't interact with games and they're not poseable, but they're still fun and affordable display pieces. You'll find Totakus representing all sorts of characters on GameStop's website or in its stores, but something about Banjo and Kazooie really hits retro gamers where they live. Get your pal a honey bear and a red-crested breegull to let them know you love them. Da-hah!
Squishy Kirby Blind Bag
Hot Topic's Kirby Blind Bags will supply you with one out of a possible nine Kirbys that you can squish, squish, squish. You never know which one you'll get until you open it, but that's no matter: each one is equally squishy and easy to love. If you have a friend who's a little stressed out over life, work, school, or whatever, squishy Kirby is guaranteed to put them at ease. Don't worry about hurting him! He's so stuffed full of good will, it's impossible to harm his fluffy bod. Also, he's basically an elder god, so...
Comfy Retro Gamer Clothes
Kingdom Hearts 12 Days of Socks
There are two ways to keep your feet warm RPG-style: Have Donald cast Zeta Flare on them, or just pick up this 12-pack of Kingdom Hearts socks. Even though every kid dreads getting socks on Christmas, most adults are like, "Hell yeah! Socks!" Add a dash of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, and you have a gift that's impossible to hate.
Jurassic Park Pixel Tank Top
This tank top delivers a double-hit of nostalgia with its pixel-based art style and Jurassic Park theme. The scene on the front of the tank top depicts events from the movie, but in my opinion it doubles as a tribute to the Sega Genesis Jurassic Park game. ("Play as the Raptor!") This tank might not be in season when you gift it to a nostalgic pal, but they're guaranteed to love it when summer rolls back around.