Daily Lists, Video Games

TRV’S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2015: Video Games

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Artwork by Citrus King

Artwork by Citrus King

Well, it’s that time of the year again! A time of giving, a time of sharing, a time of good cheer, a festive season that brings out the good in everyone…not to mention the time of the year when we all worship Santauros.

Santauros…Well, I do, anyway. Now, those of you who have been good enough gamers this year should easily find presents from Santauros under your tree this holiday season (or when and wherever you receive your gifts; Santauros does not discriminate). But again, this is the season of giving, so if you’re going to get some presents for the rest of your gaming buddies as well, maybe as part of a Secret Santauros exchange or such, you might need some suggestions. So for each of your friends, here are some notable video game ideas (and more!) to get for them, of at least propose they check out with their gift cards and such…

1. For the Story Hound…

GiftUndertale

What to Get: First things first: buy them a copy of Undertale. Heck, buy yourself a copy of Undertale as well. Yes, I know I usually save something like this for the part about budget games, but dammit, this is easily the best-written, most creative game to come out this year, with extremely memorable characters and a story filled with moments hilarious, heartwarming, and even horrifying. It is indeed the year’s greatest RPG, so don’t miss out on it. And then of course, there’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Pillars of Eternity, both of which are incredible, immersive classic fantasy RPGs with hours upon hours of gameplay as well with their own heavy emphases on story…but neither of them feature an enemy called a Tsundereplane, so nope, my vote still goes to Undertale. And for the adventure game fan, there’s always Tales from the Borderlands, though I’ve kind of already sung enough praises about that game as well, to the point where I gave away a copy right here recently (in case you somehow don’t recall).

Budget Gifts: Buy Undertale. Yes, I mentioned it above as well, but it’s so damn good that I’m mentioning it twice. What can I say, I’m determined to share it with you all. And while calling it a “budget” game compared to Tales from the Borderlands is a bit iffy, since it’s only about five dollars cheaper, Life is Strange is also a grand standout when it comes to episodic adventure games this year, telling a compelling drama about time travel and the troubles of being a teenager. Two of 2015’s other games praised for their stories and/or mysteries are, weirdly enough, both FMV games…Her Story and Contradiction, which when combined with Guitar Hero Live, makes me wonder if there isn’t some sort of bizarre comeback in the works. Finally, there’s Read Only Memories, which both Jim and I can attest to being one of the year’s best cyberpunk gems.

Extras: Oh look, Fangamer has Undertale merchandise now as well! Maybe you should pick some of it up! For those of you demanding some actual story in this area, though, there’s the long-lost The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past graphic novel by Shotaro Ishinomori, finally reprinted by Viz Media. And if you like a warm drink with your games the same way you’d want one for curling up with a good book, an 8-bit Rise & Shine Heat Changing Mug from ThinkGeek (or any of their game-themed mugs) should do a good job holding your hot chocolate (that you Irished up a bit).

2. For the Explorer…

GiftJustCause3

What to Get: For the person who loves exploring vast lands with a lot to do and find (and who presumably has a lot of time on their hands), it’s still kind of hard to avoid the obvious choice here, that being Fallout 4. Even it is one of the lesser Fallout games, it’s still kind of hard to avoid the allure of exploring a vast, post-apocalyptic Boston and killing whatever you come across. Then there’s Just Cause 3, a game entirely devoted to exploring an entire land for the sole purpose of finding crazier new ways to wreck s*** up (and I think there’s a plot there too, I guess). Not mention Rise of the Tomb Raider, where you can explore lost ruins and search for countless collectibles amongst breathtaking landscapes. But hey, why limit you and your friends to merely exploring Earth? Grab Elite: Dangerous, and allow all of you to play space trucker across the entire Milky Way!

Budget Gifts: Well, Metroidvania games are always the best solutions here, offering up large lands to explore at a fraction of the cost. Ori and The Blind Forest was the obvious champion in that area this year, thanks to its jaw-dropping visual flair and great gameplay. But let us not forget Apotheon and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse as well, depending on whether your tastes lean more towards Greek mythology or cute cartoon genies. But for those of your friends who aren’t into Metroidvania games, then may I suggest something that seems a bit unorthodox…Dropsy. It might seem like an odd choice, but I can definitely say that this is an adventure game entirely centered around exploration and experimentation, so pick it up for them as well.

Extras: If your potential explorer needs a little inspiration when it comes to vast gaming worlds, then iam8bit’s Videogames World Map makes for an incredible decoration to hang on their wall. And if you have the kind of gamer who actually does like to travel a lot (or plays Ingress), then a game-themed phone case should be handy for keeping their method of contact safe (or at least help to make it look cool). But if this is the type of gamer who prefers to stay at home and comb every nook and cranny of immense open worlds…then they’re gonna need some caffeine. Maybe skip the Dew and get them some Surge instead, for nostalgia’s sake. And on that note…

3. For the Retro Gamer…

GiftGrimFandango

What to Get: Rare Replay is kind of hard to ignore here, what with it containing thirty classic Rare games spanning thirty years of history. Mind you, your definition of “classic” may be tested when you get to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, but the whole thing is still a grand blast from the past. If your friends prefer something more strategic, though, the Homeworld Remastered Collection just may be the ticket, complete with the classic versions of the games for the purists among your space armada. Finally, even if it is stretching the definition of “retro” quite a bit, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection rounds up a trio of classic action games that defined a huge chunk of the previous gaming generation and beyond (for better and for worse).

Budget Gifts: Hey, are your friends still longing for the days when LucasArts was prominent and Capcom was still an acclaimed video game publisher with no backlash? Then let Grim Fandango Remastered, the Mega Man Legacy Collection, and the Resident Evil HD Remaster help snap them out of a funk! Of course, the indie game scene has no shortage of games that capture the spirit of the classic games of yesteryear as well. Broforce is an amazing throwback to the likes of Contra and Bionic Commando, Axiom Verge is an amazing throwback to the likes of Metroid, and Downwell is an amazing throwback to classic arcade games in general, being the greatest 8-bit game about gunboots ever designed by a Japanese opera singer. No hyperbole there.

Extras: If you have deep pockets and want to go all in for your friends who love the good ol’ days, a Hyperkin Retron 5 will allow then to play NES, SNES, Genesis games and more. If your pockets aren’t that deep, then maybe a 10-Doh! figure would be safer bet, and they make for a pretty cute decoration. Or your pals just like to read about the history of video games as a whole, Hardcore Gaming 101 (a website that’s a personal fave of mine, by the way) just released their new book The 200 Best Video Games of All Time, which I’ll confidently wager is a quality read.

4. For the Multiplayer Fan…

GiftRocketLeague

What to Get: So despite the whole snafu over the game’s DLC, what I have played of Evolve so far still impressed me quite a bit, what with being able to help take down a King Kong-sized monster, so I’m going to recommend it. So sue me. And while Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege suffered a somewhat similar controversy as well, it does look like a fun tactical shooter overall, so let’s throw that in too. I also mentioned before that the Warzone mode in Halo 5: Guardians was a blast as well, so that comes highly recommended for the multiplayer gamers in your life as well. And for those of you would like a game that’s not a shooter, Mortal Kombat X should still provide you with all the one-on-one khaotic karnage you need.

Budget Gifts: In kind of a direct contrast to the online multiplayer above (save for Mortal Kombat X), indie games have recently been making larger moves towards local multiplayer, allowing your friends to cram around the couch again. But in both online and local, Rocket League is still the MVP here, because I still fail to see how rocket RC cars + giant exploding soccer ball is anything but a winning formula. Duck Game has also gotten a lot of attention and rave reviews this year, even drawing comparison to an 8-bit Super Smash Bros. Knight Squad made headlines when its Bomberman/Gauntlet gameplay hybrid was downloaded a million times, Runbow is one of the Wii U’s finest indies, and The Next Penelope brings back fond memories of Micro Machines, so any of those would easily work too.

Extras: Extras are literally where you should begin with here…extra controllers, I mean, for any local multiplayer. And again, if you have money to burn, an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller would make for a particularly exciting gift. Plus, it might spice up multiplayer games if you announce that the winner of each round gets to use it. And you know, I haven’t even covered MOBAs here as well, for some reason. But if your friends are into them, a Heroes of the Storm Funko Mystery Mini or two would make for a good stocking stuffer. Finally, to make sure your friends always have snacks on hand for any parties or long-term gaming sessions, a Graze or NatureBox subscription could do nicely (although that may depend on the portion sizes…).

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