7. Strange Third Party Controllers
Since most consoles only come with one controller included, getting a second (or third, or fourth) controller is certainly not a poor gift idea. However, there is one caveat; controllers are expensive. But don’t worry; there are companies out there who have alternatives available for the cost conscious gift giver. So what is it you give up in exchange for a cheaper controller? Most of the time, it comes down to a different look and feel compared to the standard controllers. Yet, despite that being the only major difference, everything about these controllers seems inferior. The controller will feel awkward, you will swear that it isn’t correctly reading your inputs, and the buttons will all feel sticky (although none of this is really true).
What a third-party controller does give you though is a way to gauge whether or not someone is really your friend. If you go over to a friend’s place to throw down in some Goldeneye and they hand you the horrible third party controller their grandmother got them 2 Christmases ago, that person is not really your friend.
6. Any Tiger Electronic Handheld Game
When someone plays a handheld, chances are they are playing a Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, or an iPhone. But these are not the only handheld games out there. There exist games such as this…
Typically, most gamers know to avoid these games. They are shallow, terrible, and not fun in the slightest. You are not going to find these games at your local electronics retailer, but instead you will find them at pharmacies and thrift stores (places that wouldn’t know the difference between a Playbox 360 and an XStation 3). Nana Gertrude does not know as well as you however, and when she hears you really want Mortal Kombat, you find this waiting for you under the tree.
5. Anything developed by Rare that isn’t on the Nintendo 64
Rare was once the proud company behind classic titles such as Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark. Now, they wallow in self pity as each passing release further removes them from their glory days. Here are some of the games that Rare has released post-Nintendo 64.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies (66 score on Metacritic)
Kameo: Elements of Power (79 score on Metacritic)
Perfect Dark Zero (81 score on Metacritic)
Kinect Sports (73 score on Metacritic)
This used to mean a game was good...
“Hey, those are not so bad,” you say to yourself,”I would say those are decidedly average.” And you would be completely correct. But other releases by Rare from its franchises such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Perfect Dark scored in the upper 90’s on Metacritic. And failing that, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power were launch titles for the Xbox 360 and were reviewed with rose colored glasses when they were released. Getting any of these games for the Holidays would be a massive disappointment, especially if you get Kinect Sports because no real gamer likes playing the Kinect.
4. Strategy Guides for a Game They Don’t Own
You know what franchise consistently releases great games, Zelda. Oftentimes, these games also provide some level of challenge for the average gamer. Personally I have a strategy guide for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and I used it often for two reasons.
1. I owned the game
2. I had never heard of FAQ/Walkthroughs for games on the internet
Now, it is not unreasonable for someone to think I would want/need a Strategy Guide for the new game in the franchise, Skyward Sword.
Never have so many trees given their lives for so very little...
Whoever got me this gift would fail to realize I don’t own Skyward Sword and that I write for a website that devotes 95% of its content to helping people get through some of the most difficult parts of games. Now that I really stop to think about it, strategy guides in general have no real purpose in this day and age, even if you do own the game. Instead of killing trees for useless pages that can be found on the internet anyway, get someone a limited edition art book or a poster for their favorite game.
Everyone over the age of 40 still believes that everything electronic runs on Double-A Batteries. Is your TV Remote on the fritz? Get some Energizers. Is your wired controller no longer working? Throw some Duracell at the problem. Everything can be solved with batteries.
We don't need a new hot water heater. It is just out of batteries.
…except batteries are almost useless with modern consoles; all the controllers used for modern consoles are either rechargeable or have affordable rechargeable options. Instead of a pack of Double-A’s, pick up a Play and Charge kit. Getting batteries is the gamer equivalent of getting socks.
2. Books set in the Worlds of Popular Video Games
I wrote a book set in the multiplayer portion of Modern Warfare 3, this is an excerpt from that book.
The world was black and grey as my squad was dropped into what can only be described as a desert arena of death. I frantically searched in every direction for an escape, but it appeared there was no way out. I looked over to my left and saw Private HotDingoLove420. He had joined the team late and was stuck using hand-me-down equipment from the last engagement. He was a skinny kid, couldn’t have been more than 120 or 130 pounds and he looked to be not a day over 19. His ill-fitting helmet shook atop his head and his uniform hung wearily from his shoulders.
If there were one man we looked to for guidance, it was our commander xXLongSchlongSilverXx. He was a veteran of over 500 battles and boasted a K/D ratio of 2.45. We knew that wherever he went, we would follow.
We hunkered down in an abandoned building. xXLongSchlongSilverXx to my left and HotDingoLove420 to my right. I shut my eyes tight, but I could hear the bullets fly overhead. Then, as I sat there, I heard a sound unlike anything I had heard in my life. I looked and saw that HotDingoLove420 had been shot. I reached and grabbed his Dog Tags and held them in my hands. I began to sob softly to myself, knowing that such a young life had been cut short in its prime. As I cried into my hands I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked and saw HotDingoLove420 standing above me.
“How?,” I asked. It was the only word I could manage to form.
He smiled and said, “I respawned.”
I have no doubt that other writers may be finer wordsmiths than I, but books set in Game Universes are tough to sell. Speaking of which, my book ‘Multiplayer Blues’ is still looking for a publisher if anyone is interested…
There is no way this book will be any good.
1. A Subscription to a MMO That They Don’t Already Play
Chances are you are going to know someone who plays World of Warcraft. Chances are they are a level 70 Paladin who is looking to find a guild that shares his interest in fishing up Old Ironjaw (it should be made clear at this point that I have never played World of Warcraft). The person who plays an MMO such as World of Warcraft would greatly appreciate a year subscription to their favorite online realm.
However, non-gaming gift buyers do not know the difference between one MMO to another. So instead of a World of Warcraft subscription, they get you a subscription for DC Universe Online. This situation cannot end happily for the gamer because one of two things can happen.
1. You hate the game. DC Universe just cannot compare to your usual fantasy world and you long to return to your World of Warcraft. The problem is, since it was a gift, you feel obligated to continue to play even though the game isn’t holding your interest.
2. You love the game and want to continue to play it. This leaves you paying two subscriptions for two games you love equally. Or you can decide to leave World of Warcraft on the wayside. But leaving your favorite MMO can be difficult. I would equate it to breaking up with a significant other. You find someone new and fun, but you feel guilty leaving them behind for all the good they brought you in the past.
In either situation, someone gets hurt; and nothing stings quite like an ex-video game scorned.
Or you get something even worse...