2016 has been an absolutely awful year. Celebrity deaths aplenty, a contentious and divisive election, and a ton of game delays. Even with all of that, however, 2016 was no slouch when it comes to cool tech, great games, and kick-ass kitsch to adorn your walls and shelves. We at Gaming Trend have put together some of our favorites for this last-second holiday gift guide. All of the items have a link for purchase, so you should be able to nab these (maybe with some expedited shipping) before your loved ones know that you waited to the last second.
Pocket Change – (Under $20)
Funko POP Figures – $7 to $15
Corvo, Big Daddy, Diablo, Tyrael, the whole Firefly crew, Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China — chances are there is a bobblehead for whatever geek culture you subscribe to, and most of them cost between 7 and 15 bucks.
Boom! Box Mix Tape 2016 – $9.99
Boom! Comics’ annual anthology rolls with an actual mixtape theme this year, as music plays an integral part of the strips represented here. There’s a smorgasbord of wonderful talent here, with stories from popular Boom! series like Lumberjanes and Giant Days to original content from people like Sina Grace and Anna Strain, there’s something for everyone. Personal favorite: Sammy Borras’ “Puzzle Fest”, which has you doing assorted activities within the story in order to help get a group of fans to listen to one of their favorite bands.
Adventure Time: Islands – $9.99
While Adventure time is slated to end in 2018, the series has no signs of slowing down for the next year, with the next miniseries, Islands, set for release in the near future. This original graphic novel acts as a prequel set 1000 years before the current timeline. Jo and a smattering of human survivors have to survive the treacherous surroundings of their land following the Great Mushroom War and recent vampire infestation. Aided by an imaginary version of Marceline, Jo must brave nature when she gets separated from the group, and goes on a journey of survival and self-realization on what it truly means to be safe.
PokéBall Serving Bowl Set – $9.99
For the Pokémon lover in your life, here’s a way for them to capture their cereal, a bowl of ice cream, or perhaps a small creature. At $9.99 it’s also highly reasonable — you’ve probably spent more than that on virtual pokéballs.
Assassin’s Creed: The Official Coloring Book – $15.99
Coloring books have made a renaissance as of late. A series that relies on gorgeous backdrops and settings like Assassin’s Creed has no trouble translating to this medium, as the high quality of pages included depict key scenes in the franchise’s illustrious history. Plus you can color in your favorite assassins as they do their business on hapless targets, so there’s that. (Review)
Amiibos – $12.99 for individual ones
Hey guys, the Amiibo shortage is done; two years overdue maybe, but now is the perfect time to get your favorite Nintendo characters in figurine form! While most of the figures are tailored for Smash Bros., there are quite a few games that support them, such as Mario Party 10 and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. In addition to unlocking some in-game content, they’re also pretty adorable to have around an office setting.
Deadfall – $9.99
Want a quick yet satisfying game to play with a group? Deadfall is your game. This simple bluffing/deduction card game has you playing the odds and guessing at the psychology of your friends, but in fast-paced rounds that keep the game from getting bogged down with analysis. With some simple mechanics and intuitive gameplay you can get players up and running quickly but develop a deeper appreciation of the strategy through more plays.
The Nightmare Before Christmas Manga – $15.99
If you haven’t read the manga adaptation of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, you’re in luck! Tokyopop re-released the adaptation to the cult Halloween/Christmas classic earlier this year, and it’s a treat to fans new and old. The songs are covered in this adaptation as well, so you can sing along with the lyrics as you read the wonderful misadventures of Jack Skellington and the denizens of Halloween Town. This hardcover limited edition may be going fast though, so get it before it sneaks away like Sandy Claws! (Impressions)
DC Rebirth Deluxe Edition – $17.99
Unlike the contested New 52, the DC Rebirth reboots have been pretty well received. This hardcover reprints the first one-shot that started it all, and while it doesn’t have much in terms of new content, it still looks gorgeous thanks to the quality of the reprint. If you missed out on this the first time around (good luck trying to find the first printing of the original one-shot), now’s as good a time as ever to check out why everything’s the way it is in the current DC universe.
Wii U and 3DS Nintendo Selects – $19.99
Looking for some great holiday fun at a low price? Then pick up Nintendo Selects, handpicked titles that, for the most part, are some of Nintendo’s highlights. On the Wii U side, you have games like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Pikmin 3, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Super Mario 3D World, which are very solid titles in a somewhat smaller library. With the 3DS, you have the excellent Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which recently had a huge update, and Tomodachi Life, a pretty neat Sims-like game that paved the way for Miitomo. If you’re still on the lookout for an NES Classic, you should check out the NES Remix Pack on Wii U, which mashes up the best NES titles into a wildly entertaining ride.
Folding Money – ($20-50)
Sonic and Mega Man: Worlds Collide – $30
When Archie Comics first published Mega Man comics in their Archie Action line, writer Ian Flynn REALLY wanted a crossover done with the company’s other acquisition, Sonic the Hedgehog. Combining a plot that spans both heroes’ franchises, Worlds Collide is the result of Dr. Eggman and Dr. Wily scheming together to rule their respective worlds, and happening across each other. After a cataclysmic event that turns Sonic’s pals into robot masters, it’s up to Sonic and Mega Man to work together and stop the dastardly duo from destroying their worlds. If you’ve been catching up on the Sonic the Hedgehog Archie series, this omnibus is required reading, as it sets up the modern reboot that’s currently ongoing.
Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe – $25
Erica Henderson and Ryan North have teamed up to make an interesting hero from the 90s relevant back in 2015, and this year they’ve created an original graphic novel starring the loveable squirrel and girl hybrid. After Iron Man acquires strange cloning technology that accidentally copies Doreen Green (aka Squirrel Girl), her doppelganger is created. Being the all-loving hero that she is, Squirrel Girl tries to teach her clone the benefits of being a superhero, but an emotional experience leaves her clone to become a well-intentioned extremist that only wants one thing: to beat up every superhero to save squirrel species from extinction ala Deadpool and Punisher style (minus the killing!). This is a family friendly adventure that the whole family can laugh along and enjoy.
Frank Miller’s Robocop Omnibus – $39.99
While the rebooted Robocop film a few years back garnered a PG-13 rating, the originals were pretty hardcore R-rated fare that focused on nonstop action and graphic violence. For the first time ever, Frank Miller’s original vision for Robocop is included, which is chock full of violence, black comedy, and neo-noir. As a bonus, the adaptations of unused screenplays of Robocop 2 and 3 written by Steve Grant, as well as some bonus material are included. Dead or alive, fans should pick this one up.
Joking Hazard – $25
Reminiscent of Cards Against Humanity, the guys responsible for Cyanide & Happiness have made a card game that’s a “very adult and not-for-kids” party game. Players will have to finish a three panel comic using the cards in their hand. As you can imagine from the folks at C & H, this leads to a host of very hilarious and raunchy situations.
The Force Awakens Beginner’s Game – $29.95
Star Wars and roleplaying games are both resurgent, and anyone looking to get into both now has an easy, cost-effective way of doing so. Fantasy Flight’s boxed set gives you a collection of premade characters, a basic ruleset, and a starter adventure to get you battling darkness in the Star Wars universe. It’s a perfect jumping off point for the rest of their Star Wars line with compatible rules, and contains the set of dice you will need to play their other games. Best of all, this ruleset is very beginner friendly and encourages all the greatest aspects of a roleplay experience.
Dark Horse Deluxe Figures – $30-50
The Legend of Zelda and Witcher figures are absolutely phenomenal, and the Game of Thrones characters aren’t bad either. These vary wildly in price, falling between 30 and 50 bucks.
Secret Wars – $50
Kiss the Ultimate Marvel universe goodbye with 2015 AND 2016’s event of the year. After a years-long run with Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, we finally get to see what happens when all of reality is wiped off the face of existence due to the ominous incursions. Doctor Doom becomes god Doom, and a handful of heroes and villains from the 616 and Ultimate universe must join forces in order to rewrite history. While the original run for this event was marred by delays and an extra issue, it’s much better to grab this and read it all in one go. If anything, the last issue with an iconic fight with one of the greatest rivalries in the Marvel universe is worth the price of admission.
Big Trouble In Little China Board Game – $40
How could I recommend a Funko POP David Lo Pan bobblehead and not recommend the board game to go along with it. When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya’d like a board game based on the 80’s cult hit, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: “Do ya want the game, Jack? Yessir, the check is in the mail”.
Anker Power Core 20000mAh Quick Charge battery pack – $44
Sometimes your devices need a drink in a hurry. A good rapid charger with multiple ports will make you the savior among your friends as multiple people can rapidly charge their phones and tablets with two USB ports. At 2.8oz, this thing weighs less than a deck of cards.
Wonder Woman A Celebration of 75 years – $35
The upcoming movie looks amazing, and Gal Gadot turned in a fantastic performance in Batman vs. Superman. But Wonder Woman has had a long and storied career up to this point. Now you can get this awesome look at one of the longest-running female hero comics ever written. This box set is also pretty fantastic, if you want to double down.
Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History – $39
If you know what comes after “Goblin King, Goblin King…” then you will love this hardbound embossed book, featuring artwork, interviews, and candid photos from the set of the Jim Henson film.
JOTO Cable Management Sleeves – $13.99
These are the best thing for a gamer who’s got cords running everywhere. These simple neoprene sleeves help corral that nonsense, making a messy space look downright (almost) respectable.
Mass Effect N7 Hoodie – $60
Whether you roll M-Shep or Fem-Shep, there’s a hoodie for you. In fact, there’s also some pretty fantastic Dragon Age hoodies that just might make the Bioware fan in your family smile. If not, there’s a reversible Renegade/Paragon hoodie that’ll help you figure out their mood.
BB8 RC Droid – $99.99
Who wouldn’t love to control this awesome little bot? With a 30m range, the app-controlled little guy is an easy pickup for any Star Wars fan.
Titan Art Books – $24.99
Real talk here — Titan makes some amazing art books. Covering the hottest games of the season, these hardback books showcase the amazing creative process that brings our favorite titles to life. Whether it’s Titanfall 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, or many others, you can’t go wrong with these peeks behind the curtain.
Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR – $79.99
The PlayStation VR comes with a pair of earbuds, which is fine unless you happen to be sharing the system with anyone. If co-mingling earwax isn’t your thing, and you’d like a far better audio immersion, then might I suggest the Turtle Beach Stealth 350VR? With all VR rigs coming with entirely too many cords to manage, a wireless headset with a headband built around keeping them out of the way is key.. They fit comfortably on top of the PSVR, their intended use, the 50mm Neodymium drivers deliver a solid sound experience, and the price is decent.
Nyko Charge Block – $29.99 (PS4) (XB1)
There are a lot of ways to charge your controller, and most of them involve having cords dangling all around your game space. Nyko took a swipe at fixing this with a long charging bar that covered the top of the PlayStation 4, but it wasn’t until they released the Nyko Charge Block Duo that I found the right solution for me. The duo let me charge my Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers with induction charging and no cords. (Review)
Starcraft Protoss Pylon USB Charger – $39.99
You must construct additional pylons, and this one will charge your phone, or anything else that runs off of USB. With the foresight to not hardwire the cable to the device, the Protoss Pylon instead has two 2.1 amp USB cable ports. It also glows, because of course it does.
NES Classic Edition – $59.99 (good luck!)
If you can find one of these, they are a fantastic trip down memory lane. If you want a 100% authentic experience with 30 of some of the best the classic NES had to offer, then this $60 mini-NES might just be a cool addition to your collection.
HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset – $49.99
As a headset coming in under $49.99, the HyperX Cloud Stinger is a surprisingly comfortable and great sounding set of cans, as Travis found out in his review. The 50mm drivers deliver crisp and robust sound, and the noise cancellation microphone makes sure you are only capturing what matters. The memory foam make it comfortable, and cross compatibility between PS4 and Xbox One make it a great all around sound solution for any gamer. (Review)
Pokeball 10000mAh Portable Battery – $21.99
It’s a charger in the shape of a Pokeball. It’s a little lighter on charge than the Anker appearing elsewhere in our list, but it’s also half the price and looks awesome! This bounces in and out of stock, so snap it up when you can find it.
Tile Mate – $24.99
If you are the forgetful type (and aren’t we all when it comes to certain things?), then the Tile Mate might be the solution you are looking for. A simple bluetooth chit, the Tile Mate slips onto anything with a ring, allowing you to help you find where you left your thing. If that’s not enough, you can even make it chime with an audible alarm.
Blue Yeti Microphone – $99
There is a reason why the Yeti is the gold standard for podcasting and game broadcasts. The Yeti will run you a little more than other microphones, but it doesn’t require any drivers to function, can be set up unidirectional and omnidirectional, and will work in nearly any situation. Save yourself a lot of headache and buy the last microphone you’ll need.
Genuine Leather Messenger Bag – $49
There’s a certain gravitas to a leather bag. This particular one holds a 15” laptop as well as any needed accessories. Look great and smell like leather. What’s not to love? If the 15” one doesn’t get the trick done, there’s an 18” backpack model as well.
Volo’s Guide to Monsters – $44.95
Dungeons and Dragons got a boost in quality this year, in no small part because of the recently released Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Written from an in-universe perspective, it provides ground level insights from a normal traveller hearing about the fell beasts that stalk the land of Faerun. A great read on its own because of these lavish descriptions, it also adds variety to any game with its wealth of resources in the form of new character options and antagonists to challenge your players.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD Tablet – $70
Every geek I know loves to read, but taking books on the go is always a challenge. The Kindle Fire lets you take thousands of books, watch Netflix and Amazon Prime, listen to music, and all with a 12+ hour battery. There are other eReaders on the market, but Amazon rules the roost.
Tibbers Onesie – $65
Have you seen Annie’s bear Tibbers? Well--now you can stay warm this Christmas by being Tibbers. This silly onesie is one size fits most, and may be the perfect gift for the League enthusiast in the family.
Crippling Debt – ($100+)
NVidia Shield TV – $179
When I reviewed the NVidia Shield TV it was a three way shootout between the Shield, Android TV, and Amazon Fire products. The Shield stomped the other two easily, and recent additions to their streaming services like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Shadow Warrior 2, Tomb Raider, Thief, and Trine, the GeForce Now service is becoming pretty attractive. Throw in the in-home streaming system allowing you to play nearly any game you own and it’s a fantastic device. The recently launched Plex Server support just makes it a must-own. Stop fighting with your devices — the NVidia Shield TV does it all. (Review)
Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book (Collector’s Edition) – $120
Sonic the Hedgehog fans have been anxiously waiting for the arrival of next year’s Sonic Mania, so what better way to commemorate our favorite speedster than with a limited edition artbook? Compiling the series’ prominent 25 year history, this book contains key art, illustrations, and other material that is essential for the Sonic fan in your life. While a regular version exists, this collector’s edition is limited to 2,500 units and includes an exclusive art print by Sonic lead artist Yuji Uekawa.
Harmony Elite with Hub – $298
There’s too many damned remotes in front of your TV. It’s confusing to anyone but you trying to figure out how any of it works. This gift helps you tame the beast, simplifying down dozens of devices into easy push-button screen prompts and automation. If you’d like to control your entire entertainment pantheon with the push of a button, you need a Harmony remote.
RapidX Ferrino Gaming Chair – $349
Final Fantasy XV takes 50 hours to beat. Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt easily runs that numbers into the hundreds of hours. Toss in hours of competitive play, sports titles, and movies at your desk and you might wonder why you’ve not invested in a quality chair yet. Don’t spend hundreds of dollars on a video card and then use little more than a folding chair to plant your butt. The RapidX Ferrino is easily the best gaming chair on the market, sporting a removable headrest and lumbar support, adjustable armrests (with both up and down and forward/back slide), tilt up to 165 degrees, and much more, all in durable PVC leather over a comfortable contoured foam core. The frame itself is metal with solidly reinforced casters, and the reclining mechanisms are heavily reinforced. If you are looking for a dependable rolling chair that’s as home in front of your gaming rig as it is in an ergonomic office environment, there is no substitute. Look for our full review on this awesome chair soon!
Ozobot and Marvel Avengers – $99 – $130
Looking for something to not just entertain the kids, but to educate them, too? Meet Ozobot, tiny, flashing robots that can be controlled by any smart phone. Powered by Google’s Blockly, kids can easily learn the basics of programming and use this knowledge to power their personal robot. Slipping on a Marvel Avengers skin gives these robots a heroic spin, as well as a daily coding mission, issued by the prestigious Tony Stark academy, for your little one to complete.
Marshall Compact Fridge – $349
If the geek in your life has a mancave, an office spot, or just an obsession with knobs that go to 11, then a minifridge shaped like a Marshall amplifier might be just the thing. At 4.4 Cu Ft, it’ll hold a fair amount of frosty beverages, all while looking fantastic in signature black.
Arctis 7 Gaming Headset – $149.99
SteelSeries is known for making accessories with incredibly high build quality (in this case lightweight steel instead of plastic), and the Arctis 7 is no exception. The top band and ear cups are incredibly comfortable, the S1 drivers deliver fantastic 7.1 surround sound (on PC), the retractable microphone is noise cancelling, and the whole package is wireless with a 15+ hour battery life. Best of all, the Arctis 7 compatible with PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, and PSVR wirelessly (though you’ll need to plug it into your controller to use chat on Xbox One via an included cable). If you want a more robust mid-range headset for your VR setup, the Arctis 7 is easy to recommend.
Bioshock: The Collection – $40
It’s hard to argue with three great games, updated to work on current platforms. Toss in that it has all of the excellent DLC on top of 60+ hours of content, and it makes it pretty easy to recommend this package. (Review)
Rise of the Tomb Raider – $33
Whether you pick up the 20th Anniversary Edition on PS4, the high-resolution and shockingly beautiful PC version, or the bargain-priced-at-this-point Xbox One version, you’ll enjoy a fantastic adventure. (Review)
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – $35
I’m as shocked as you to say that this year’s version of the annual installment has one of the most rewarding and enjoyable single player experiences in recent memory. The multiplayer and zombies modes are icing on the cake. If you’ve taken a break from the series, and dig some fantastic writing and sci-fi, look no further. (Review)
Battlefield 1 – $56
Rather than push into the future, the team at DICE took things to the distant past. Taking place in World War I, the branching storyline and stellar multiplayer is every bit meme fodder and frantic fun as you’d expect from a Battlefield title. There is no doubt that this is the most gorgeous Battlefield to date, and the rich sound has to be heard to be believed. Don’t miss out on this one. (Review)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition – $41
It was our Game of the Year for 2015. This Complete Edition takes all of the incredible DLC, as well as the two feature-length expansion packs (Hearts of Stone and Blood and Wine), and puts it together with the fantastic single player adventure in one package. There is nothing out there quite like The Witcher 3. If you are a fan of open world RPGs, this needs to be in your library. (Main game Review, Hearts of Stone Review, Blood and Wine Review)
Titanfall 2 – $39
I’m happy to see this game in the multiplatform section. Titanfall was a bit of a flash in the pan as the lack of single player and audience-dividing map packs. The team redoubled their efforts with the sequel, bringing a fantastic singleplayer experience, a vastly improved multiplayer mode, and free maps forever. There have already been some excellent deals for this game, so snap this up when it hits your price point — you won’t regret it. (Review)
DOOM – $25
What?! I’m as surprised as you. The single player in DOOM was absolutely excellent, bringing back the high-speed old-school combat we loved from back in the day. While the multiplayer didn’t set the world on fire, if you want to enjoy a well-built singleplayer game it’s here for you. (Review)
Dishonored 2 – $40
Arkane’s sequel may have shipped with a few technical hiccups, but there is no denying that it’s a huge step up for the series. Corvo gets a voice and a companion in now-adult Emily Kaldwin along with a whole host of new powers. With even greater flexibility than before, Dishonored 2 delivers more of what made the previous game great. (Review)
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – $20
Divided is a good word for this sequel as the staff is very split on how this one turned out. Eidos Montreal has done a lot of work to fix the remaining bugs, but the “Mechanical Apartheid” and cliffhanger ending left some folks feeling a bit sour. Just the same, if you enjoyed the previous game, there’s a lot to like here. (Review)
XCOM 2 – $52
A punishing tactical game by any measure, XCOM 2’s procedurally generated environments, mixed with full Steam Workshop support, and a thriving community made this an incredible hit on PC. Fans have even figured out how to make it cooperative multiplayer! When the game released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Mike found it to be an excellent port. Regardless of platform, prepare for a good lesson in statistics. (PC Review / Console Review)
Overwatch – $36
Overwatch is a shooter made by a company that’s never worked on this kind of game before, yet that means there’s no stumbling blocks they have to careen around. This new Blizzard title feels effortless, and already feels like another addition to their list of seminal, necessary releases. It doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but the way it polishes, presents, and executes is well above and beyond standards. Easily one of the most necessary multiplayer experiences of the last few years, and a shot across the bow at shooters complacent in their defined expectations: whatever you do, Overwatch does it better. (Review)
Hitman: The First Season – $60
Stealthy disguises lead into explosive moments of improvisation. Best-laid plans come to fruition through opportunities, and carefully timed, critical moments mean the difference between a master stroke and a quick death. The 2016 Hitman offers the best of its kind, with an episodic structure that clicks, sandbox playgrounds to pick apart and brilliant design and presentation on all levels. (Review)
Watch Dogs 2 – $60
With a far more likeable protagonist, Watch Dogs 2 brings a massive amount of improvements to the Ubisoft open-world formula. The freedom to tackle missions in almost any way you can imagine, including using drones to do nearly all of them remotely, is a breath of fresh air. Seamless multiplayer and cooperative gameplay ties together a storyline that never takes itself too seriously. (Review)
Ashes of the Singularity – $24
Well beyond simple DLC, Escalation polishes every aspect of the base game. The campaign is excellent, and the expansion of defensive and upgradeable structures helps ease in new players. New technology amps the scale, but also provides tools to manage the larger world. Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is a fresh coat of paint for an already-revolutionary RTS. (Review)
Xbox One Exclusives
Gears of War 4 – $30
Picking up 25 years after the events of Gears of War 3, Gears of War 4 also spells the first title from The Coalition. The story is focused on transformation, and The Coalition delivered in a big way. The game has never looked better, and the new Horde mode is just one shining example of the vast improvements in multiplayer. With cross-play with Windows 10 enabled PCs, this game will look gorgeous on whichever platform you choose to enjoy it. (Review)
Forza Horizon 3 – $30
I called Forza Horizon 2 one of the best arcade racers I’d ever played, but somehow Forza Horizon 3 tops it. Absolutely gorgeous, fully-featured cross-play, and a storyline that encourages player agency, Forza Horizon 3 is a fantastic pickup-and-play title that’ll keep you coming back long after you finish the story. (Review)
PlayStation 4 Exclusives
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – $50
It’s with a heavy heart that we bring this incredible story from Naughty Dog to an end, but damn if it’s not one of the best possible endings we could have asked for. Excellent from start to finish, the game scored a 100% from Kenneth, and it earned every bit of that critical acclaim. (Review)
Street Fighter V – $25
Capcom’s latest in its long-running fighting series may have gotten some slack for a lack of content (even from us), but in the year since it came to PlayStation 4 and PC, Street Fighter V has become a force to be reckoned with in the competitive fighting scene. Got someone on your list who owns a fightstick and is looking for a new fighter to dump hours into? Can’t do much better than Street Fighter V. (Review)
Firewatch – $60
2016 was a good year for story based games, and Firewatch is no exception. Following the story of a fire lookout in a national park, you find yourself alone with just a voice on a radio for comfort. And then things start to go wrong, leaving you to deal with them on your own. If you’re looking for a game that lets you relax and hike through the forest, this is solid, immersive mystery that’ll keep you thinking for some time. (Review)
Civilization VI – $59
The “just one more round” problem persists once again as Firaxis brings their newest addictive strategy title to life. With upgrades to nearly every element from the already-excellent Civ V, this installment is a must have for anyone interested in turn-based fun. (Review)
Total War: Warhammer – $60
Whether you’re a Total War fan, or a long-time Warhammer Fantasy tabletop player, this is a game that simply must be played. Total War is the perfect setting for such a rich, diverse, and unique setting as Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy. For strategy gamers, lore buffs, solo players or cooperative buddies, this is one of 2016’s best RTS titles. (Review)
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak – $49
A collaboration between Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox Software has breathed life back into a vaunted strategy franchise. A land-based prequel to the well-acclaimed Homeworld, this title blew us away with its good looks, gripping story, and fantastic gameplay. Whether you’ve played and enjoyed the Homeworld series or not, Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a must-have for RTS enthusiasts. (Review)
Planet Coaster – $45
There is no doubt that I absolutely loved Planet Coaster, and since that review just three weeks ago, the team at Frontier Games has already added a ton of content, patched up a few bugs, and tossed in a few features. The baked-in Steam Workshop support has absolutely exploded. If you wanted to visit Disneyland, somebody is building the entire park. If you think you’d like to check out Six Flags Texas, somebody has already built the vast majority of it. Whatever your inspiration, you can build it here. If you are a coaster builder, or a park sim fan, this game delivers on all fronts. (Review)
Wii U Exclusives
Runbow Deluxe – $20
While a little hectic for some, Runbow has proved that Nintendo has a lot of love for indies. Repackaged as a physical deluxe edition, 13 AM Games has done a wonderful job with its 9 player party modes as well as included single-player DLC and costumes. Additionally, you get the lovely soundtrack with this edition, and it’s a pretty amazing score that ranges from Jpop to Jazz. Whether you’re the kind of person that loves 8-player Smash Bros. or just like messing with your competitive friends, there’s something here to liven up any game night. (Review)
Bayonetta 2 – $99 new, $35 used
2014 was probably the Wii U’s best year, with first party hits like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. paving the way for a renaissance that sadly did not arrive for the console. However, peppered into the delicious gaming buffet was Bayonetta 2, a sensual sequel to the 2010 sleeper hit. Packed to the brim with a non-stop climax of gun-toting action, the title challenges gamers of all stripes. While the original release which packaged the first game is hard to find, Nintendo thankfully re-released this game as a single disc title (with a budget price tag!) earlier this year. If you need to learn how to talk to a lady, go ask your mum to buy this excellent action game. (Review)
Pokken Tournament – $40
A Pokemon fighting game seems simultaneously appropriate and unexpected; however, the fellows over at Bandai-Namco seemed to have hit a homerun with this game, as it’s the perfect blend of strategy and fighting. Players will have to master their character’s moves in order to succeed, and the fighting mechanics are surprisingly deep and satisfying to pull off. In an age where the Wii U is reaching its twilight, Pokken Tournament proves that there may be some life left in the console. (Review)
Tokyo Mirage Sessions – $58
While not exactly what fans of either series were expecting when a crossover between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei was announced, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a fun turn based RPG with a unique J-Pop theme. With a definite sense of style and polish, as well as plenty of easter eggs and secrets from two of the best JRPG franchises around, Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a great choice. (Review)
Fire Emblem Fates – $34
In the latest installment of Nintendo’s classic tactical RPG franchise, you must answer a difficult question: should you defend your birth family, or help those that raised you conquer them? Either way, you’ll be rewarded with a fun and challenging experience, whether you lead the Nohr forces to victory in Conquest, defend the peace-loving Hoshido in Birthright, or seek out the truth of your family legacy in revelations. (Review)
Pokemon Sun / Moon – $39
The newest Pokemon game makes several changes to the existing formula, making the series accessible to new players while shaking things up a bit for older fans. With plenty of new Pokemon to catch, as well as tropical variants of some familiar faces, Pokemon Sun and Moon is a great addition to the Pokemon franchise, and any fan of the series should definitely check it out. (Review)
Bravely Second: End Layer – $33
SquareEnix pulled together an incredible follow-up to an already fantastic RPG with Bravely Second. It removes some of the repetitive missteps of its predecessor, adds all new jobs, and tucks it into a solid storyline. The combat is the allure — this is SquareEnix RPGs at its finest. (Review)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice – $29.99
Is the newest Ace Attorney game full of Spooky Scary Skeletons? More like channeling dead people’s last moments to find out who did it. The latest entry in the critically successful Ace Attorney series, Spirit of Justice follows Phoenix Wright as he travels to the mysterious land of Khura’in, a spiritual place where defense attorneys are a dying breed (figuratively and literally). He, along with longtime partner Maya, has to defend clients wrongfully accused of murder while figuring out a way to regain trust in a land where tradition is absolute and cannot be questioned. Meanwhile, Apollo Justice and Athena Sykes are managing the Wright Anything Agency overseas and have their own unique cases to solve. Using evidence and contradictions, players will have to cross examine witnesses to see who’s telling the truth. Still present is same great writing the Ace Attorney series is known for, as well as new features like the Divination Seance, which allows players to view the final moments before a victim’s death in order to get a clearer picture of the crime. (Review)
Rhythm Heaven Megamix – $29.99
Fans of Warioware will love this game, which is a greatest hits compilation of the zany Rhythm Heaven series. Players will have to navigate through dozens of creative and cute minigames, from tap dancing with monkeys to playing badminton with airplanes. The game is simple to grasp yet surprisingly difficult, especially with perfect challenges and other obstacles.
Gurumin 3D – $14.99
Those that enjoyed the PS1 era of action-RPGs will feel right at home with Gurumin 3D. Originally released for the PSP back in 2007, the game is a mix of beat-em-up action and dungeon crawling, with some RPG elements sprinkled in for good measure. At $15 on the eShop, it’s a no-brainer to play when trying to kill some time at the relatives’ house. (Review)
POWER A PSVR Charging Stand – $49.99
If you didn’t pick up the Move charging base during the PS3 era, you probably find yourself fighting with a cabling mess to charge the two devices. What’s worse, you are probably setting your $400 investment on a table or somewhere precarious that could fall and take damage. PowerA has an elegant solution that solves both issues. The Charge and Display Station features a sturdy stand, two vertical charging ports for the Move controllers, and even a dock for a DualShock. If you picked up a PlayStation VR, this is a must have.
PowerA PSVR Storage Case – $29.99
There was a fantastic launch lineup for PSVR, but we are now getting into the waiting game between releases. Leaving your VR investment hanging out collecting dust is a bit of a non-starter. While it doesn’t have a storage spot for the processor unit (you can simply leave it connected), this case does hold the expensive bits safely in its hard shell. To keep the cables from shifting and potentially scratching the lenses, a small netted pouch resides in the top of the clamshell. A must-have to protect your hardware.
Eagle Flight – $39.99
While Ubisoft is taking a year off from their Assassin’s Creed franchise, it doesn’t mean you can’t get your annual eagle screech. My wife has become downright addicted to the game, marking it as the first game she has completed from start to finish on her own. You can check out our review for all of the details, but this game turned out to be a big hit at our home. (Review)
Batman: Arkham VR – $19.99
Sure, the game is only about an hour and a half long (minus a second play to find Riddler goodies) but I can’t emphasize enough how fantastic it feels to literally BE the Batman! It’s likely just a taste of what’s to come, but it has also shown itself to be a universally loved staple for anyone new to VR. (Review)
EVE Valkyrie – $54.99
There are few games that look as good or play as well as EVE Valkyrie. The freedom of movement in space is incredible and something difficult to quantify in words — you need to experience it for yourself. While I wish it had a full single player experience, the online multiplayer is worth the price of admission, as you can see in our review. (Review)
Thumper+ – $19.99
The game is described as “rhythm violence” and that’s a very apt description. It’s straightforward rhythm approach combined with thumping music and brutal difficulty. The controls are simple, but don’t let that fool you. If you own a VR unit, you need this game in your life. (Review)
Board and Card Games
Mechs v. Minions – $75.00
It’s big, it’s excessive, and it’s a great experience. League of Legends fans have a love letter with this programming game that sets some of our familiar heroes against an onslaught of minions in a variety of scenarios that will never play the same way twice. Let me assure you, there is nothing like watching your careful plans eliminate a wave of enemies and then spiral out of control as your damage overtakes you. This cooperative experience is one to remember, and one to grab up before stocks run out. (Stay tuned for our review!)
Coup – $7.89
One of the best kickstarted card games to surface from the renaissance of micro games, Coup is an excellent and easy to learn game about deception. Each of the five different card types are simple and fun to use, but not nearly as fun as lying about the cards you hold. In Coup, 2 to 6 players must deceive, steal, and kill to be the last player standing. The rules are simple, the rounds are fast, and the bluffing which ensues always makes for a good time — though it may change how you look at your friends afterwards.
Settlers of Catan – $30.58
Many modern board games tend to alienate newcomers with deep mechanics and extensive rules which only the most seasoned gamers can hope to absorb. Settlers of Catan is an excellent introductory game for those looking for a deeper experience than Uno or Monopoly. Catan is a resource management game which features a newly randomized board layout with every game. Harvest ore, wood, and wheat by claiming as much of the board as you can. Mechanics are similar to Monopoly, but the locations change with every game. Resources are plain and easy to understand, and games of 3 to 4 people last around an hour each. No combat, no betrayals, no overwhelming mechanics — just the simple life of trade.
Star Trek: Ascendancy – $61.00
The Star Trek franchise is 50 years old this year, and several games have come out to celebrate that fact. Gale Force Nine has an innate ability to create games rich in theme, and Star Trek: Ascendancy lets you build up civilizations like the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans by claiming systems. If you want to build on a large scale claiming planets and travelling to other systems, then Ascendancy is your best bet.
Star Trek: Frontiers – $79.95
WizKids has a successful system with the Mage Knight Board Game. With the switch to Star Trek, knights and castles become starships and planets. If you want a game you can play by yourself or with others a focus on exploration and combat, and a lower price point than Ascendancy, then Frontiers is worth a look.
Star Trek Panic – $29
The Castle Panic series is going strong with several expansions, but it has taken on zombies and munchkins in recent iterations. Now shields are up and Red Alert has been called with Star Trek Panic. The objective of the game is slightly different, as you need to complete five objectives to complete the game. The damaged hull parts look great on the ship, giving you an easy way to tell if the Enterprise is going to blow up any time soon. A great cooperative game for one to six players.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game – $39
The Arkham Horror board game can be a slog, especially when you reach close to the maximum number of players. Arkham Horror: The Card Game gives you characters, locations, and all the madness you can handle. However, this can be a money sink as it only supports two players with a single game box. It has plenty of room for new adventures though, with several new characters and adventures promised for the future.
Royals – $38
Ticket to Ride is the de facto gateway set-collection game. Royals does set collection, but focuses on controlling countries instead of train paths. You gain control of high members of society to gain influence over different regions of the 17th century. But control is fleeting, as intrigue cards can cause you to lose the influence you had. It’s a great way to introduce a lighter Euro to those new to the genre.
Sushi Go! – $10.19
Not many games appeal to both casual gamers and dedicated players of games like 7 Wonders and Magic: The Gathering, but Sushi Go! does just this. One of the most casual card games available, Sushi Go! Takes the drafting mechanics of deep CCG games and reduces it to the pure fun of drafting. Players pass around hands of sushi-themed cards to build the perfect sushi roll. You’ll have to decide as you go which cards to keep based on what kind of hand you’re trying to build. There are several ways to earn points, but the mechanics are simple and approachable. The game supports 2 to 5 players, and rounds last approximately 15 minutes. It’s the perfect casual game for board game-beginners or players looking for a quick drafting fix until their next cube.
Love Letter – $7.39
The arrest of the queen has unsettled Princess Annette, and her suitors sense opportunity. Love Letter is a deduction card game and a highly regarded Kickstarter success. Players draw from the deck which are used to deduce what other players are holding. If you guess another player’s hand, you eliminate them from that round. Like Coup, Sushi Go!, and other micro games, rules are simple, rounds are quick, and the fun is real. This 2 to 4 player card game has won several awards since its release in 2014 and it’s available at 40% less its normal value.
Cards Against Humanity – $25 + $20 per expansion, Red, Green and Blue
Find out just how terrible your friends are with this delightfully wrong card game. A self proclaimed “card game for horrible people,” Cards Against Humanity goes where angels dare not tread, and playing its objectively horrible cards will ensure your ticket to hell.
So there it is! It’s one hell of a massive guide, but there has to be more than a few things you might get the geek in your family. Enjoy the holiday, enjoy time with family, and we’ll see you on the other side of the New Year to tell you all about the amazing stuff coming in 2017!