Awesome Holiday Gifts you can buy on the cheap for the Gamer in your family
It’s that time of year kiddies. Whether you’re shopping for the younger, adolescent gamer in your family or the more mature significant other game-guru in your life these gifts are sure to make an impression. In no particular order, here we go!
Persona 4: The Animation
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Then you can’t go wrong with this remaster of Persona’s serialized TV-run anime for Hi-Definition Blu-Ray Disc. Each Collection sells for around $25 – $40 per set, incumbent upon where you make your purchase. Both sets are fully-dubbed with professional English voice-overs and include subtitles for most other languages. For the video gamer that loves the Persona franchise, then this box set certainly won’t fail to impress and only further their interest in the video game, since the the anime is a complete retelling of Persona 4 the video game. And for fans of anime, they will definitely appreciate the unique characters and story that is synonymous with the Persona universe. Either way, this stylistic anime iteration of the successful video game franchise won’t disappoint the gamer or anime fan in your family.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni No Kuni is a marvelous PS3 exclusive developed by Level-5 and revered animation house Studio Ghibli, creators of such excellent full-length anime movies as “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke”. For the adventure or RPG gamer in your family, Ni No Kuni will certainly not disappoint. Featuring beautifully drawn animation fused with gorgeous 3D backdrops, Ni No Kuni was a brilliant joint effort from Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. Oh yes, and it’s also absurdly fun to play as well. You can now buy the game brand new for $19.99 on Sony’s “Greatest Hits” series of PS3 top-sellers.
Sony PSP (Model 3000) OR Nintendo DS/Lite
The best Holiday gift for the gamer in your life is undoubtedly a new games console that their fingers have yet to grace. While the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS may be from the previous handheld H/W cycle, they are no less impressive, extremely fun as game devices, each have an absurd lineup of great games and best of all, each unit can be purchased used for less than $50 – $60. New units may cost $70 – $80 or more, but for those on a tight budget you can typically find a used unit in good condition on Craigslist or from GameStop. When buying from Craigslist always make sure that the seller has pictures to show and always try renegotiating the price, even if they have the item listed as firm. There is always room for negotiation. If the seller wants to sell a package that includes several games and other tangibles such as plastic cases, screen protectors or memory cards, however you only need one or two particular items then always offer a lower price then advertised, they might agree to keep everything together and you’ll get all the extras for virtually nothing! If they separate the desired item from everything else you can always try and haggle a few things back in for a couple extra bucks. Also, it doesn’t hurt if buying as a gift to buy a small bundled deal with a few games and a memory card (the memory stick Duo is essential for the PSP otherwise you won’t be able to save game progress). For the DS and PSP, ensure that both items come with an AC Wall Charger and that with anything you buy from a stranger online, to have the seller demonstrate to you the hardware does indeed work. Finalize the deal by instructing them to insert a game and turn the H/W on, so you can see for yourself that it plays and is fully functional (don’t forget to test it and make sure all the buttons, directional pad and or analog stick(s) are working as intended). If everything is on the up and up and a price is agreed upon between both parties then go for it! Buying a Nintendo DS/Lite or PSP from GameStop isn’t much different than Craigslist, except their is no haggling over price and what you see is what you get. All used handhelds sold via GameStop include the basic necessities, such as AC Adapter. GameStop also provides you with a 30-day warranty on said hardware, with the option to buy into a 1 or 2 year warranty for a couple extra bucks. Whichever route you take in buying either handheld for the gamer in your life, make sure that if you are buying a PSP that the model is 3000 and as for the DS, you’ll also want the DS Lite model. Each variation comes with larger or brighter screens, have their capacity or size reduced and feature other important refinements. It’s also important to note that the Nintendo DS and DS Lite both can play Gameboy Advance games, which is a nice addition and automatically gives you another entire catalog of games to play from. The DS XL does not feature GBA backwards-compatibility.
Both Sony and Nintendo have a healthy amount of games for each of their portables. It should be noted that the PSP, however, is definitely a more well-rounded multimedia device capable of video playback (via special UMD video discs or MP4 file format I believe), music playback, radio tuning, skype, internet connectivity and displaying a variety of image files. By contrast, the Nintendo DS is really only meant for gaming and because it’s Nintendo H/W, it comes with all the great first-party titles that are exclusive to only Nintendo (ie: Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, Mario Kart, Starfox, Donkey Kong). So if the gamer you are shopping for has a soft spot for Nintendo titles or characters, then certainly the DS is a purchase they’ll be sure to love. Graphically, their is no comparison: The PSP has graphics comparable to a PlayStation 1/2 hybrid in the palm of your hand giving it a distinctive edge for visuals. The PSP renders 3D and 2D graphics very fast, with games like “GTA: Liberty City Stories”, “God of War: Ghosts of Sparta”, “Pursuit Force” and “Need for Speed Most Wanted” running blazing fast. The PSP is also an “RPG Monster”, featuring many great 3rd party RPG exclusives such as the Persona series, “Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep”, “Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together”, “Phantasy Star”, “Star Ocean: Second Evolution”, “Jeanne D’Arc” and “Disgaea 1 or 2”. The DS, by contrast, may not push as many polygons but still has a plethora of great titles, “Metroid Prime: Hunters” and “Super Mario 3D” were both very visually impressive game for the DS. Also, the DS has a TON of great exclusive RPG’s such as “The World Ends with You”, “SMT: Strange Journey”, “SMT: Devil Survivor 2” and “Radiant Historia”. So now that you know the fundamental difference between the two handhelds, go and make an educated decision that surely will impress friends, family and gaming geeks alike.
Wreck-It Ralph Blu-Ray
What’s better than playing video games and watching cartoons? Combining a full-length Disney movie that’s about the life of video game characters in an arcade. Featuring such mainstays as Bowser, Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Q-Bert, Wreck-It Ralph is about the life of arcade game “bad guy” Ralph from the game “Fix It Felix Jr.“. Ralph is tired of his repetitive daily routine of being the bad guy and the stigma that comes with it. All the other denizens that live within Fix It Felix Jr. treat Ralph differently, looking down on him. Tired of the “bad guy” lifestyle, Ralph seeks out a gold medal that heroes of arcade games often obtain after the player successfully completes the game. He decides to leave his game temporarily to obtain a medal from the sci-fi first person shooter game in the arcade, named “Heroes Duty”. After reaching the tower in Heroes Duty and acquiring a gold medal, Ralph accidentally triggers a “Cy-bug” attack (the enemies of Heroes Duty) and is ejected via an escape pod where he crash-lands in the Kart-racer game “Sugar Rush”, losing his gold medal in the process. Here, Ralph meets racing outcast “Vanellope von Schweetz” and the two band together in agreement to help Vanellope officially race and get Ralph a new gold medal. The two form an unlikely bond and follow the formula of most Disney films where two polar opposites unite to reach a common goal. Featuring the talented voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Jack McBrayer, Wreck It Ralph is a fun, awesome movie that combines my love of video games with my childhood adoration of cartoons. Any gamer, young or old, should enjoy this animated masterpiece.
Kara No Shoujo Visual Novel (PC) “The Girl in the Shell”
Kara no Shojo is an impressive adult visual novel for Windows Computers that includes elements of horror, romance and suspense as your character attempts to out a serial killer on the loose. Taking place in post-war 1956 Tokyo, you play as protagonist Reiji Tokisaka, a private investigator trying to solve a string of brutal murders in and around a local highschool. During the game you will collect evidence, investigate crime scenes, question and pursue suspects all while maintaining an undercover guise as a highschool teacher. Limited by the technology at the time, you must use your wits and knowledge of the locations and citizens to determine the killer’s identification. Kara no Shoujo has intense graphic depictions of violence and gore, along with some sexual imagery common amongst Japanese Visual Novels. Localized for U.S. audiences by Mangagamer, Kara no Shoujo can be purchased exclusively as a digital download from their website for $24.99. Click on the link below to go the purchase page via Mangagamer:
Studio Ghibli feature “The Wind Rises” coming to North American audiences with powerhouse voice cast
Hayao Miyazaki last anime outing as a director will get a proper farewell in US cinemas, in part thanks to major distribution via Disney and Touchstone Pictures. Miyazaki-san has directed many feature-length anime films, with some of his memorable work commercially released in the States, such as “Spirited Away” (2002 USA) and “Princess Mononoke” (1999 USA). As “The Wind Rises” will be his final curtain call, the project has garnered attention from some big name actors who will lend their voice talent to the US translation. Here’s the complete list of the featured players and their respective roles:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt — main character Jiro Horikoshi
Emily Blunt — love interest Nahoko Satomi
John Krasinski — Honjo, Jiro’s college pal and fellow aviation engineer
Martin Short — Kurokawa, Jiro’s grumpy boss
Stanley Tucci — Caproni, Italian airplane creator
Mandy Patinkin — Hattori, senior designer at Mitsubishi
William H. Macy — Satomi, Nahoko’s father
Werner Herzog — the mysterious Castorp
Mae Whitman — Kayo, Jiro’s younger sister, as well as Kinu, Nahoko’s caretaker
Jennifer Grey — Mrs. Kurokawa
Darren Criss — Katayama, one of Jiro’s engineering colleagues
Elijah Wood — Sone, another of Jiro’s colleagues
Even I am a little surprised at just how much of talent has rallied behind the 72-year old Miyazaki’s illustrious swan song. If the early reviews are anything to go by, it appears as if we have a marvelously crafted movie when it opens in theaters on February 21st. The film is about a young man named “Jiro” who dreams of flying but because of his poor eyesight he instead takes to designing airplanes. Set around the time frame of WW2, “The Wind Rises” depicts Jiro becoming emotionally conflicted and trying to cope, knowing that his work will be used for weapons of war. Check out the U.S. trailer below:
Square Enix shows off the swag for the “Final Fantasy X/X-II HD Remaster” Collectors Edition
Coming exclusively to the PlayStation 3 and Vita handheld, the Hi-Def Remake of Final Fantasy X and X-II will have several launch day editions, including a special Collectors Edition (pictured above) for $80.00 being sold exclusively through Square Enix’s Online Store. The regular edition, limited edition and collectors edition all launch on March 18th. For more information on this CE of FFX/X-II HD or to place an order, please refer to the following link:
Atlus releases new Update Patch for “Dragon’s Crown” on PS3/Vita
If you couldn’t get enough of Atlus awesome 2D-homage to fantasy beat-em-up’s titled “Dragon’s Crown”, then you should be pissing your pants ecstatic that another new Update patch has been released (this is the 5th I believe). Not just a “glitch fix” download, this update includes several awesome new features to keep you coming back for more. Some of the new additions include:
- New “Ultimate” Difficulty mode added
- Level Cap has been raised from 99 to 255
- New Dungeon added called “Tower of Mirages” that includes tens of thousands of levels to hack and slash through
And the best part about all this good stuff? IT’S FREE! No DLC, No Season Pass and no Episodic Content required for Dragon’s Crown. All the extra content being released by Atlus is free. Other companies really need to start following this business model. Seriously though, when Gearbox released the Update Patch that raised the level cap a second time in Borderlands 2, then had the gall to charge $$$$ for it, I WAS NOT PLEASED. So thank you Atlus, for doing something that all game developers and publishers should be expected to do: offer incremental additions and changes that improve and add to gameplay for free.