Hardcore Gamer Holiday Gift Guide 2014

It’s time for Christmas again! Over the next ten days, people the world over will rush to buy obligatory gifts for family, friends and goomars. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to care about your loved-ones’ hopes and desires, so you’re stuck having “meaningful discussions” and “connecting” with them. Frankly, nobody wants that. Worry not, however, as Hardcore Gamer is here to make those tough decisions for you. Don’t just buy a generic T-shirt with some pseudo-intellectual quote or trendy phrase; don’t settle for a $5 Applebee’s gift card for the important gamer in your life. Browse our selections below and find the perfect item that will make him or her happy enough to return that “puppies of the year” calendar and reconsider their hatred for you. This year, we decided to kick things off with consoles, followed by games. Click the image for an Amazon link.

Note: The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii were excluded from this gift guide because frankly, if the “gamer” you’re shopping for doesn’t already own one of those three consoles, there’s a strong possibility that they’ve either been living a lie, or consider themselves “gamers” due to their position in the underground competitive marble circuit. In the event that they are indeed professional “marblers,” you should probably not buy them a gift. Actually, don’t be friends with them. If you’re married, know that divorce lawyers are a dime a dozen. No one would blame you. Happy holidays from Hardcore Gamer!

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For The Gamer You Love

ps4 1

In the famous words of loving father and cocaine abuser Tim “the tool-man” Taylor, “more power!” If that statement rings through your spine and bring tears of joy to your eyeballs, the PlayStation 4 is probably the console for you. In addition to being the most powerful video game console on the market and handling third-party titles marginally better than the competition, PlayStation 4 comes with the promise of incredible exclusive experiences. With developers like Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studio, Media Molecule and Sucker Punch, the only thing you’ll lack in 2015 is money.

Xbox One

If you like DVRing sports (or anything else, really), the Xbox One is for you. If you’re prone to accidents such as: dropping really expensive video game consoles, crushing expensive video game consoles or stepping on expensive video game consoles, the Xbox One is for you…and is as close to indestructible as a case of sensitive electronics can be. If you like exciting exclusives like Forza Horizon 2 and Sunset Overdrive, the Xbox One is for you. If you like gaming in general, the Xbox One is most certainly for you. Mountain Dew and Doritos are not required (but they’re always encouraged).

Wii U pic

There was a time when recommending Nintendo’s tablet-bearing console was a joke: last year. Nowadays, the tale it weaves is of a different nature; a better, more exciting, “oh my gosh it actually has games” nature. If you’re in the market for reliving childhood experiences, exploring colorful worlds, racing across bright and imaginative speedways, or more likely just playing Super Smash Bros. all day with your friends and family, there’s a good chance the Wii U won’t collect dust in your home. And with Nintendo’s unrivaled first-party support (and plethora of Mario titles out and to come), you’d be hard-pressed to find fun at a better price.

iPad pic

Don’t knock what you haven’t tried, buddy. Apple’s iPad may not be a gaming device in the traditional sense, but little by little its library of fantastic (and often exclusive) titles is growing, and best of all: there’s incredible variety. Between the Final Fantasy’s, Dragon Quest’s and Grand Theft Auto’s, you’ll find hundreds of addictive, casual games that can engage and melt away the hours all the same. While Android and Microsoft devices are also viable, few tablets are as reliable, loaded-to-the-brim with options and beautiful like the iPad. So again, I say, don’t knock what you haven’t tried.

For The Gamer You Like

PS Vita

There’s nothing like gaming on the go, especially when the library of games at your fingertips stretches so drastically between console-quality, triple A titles like Uncharted and Persona, and bite-sized indies like Velocity and Hotline Miami. The indie surge isn’t the only selling point, however. The Vita also comes equipped with one of the finest touch-screen displays in the biz, features remote-play capability across a plethora of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 titles, and a sleek, sexy design that’s as eye-catching as it is comfortable to grip. If you like carrying a world of possibilities in your pocket, you should probably consider a Vita.

3DS

Owning a 3DS is a lot like owning any recent Nintendo product. You’ll rarely play anything that wasn’t developed by Nintendo, and when you do it’s usually a crap-shoot. But slide in any first-party cartridge and an unrivaled level of quality will beam from the screen. Although the 3D feature — no doubt a novelty — is only nifty enough to warrant a try, and the dualscreen design is interesting at best, Nintendo always comes out on top as far as games are concerned. And while other consoles boast flashier visuals and more elaborate trappings, there are few products that can guarantee the 3DS’ consistent level of top-notch quality experiences.

flashback 5

Your enjoyment of this product is entirely dependent on your desire to play (or not play) Atari games. Because that’s what the Atari Flashback 5 does. And it does what it does well enough to justify its price tag. Seriously, with over 90 games to choose from, including crowd-pleasers like Space Invaders and Centipede, the only downside is that it’s an Atari emulator with built-in games. Which, by definition, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But once you browse the library of titles and remember that you’re no longer wearing floral bell bottoms and an orange button-up, the console limitations become painfully apparent.

retron 3 pic

El cheapo. If you’re trying to please a gamer on the broke, there are few choices as well-rounded as the Retron 3. Essentially, it plays Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis cartridges, and doesn’t damage them in the process. So, if you’re a collector that doesn’t want to risk burning out an ancient gaming device, this is something you’ll want to own. It’s also good for a quick burst of nostalgia to help you get through a weekend of working outrageously unfair hours at the office, helping two friends move simultaneously and coming home to a cheating girlfriend — all, of course, problems that a couple rounds of Sonic the Hedgehog can fix.

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Games For Those Seeking Open And Engaging

What I want: a massive open world, exploration, adventure and freedom. I want to skin animals for profit, slaughter entire tribes of people and scale cities like a playground. What I don’t want: linearity, storybook action and an on-the-rails experience.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age Inquisition

Dragons, swords, and sex. Take away the breathtaking world, absorbing story, laundry list of quests and strategy-action combat system and that’s what remains: dragons, swords and sex. In any case, that’s never a bad thing, and what Dragon Age: Inquisition lacks in spit-shine polish it more than makes up for in everything else. This is a game for people that like choices, options and more choices. And also dragons, swords and sex. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor

If you’re in the Orc killing business, or would like to be in the near future, there are few training programs as reliable and fun as Shadow of Mordor. With huge regions to explore, an incredible Nemesis System that constantly pits you against ever-changing rivals and combat mechanics that wouldn’t be out of place in a Batman game, the only downside is that its story never lives up to its potential. This is a game for people that like killing hordes of things. Preferably Orcs. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4

Fire, explosions, guns, cars, wilderness, eagles, tigers, pigs, rhinos, snakes, elephants and those godforsaken badgers. Hell, the only slice of wildlife missing from Far Cry 4’s vast wilderness is Bear Grylls, and he wouldn’t last a minute in Kyrat. There’s so much to do that it can sometimes overwhelm, especially if you like to tackle the map one piece at a time. This is a game for people that like shooting things, but also roleplaying through a rollercoaster of crazy. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

Assassin's Creed Rogue

If you look at a building and your first thought is, “gosh, I’d love to climb that and subsequently dive into a pile of hay,” Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a game you should probably play after you seek some serious mental help. However, if the idea of scaling anything from window to rooftop sounds like a good time, and you also have a hankering for some lessons in pseudo-history, this is the game for you. Also, it helps to have played some Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag beforehand. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Games for those seeking mindless entertainment

What I want: tight gameplay, fast-paced battles and entertainment. I want to kill my opponents, race my friends, laugh at nonsense and carve ridiculous history on a slab made of pure insanity. What I don’t want: a slow, methodical experience or something I need to think about.

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Wolfenstein The New Order

The only thing more satisfying than killing Nazis is doing so non-stop for hours on end. And that’s Wolfenstein in a nutshell. Sure, there’s a plot, and it’s actually pretty interesting, but the long-and-short of the experience boils down to slaughtering thousands of mean, evil Nazis. With guns. Lots, and lots of sexy guns. This is a game for anyone that enjoys shooters in their rawest, purest, and most awesome form. Plus, it’s good practice for World War III. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

So, it’s Call of Duty. You can pretty much guess the plot, despite it boasting Academy Award winning actor, Kevin Spacey. That said, it’s serviceable — good, at times — and opens the door to incredible destruction, gunplay and the type of unadulterated violence that kids once had to do borderline sociopathic things to fulfill. This is a game for folks that, as far as shooters are concerned, enjoy the cream of the crop; the leading lion, the loudest bang for their buck. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Forza Horizon 2

Forza Horizon 2

Racing doesn’t ordinarily boast the freedom of a Grand Theft Auto title. Even the most open of worlds have walls; pesky, invisible walls that direct your course to an extent. And while Forza Horizon 2, a racing game at heart, doesn’t pull every brick from its barriers, few racing games offer the best of both worlds in such a beautiful, tempting package. This is a game for both racing purists, and the casual crowd that’s looking to blow some steam through fences, fields and a vineyard. Read our review.

Available for: Xbox One

Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive

Comedy rarely works in video games, particularly the jokey variety. In Sunset Overdrive, what is essentially the video game version of ridiculous punchline, laughter comes naturally. Whether its the dialogue, story, monsters or silly ad-campaign, you’ll smiling almost as often as you’ll be using insane weapons to pepper, blast and explode enemies. This is a game for any lover of fast-paced, action-packed adventures with a good balance of bark and bite. Read our review.

Available for: Xbox One

Games for those seeking colorful nostalgia

What I want: fun, entertaining stories, colorful worlds and friendly competition. I want to uncover treasure, befriend mysterious creatures, rescue the universe and punch Kirby. What I don’t want: gore, blood, or punishing consequences.

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad

The only thing better than rushing through levels as Mario, grabbing coins, mushrooms and stars along the way, is slowly solving a series of adorable platform puzzles as Toad, the cute-as-a-button sometimes-companion to Mario and friends. And if simple entertainment is your cup of rainbow-colored tea, you’ll find that putting down the Wii U Gamepad is trickier than any puzzle in the game. This is a game for anyone that enjoys Nintendo, puzzles and fun. Read our review.

Available for: Wii U

Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

Pokemon ORAS

Although “gotta catch ’em all” becomes an increasingly ridiculous task with each series entry, dedicated fans are unshakable, becoming hopelessly addicted to what is, essentially, the same game every other year. True PokéManiac’s, however, know that while the new 3D environments, battles and effects are refreshing, the formula is the same. And it’s great. This is a game for fans of Pokémon, but also video games in general. Because at the end of the day, it’s one of the most enjoyable RPGs for beginners and experts alike. Read our review.

Available for: 3DS, 2DS

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Lego Batman

Saving the world is hard work, that’s why Lego stripped the serious business and replaced it with breakable objects and quirky storylines. And while there’s certainly better Lego experiences on the market, if Batman is your choice of hero, Beyond Gotham is an adventure worth playing. It’s pretty, it’s funny and it’s just as fun with friends. This is a game for people that like superheroes PG-13, in Lego form, and spewing unapologetically cheesy dialogue. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

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Fighting doesn’t have to be angry grunts, black eyes, broken bones and lost friendships. It can be all of those things plus Mario, Bowser, Link and a wide assortment of popular — and surprisingly unpopular — Nintendo characters! So, if you’re in the market for some virtual punching bags, wildly fun afternoons solo or with friends, and a Nintendo game that’s as vibrant as it is fun, look no further. This is a game for people that enjoy lighthearted fighting, brawling, Nintendo and that are actually human beings because, frankly, you’d have to be an animal not to enjoy Smash. Read our review.

Available for: Wii U

Games for those seeking interesting and different

What I want: the weird, strange and undeniably bizarre. I want to learn about characters that don’t always make sense, overthrow demons, strip innocent bystanders and float through nothingness. What I don’t want: a serious tone, straightforward plot or mechanics.

Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed

akiba's trip

Stripping ladies in the street is normally frowned upon — not to mention illegal and disrespectful. That’s why Akiba’s Trip is the perfect game for a pervert on the go: offering all the sexual innuendo you can shake your stick at, plus a shockigly fun beat ’em up that’s two parts crazy, one part sexy and a whole pot-full of ridiculous. This is a game for people that don’t mind being stared at uncomfortably for long periods of time on public transport because they forgot headphones and everyone can hear the yelps of scantly clad ladies. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStationn 4, PS Vita

Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited

disgaea 4 vita

When it comes to overthrowing demons and mingling with penguin creatures that harbor the souls of evildoers, Disgaea has the market cornered. Also, there’s an incredibly deep strategy RPG beneath its jokey presentation, and an equally confusing — often good, mostly weird — story to go along with the shenanigans of its colorful combat. This is a game for anyone that appreciates the little things: like obsessing over stats, classroom politics, team builds, equipment, and bizarre characters. Read our review.

Available for: PS Vita

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Danganronpa 2

The only thing more engaging than Danganronpa 2’s winding murder mystery, is its ability to keep players gripped without very many slices of traditional gameplay. A visual novel by design, there’s more story and choice-making then button mashing or monster slaughtering, but that lends well to the buckets of fan-service and incredibly written — often hilarious and terrifying — characters. This is a game for anybody with the patience to unravel something different. Read our review.

Available for: PS Vita

Hohokum

hohokum

We’re not even sure if Hohokum is a game. Does it have to be, though? What defines a game? These questions and more will not be answered as you float through a bizarre, misshapen world of grotesque animals, morphing flowers, vast emptiness and one of the most confusingly beautiful experiences in video game history. This is a game for someone that enjoys relaxation; a break from the hectic swinging of swords or firing of rifles. It’s a game in its purest form: something you simply play. Read our review.

Available for: PlayStation 4, PS Vita