There’s still time to get a last minute gift for the gaming fan in your life. If you’re at a loss, though, let Paste point you towards some great gift ideas for all the players of the world. From retro masters to soundtrack lovers, from Nintendo diehards to anybody tired of managing the storage on their console, this list has something for everybody who’s ever picked up a controller.
If you pay any attention to game news you know that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S remain extremely difficult to find, over a year after they launched. Nintendo’s newest Switch variation, the Switch OLED, is also struggling to meet demand, but has been somewhat easier to find than Sony and Microsoft’s machines. The OLED updates the Switch with a bigger, better screen for when it’s in handheld or tablet mode. The new OLED screen is a notable upgrade, making the Switch brighter and more beautiful when you’re playing it on the go, and with a greatly improved kickstand for tablet mode. It’s geared for two types of players: either somebody who doesn’t already own a Switch, or somebody who doesn’t typically play their Switch on their TV. If you keep your Switch docked to your TV set, like I do, there’s not much here for you. If you’re a Switch newcomer, though, this is the model to track down-and the one to get your loved one this holiday season if it’s their first Switch.
Modern games are absolutely massive, and chew through the memory of consoles in no time at all. If you’re tired of juggling games in your storage whenever you’re installing something new, you should consider an external drive-and WD_BLACK makes some of the best on the market. I use the WD_Black D30 with my PlayStation 5; it’s a small solid state drive with 1 TB of storage, and it’s saved me both time and the frustration of having to deal with one of the most annoying aspects of gaming today. WD_BLACK also makes a variety of other solid state and hard drives, offering up to 8 TB of storage, so they should have a drive for every player.
New Wave Toys’ latest mini arcade cabinet features 1942 and 1943, Capcom’s crucial World War II shoot ‘em ups from the ‘80s. At 1 / 6 the size of an actual arcade cabinet-or 10.4 inches tall-The 1942 x RepliCade is a perfect desktop accoutrement for the classic gaming fan in your life. It even comes with a second little joystick so you can play two-player co-op, just like back in the arcades. The RepliCades have always been high-quality, good-looking little replicas of the medium’s most foundational games, and the 1942 x RepliCade is probably the best one they’ve made yet. And yes, you can plug it into your HD TV so you can play on a screen bigger than a matchbook, if you must.
Do you have a budding young coder in your life? The CircuitMess Nibble is less a game than a tool for making your own games- “an educational DIY game console” that gives the user experience in coding their own software in various programming languages. It’s a cool little tool for STEM learning, from the mechanical engineering required to put the handheld system together, to the coding skills it helps develop once assembled. Don’t think of it as a traditional gaming system-it comes with four games that are all slight variations of classics like Space Invaders, Pong, or Asteroids—but an educational toy that teaches the basics of programming.
iam8bit, the premier label for fancy vinyl editions of videogame soundtracks, is always a great source of gifts for a certain kind of player. Got a friend or loved one who can’t get enough of their favorite game soundtracks? Who listens to that stuff when they’re working, driving, or hanging out, the way anybody listens to the music that they love? And who also either owns a record player or is the kind of person who likes to hang expensive vinyl reissues on their wall as decoration? Then shop for them (or yourself) at iam8bit. They’ve recently released a whole line of records in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Persona series; some of those editions have sold out, but a select few are still in stock. You can also find vinyl editions of the soundtracks to games like Hyper Light Drifter, Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, Spiritfarer, and more.
Funko doesn’t just make those little vinyl toys with the dead black eyes. They launched Funko Games in 2019, with a notable focus on games based on big name pop culture properties. Disney fans, for instance, can find games based on attractions like It’s a Small World and The Haunted Mansion, alongside ones that riff on various animated movies and characters. Older players might be more interested in something like Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, a cooperative board game from Prospero Hall that tries to capture the high-octane action of the movies. Seinfeld: The Party Game About Nothing combines trivia about the sitcom with a variety of minigames based on Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and their hijinks. The Goonies: Never Say Die lets you play through adventures based on the nostalgic ‘80s favorite, with various adventures in the core box and a few new ones in the Under the Goondocks expansion. And if you nobody who is a big collector of Funko Pops, they might cotton to the company’s core game, Funkoverse, a strategy game that’s been adapted to all manner of pop culture properties, and which come with Funko Pop-styled figures as the player pieces. Funkoverse features sets and characters based on a wide array of properties, including Jurassic Park, Game of Thrones, Marvel, DC, Disney, Jaws, Harry Potter, and even Golden Girls. Funkoverse is yet another result of the weird, crossover-crazed, IP-focused media world we live in today-and could totally be the gift you’re looking for this year.
Last year Nintendo released a cool little portable edition of Super Mario Bros. styled after the company’s Game & Watch line of handheld games from the ‘80s. This year Nintendo outdoes itself significantly with a Zelda-themed Game & Watch, featuring not just the original NES classic but its underrated NES sequel and a classic Game Boy spinoff. Yep, this slim little device, barely larger than a credit card, lets you play The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening anywhere you’d like-and also includes an updated version of the Game & Watch game Vermin, now starring Link himself. True, it’s still far more of a novelty than a practical gaming device, but at least it’s a genuinely cool and exciting novelty, and something any Zelda or Nintendo fan would love to add to their collection.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.