5 great gamer gifts to nab ahead of the Christmas rush

Christmas is coming! It’s just over a month away, in fact, so if you’re organised you’ll get shopping well ahead of time and make sure you’re sorted without having to worry. And these days, it’s statistically pretty likely that you’ll have a video game enthusiast among the group of people you’re obliged to buy presents for — so let’s take a look at some great gamer gifts that you might want to pick up.

And hey, if you don’t know anyone who wants these, you may well want one or more of ’em for yourself, huh?

Evercade VS

Gamer gift: Evercade VS

If you or someone you know enjoys their retro gaming, the Evercade VS is an essential gamer gift this Christmas. Building on the excellent work that the Evercade handheld has done over the course of the last year, the Evercade VS brings the retro gaming experience to your television, with four controller ports ready for some multiplayer action.

With 1080p video output (as opposed to 720p on most “mini-consoles” and the Evercade handheld), two cartridge slots and a bunch of cool little secrets to discover, the Evercade VS is a great little unit to add to your collection of consoles — and easily portable should you fancy some multiplayer fun over at a friend’s house.

The currently available library of cartridges covers an incredible range of different game types — and still more are just around the corner, with the launch of the VS also coinciding with the first four arcade game collections for the platform. The future of Evercade looks very bright indeed — and I’m not exaggerating when I say this is genuinely one of the most exciting games consoles to have launched in the last couple of years.

Evercade VS is available in several different bundles. The Mega Bundle comes with four wired controllers and ten cartridges, featuring 108 games between them. The Premium Pack comes with two wired controllers and two cartridges. And the Starter Pack comes with one controller and one cartridge.

Anbernic RG351V

Gamer gift: Anbernic RG351V

The Anbernic RG351V is an emulation-based gaming handheld with a similar form factor to the Nintendo Game Boy. It’s got a good quality 4:3 screen, decent battery life, good controls and plenty of expandability with its two microSD card slots, making it a great gamer gift for the emulation-savvy retro enthusiast in your life.

Out of the box, it’s compatible with a variety of different retro gaming systems, up to and including PlayStation 1. It will technically run Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast games, but not well, so I wouldn’t advise that. Everything else runs perfectly and looks great, though — there’s even some cool filters set up for Game Boy titles that simulate the original dot matrix display of the original hardware.

As an emulation-based handheld, the one potential downside is that you have to provide your own games to put on the device, but chances are you already know whether or not you’re on board with the things you need to do in order to make that happen. The models that come with a 64GB microSD card actually come preloaded with a bunch of games, which is extremely morally questionable — you can bet your bippy that Anbernic didn’t pay up to license any of those titles — but it does mean the device is ready to go right out of the box.

Recommending a handheld like this in the same article as the Evercade may seem like sacrilege, but the fact is there are a lot of games out there that are never going to get re-licensed for re-release — and in these cases your only real option to explore them is emulation. If you’re not bothered about playing on a TV or video capture — there’s no video out — the RG351V is an excellent means of just enjoying classic games with minimal fuss.

The Anbernic RG351V is available on Amazon.

Quarter Arcades

Gamer gift: Quarter Arcade

Both excellent display pieces and interactive in their own right, the range of Quarter Arcades make for excellent gamer gifts. And they cover a nice range of different classic games, too, including Space Invaders, Dig Dug, Galaxian, Galaga, Bubble Bobble, Ms Pac-Man and Pac-Man. There’s also one based on the urban legend Polybius, which is non-interactive but acts as a charger for the other Quarter Arcade units.

The nice thing about the Quarter Arcades is that they’re not cheap plastic knock-offs; they’re made with wood and metal and designed to resemble the original cabinets as closely as possible, including the original controls, marquees and even the vents in the back. While their size means that you might not want to spend hours at a time playing them, they certainly make for fine conversation pieces if displayed artfully — even more so when you take them down from the shelf and show that they’re playable!

The Quarter Arcades are available from numerous different retailers; check distributor Numskull’s page for links.

Sega Astro City Mini

Gamer gifts: Astro City Mini

A loving recreation of Sega’s classic multi-purpose ’90s arcade cabinet, the Sega Astro City Mini comes loaded with 37 famous Sega games, many of which haven’t previously had an official home release.

Built to a 1/6 scale of the original arcade cabinet, the Sega Astro City Mini can also be hooked up to a TV and used as a console through HDMI; additional controllers or arcade sticks can be purchased for multiplayer action.

There are some great games among the library on the Sega Astro City Mini, with particular highlights including spectacular “Super Scaler” racing title Rad Mobile, the previously unported Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder, classic one-on-one battler Virtua Fighter and plenty of competitive puzzlers such as Puyo Puyo, Columns, Tant-R and Ichidant-R. There’s also the original arcade version of Cotton for you to enjoy.

The Sega Astro City Mini is available now, but stocks are low — so if you’re hoping to nab one before Christmas, get in quick!

Wii U

Gamer gift Wii U

No, this isn’t a joke — now’s actually a pretty great time to buy a Wii U, because they’re cheap to pick up (though you’ll have to settle for a second-hand one these days, what with them being discontinued and all) and games can be acquired for literal pocket change. Not only that, but it’s also fully compatible with the original Wii, which has a vast library of games, many of which can also be bought for a pound or under these days. And, contrary to popular belief, there are some wonderful titles available in the Wii’s library — it’s far from being just shovelware.

While many former Wii U exclusives have been ported to Switch, there’s still a number that remain confined to the platform — Xenoblade Chronicles X is a prime example — as well as just a few that make excellent use of the GamePad controller, like Nintendo Land and Game & Wario, both of which are excellent party games for when you’re stuck with family over the holiday season.

On top of that, if you’re one of the people who has been moaning about the retro game offerings on the Nintendo Switch Online service for one reason or another, the Wii U Virtual Console store is still open at the time of writing, allowing you easy access to digital versions of games from a variety of different classic platforms — and not just Nintendo consoles.

Why this and not a Switch as a gamer gift? Well, let’s face it, any gamer in your life probably already has a Switch — and no-one bought a Wii U back when it was current (except Muggins here) so it’s a fairly safe investment! Not only that, you can easily provide a literal armful of games to go with the console for very little additional expense.

Wii U consoles start at £80 over at CEX, but be sure to shop around and check the condition if possible. And stop by our sister site Retrounite for some cheap Wii game recommendations!

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Pete Davison
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