Video Game Holiday Guide 2012: Eight must-haves for the Gaming Hardware Junkie
Nintendo Wii U
The next generation of the Nintendo Wii is here with the Nintendo Wii U. Among the improved features are high-definition graphics for the first time on a Nintendo system, the ability to use your old Wii remotes, and, most importantly, an innovative new touchscreen controller called the GamePad. The idea is that the touchscreen-enabled GamePad and your television work together to give you a brand new way of playing video games.
For example, in Nintendo Land (which comes with the Deluxe Set edition of the Nintendo Wii U) there's a mini-game called Luigi's Haunted Mansion. In this game, the person with the GamePad plays as a ghost in a haunted house and they can see everyone on the touchscreen. In the meantime, up to four gamers using regular Wii remotes play the game on the TV, and they can only see what's in front of them with their flashlights. While they're trying to find the ghost by shining their light on it, the ghost is trying to sneak up behind them to give them a good scare. Believe us when we say it's a very unique experience, and an absolute blast to play as a group.
The Deluxe Set gives you the Wii U in a sleek black finish along with the GamePad, a stand, the appropriate power cables, an HDMI cable, and the Nintendo Land pack-in. Nintendo also offers a basic set for $50 cheaper, but we would suggest working hard to find the Deluxe Set as it offers a better value. When putting together your holiday hardware list, the question won't be whether or not you want one but where can you find one in the first place.
PlayStation Bundle and PlayStation Pulse
PlayStation 3 may not have a touchscreen controller (although the PlayStation Vita has an innovative cross-play functionality, but only for a few games) but it has a boatload of horsepower to compensate. The system can play Blu-Ray discs and has a very impressive selection of network apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and major sports available for streaming content. Oh, and it plays games!
The holiday bundle you'll see a lot of on Black Friday couples the recently-redesigned system with the Infamous Pack (which includes the two games of the Infamous series) and the Uncharted Dual Pack, which includes the first two Nathan Drake adventures. If you're intrepid enough, you may find a console bundle that includes Uncharted 3, but even if you don't, the holiday bundle hits the right notes at exactly the right price tag.
If you're looking to splurge a little more, the PlayStation Pulse headset is great for those late-night gaming sessions when you don't want to interrupt anyone else in the house. The headset uses a USB dongle that plugs into the front of the console, providing 7.1 virtual surround sound and the ability to chat with other players through a hidden microphone. Very comfortable and a great gadget for anyone who appreciates some good audio. (And yes, you can use it with other devices outside of your PS3.)
Beats Executive and Beats Pill
If you're looking for a great gift for a true audiophile, Beats by Dr. Dre continues to deliver. This holiday season looks like it will be another big one for Beats, and there are two products that will make a significant impact on the scene.
The first is the Beats Executive headphone, giving you a sleek steel exterior and coupling it with noise-canceling technology that works beautifully. When you switch the headphones on, you literally cannot hear people in the same room speaking at a normal volume. The included carrying case and embedded microphone works with Android and iPhone, and they are extremely comfortable. The entire package makes the Beats Executive the must-have headphone of the season.
The second device is the Beats Pill, and it is a surprising piece of hardware. The Pill looks exactly like a pill (go figure), but once you connect it with any Bluetooth-enabled device you'll be amazed at the sound quality and volume coming out of such a small package. The device utilizes NFC (near-field communication) so, if your phone has that technology (some Android phones incorporate that), all you need to do is physically bump your phone on the side of the Pill to connect the two devices. Both products have a fit and finish that makes it easy to understand why Beats by Dr. Dre is at the top of the headphone game.
MOGA Mobile Gaming System
Do you love gaming on your phone but still pine for a regular controller? Power A has a really interesting solution available for Android tablets and phones in the MOGA Mobile Gaming System. Snap on the MOGA device onto your phone (adjustable to fit most Android phones), load up the MOGA app to find a game you want to enjoy, and you're set.
The MOGA controller has everything you've come to expect from a next-generation video game controller, including shoulder buttons, dual analog joysticks, and four face buttons. It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth so it does need batteries, but Power A says two AAA batteries should last a good 18 hours.
We're hoping MOGA eventually makes its way onto the iOS, but if you know someone who games on the regular with their Android device and is sick of using touchpad controls for games that beg for a dual analog setup (like any first-person shooter!), this is a great gift for the holidays.
Logitech MMO Keyboard and Mouse
The hardcore PC gamer is a notoriously fickle creature. We know -- we're hardcore PC gamers! It takes a lot for us to change our gaming habits, but Logitech has come up with something perfect for our MMO sessions.
The Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse is a unique product that should feel right at home for those hours of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. Holding the mouse, you'll notice that your thumb fits naturally over twelve buttons that are fully customizable to your gaming arsenal, bringing the total button count to twenty. That may sound like a lot but it's perfect for an expert MMO gamer. The mouse also has a great feature that is completely customizable, allowing you to select a backlight of any color you'd like. Really nice touch.
If you're looking for a companion gaming keyboard, Logitech has the 710 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard with a set of programmable keys along its left side, making it perfect for a one-two combo with your new mouse. The WASD keys are highlighted in a slightly lighter color so they're easy-to-find (and if you've played enough PC games, you know why), and the keyboard also has two types of backlighting giving your whole setup an ethereal glow.