The Tech Report’s 2017 Christmas gift guide

It’s that time of year again. You have a nerd or geek in your life who’s impossible to buy for, and you’re flat out of ideas. Time is running out, too: there’s only three weeks left until Christmas as of this writing. Fear not. As nerds and geeks who are impossible to buy for ourselves, the TR staff has looked back over the hardware, games, and entertainment that surprised and delighted us the most this year, and we’ve tried to select our favorites for all ages and budgets. Here’s what we came up with.

Jeff Kampman, Editor-in-Chief

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti

It’s rare that a product doesn’t disappoint in any way. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is one of those rare beasts. The GTX 1080 Ti delights with high frame rates and smooth frame pacing at resolutions and graphics settings that make every other card on the market flinch, all with performance-per-watt that’s unequaled in the industry right now. I can’t think of a finer gift to give the gamer in your life (or to yourself).

Don’t pair a GTX 1080 Ti with a 1920×1080 display, or you simply won’t see what this card is capable of most of the time. The GTX 1080 Ti is best for high-refresh-rate 2560×1440 gaming or high-fidelity 4K experiences, and if you pair it with such a monitor, you’ll be elated every time you fire up your favorite titles. This card really demands a modern system to help it shine, as well, so if you or your intended recipient are still holding onto a Sandy Bridge PC or something older, it might be time for a shot of Coffee Lake on top.

Aftermarket takes on GTX 1080 Tis abound, and as you would expect for Nvidia’s highest-end consumer pixel-pusher, they all seem to be fine products. I would personally give the edge to Gigabyte’s $800 Aorus GTX 1080 Ti Xtreme Edition, whose trio of large fans and massive heatsink keeps the GP102 GPU cool while staying whisper-quiet. That said, you really can’t go wrong with any GTX 1080 Ti, even the Founders Edition. We don’t do year-end awards, but if we did, the GTX 1080 Ti would be graphics card of the year in my book.

Nintendo Switch

For all the time I spend testing the world’s most powerful graphics and computing hardware, most of the gaming I’ve done for my own pleasure of late has taken place curled up under the covers with Nintendo’s Switch. That’s because Nintendo knows how to deliver games with heart and depth in a way that few other companies or studios can.

The Switch is a surprisingly versatile canvas for those titles, and I’ve enjoyed using it in my living room just as much as I have in its portable mode. The crisp and relatively large screen for a portable device makes this console the best Game Boy ever in a pinch, and I can’t wait to take it on planes or wherever else I might want to get some more Breath of the Wild in.

Some might argue that the Switch is an expensive platform for Nintendo’s first-party titles and little else, but if you value quality games that you can really dig into over the widest selection possible, the $300 price tag for this little gem is more than worth it. Like the GTX 1080 Ti, I’ve never had anything other than fun when I’ve fired up our Switch, and I can only hope that will continue as more developers and franchises get on board with it. TR contributor Eric Born also heartily recommends Nintendo’s latest console to put under your tree, so I’m not alone in my infatuation.

Thermapen Mk4

Sometimes the best things in life are simple tools that do one thing really well. Thermoworks’ Thermapen Mk4 quickly and accurately tells the temperature of any food item you might have on your stovetop or in your oven, and its lengthy probe, auto-rotating and backlit display, motion-sensing on-off switch, and water-resistant construction make it both convenient and durable in use.

I mostly use my Thermapen for cooking meats, and if you want to nail a perfect steak or figure out whether a massive pork roast has come up to temperature, this little gadget will let you find out whether you’ve hit temperature targets with enough swiftness to avoid overdoing fast-cooking cuts and with more than enough accuracy to avoid turning medium-rare into medium-well. The Thermapen will be used so often by the choosy chef in your life that it might not even remain in a drawer, much less end up at the back of one like so many other cheap thermometers I’ve tried. This thing is $100, sure, but it’s one of those “last-one-you’ll-ever-buy” kinds of purchases, and no gift is better than that.

Your Name (Blu-ray)

This smash-hit anime film, based on a tale written by director Makoto Shinkai, starts with a classic love story and adds a heaping share of twists and turns that will reward a second or third viewing (on top of whatever stop-and-rewind moments you might want to indulge in to really appreciate the gorgeously drawn and colored backgrounds). I won’t spoil the story here, but if you’re burnt out on the idea of watching yet another ponderous superhero movie (and don’t mind the potential for a tear or two), this surprisingly complex and charming tale might be just the ticket. Watch it with subtitles on the biggest screen you can. $20 for the Blu-ray-and-DVD combo pack is a steal.

 

Bruno Ferreira, managing editor and sysadmin

A nice pair of headphones

I’m a big fan of good sound, but night-time recording or gaming aren’t activities that lend themselves to the thumping volume of a speaker system. What you need is a proper pair of studio-grade headphones, like the $150 Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro or the $140 Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Either of these pair o’cans has a closed back (my personal preference) and sound quality that will blast any overpriced vegetable-branded set out of the water. There’s a reason why studio engineers worldwide trust either of the models above with their recordings.

An arcade joystick

Fighting games have seen a resurgence of sorts over the past few years. The Street Fighter franchise is going strong, and us PC gamers can now finally play Tekken 7. Me, I never really stopped playing them, as I have a collection of emulators that fill my old-school beat’em up needs just fine. Although it’s perfectly feasible to play fighting games on a keyboard, it’s hard to pull off certain moves and not very enjoyable altogether. Enter an arcade joystick.

Buying one of these things used to be an exercise in either frustration or expense, since sticks would tend to fall on two categories: cheap and nasty, or nice and expensive. Thankfully, it’s much simpler these days. Most beginners will be happy with either the Mayflash F100 ($40, for those with smaller hands) or the Mayflash F500 ($90, for larger gerbil paws). Either of these sticks is quite solidly built and easily moddable with aftermarket parts (we just know you’ll upgrade sooner or later). The higher-end model has extra functionality like rumble and a headset port.

A nice HOTAS set

Contrary to what you may be thinking, HOTAS is an acronym, not a way to type “hot behind.” It stands for Hands On Throttle And Stick, and references (at least) a joystick-and-throttle set for playing flight or space sims. Both those game types have become popular in the past decade after being ignored for most of the late 90s and early 2000s. Fans of War Thunder and Elite: Dangerous, for example, are legion.

While you certainly can get some serious bits of kit (as is the case with anything involving “simulation”), there are affordable choices that will let you punch holes in enemy planes instead of in your bank account. The Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS is one of those. The joystick has Hall-effect magnetic sensors and exchangeable parts for ambidextrous operation. Meanwhile, the throttle is suitably big and has configurable resistance. Gifting a HOTAS set would often be an expensive proposition, but the T.16000M goes for a reasonable $107. There’s also a version with a pair of rudder pedals for $160.

 

Eric Born, mobile reviewer

Dominion: Second Edition

To be worth a place on my shelf, a board game needs to meet the following criteria. First, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to finish a round. Second, luck should matter, but it should reward strategic thinking more than luck. Finally, no one should ever be eliminated from the game, and they should have meaningful things to do until the game ends. Dominion ($28 for the base game) is a fun, addictive board game that not only meets these criteria, but transcends them.

 

In this deck-building game, players start with a relatively small stack of cards and add to it, card by card, developing powerful and fun combinations of effects. Players will need treasure cards and action cards in order to make big plays, but a major part of the strategy is knowing when to start investing in victory cards, which don’t do much in your hand but are the only ones that matter at game’s end. Dominion is one of the rare board games that’s just as fun with two people as it is with four, making it an ideal present for the couple who likes to game together.

Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End

In some circles, the 1940s and 1950s are considered the golden age of science fiction. With authors like Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, and Dick publishing in this time, it’s hard to argue against its importance to the genre. Time is a cruel mistress to novels that seek to portray the future, but one novel from this period that has aged particularly well is Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End (about $10 used). The sci-fi geek on your wish list will not only appreciate the trip down memory lane to a beloved classic, but also its resonant, sobering message about the divide between humanity’s outsized ambitions and its limited capabilities.

Glenmorangie

Ever since Christmastime revelers first started to go a-wassailing, alcohol has been a thoroughly appropriate holiday gift. With the recent whisky-drinking renaissance, it’s likely that many folks will wander into the whisky aisle this season to look for a gift bottle. Unfortunately, the whisky boom has meant steep price increases for many of the familiar brands of Scotch.

One whisky that’s remained reasonably priced, yet widely available, is Glenmorangie (about $30, depending on your location). This Highland malt is smooth, floral, and sunny, a perfect drinking companion for the dour month of January. If someone’s been particularly good this year, consider getting them Glenmorangie Lasanta, which spends a couple extra years finishing in a sherry cask to help it develop a particularly rich flavor.

 

Wayne Manion, news writer and microcontroller wizard

A good soldering station

I spent a good bit of my free time this year fiddling with microcontrollers, mainly development boards based on Espressif’s amazingly inexpensive ESP8266 Wi-Fi-enabled chip. I don’t think a microcontroller necessarily makes a great gift, but the soldering station I got in order to assemble my various projects has come in handy for all sorts of things. Mine is a $97 Weller WES51 analog station, but the company makes a variety of units at various price points.

A real soldering station was a revelation after dreading every time I pulled my old cheap iron out of the toolbox. A soldering iron needs some accessories like some fine-gauge solder and a set of helping hands. Solder with lead isn’t healthy, but it is much easier to work with.

An air mouse

I have never been able to find a set-top box that does everything I want it to. We have a full Windows 10 PC connected to each TV in our house. Streaming boxes like Amazon’s various Fire devices are generally easier to use than an HTPC, but you can even the score a little bit with an air mouse. For the unfamiliar, an air mouse works a lot like a Wiimote. Wave the remote around and the mouse cursor responds in kind. On most models, the mouse can be flipped to reveal a miniature keyboard on the bottom. I keep a Logitech K400 around for some tasks, but when we are queueing up something to watch on Netflix or Plex, we use the air mouse.

Models with backlit buttons (about $12 for the one I like) are convenient in a darkened room, but battery life definitely suffers. Air mice with non-illuminated buttons ($13 for the one above) will last about a month on a pair of AAA batteries, so some Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries and a charger could make a nice accessory. Most units have four programmable buttons that can mimic IR patterns learned by pointing a standard remote at the unit. I have the buttons on mine set to mimic the power, source, and volume control buttons from my TV’s remote.

A sturdy monitor arm

We have seen monitors adding some interesting features like logo projectors over the course of 2016, but in my opinion the best thing a monitor stand can do is get out of the way. If you someone on your gift list has multiple displays, consider a monitor mounting arm. If that person is a renter, something that bolts to the desk for about $36 might be in order. The more entrenched might prefer a wall-mounted monitor arm for about $40.

I use a 2×2 display array, and the wall-mounted extending arms make it easy to position all four screens exactly where I want them. I would recommend individual monitor arms rather than units that are designed for multiple displays for substantially increased mounting flexibility.

 

Zak Killian, news writer and systems reviewer

A USB hub with lots of ports

One of the most useful things that I got this year was actually a regular old powered USB hub. It’s one of those items that you would likely never think to buy, and yet one that actually presents a great quality-of-life improvement. Every time I use it, I think “why didn’t I get one of these sooner?” It’s so convenient to have a pack of ports right by your monitor that you can use to temporarily hook up flash drives, game controllers, cameras, charging cables, and so on.

The specific hub that I got was this ten-port self-powered model from Orico. Newegg has it marked down to $33 right now. It’s big and bulky, but it occupies a specific spot on my desk, so that’s not a problem for me. USB hubs come in a ridiculous variety of shapes and sizes, so they’re a nice gift because you can really personalize it for the intended recipient.

A wireless gamepad

Last year I recommended the regular old Xbox 360 controller for PC gamers, and that’s still a great choice. However, if you know someone who’s really into retro games, who games on Android a lot, or who wants a better controller for their Nintendo Switch, check out the 8Bitdo SF30 Pro. This controller supports Bluetooth and USB connections for Windows, macOS, Android, and the Switch. You can pre-order one now for $50 and it should ship on December 10, so you’ll have time to wrap it up for Christmas.

Zollipops

Does someone you love smoke, gerbils? I quit cold turkey, but the developed oral fixation is real. I ruined my teeth sucking on sugary candies for the last ten years, but in recent months I’ve discovered Zollipops. These sugar-free suckers are recommended by dentists and are simply the best thing to satisfy that craving and keep a mouth occupied with something other than a cancer stick. You can buy them in a variety of quantities, but your best value is the $30 150-pack.

 

Eric Frederiksen, news writer and peripheral reviewer

Xbox One X

It might be anathema to recommend a console purchase on a PC gaming site, but since we already talked up the Nintendo Switch, I’m going to do it all the same. Despite the beefy sticker price of $500, the Xbox One X is a stellar deal for a no-hassle gaming experience, especially if you have a 4K TV in your living room.

As a game console alone, the Xbox One X is much more powerful piece of hardware than anything else out the market. It’s got more muscle than even the PlayStation 4 Pro, and it’s able to both play “Xbox One X Enhanced” games that offer things like increased resolution and detail or higher frame rates. It can also play existing titles at a consistently higher level of quality. Many titles are reaching native or close-to-native 4K on a machine that costs about as much as a graphics card alone. On top of that, you get a stellar set-top box for Netflix and the like, plus an Ultra HD Blu-ray player that could cost at least $150 on its own (often more). A console experience isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t want to spend well over $1000 on an HTPC that can drive a 4K TV, this is as good as it gets.

A gigantic Thermos

You’re gaming, you’re working, you’re going to get thirsty. Sure, you could get up and get something from the fridge or boil up some hot water. Or you could just have it ready. The Thermos Stainless King is a real beast, with a 68-ounce capacity, but it does exactly what it promises on the box and is worth every cent of the $45 price tag. If you make tea in the morning, it’ll still be too hot to drink at night. It’ll even be lukewarm the next morning, if you’re really desperate.

I drink a lot of tea (like, a lot of tea), and this beast has become indispensible. In addition to the excellent temperature retention and the huge capacity, the tank has a twist-and-pour top that lets you pour yourself another cup without totally dismantling the thing. You can use the cap as a cup or get yourself a MegaMan E-Tank mug if you want to remember what this thing is really for. If 68 ounces is just too much, there are smaller sizes, but this thing is a perfect companion for a 1.7-liter electric kettle.

Logitech G603 Mouse

For a long time, picking a gaming mouse meant making a choice. You could pay a ransom for a low-latency mouse with limited battery life or grab a wired one to save a few bucks, tangling (literally) with the annoying cable. Logitech seems to have the problem licked wih its G603 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse. Despite how few buttons this little guy has, it has a host of worthy features.

First up, the G603 features both Logitech’s proprietary Lightspeed and general Bluetooth connectivity. When connecting via Lightspeed, you can connect at high or low speed with a switch on the bottom of the mouse for a choice between more frequent polling or better battery life. Even with the low-latency 1-ms setting, though, Logitech is still promising about six months of battery life on a pair of AA batteries in regular daily usage. The “high” latency setting has an 8-ms reporting rate, and Logitech says you can go 18 months on a single pair of batteries with that option. While the mouse doesn’t offer any weight adjustment, you can play with either one or two AA batteries with no performance difference should you want a lighter piece of hardware in hand for intense PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sessions.

Beyond that, the G603 sports Logitech’s classic right-hand shape, a subtle black-and-grey look, and just enough buttons to get by; left and right, back and forward, and a rubberized wheel. The best part? This thing’s only $60.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Xbox One X)

When I talk to gamers, it seems like many have written off Assassin’s Creed completely. That’s thanks to a relentless yearly release cycle and consistently buggy games starring wholly unlikeable protagonists. It’s hard to hold it against them. But if there was ever a time to come back, it’s this year, thanks to Assassin’s Creed: Origins.

Origins takes us back to ancient Egypt in 49 B.C., during the reign of the Pharaohs Ptolemy and Cleopatra VII and just before the fall of the last dynasty of Pharaohs and rule by the Romans. The pyramids were already ancient by this time, and hieroglyphs were largely unrecognizable to the general populace. The game is filled with beautiful, eye-popping temples and giant monuments, and it’ll take you across deserts, seas, jungles, caves, and canyons. It’s the biggest Assassin’s Creed game yet, and the best one in a long time. Protagonist Bayek is fun to play with, and the game has overhauled both the combat and free-running systems for the better.

Origins is still Assassin’s Creed, but it feels fresh, and it’s easily one of my favorite games of the year. It’s a can’t-miss title, especially if you’re going to be playing on one of the new consoles or a properly high-end rig that can render the world in all its splendor. The game retails for $60, but there are sure to be plenty of sales between now and Christmas. If that’s not your jam, though, why not check out Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4 exclusive), Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, or Super Mario Odyssey (Switch exclusive)?

Some Ultra HD Blu-rays

Planet Earth II

If you picked up that Xbox One X I recommended above and the 4K TV I suggested last year, you’re going to need some proper 4K content to watch on it. You can stream on Netflix, sure, but the truth is that streamed 4K just doesn’t measure up to an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. Picking out the right movie to show off your dope TV can be tough, though, so here are a few recommendations to get you off the ground.

While a few of its visual effects are questionable, the $50 UHD version of Blade Runner‘s focus on practical effects means that it holds up pretty well, and the combination of a dark world and neon colors mean there’s tons of room for the improved contrast and expanded color gamut available from an HDR cut to make the movie look better than ever. There’s no question that this is a great-looking 4K movie. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the Dolby Atmos sound mix yet, but if you’re on the bleeding edge with your audio setup, then this disc will do right by you.

If you want some more comedy and action, though, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($30) is going to be one of the most vibrant, colorful Ultra HD Blu-rays around. The movie was plenty colorful in the theater, but the HDR presentation blows it out of the water, and the level of detail revealed on a 4K screen is impressive.

On the more grounded front is BBC’s Planet Earth II documentary (about $32). Simply put, this is the best-looking thing on 4K HDR. Every shot pops, whether it’s a close-up of a lizard’s iridescent scales or a shot of a bobcat bounding headfirst into a snowbank like something out of a cartoon. If your goal is simply to show off your gear, this is where it’s at. While many movies are captured in 4K or 8K and mastered in 2K, much of Planet Earth II was captured in 6K and mastered at 4K, so there’s absolutely no loss of detail. You might cry while you watch it, and I promise, that’s normal.

Or, hey, if you’re willing to cut it really close? Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy ($85) will be out just in time for Christmas, with a December 19 release date. I can’t make any judgments about its quality since it’s not out just yet, but Nolan’s a picky director and was involved with this release, so we should be in for a treat.

 

Colton “drfish” Westrate, Shortbread wrangler and BBQ master

Logitech Harmony 650

Sure, there’s been some drama surrounding some of Logitech’s Harmony offerings recently. However, it appears that smarter minds prevailed and Logitech has done right by their customers. Personally, I don’t go in for insanely expensive universal remotes in the first place—I have simpler needs.

The Harmony 650 has worked well for me for the better part of this year after replacing my previous Harmony model (which met a, uh, “physical” death). At just $40, the Harmony 650 is priced perfectly for the job of wrangling a family member’s collection of DVD players and TV remotes. Just be sure to plan on a hour or two of setting it up for them.

Neko Atsume Cute Cat Sweater & All Black Cats are Not Alike Book

Cheese didn’t make the cut for the gift guide, so I had to go with a gerbil’s next favorite thing, cats. Neko Atsume, I’m told, was popular once upon a time. This sweater, adorned with some of its most iconic felines, is sure to please someone you know. The book, well, everyone knows someone with an ABC. Gift this to them so they’ll know that you totally “get” it.

Generic Mouse Bungee

Nothing says “gift” like something with the word “generic” in it. Say what you will about the more ostentatious options out there, but don’t knock the concept until you’ve tried it.

At just $8, this thing could be a stocking stuffer, gag gift, or Secret Santa contribution—all the while having the possibility of being something the recipient will legitimately grow to appreciate.

Fisher-Price Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar

So far, we’ve covered gift options for family, friends, and the geeks in your life. This last suggestion is for the youths.

According to the box, the $29 Fisher-Price Code-a-Pillar is for kids aged three to eight, but I know I’d play with one if I had the chance. I bought one earlier this year for a special three-year-old that shares my birthday. It’s gotten rave reviews so far. I’m looking forward to Christmas because it’s the excuse I need to send along a couple of the expansion packs with new modules, one of which teaches for-loops. Fun, fun.

 

Comments closed
    • TwistedKestrel
    • 2 years ago

    They still make the Harmony 650? Isn’t it kinda… old? I feel like it will have support dropped the day after you buy it

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    This year will be a no-gift year for me.

    • rudimentary_lathe
    • 2 years ago

    The M50x is a nice set of headphones, but I’d recommend the M40x for price conscious shoppers. Almost as good as the M50x, but much cheaper – especially on sale. I love mine – I’m on my second pair.

    • ronch
    • 2 years ago

    I honestly don’t know what I’d like for Christmas. Maybe a Ryzen 1500X or 1600X but I honestly don’t even need those. Maybe I just wanna take some time off and spend a few days out of town, in a log cabin. I dunno.

    • Peldor
    • 2 years ago

    Many kudos to the team for some interesting and unusual choices in there.

    • Anovoca
    • 2 years ago

    Built my girl her first computer for Christmas. NZXT H440 white/purple case with a Ryzen 3 1200 inside. Spare GPU and SSD kept the cost down along with some great black friday deals on ram, CPU, Mobo, and case. The real hard part will be finding games to win over a life long console/platformer.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      It depends on what she’s into, but just in 2D platform games check out:

      [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/387290/Ori_and_the_Blind_Forest_Definitive_Edition/<]Ori and the Blind Forest[/url<] is my #1 recommendation for someone looking for a platform game on Steam. It has everything that your usual platorm game fans want: tricky jumps, gorgeous artwork, and a tear-jerking story centered around the adorable woodland sprite Ori. $20 is a bit of an ask for a platform game that's just 4-5 hours long at most, but I legitimately would say it's worth in this case. Every single thing about this game is a work of art. If she likes the old-school Mega Man games, proceed immediately and directly to go purchase [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/322110/20XX/<]20XX[/url<]. This game was developed by a two-man team and recently came out of early access. It's a heartfelt love-letter to Mega Man X but manages to directly improve on the formula by adding new mechanics and Rogue-lite elements. Two players can load up as the X-like Nina or the Zero-style Ace in local or network co-op, and there are "skulls" (read: mutators) to change up the gameplay so it stays fresh for a long time. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/239350/Spelunky/<]Spelunky[/url<] is a classic and arguably the title responsible for starting the recent boom in "Rogue-lite" games. 1-4 local or internet players carefully explore a procedurally-generated underground ruin where death comes quick and is permanent. It's very hard, but also very fun. A list of 2D platformers on Steam wouldn't be complete without including Shantae. The [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/277890/Shantae_Riskys_Revenge__Directors_Cut/<]second[/url<], [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/345820/Shantae_and_the_Pirates_Curse/<]third[/url<], and [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/253840/Shantae_HalfGenie_Hero/<]fourth[/url<] games in the series are all on Steam, and they're all pretty fantastic. They're gorgeously-animated action platform games where you play the half-genie Shantae as she whips badguys with her ponytail and dances her way to victory. The mechanics vary a bit from game to game but generally they're pretty standard platform action—their popularity stems from the gorgeous art and cute characters. The first game was only on the Game Boy Color, unfortunately, but it's pretty easy to emulate if you're curious. It's a bit different from the other games on this list, but I would be remiss if I didn't include the incredible [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/105600/Terraria/<]Terraria[/url<] in a list of 2D action games on Steam. Terraria is easily the most "game-like" of the building games out there, with a huge bestiary of monsters to battle and extensive character customziation despite the low-rez sprite nature of everything. You can lose hundreds of hours in this game very easily, and it's still getting updates some six years after release. If y'all haven't played Terraria you're just missing out. Of course, you can't go wrong with the classics. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/242550/Rayman_Legends/<]Rayman Legends[/url<] is on Steam and it is arguably the very best Rayman game to date. The Great Giana Sisters was an unabashed Super Mario clone, but the much newer [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/223220/Giana_Sisters_Twisted_Dreams/<]Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams[/url<] is a tragically-underrated platformer with a unique concept and an incredible soundtrack. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/584400/Sonic_Mania/<]Sonic Mania[/url<] is a return to form for the Sonic series, but don't miss [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/248310/Freedom_Planet/<]Freedom Planet[/url<] if you're a fan of that style. There's a pretty good list of games that I will recommend more tentatively because they're more about the combat than creativity, exploration, or customization. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/236090/Dust_An_Elysian_Tail/<]Dust: An Elysian Tail[/url<] is an old-school 2D Metroid-Vania game with excellent art and challenging battles. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/248550/Megabyte_Punch/<]Megabyte Punch[/url<] controls like Smash Bros but is a stage-based single- or two-player romp where you customize your robot using parts that enemies drop. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/252030/Valdis_Story_Abyssal_City/<]Valdis Story: Abyssal City[/url<] has a really compelling story and setting to go with its blend of exploration and challenging combat. Play through with all 4 different characters to unlock the whole story. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/467380/Khimera_Destroy_All_Monster_Girls/<]Khimera: Destroy All Monster Girls[/url<] is a fun and completely free 4+ hour romp with simple gameplay and a very silly and fun story. Finally, [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/211260/They_Bleed_Pixels/<]They Bleed Pixels[/url<] is a ridiculously difficult blend of precision platforming and technical 2D combat wrapped up in a cutesy-Cthulu setting. If fighting is off the table, try out [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/220780/Thomas_Was_Alone/<]Thomas Was Alone[/url<]. It has the simplest presentation imaginable, but this early indie darling tells an emotionally-engaging story through its gameplay and narration. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/224760/FEZ/<]Fez[/url<] is a simple game all about exploration and loneliness. Or is it? [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/218680/Scribblenauts_Unlimited/<]Scribblenauts Unlimited[/url<] CAN have fighting, if you want -- or you could scribble a T-Rex to gobble up dangerous entities. Finally, there's some fighting in three-player cooperative puzzle game [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/35700/Trine_Enchanted_Edition/<]Trine[/url<], but the emphasis is really on sussing out solutions to the game's intricate mental challenges. Of course, there's also emulation. If you were looking for 3D platformers I'll do another post here in a minute.

        • Anovoca
        • 2 years ago

        Jebus, I think I’m going to wait for the audiobook version of this reply.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 2 years ago

          Haha, 3D reply is up too. 🙂 Enjoy the recommendations.

            • Anovoca
            • 2 years ago

            Thanks, though I think I am going to start her off with Hob. I also have Fez, portal 1/2, and Brothers: To2S on the PC. Ori is on top of the list for when we beat Hob.

            • RAGEPRO
            • 2 years ago

            Really, interesting. I wasn’t a fan of Hob.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      For 3D games there’s a bit less selection than 2D, but…

      [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/253230/A_Hat_in_Time/<]A Hat in Time[/url<] is a love letter to the 3D platformers of yore and is teeth-rottingly cute. This is a game so good that the worst thing anyone can say about it is that "it ends." Great visuals, memorable characters, hilarious writing, and tight, responsive gameplay are all to be found here. Speaking of classic PS2-era 3D platform action games, there are a few of those actually on Steam. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/411960/TY_the_Tasmanian_Tiger/<]Ty the Tasmanian Tiger[/url<] may not be as famous as Jak & Daxter or Ratchet & Clank, but his games are beloved all the same. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/15130/Beyond_Good_and_Evil/<]Beyond Good & Evil[/url<] is a Playstation 2-era classic set in a marvelous science-fantasy world. You play a tough news reporter chick named Jade as she tries to uncover the truth behind her government's lies. It's a wild ride with a lot of types of gameplay and really creative design. While we're talking about classics, [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/71340/Sonic_Generations_Collection/<]Sonic: Generations[/url<] is widely considered to be the best 3D Sonic game in ages and ages. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/3830/Psychonauts/<]Psychonauts[/url<] was a smash hit on the original Xbox for its intelligent writing and clever presentation. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/360830/YookaLaylee/<]Yooka-Laylee[/url<] is created by some folks who worked on the original Banjo-Kazooie games, and has a similar flavor. I've heard some complaints from folks who wish the game design had been modernized a little, but if y'all are after that classic platformer feel, here you go. Of course, people are still making these games. There's A Hat in Time above, but there's also [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/260160/The_Last_Tinker_City_of_Colors/<]The Last Tinker: City of Colors[/url<]. I haven't played it, but it's supposed to have a pretty similar feel to those older 3D platformers. It sure looks nice. It's not a platform game, but, [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/544330/Snake_Pass/<]Snake Pass[/url<] is a really fun and creative all-ages adventure where you play an adorable cartoon snake in a physically-simulated world. You have to coil and slither your way around the environment to reach collectibles and complete challenges. I haven't played it myself, but I watched a friend livestream it for about an hour and it takes some real thought to wrap your head around the gameplay. From the developers of the Hitman series, [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/35000/Mini_Ninjas/<]Mini Ninjas[/url<] is a game about, well, ... mini ninjas. It has a cute art style and can be surprisingly challenging for a game that starts out as simple as it is. This is another one I haven't played too far into, so it might be terrible later on. The early parts of the game are really enjoyable, though. They're less platform and more puzzle (with a bit of combat interspersed), but the three-part Playstation 2-era Prince of Persia series has a whole lot of fancy movement in it. The series starts with [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/13600/Prince_of_Persia_The_Sands_of_Time/<]Prince of Persia: Sands of Time[/url<], and that game is often considered to be the best of three so you could stop there, really. The sequels Warrior Within and Two Thrones add more combat and other types of gameplay, but they're not bad games and well worth playing if you want the whole story. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/463700/Super_Cloudbuilt/<]Super Cloudbuilt[/url<] is a complete re-working of the original game with vastly improved movement physics and a complete re-write of the already interesting story. It's probably more intense than anything on this list -- while it is a platform game, it could also be fairly described as a time-trial-style racing game with combat and puzzle elements. Cloudbuilt is an all-time favorite of mine, but I readily admit it's not for everyone. You might be surprised to see Lara show up on this list, her older games were more puzzle and exploration-focused than the reboot. [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/8000/Tomb_Raider_Anniversary/<]Tomb Raider Anniversary[/url<] is a re-make of the original Tomb Raider game. Even the re-make itself is a bit older now, but it still holds up and it is a ton of fun if you've never played a calssic Tomb Raider game. My last recommendation is a bit of an odd choice since it is in large part a 3D brawler type of game, but [url=http://store.steampowered.com/app/245280/ENSLAVED_Odyssey_to_the_West_Premium_Edition/<]Enslaved: Odyssey to the West[/url<] sure does have a lot of 3D platforming. This game is loosely based on the Chinese classic Journey to the West—the main character is named "Monkey"—but it has a unique post-apocalyptic setting and a fairly shocking twist ending. There are probably ten dozen more better recommendations than these, as I don't really play 3D platformers much, but these should get you started anyway. 🙂

    • Welch
    • 2 years ago

    The list is so off the beaten path for tech items that it reminds me that I can give something else beyond the stero typical techy gifts like tablets, phones, laptops, ect. Maybe I should do something over the top cheesey like only “As Seen on TV” gifts for stocking stuffers 😉

    • Ninjitsu
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Gifting a HOTAS set would often be an expensive proposition[/quote<] *cough*1080Ti*cough*

      • euricog
      • 2 years ago

      My thoughts exactly, how on earth is a HOTAS an expensive gift when the first gift idea is a $800 graphics card?

      I would marry anyone that would offer me a 1080Ti!

    • juampa_valve_rde
    • 2 years ago

    I felt tempted by the Glenmorangie proposed by Eric Born, i’m thrilled for a single malt scotch 😀

      • EricBorn
      • 2 years ago

      That’s a great one to give to yourself.

        • Anovoca
        • 2 years ago

        Myself always buys me a bottle of Woodford reserve double oak for christmas but I would be happy with this as well. Maybe I should ask myself for both.

          • EricBorn
          • 2 years ago

          Woodford makes lovely Christmas gift boxes. I swear they put their best juice in those bottles; it always seems like a cut or two above what you usually get—not that I’m complaining about their ordinary product.

        • llisandro
        • 2 years ago

        I’m usually an Islay guy, but that Glenmorangie is smooooth. Great under-the-radar pick! I think Costco has it sometimes?

    • jihadjoe
    • 2 years ago

    Separate monitor arms! For when you suddenly decide you want to ‘code’ like Jackman in Swordfish.

    • superjawes
    • 2 years ago

    Headphones: I will continue to recommend the AKG x Massdrop K7XX. $199, sounds great, and is by far the most comfortable set I have ever owned.

    Kitchen Thermometers: I just got an older model Thermapen for instant-read stuff. Not a lot of experience with it yet, but I chose that brand because I was super happy with my [url=http://www.thermoworks.com/ChefAlarm<]ChefAlarm[/url<]. If you don't get an instant-read, get one of those to get the perfect temperature on your Christmas roast. Games: 2017 was pretty great for gaming...outside of AAA [s<]gambling[/s<] loot box nonsense. Check out [i<]Hollow Knight[/i<], [i<]Sniper Elite 4[/i<], and [i<]Opus Magnum[/i<].

      • G8torbyte
      • 2 years ago

      I recently did the drop for the lesser priced AKG M220’s on Massdrop for $49 and I’m liking them for low cost open-back monitors but the stock ear pads are not comfortable. I’m switching the pads for the velour Beyerdynamic ones that are same size. For those who like Sennheisers, Massdrop currently has the HD6XX’s at a good deal.

    • Goty
    • 2 years ago

    My wife was completely obsessed with Neko Atsume for a few months and, while she no longer plays as often, she will LOVE that sweater…

    • derFunkenstein
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Bruno Ferreira, managing editor and sysadmin[/quote<] I didn't notice that promotion before, but congrats Bruno! Definitely agree with a lot of this list. The Harmony 650 is the best offline remote you can buy, and I love ours. So much so that when our first one died after about 2 years of getting tossed around, I bought the same thing again. I love my 8bitdo SNES30 + Retro Receiver combo on my SNES Classic, and I've often looked at the pro one that Zak recommended. For monitor arms, I'd recommend a VIVO, only because they make their stuff locally in Goodfield, IL. I have [url=https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Monitor-Desktop-Adjustable-STAND-V001B/dp/B00EQ7HTG6/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1512425635&sr=1-5&keywords=vivo+desk+mount<]one of these[/url<] for my laptop and [url=https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Monitor-Adjustable-Articulating-STAND-V001/dp/B00B21TLQU/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1512425635&sr=1-3&keywords=vivo+desk+mount<]one of these[/url<] for my monitor. They also make a nice [url=https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Workstation-Ergonomic-Adjustable-DESK-V102E/dp/B071KGDGNK/ref=sr_1_cc_4?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1512425698&sr=1-4-catcorr&keywords=standing+desk+vivo<]standing desk frame[/url<] (or something [url=https://www.amazon.com/VIVO-Management-Adjustable-Workstation-DESK-V103E/dp/B073K1JSW7/ref=sr_1_cc_6?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1512425698&sr=1-6-catcorr&keywords=standing+desk+vivo<]bigger[/url<].

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]I didn't notice that promotion before, but congrats Bruno![/quote<] Some will think that that's a positive development...

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        Now that you mention it, I think you’re right.

    • DrDominodog51
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]Xbox One X[/quote<] HERETIC! Burn him at the stake!

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      THAT X BOX TURNED ME INTO A NEWT!

        • derFunkenstein
        • 2 years ago

        A newt?

          • chuckula
          • 2 years ago

          I GOT BETTER!

            • the
            • 2 years ago

            IT LOOKS LIKE THE SPELL HASN’T WORN OFF COMPLETELY YET AS YOU HAVE NOW TURNED INTO SSK.

            • K-L-Waster
            • 2 years ago

            Ok, so the only way to be sure is to see if the XBox is lighter than a duck.

            • the
            • 2 years ago

            So we throw it into a lake and if it drowns, it was indeed an Xbox.

            • alloyD
            • 2 years ago

            We shall use my larger scales!

      • piratesyar
      • 2 years ago

      IT IS NOT HERESY AND I WILL NOT RECANT!

        • DrDominodog51
        • 2 years ago

        [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom%C3%A1s_de_Torquemada<]Tomás de Torquemada[/url<] knows just what to do with you.

          • morphine
          • 2 years ago

          I shall have him in an [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-da-f%C3%A9<]auto da fé[/url<]. We have a tradition for such things.

        • adampk17
        • 2 years ago

        Throwing a little White Zombie in the mix?

    • EndlessWaves
    • 2 years ago

    I’d never heard the ThermoWorks name attached to the Thermapenn before. As far as I’m aware the manufacturer is ETI and they sell it under their own name in the UK. It gets glowing reviews here too, and I’m thinking of buying one myself.

    Also, I had to check the plot of Childhood’s End to make sure I was remembering the correct book. It’s amazing the way different people can get opposite messages from the same book. Karellen definitely makes a good Christmas ghost though.

    • NeelyCam
    • 2 years ago

    Yay for consoles!

    I got an XBox One S for $190 on Black Friday for the new 4k hometheater. For a 4k streaming/bluray player, it’s a pretty sweet deal, and couch co-op gaming is a nice bonus.

    I was thinking about Xbox One X, but the extra gaming oomph didn’t seem worth the extra $300. Keep in mind, I’m still happy using a PS3…

      • piratesyar
      • 2 years ago

      Yeah – if the thing is primarily a movie player, then you got a great deal with the S. If you’re not going to game very much, it’s hard to recommend the X. Games look great on it, and even Xbox 360 and original Xbox games play better on it (assuming they’ve been made backwards compatible, that is), but 300 is a lot if you’re not going to play it much. It sounds like you picked the right system for your needs!

      • freebird
      • 2 years ago

      2nd that…

      I found a new XBox One S on ebay for $169.99, but no bundled games. Just couldn’t justify $500 for X Box One X this year. Now the kids can fight over who uses this vs. the xbox 360.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 2 years ago

    I like the Code a pillar. I’ll be sharing that with Mrs. Bear.

      • chuckula
      • 2 years ago

      Mini-Chuckula is approaching their age range.

      If only it was a dinosaur (his current obession).

      • Zizy
      • 2 years ago

      I have a cubetto, which is similar “physical coding for small kids”.
      This code a pillar is much cuter, but supposedly less reliable, judging by reviews. On the other hand, kids are unlikely to pay attention to this for long, so I think it should not even be a problem.
      My daughter (3) likes to play with it a little bit (taking cubetto to the seaside on that cloth map), but just for about an hour and then it gets back in the drawer for a week.

    • Firestarter
    • 2 years ago

    I can second the “Your Name” and Logitech G603 recommendations. Loved the movie and I’m very happy with my G403

      • the
      • 2 years ago

      [i<]Your Name[/i<] had a limited theatrical run here in the states which I was lucky to catch with my wife. Also from Japan which had a similarly limited theatrical run but much wider DVD/Blu-ray release is [i<]Shin Godzilla[/i<]. This is surprisingly more political satire than a giant monster movie as one would expect.

      • Pancake
      • 2 years ago

      Haven’t watched “Your Name” but just bought it for girlfriend so we can watch it together.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 2 years ago

    Great stuff guys–just ship them to my house! One question on the mouse bungee–how do you get them to jump–just sort of push them off the table and catch them on the rebound? Seems a bit cruel. Are these devices PETA approved?

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      That’s not how the mouse bungee works.

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      No, that’s what a second bungee is for, so you can strap an appropriate piece of bait for the mouse to try and get to.

      • Anovoca
      • 2 years ago

      Judging by how it is constructed, I think it works more like a trebuchet

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This