With the end of 2021 right around the corner, the team at Gaming Age wanted to put together a Holiday Gift Guide featuring some great gift ideas for for friends, family, and of course fellow gamers. Some of the hottest (not to mention difficult to track down) items out there are still the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda Game & Watch and the upgraded OLED version of the Nintendo Switch. There is no end to the sheer amount of other gaming goodness this year though.
So, without further ado, here are a few gift suggestions for the 2021 holiday season! Stay tuned for updates, as we plan on adding to the list during the season.
Budget 4K TV: Hisense Premium 55-inch U7G Quantum ULED ? $649.99
I was recently in the market for a new 4K TV, but having just bought a house, I was definitely on a budget. After reading reviews for budget 4K sets, I ended up going with the Hisense ULED U7G model, and honestly I could not be happier with this set for the price I paid. MSRP puts this TV at $999.99 currently, but it?s pretty much always on sale, and came in at $649.99 when I bought it just a few weeks ago.
Fantastic picture quality, and the Google/Android interface made me abandon my Roku device altogether. Low latency for game mode makes it an excellent gaming TV, and it supports 120Hz refresh rate along with HDMI 2.1, so you?ll also be able to take advantage of games that support 120fps. So if you?re in the market for a new 4K TV this holiday season but aren?t looking to shell out for OLED, I would absolutely recommend this set.
Comic/Superhero Fans: Beta Ray Bill: Argent Star TPB by Daniel Warren Johnson ? $8.99/$14.49 for Kindle & comiXology/Paperback
Love superhero comics, or know someone who does? Then I?d absolutely suggest checking out this graphic novel featuring the popular Thor spin-off character Beta Ray Bill, by artist/writer Daniel Warren Johnson. DWJ is my favorite comic artist currently, and this 5 issue mini-series collected via this upcoming TPB was absolutely fantastic.
He has an incredible dynamic art style that feels wholly unique amongst his peers, and while I?d imagine Beta Ray Bill is a pretty challenging character to tackle artwise, he really nails the character here. Some of the best action sequences in comics this year, with multiple moments that will leave you saying wow. A perfect, low-price gift for any comic fan in your household.
Conversation Piece: Infinity Game Table ? $649.99 on up
The Infinity Game Table (our review here!) is essentially a coffee table with a tablet built into the surface. It is available in both a 24-inch and 32-inch model. It has an amazing line-up of games and apps, with the promise of even more great things to come. Since its launch, dozens of free games have been added to the lineup.
The $650 – $900 (depending on your chosen screen size) price tag is steep, but I believe the product more than justifies the asking price. The price for all of these board games alone is several hundred dollars, and the ease and convenience with which you can play them through the Infinity Game Table really hammers the value home. If you spend a good bit of time and money on board games and have people around you that will get regular use out of a machine like this, it is a fantastic purchase.
Gaming Headset: LucidSound LS50X ? $199.99
The LucidSound LS50X (our review here) is a premium gaming headset that blends a sleek and attractive headset exterior with top-of-the-line audio performance. Although the LS50X was designed and marketed for the Xbox family of consoles, it is also able to be used on a PC or any other Bluetooth device. It has two different microphones, a built-in mic that allows for lower-profile microphone use, and a removable boom mic for traditional game chat.
The earcups are made of extremely soft memory foam, with a gel cooling layer above that, all underneath a thin layer of cloth. Although priced around $200 (give or take $50, depending on when and where you buy it) the LucidSound LS50X stands out as a top-of-the-line headset for anyone looking for something new this holiday season.
Wired Xbox/PC Controller: PowerA Fusion Pro 2 Wired Xbox Controller ? $79.99
PowerA is known for making high-quality third-party video game accessories, at affordable prices. The Fusion Pro 2 sits at the very top of their product line as a viable (wired) alternative to the Xbox Elite Controllers. At $90 instead of $180 however, it is an absolute steal. I use it as my primary controller now, and with the braided 10-foot USB-C cable that is included, I never feel limited by the fact that it is a wired controller.
I mostly play on PC, so am in a unique position there with my proximity to the plug, but even if not, 10 feet is a lot of cable. With a mappable pro pack with paddles on the back, swappable faceplates and thumbsticks, three-way trigger locks, and a soft touch controller face + rubber grips, the Fusion Pro 2 is comfortable to hold and use for an extended period of time. The Fusion Pro 2 is the best wired controller on the market right now, and I recommend it to anyone who is unbothered by gaming with a tether.
Wireless Nintendo Switch Controller: PowerA Nano Enhanced Wireless Controller ? $39.99
The PowerA Nano Enhanced Wireless Controller is a compact controller for the Nintendo Switch that can be easily transported for on-the-go play without using the Joy-Cons. It is a good bit smaller than the Nintendo branded Pro Controller, while also offering the same features. The small size might take some getting used to if you have bigger hands (like I do) but after a brief period of adjustment, it feels normal to use.
Included with the controller is a USB-C cable for re-charging the roughly 20-hour battery life, as well as a soft microfiber carry case so you can easily take the Nano controller with you. It will easily fit in a purse or small bag, and can even be stored in your pocket if you have baggier pants. The PowerA Nano controller is perfect for kids and anyone else looking for a smaller Nintendo Switch controller at home or on the go.
Retro Gamers: Nintendo Game & Watch: Legend of Zelda ? $49.99 + Rose Colored Gaming Stand ? $17.99
Wait…am I just gonna copy and paste what I wrote last year and find and replace the words Super Mario Bros with Legend of Zelda? Yep! 12 months have passed and Nintendo released yet another Game and Watch based on one of their iconic IPs. Sporting a green and gold color scheme, this plucky little handheld will be able to play the two NES Legend of Zelda titles, Link’s Awakening (GB/GBC) and modified version of the Game and Watch classic Vermin featuring Link.
If you only plan on using this as a timepiece, the battery lasts surprisingly long (I’ve only had to charge the Super Mario Bros G&W two or three times over the course of the year). Alas at the time of writing this blurb (Mid November, Benny cracked the whip on this feature…) Rose Colored Gaming, the company who created a decorative stand for previous Game and Watch have not announced a similar stand for this edition, but I’m sure it’s in the works, however a non-themed stand is available. [Ed’s Note: Now available!]
Retro Gamers: Epilogue GB Operator ? $49.99
Coming from a company whose name feels like a play on some FGPA console maker based in Hong Kong, Epilogue’s GB Operator is a nice little piece of hardware which I’ve picked up this year on a whim. The device supports the Gameboy family of cartridges and will allow them to interface with any computer running linux, Windows or MacOS. The software for the device will also let you play the cartridge on your computer, which is a nice touch if you don’t have any AA batteries (or Gameboys) in your home. Piracy is rampant in the handheld market and while there are telltale signs of fakes, bootleggers are getting smarter at masking their cheap reproductions as the real deal. Yes, you can get a tri-wing and google PCBs, but the GB Operator will be able to detect if a cartridge is authentic or not without having to open up the cartridge. Besides this authentication feature, the GB Operator can also back up your saves to ensure your pokeymans or your high scores will be retained and even used in other emulators. While the perfect use case for the GB Operator would include the ability to use it connected to a phone (you know when you’re out buying games), let’s hope that this feature could get added somewhere down the road. The earliest this item will ship is in January 2022, IOUs are a perfectly acceptable present.
Streamers: NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro 4K HDR Streaming Media Player ? $199.99
Set top boxes are becoming the norm these days, as more and more streaming services are outshining the cable/satellite companies. Nvidia ups the anti by adding Android apps/games, controller support and wide library of Classic Game Emulators for systems like Nintendo 64, Dreamcast and even Arcade (You’ll have to supply the ROMS).
It truly is an all in one set top device that no home should be without. At $199.99, this device is an absolute steal. The Pro version offers 4K HDR for Movies and complete access to the Google Play Store.
The ability to load media off of external devices and side load any android app makes the Shield Pro a must buy!
Retro Gamers: Nintendo Game & Watch: Legend of Zelda ? $49.99
To Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo has released the official Game and Watch portable player. It contains 3 complete classic Legend of Zelda Games, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link from the NES and Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening from the Gameboy. One additional game based on the Original Game and Watch game “Vermin” is also included but upgraded with Zelda Characters.
Each game plays exactly like their originals with the added bonus of a clock and stopwatch. It’s sleek design looks great on a shelf and feels great in the hand while playing. At $49.99, this is a great stocking stuffer or the gamer in your life.
Xbox Series X|S Gamers: Seagate Storage Expansion Card for Xbox Series X|S ? $139 and up
The switchover to high speed Solid State Drives for next generation consoles and games is very much well worth the added expense and effort. The tradeoff? The barely 1TB built in capacity of the Xbox Series X (and half that for the Xbox Series S) is just too damn small, especially as games breach the 100GB install size more and more.
Thankfully Seagate teamed up with Microsoft to offer a selection of officially licensed and compatible high speed SSD expansion cards made especially for the Xbox Series X and S. They range from 512GB ($139), to 1TB ($219.99), to a whopping 2TB ($399.99). Yes, they get pricey real fast, but it beats needing to delete/re-download games and content or shuffling them to and from an external HDD. You may not need one when you first get a Series X or S, but as the generation progresses you will eventually find a reason to pick one up. (Thanks in part to the steady stream of Game Pass games too)
PC Gamers/Software Devs: ROCCAT Pyro Mechanical PC Gaming Keyboard ? $99.99
I am not much of a PC gamer these days, but I do have an appreciation for clicky, tactile mechanical keyboards for other reasons. Primarily software development and other professional/business reasons.
ROCCAT Pyro Mechanical PC Gaming Keyboard does double duty as a fun gaming keyboard, with configurable RGB of course and custom settings, and a daily driver for those who use keyboards in a business environment… which includes writing up and formatting this Gift Guide of course. Besides the reasonable price and satisfying feel of the keyboards, I especially like the removeable wrist rest and easily accessible volume spinner.
PC Gamers/Software Devs: ROCCAT Kone Pro PC Gaming Mouse ? $49.99
Mirroring my recommendation for the ROCCAT Pyro, the ROCCAT Kone Pro PC Gaming Mouse gets more usage doing things other than gaming, but it is well suited for those tasks as well. I don’t mind wired mice on a desktop PC as long as they are well made and balanced like the Kone Pro.
As you’d hope it also has slowly pulsing RGB lighting built in, which is totally configurable as well. The buttons are satisfying and responsive, and there’s just enough of them to be useful but not too many to be clunky. The spinner is smooth as is the slider pads on the bottom — and it has a more classic shape and shell texture which I appreciate.
It’s reasonably priced too!
This is my favorite genre of board game. In this type of game, all the players are trying to meet a common goal, some games have you saving the world while others are trying to tell a story. If your family isn?t a competitive one, working together might be the way to get everyone to the table.
Pandemic ? $22
A staple of the Co-op genre is Pandemic, published by Z-Man games. In this game there are four different diseases running rampant around the world. Your job is to find the cure for all four before time runs out. Pandemic is a fantastic game to start with if you have never played a co-op game before, the rules are very simple to learn and teach. Once the game is understood it has enough strategy to keep players engaged. It even has a way to increase or decrease the difficulty.
The Game ? $12.99
An even easier game to teach is The Game published by Pandasaurus. Yes you read that right the game is called The Game. This game is simple to play that all the rules fit on a piece of paper smaller than a post card. In this game there are four stacks of cards, two counting up from 1 and two counting down from 100. On your turn you must play at least two cards, you can play more if you like. When you play a card, you must play a card lower than the face up card on the piles going down and higher on the cards going up. The only exception to the rule is you can play a card that is exactly 10 in the opposite direction. The kicker? You can?t tell any player what you have in your hand.
Spirit Island ? $79.99
If you are looking for a co-op game that has a little more to it than Pandemic, check out Spirit Island. This game is an area control co-op game where the players are spirits on an island trying to protect the island and its inhabitants from colonists who are trying to take over the island. As the spirits you start with a hand of powers, depending on the spirit determines your starting powers. As the game progresses, spirits learn new powers, and the invaders become more aggressive. There are even adversaries and countries that the invaders can be which give them different powers and abilities.
There are a lot of games on the market, more competitive games than co-op. This genre is exactly how it sounds. Players are competing against each other to earn points or be the first to accomplish something in the game. The winner gets bragging rights, and maybe an extra slice of pie.
Ticket to Ride ? $21.99
One of the most popular competitive games out there, and is still a very good game, Ticket to Ride. In this game players are playing colored train cards to place railroad routes in order to connect cities and transport passengers. Every time you place track, you gain points. At the end of the game, players take a look at their ticket cards and tally up points for tickets completed and lose points for tickets not completed. This game can be pretty cutthroat as players can cut people off from cities that they need access to, preventing them from completing tickets. There is even a pink player expansion for $5 where proceeds from those sales go to the breast cancer research fund.
Star Wars Rebellion ? $109.99
If you are looking for something a little more complex, Star Wars Rebellion is a great two player game where one side plays the Rebellion and the other plays the empire. This is a war game with some deduction thrown in for good measure. The rebellion player hides their base somewhere on the galactic map, while the imperial player attempts to find them before time runs out. As the rebellion player achieves victories, they can play cards that shorting the amount of time the empire has to find them. Heroes are placed on the map to move troops and do missions. This game is even better with the Rise of the Empire expansion. Rise of the Empire adds characters from Rogue One a star wars story and new troop types.
Any way you go with board games please go to your friendly local game store (FLGS) to purchase. It may be a little more expensive than purchasing elsewhere, but your FLGS is a member of the community, they will have people there who are passionate about the hobby and can help find the right game for you. Plus many stores have play areas with a game library for you to try out games, and the players are almost always welcoming new players into the hobby.
For Children Gamers: Arcade1Up Paw Patrol Junior Arcade Cabinet with Stool ? $299
As a father that hopes my 5-year-old will one day, enjoy many of my favorite pastimes like Superheroes, Video Games and Action Figures, Arcade 1Up has stepped up the variety of cabinets this year and has included two unique already assembled kits for kids 4-8. They must machine available.
One is Pacman, which the parents would end up playing more most likely and a Paw Patrol machine that is geared more for kids that can play something they related to, but have that nostalgia look and feel they may see their parents like myself have. While the adult sized cabinets have increased dramatically in price, this is a good entry into the world of arcade cabinets for the little ones.
Next Gen Gamers: Seagate FireCuda 530 1TB Internal Solid-State Drive for the PS5 ? $274.99
Storage for the PS5 has been an issue since the day it launched. Needing a specific type of M.2 PCIe Gen4 ?4 NVMe made it impossible to upgrade since Sony has made the support not available until the last couple of months. This Is the best time to upgrade and may even be able to save some money with the holiday sales. It?s a sleek drive that is super easy to install. You can see our installation video here.
Once it?s installed, you can make it your primary download drive for both PS4 and PS5 games. The speeds our comparable and in some cases even improved from the internal SSD that came with the PS5.
For Heavy VR Gamers: VR Headset Sweat Liner – for Virtual Reality and Oculus ? 3 pack for $12.99
As someone who sweats profusely, I think these are a must have, regardless of the holidays. This is the time of year, where many are introduced to new Tech and with the Oculus becoming more and more affordable, I foresee plenty of families opening boxes with them. For one, I?m a germaphobe so, sharing headsets is something I?ve never been a fan of, but VR is one of those things, you need to experience in order to understand.
Families will be sharing, and some will be sweating. Problem solved.
For Sound Aficionados: Panasonic SoundSlayer WIGSS Wearable Surround Sound ? $197
Being a lover of the Panasonic SoundSlayer Soundbar, I knew the new Wearable Immersive Gaming Speaker System would be worth checking out. It?s a unique way to hear your games, music, and movies. Instead of having headphones covering your ears, you can wear this band around your neck and get a fully immersive sound experience.
Watching Avengers Endgame while wearing them was an experience. The other great perk is you have your ears free when someone like your children or significant other is calling for you. At the same time, now there is no excuse for not hearing them.
The SoundSlayer WIGSS can be used on a PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series or Nintendo Switch.
Of course if you’re still totally unsure what to pick up for the Holidays, for yourself or family/friends, there’s always a nice big gift card… right?