Earlier this week we posted our first ever, sorta, Gaming Gift Guide. While the G3 was packed full of all sorts of goodies, mostly game related, but not totally, it was completely missing any actual games. That's because we had a different idea for listing out which video games would make good gifts and why.
This year, the problem isn't finding a game to give, it's figuring out which of the more than 50 or so top-tier titles you should pick to hand out or ask for. So instead of compiling a list of the 50 games and saying, go make up your own mind, we decided to mix things up a bit. Each of the Kotaku writers were given $US 300 in fictitious Kotaku Kash to spend on themselves. We figured that way the writers would be completely honest about which games they would buy or ask for if they were limited to a still rather high budget.
Hit the jump to see the lists and explanations, then feel free to join in with how you'd spend a $US 300 gaming gift card.Crecente Rock Band (Game Only) ($US 60) Uncharted Drake's Fortune ($US 60) Super Mario Galaxy ($US 50) Mass Effect ($US 60) The Orange Box (PC) ($US 40) Everyday Shooter ($US 10) Total: $US 280
The truth is, if I had the budget I would have jumped at the Special Edition Rock Band, but when you start to think Rock Band or two other top-tier games, it's not that hard to pick which one has to go. Besides that, I'm pretty happy with my choices. Sure I would have loved to have an extra $US 40 to be able to pick up Ratchet and Clank Future, but given the choice between R&C and Uncharted I had to go with the latter because it was such a fun experience. I love Ratchet and Clank, but I've also played Ratchet and Clank. And Everyday Shooter? That's no stocking stuffer, it should probably be third on my list, right after Uncharted and The Orange Box.
Maggie: Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS, $US 29.99) Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (PS2, $US 29.99) Blue Dragon (360, $US 59.99) Wild ARMs 5 (PS2, $US 39.99) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (PS2, $US 49.99) Viva PiÃ±ata: Party Animals (360, $US 49.99) Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings (DS, $US 39.99) Total: $US 300
I'm always running behind on my game list, and a year and a half in a foreign country didn't help matters (despite my boyfriend being great about shipping me my most lusted after games), so my list is mostly old(er). I'm also appallingly busy in my life as a grad student, so money tends to go only towards games I am really, really, really dying to play and can budget time for, which means I don't buy a lot of games for myself. But if other people are doing the buying, I don't feel guilty about letting things languish! Most of this is stuff I'd love to have on my shelf to pick up at my leisure, a couple of DS titles that can go on the road with me, and the piÃ±atas only because I love the damn things so much.
Fahey Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP, $US 39.99) Eye of Judgment (PS3, $US 69.99) Scene It (Xbox 360, $US 59.99) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, $US 49.99) Mass Effect (Xbox 360, $US 59.99) Total: $US 280
I realise that I'm all over the board here with my list, but there is a bit of method to the madness. More of an organized chaos, really. Disgaea for the PSP waged a massive battle in my head against Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions and just barely scraped by as my portable game of choice. Eye of Judgment has proven itself to be entertaining both offline and on, plus the addition of the PS3 camera makes it even more of a great buy. My list also leaves $US 30 unaccounted for, which can easily be filled with some EoJ decks and booster packs. Scene-It? makes the list because I'd like to get my family more involved in gaming, and the easy to use controllers make it an excellent gateway drug of sorts. A Wii without Super Mario Galaxy is a Wii that isn't meeting its full potential. Finally we have Mass Effect, for the simple fact that BioWare has never done me wrong.
Ash Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, $US 60): Sure, shooting Nazis is old hat, but developer Infinity Ward did a fantastic job with that tried and true FPS genre convention in Call of Duty 2. Good to see them moving out of WWII and bringing on the night vision googles! Uncharted (PS3, $US 60): Fell in love with this title at E3. It's got a "Romancing the Stone" meets "Indiana Jones" vibe to it. There's shooting and puzzles! Fantastic. Wii Fit (Wii, $US 85): Wii Sports was fun and got me moving, but I'd like to move more. Wii Fit is less a game and more an exercise peripheral. Time Crisis 4 (PS3, $US 90): Arcade shootin' fun at home! And comes packaged with the Guncon 3. Rad. Total: $US 295
Luke The Orange Box (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, $US 40/60): Santa needs to get me my own copy, because I'm lazy and have been making do with playing the shit out of this at friend's houses. Yeah, you get Half-Life 2. And Half-Life 2: Episode One. And Half-Life: Episode Two. And Team Fortress 2. But really, they're just the icing on Portal's cake. There is cake, right? Rock Band (*Software Only*, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, $US 50/60): So the bundle's hard to come by and won't even be out in Australia til 2008. Cry me a river. I'll just get this! It'll work with a 360 guitar, and I've already got USB mics from SingStar. Remember, even without drums, this thing's still got a better tracklist, and far better DLC, than that "other" popular music title. And no, I don't mean SingStar. Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan 2 (Nintendo DS, $US 40): Like Ouendan 1, but with new songs, I imagine. Which should make it just a new kind of perfect. Zack & Wiki: Quest For Barbaros' Treasure (Nintendo Wii, $US 40): Despite falling madly in love with this game every time I've played it, it's still not out in Australia. So I get to ask Santa for it! And if it's not out by December 25, well, he can leave a little pre-order receipt in my Christmas stocking. Pro Evo 2008 (Xbox 360, $US 60): Like Madden, but actually quite good. This is the "next-gen" version we should have got last year, with new ball physics, new animations and loads more polish. Best sports game I played all year. And, for some reason, I've played loads of sports game this year. Skate (Xbox 360, PS3, $US 60): Never got around to picking this up. Shame, since every time I play it I'm tickled a happy shade of Classy Pink. Those thumbstick controls should win some kind of award. Total: $US 280 to $US 310
Mark The Orange Box, Xbox 360 ($US 60): I'd strongly recommend Half-Life 2, Episode 1&2, Portal and Team Fortress 2 all as standalone titles. But Portal is an absolute must play. Seriously, stop reading Kotaku if you haven't played it. Come back when you have. Mass Effect, Xbox 360 ($US 60): Heh...uhh...he he...did you know you could...like...be a chick...and uhh...hook up with another...chick...and it's also the most ambitious RPG we've seen in ages. And it's the finest space opera to hit the 360 yet. Twisted Metal 2, PS3/PSP ($US 6): Download the best Twisted Metal title now for your PS3 and PSP over PlayStation Network. The game hasn't aged a bit and it fits great in your pocket. Super Mario Galaxy, Wii ($US 50): I watched as my wife trudged through Super Mario Sunshine, appreciating the experience, but not necessarily enjoying it. Then she smiled, laughed and played obsessively as New Super Mario Bros. awoke the slumbering 2D Mario franchise. It looks like Galaxy will do the same for 3D and her. Every Extend Extra Extreme, Xbox 360 ($US 10): Honestly, I played this game once...and the hours began to melt away. I woke up two weeks later in Mexico to a donkey licking my face. It was awesome. Consider E4 the video game equivalent of biting the top off a cupcake and throwing the rest out. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, PS3 ($US 60): If you're looking to point to one title to define the "next-gen" jump, you've found it. Now go and buy the HDTV so you can really appreciate those visuals. And then thank the gods that you weren't born 100 years ago when people entertained themselves by reading and were forced to number 2 in outhouses. Toy Home, PS3 (TBA): With no specific price or launch date, and having never laid eyes on the game in person, I can only hope for my dreams of Re-Volt 2 and a racer that doesn't require me to actually be able to drive. Total:Under $US 260
McWhertor Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3, $US 60) It's looking like Uncharted may be the best exclusive PlayStation 3 game of 2007 and I'd hate to show up at the cocktail party not having known the ins and outs of Drake's fortune. Dead Rising (Xbox 360, $US 30) Remember this? I never played it as my Xbox 360 ownership came far too late for me to join the party. I've been knee deep in zombie films and literature this week and I don't want this dreadful feeling to stop. God of War II (PS2, $US 40) Here's another top-tier game that I'd never gotten around to, despite loving the original. Most interesting is trying to unlock the mystery of the God of War series' ability to shed producers. Assassin's Creed (Xbox 360, $US 60) What? I still want it. I fully intend to get the required amount of kicks during my incomplete play time with Ubisoft's hype machine. Contra 4 (DS, $US 30) Since I rarely get to shirtlessly hunt boar with nothing but a pocket knife, I figure this will have to fill the void. Testosterone on the go. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (Xbox 360, $US 15) The puzzle RPG genre is embarrassingly underrepresented in my current library. Pac-Man Championship Edition (Xbox 360, $US 10) More Xbox Live Arcade remakes should be like this. Everyday Shooter (PS3, $US 10) You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many shooters. Game Center CX (DS, $US 45) It's an import-only retro video game collection based on a Japanese television show about playing retro video games. Total: $US 300
Look, I'm already in possession of some of this season's greatest games, from Zack & Wiki to The Orange Box to Super Mario Galaxy. But there are plenty of holes in my gaming library that won't make my backlog any smaller. That's why you won't see many hundred-hour games on my list and loads of pick up and play, short session titles in the midst of one's that focus on action and adventure.
Tristan LEGO Star Wars the Complete Saga (DS, $US 35): Not only is my son totally addicted to this game, he convinced me to buy a second copy so we could play through the entire campaign co-op... and now I'm addicted. Cosmic Family (Wii, $US 50): Tristan has spent an inordinate amount of time sitting thoughtfully in front of the television with the Cosmic Family's child-appropriate brain teasers. Zoo Hospital (DS, $US 30): Think Zoo Tycoon meets Trauma Center. A bit too simplistic for adults, perhaps, but loads of fun for kids, especially if they like first diagnosing and then treating animals. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Xbox 360, $US 185): My son is a full blown Guitar Hero addict. He spent a bit of time with Rock Band before we left for Australia on vacation, but it's Guitar Hero that keeps him coming back for more. Total: $US 300
Never mind that my 6-year-old son, upon discovering that he didn't have enough Kotaku Kash to buy all the games he wanted, tried to convince me I had said that he had $US 800 not $US 300 to spend... and then stormed from the room after calling me a liar. He still was mostly content with his picks. He didn't even blink when I told him that more than half of his cash was going to Guitar Hero. But then again he's been stomping around the house singing We Will Rock You for most of Thanksgiving morning.