Fanbase Press’ Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Video Games

Amidst the chaos of decorating the house, booking flights, or preparing a holiday feast, deciding on gifts for friends and family is likely to be the last thing on your mind this holiday season. Fanbase Press is here to help with the best recommendations for the must-playvideo games from the year as suggested by our staff and contributors. Video games make great gifts for the geeks in your life, especially for the holidays where the requisite number of players is usually right around the corner. Whether playing with Jack-Jack or providing your party of adventurers with opportunities to avoid the White Walkers, playing a game together is a great holiday event.




Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Recommended by Carl Wilson
Developers: ArtPlay, Inti Creates, WayForward, Monobit, DICO Co., Ltd.

With development led by former Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi, Bloodstained is a spiritual sequel to the long-running, vampire-killing game series (now also a Netflix cartoon). Starting out as a Kickstarter project, going on to raise over $5.5 million throughout the campaign, Bloodstained has been shaped by an understanding of its heritage. Alongside the stunning orchestral score and dozens of unique weapons and defensive buffs, the side-scrolling action adventure is saturated in monster mythology. Reprising several enemies from past “Iga-vanias,” vampires and wolfmen are remixed alongside scylla (Ancient Greek), buers (16th Century occult), and Kunekune (Japanese internet), all adding up to 128 delicious monstrous flavours to vanquish.   

Dodge-rolling copyright, players control Miriam: a kick-ass heroine with the ability of the Shardbinders: an alchemy induced invitation to absorb the powers of the monster-mashed. Borrowing the Tactical Souls system of earlier games though, these powers not only give access to previously unreachable parts of the expansive castle environment, they can also be combined to create carnage in a playstyle that suits the mood of the moment, offering many hours of reconfigurable slaying.

Where else can you throw ghosts at a dragon then throw dragons at a Dracula?    

Cost: $29.99
Click here or here to purchase.




Return of the Obra Dinn
Recommended by Carl Wilson
Developer: Lucas Pope

A ghost ship, a pocket watch, and a photo: from here you must work out the fates of the Obra Dinn’s crew, one clue at a time. It helps that Lucas Pope’s indie puzzle game, Return of the Obra Dinn, endows your chronometer with the gift of limited time travel. Set in the early 1800s, with a wooden ship and a concrete motivation to fulfill your duty as an insurance collector working for the East India Trading Company, players can hear a snippet of someone’s final moments before being shown an explorable freeze-frame of the outcome: bloody, frantic and sometimes … surprising.

Pope is the sole creator of the game, allowing him to create a tightly structured experience with 1-bit aesthetics (think Mac games from the mid-'80s). You’ll study facial features, shadowy motivations, and unusual audio cues as you unpick the reversing narrative, ascribing a cause of death to each of the 60 sea-farers.
                 
Assuming they don’t get motion-sickness, this is a game you can play with the family all working together, making it a gripping virtual change to those festive detective re-runs on the telly where Grandma spoils the plot, five minutes in.    

Cost: $19.99
Click here or here to purchase.




Untitled Goose Game
Recommended by Carl Wilson
Developer: House House

Do you want to mess about as a virtual goose with a cheeky predilection for terrorizing the peaceful lives of those you waddle into contact with? If the answer is yes: Honk! Buy the game and flap your wings with pride. If the answer is no: Honk! The goose has stolen your sandwich and thrown it in the pond. Try again.

The beauty of indie studio House House’s stealth puzzle video game is in how charming and easy they make it to be a waterfowl prankster. Set in a quaint English sandbox environment of pastel colours, the eponymous goose is the mechanism by which you can stealthily toy with the innocent village victims, making them the slapstick punch line to the jokes you put into motion. From stealing keys and hiding in bushes, through to running around with human dominoes collapsing in your mischievous wake, the goose is an agent of chaos, rewarding cunning ingenuity with solid laughs. Are you the bad guy here? Who cares! Chase that kid into a phone box! Honk!

Coming in at a few hours or so of gameplay, Untitled Goose Game is the perfect break from the Untitled Turkey games of the holidays.            

Cost: $15
Click here or here to purchase.




Resident Evil 2
Recommended by Carl Wilson
Developer: Capcom R&D Division 1

The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 will scratch the tasty itch of those that are riding the nostalgia train straight out of Umbrella’s secret underground lab. It’s also one the most graphically advanced games available on home consoles, making the dark, dank nightmare a perfect spooky showcase to terrify your loved ones with on Christmas morning.  

Combining the ease of modern controls with a tough, old-school attitude towards creeping and crawling enemies, Resident Evil 2 makes each shot against the zombie hoard count. And if you’re not counting, then expect the Assault on Precinct Raccoon City to end violently and abruptly with a bloody game over screen as you careen from puzzle room to death room via claustrophobic corridors. Not really one for the blind-firing gung-ho gamer, Resident Evil 2 rewards purposeful movement and nerves of monster-repellent steel.

Featuring two overlapping Hollywood storylines (enacting the naïve rookie cop or protective Final Girl tropes) and a host of free mini-missions (the sentient Tofu returns, as does Hunk and some new challenge scenarios for the canonically less-fortunate), there’s plenty of ambient, M-rated gaming for the seasonal winter period.

Cost: $29.99
Click here to purchase.




Sega Genesis Mini
Recommended by Carl Wilson
Developers: Sega Games Co., Ltd. & M2 Co., Ltd.

Whether it be for nostalgia, simplicity of use, or to settle perennial sibling rivalries, with 42 games to choose from, two controllers to button-mash, and modern emulation from M2 you can actually believe in (looking at you AT Games), Sega’s foray into the classic micro-console market is everything you need for a retro holiday session.

The replica console features tactile flaps and switches for the ultimate retro-kinaesthetic experience while still having an HDMI output for modern televisions, where the games look crisp and fresh. Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage II, and Golden Axe are the familiar heavy-hitters in the collection, but Castle and World of Illusion are still as Disney enchanting as Earthworm Jim is intensely goofy and groovy. Zelda-clone Beyond Oasis and Shining Force lead the pack for RPG gaming, while Castlevania: Bloodlines and Mega Man: The Wiley Wars are distinctive excursions for franchises often found on a Nintendo console. (Let the console wars begin… again!) Wrapped up tightly with arcade experiences, such as Ghouls and Ghosts and Strider, the Genesis Mini is a macro slice of 16-bit gaming from the late '80s/early '90s.

Forget the future and go back to the past; where we’re going, we don't need downloads.

Cost: $69.99
Click here to purchase.




Death Stranding
Recommended by LN Conliff
Developed by Kojima Productions
 
I don’t know if anything has brought my brother and me together more than waiting for Death Stranding. This game had reached legendary status before it was even released. From the tangled web of events that led to its announcement to the mysterious trailers that told the fans nothing, we waited with bated breath for a game that was supposed to change our lives. And then… it arrived!

While it isn’t quite what we expected, Death Stranding is still a masterful game that seems to have folks divided. If you’re looking for something heavy in narrative, with beautiful visuals, and unique gameplay, then you’ll probably love Death Stranding! Just get ready for a long game that’s perfectly content going at its own snail’s pace. Know the type of gamer you are before you go in and you won’t be disappointed!
 
Cost: $59.88 Physical Copy
Click here to purchase.




Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 And 2.5 Remix
Recommended by LN Conliff
Developed by Square Enix
 
Once upon a time, introducing people to Kingdom Hearts was a nigh-impossible challenge. Getting all of the games required owning a Playstation 2, a Gameboy Advance, a Playstation Portable, a Nintendo 3DS, a Playstation 4, and downloading at least one mobile app. Thankfully, in the leadup to Kingdom Hearts 3 earlier this year, the games were finally gathered together into two collections that only require the Playstation 4 to play. Now, a bundle of those two collections makes getting into the series easier than ever before. In case you hadn’t heard: Kingdom Hearts is amazing. It's a wild and crazy mishmash of Final Fantasy and Disney wrapped up in exciting action RPG gameplay. There’s a reason that this series has persisted despite its release order. The value of even one of these collections is staggering with at least 50 hours of gameplay per collection. New Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC is only a few months away, so if you’ve never played this series, there’s no better time like the present.

Cost: $21.96 Physical Copy
Click here to purchase.





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