Northwest Cable News | December 6, 2014
A few gift ideas for that gamer in your life
NewerTech Media Coverage
Now that December is here and the holiday season truly started it's time to look at gifts to get the gamers in your life. Oh sure, Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday sales have passed us, but analysts continue to point out that in many cases you will find better deals as we get closer to Christmas; so what better time to talk about gift ideas than now? Let me give you my impressions on things I think would be perfect for the gamers in your life.
Fantasy Life for the Nintendo 3DS
When you first look at the cover for Fantasy Life you might think that it's just another role-playing game (RPG) that has your typical wizards, warriors, monsters, and dragons; and you would be half right. While you can play some of the typical RPG roles in Fantasy Life, it takes it a few steps further. How about playing as an angler, a tailor, a cook, or even a carpenter? In Fantasy Life you can! You'll start your game with one of twelve different lives (as the jobs are referred to), only five of which are your typical RPG character classes. Note that I said start, because as you play the game you can change your life. Changing your life is as simple as visiting the Master for the life you wish to start and get the equipment need for that life.
In some ways Fantasy Life is a lot like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing; it's not a world spanning RPG, but one that one that sticks to a city and the surrounding countryside and fills it with interesting characters and creatures for you meet and interact. The story is an entertaining Japanese styled RPG that has a central story, although you'll find yourself chasing around side quests because, frankly, they are fun.
For more information see the official Fantasy Life web site.
Skylanders Trap Team
Another year and another Skylanders game is out for the holidays. On one hand I want to be angry at Activision for making gamers purchase yet another starting set for this series; on the other hand the new things they introduce in Skylanders Trap Team make it seem worth it. This version also expands beyond the home and hand-held consoles with the first ever versions for tablets.
Again Kaos is up to no good in his evil attempt to rule over the Skylands. This time he blows up a prison setting free the only bad guys to have successfully conquered the Skylands. Unfortunately for Kaos this group feels no need to help him, in fact they wish to conquer the Skylands for themselves.
The new gameplay hook in Skylanders Trap Team is that once you defeat these new bad guys, you can trap them in crystals that match their element and then used them to fight for good. The new figure base has a place for players to slot the crystal into and speaker where you can hear the trapped villain quip about various things from how well the player is doing to reminding players that they are still there, if the player hasn't used them for a while.
Will all the new Trap Team figures, element crystals for villains, on top of all the regular Skylanders figures, this is one game that parents can be shopping for well beyond Christmas; birthdays come to mind. Trust me, I have a niece that is heavily into them. Even though she will soon be a teenager she is still collecting them.
For more information see the official Skylanders web site.
Amiibos for the Wii-U
Sticking with the theme of collectible figures that interact with video games, Nintendo is introducing their own line of figures, the amiibos. Unlike the Skylanders, that are only usable with that game series, amiibos will be game hopping across multiple Nintendo titles. At launch they will be usable with Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U, Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warriors, but Nintendo has plans to include them in many more titles to be released next year. Their exact use in each game will be different; some they will be player characters and in other they might just unlock things. While the first set of characters to be release will be from Nintendo's own sizable roster, future sets will include other fan favorites from other companies such as Sonic from SEGA and Mega Man from Capcom.
Amiibos are simple to use and the sensor for reading the figure is already built into the Wii-U tablet so no separate platform needed. Your Nintendo fan will want them for sure and, just like the Skylanders figures, will be perfect presents beyond Christmas.
For more information see the official amiibo website.
LittleBIGPlanet 3 for the Sony PlayStation 4
Sackboy makes the jump from the last gen to the next gen on the PlayStation 4 in LittleBIGPlanet 3. Along with Sackboy they introduce 3 new characters; Oddsock a doglike character that can run faster than Sackboy and do some wall-jumping, Swoop a bird-like character that can fly and Toggle a two-in-one character. Toggle can be "Big Toggle" a strong and heavy character or it can be "Little Toggle" who can walk on water and fit into small spaces.
Like past titles once the story is over the game really opens up. Players can create their own levels or play levels created by other players. In fact all the players created levels since the first LittleBIGPlanet are available meaning there are millions of levels to play through. With LittleBIGPlanet 3 on the PlayStation 4 the old levels are now rendered in 1080p instead of 720p, so now you can play your old favorites with a prettier coat of paint.
At launch there were problems with importing costumes and other downloadable content from the past titles, as of this writing Sony and developer Sumo Digital were readying a huge patch to fix these issues. Importing issues aside LittleBIGPlanet 3 has all the elements that has made it a hit. The new characters add some fun new twists, even though I personally think Swoop is a little redundant with the jet pack; but still, I enjoyed going though some of my old favorite player created levels and seeing some of what people can create now with the new tools and toys.
For more information see the official LittleBIGPlanet 3 web site.
Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One
Take one part online team based shooter, one part tower defense, then sprinkle liberally with a dose of party punk attitude and you start to get Sunset Overdrive. Coming from the minds that brought us Ratchet and Clank, Insomniac Games, Sunset Overdrive is a team based online shooter with a heavy emphasis on a stylish and active gameplay. The game encourages players to stay off the ground by racing around on zip lines and grind rails like some kind of hyperactive extreme sports gunmen. It may sounds extremely fast paced and over the top, but it works so well. The game is perfect for gamers who like fast paced twitch shooters.
In the single player story players are caught in a closed off section of the Sunset City where people who have drank too much of an "untested" energy drink, called Overcharge Delirium XT, have been contained because they have mutated into something beyond human. You learn the company, FizzCo, created this containment area in order to hide the affects of the drink. From there the player is trying to work with other survivors to get out of the quarantined area and expose FizzCo. Online play has players defending vats of Overcharge Delirium XT so they can be refined into something safe to use from hordes of mutants.
Sunset Overdrive also serves up a huge helping of customizability from the deep character creation to the overly abundant amount of clothing pieces that you can mix and match to your heart's content. In fact character uniqueness and customization was one of the things Insomniac strove for when creating Sunset Overdrive.
For more information see the official Sunset Overdrive web site.
Corsair Gaming's M65 RGB Mouse and K70 RGB Keyboard
Although I would like to recommend a game for the PC gamer in your life, chances are they already bought it as a digital download or they are asking for a gift card for their favorite download service. If you would like to get something for them that isn't a card loaded with money, how about some hardware they would enjoy?
Corsair have been a long-time fixture in computer circles for various components, but now they have created a division dedicated strictly to gamers and the K70 RGBkeyboard and M65 RGB mouse are two big pieces out of this new division.
Let's start with the M65 RGB Mouse. Unlike many mice I have reviewed in the past, this mouse isn't covered in more buttons than you know what to do with. There are eight total and they are all programmable with Corsair's software to represent whatever functions you like. The main type of gamer this mouse is designed for is those who enjoy first person shooters (FPS). This is because it has a thumb button that allows you to hone in for sniping. Match that up with an 8,200 DPI laser sensor and you have a mouse that will allow even the worst FPS gamer to play better. There are buttons just below the scroll wheel that allow you to adjust that DPI on the fly for whatever game your playing, making your movements quicker or slower.
The M65 RGB mouse has a nice contoured design that I really liked. I never felt like I was going to lose my grip while playing. The only thing I felt a little unsure of was the "sniper" button placement right under my thumb. While yes, under my thumb is where I want it, I found myself taking a little extra time getting used to its placement after my last gaming mouse.
The K70 RGB keyboard really is Corsair's star of the show. First off the keys are mechanical key switches for more reliable performance over soft-touch keyboards (not to mention that lovely "click-klack" sound you get). The keys have multicolor LEDs that you can program to whatever rainbow spectacle your mind can conceive. Default out of the box it is set up as all backlit in red with the "WASD" and arrow keys backlit in white.
The Corsair software is what makes the K70 RGB keyboard sing. You can set up profiles that have specific commands for each key. Further you can have these profiles automatically load when a game launches giving you your favorite setting with minimal fuss and that's just scratching the surface. Suffice to say your PC gamer will have that keyboard practically playing the game and talking smack for them.
For more information see the official Corsair Gaming web site.
Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset
Headsets are something near and dear to my heart. Because of my time in the Army I have some hearing damage so good quality headsets are a must for me to enjoy the audio portions of games. I have had some really nice headsets over the years and Kingston's HyperX Cloud Headset is on the high end of my list. They have the closed over-the-ear style cups that, matched with the memory foam pad, make for a nice soundproof seal. I heard almost next to nothing around me while using them. No extraneous outside noise, my roommate even hollered for my attention and I didn't hear them until I had a quiet moment in the game I was playing, even then it was a muffled call. The headset comes with two different cup pads; one set of leather and one set of velour. Both sets are filled with the memory foam so you have your choice for comfort.
The mic is detachable so you can use them as a normal set of headphones. The HyperX Cloud Headset comes with a variety of cables and adapters to allow connecting with PCs, or if you want, you can also use them with the PlayStation 4. The sound is clear and responsive. I listen to music with the bass set a bit heavier than most folks and the HyperX Cloud Headset hit that bass nicely.
For more information see the official Kingston HyperX Cloud Headset web site.
Newer Technology NuGreen Desk Lamp
Right now you are asking yourself, "A desk lamp? How is that gamer related?" Well, contrary to popular belief gamers do not all dwell in darkened basements only lit by their monitors. Given the average age of gamers are now in their 30s and many are parents now, that stereotype is mostly a myth. Besides, as a gamer, I like to be able to see my surroundings; especially if I'm playing a survival horror game. So what is special about Newer Technology's NuGreen desk lamp? Well to start it is an energy efficient lamp that uses 50 LEDs to create a bright white light while only using 3.6 watts of power. When I say bright, I mean bright. I was very surprised at the amount of light it put out for its size. Perfect for any desk, the base is a little bigger than five and a half inches across and the "gooseneck" flex arm is about twelve inches long and can be moved to whatever level and angle you like. It has a touch sensitive switch that is illuminated by a dim read band when the light is off, allowing you to find it easily in the dark. Effectively it's a stylish tech geek lamp that, if it ever burns out, is completely safe to recycle and will save money with its lower than normal bulbs wattage. As it is, Newer Technology claims owners will get around 45,000 hours of use out of it.
For more information see the official Newer Technology NuGreen Desk Lamp web site.
There you have it, a few quick looks at items I can recommend for gift giving to the gamers in your life. Or maybe pick up a little something for yourself after a long hard day of shopping for others?
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