The holidays are back again, just in time to end a bummer of a year on what will hopefully be a high note. Okay, sure, this is going to be a Christmas unlike any we’ve ever known before—unless you’re somehow old enough to remember the Christmas of 1918—but we can still make it special, we can still make it fun, and we can still make it mean something. We can also still give people gifts, whether they need ‘em or not. If you’ve got a videogame fan in your life and no idea what to get ‘em, let Paste help. Obviously games are always a good bet for game fans—or gift cards to digital shops like Steam, the PlayStation Network, or the Nintendo eShop—but if you want to go above and beyond, here are some great gift ideas for 2020. From new hardware, to weird novelties, to cool collectibles, this list should have you covered.
The biggest gaming score this holiday would be either of the brand new consoles. Both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S came out in November, bringing state-of-the-art graphics into the living room. More impressively, both systems heavily reduce load times, meaning you’ll spend more time playing games and less time waiting for your games to become playable. Tracking down either system is almost impossible right now—you’ll have to either overpay tremendously from a reseller, or luck out and get an order through in the brief seconds between when a listing goes live on a store’s site and when it almost immediately sells out. And as impressive as both machines are, they’re both brand new, and thus don’t have a lot of new or exclusive games. So in some ways it’d be wiser to wait a year, until they have more games, are easier to find, and have potentially gotten cheaper. Of course holiday gift-giving isn’t necessarily about what’s practical or reasonable, so if you really want to blow your game-playing loved one away, a new console is probably the best way to do it.
Nintendo’s always innovating, and one of its big new releases for the 2020 holiday season combines Mario Kart with an actual RC car. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is an augmented reality game where you use your Switch to control a physical car through actual courses you put together in your home. It’s not the deep, feature-rich game you’ll find in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it’s also not just a gimmick. Mario Kart Live is a cool, exciting new way to play the beloved game, injecting a three-dimensional physicality that turns it into something more than just another Mario Kart game. It even has multiplayer, with up to four cars being able to race against each other.
2020 marks the 35th anniversary of the first Super Mario game, and Nintendo’s celebrated it with a variety of special releases. The coolest is probably Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros., a new, limited edition return to Nintendo’s early ‘80s handheld line, featuring the original Super Mario Bros., 1986’s Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (which was released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, and didn’t come out in the U.S. until almost a decade later), the ‘80s Game & Watch game Ball, and a cute clock filled with classic Mario graphics and animations. This clearly isn’t the best way to play Super Mario Bros.—the screen’s barely bigger than a postage stamp—but it’s a fun novelty, and would make for a neat clock on any Mario fan’s desk. Also, Nintendo swears it’ll be pulled from circulation in March 2021, so this could be the only holiday season you’ll be able to buy one new.
If your gaming friend’s less interested in the past than the future—or, honestly, the present—then the new Oculus Quest 2 might be more their speed. This all-in-one virtual reality headset doesn’t require a computer or any other hardware, making it an easy, fairly affordable entry point into VR. (It does still work with a computer, though, if you want it to.) There are some weird kinks to it—you have to have a Facebook account to use it, which has proven to be a sticking point for some—but this is still the simplest path onto the VR freeway. Look for first-hand impressions soon from Paste’s editor-in-chief Josh Jackson.
The Evercade is a retro-focused handheld whose software library consists of various collections of games from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Atari, Namco, Data East, and Interplay are among the publishers who have released classic games on the Evercade, and there are also collections of modern games that were designed for retro consoles by the likes of Mega Cat Studios, Bitmap Bureau, and Big Evil Corporation. The Evercade is a convenient, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing way to relive some of the best games of the past—and when you aren’t on the go, it can plug into your TV, just like the Switch.
One of the best things about Bugsnax is the adorable design of its titular creatures. Even if you don’t dig the game itself all that much, it’s hard not to love these cute li’l critters. Fangamer’s selling an enamel pin set of four memorable Bugsnax, designed by Nina Matsumoto, and including Strabby, the very first one you meet in the game. The game itself might have a weirdly bleak ending, but you can still feel that initial joy of Bugsnax with these pins.
Here’s a beautiful print of the Untitled Goose Game’s village, made by Marigold Bartlett and currently for sale at iam8bit. It’s a classy, respectable depiction of the mild-mannered village plagued by the rudest water fowl since that punk rock bubblegum duck, and it’d look good on even the most solemn and mature game fan’s wall.
The Souls series has always straddled the line between cult and mainstream, with the sales numbers of a legit smash and the rabid fan base of an underground hit. So there are probably a whole lot of people who’d love to hang Judson Cowan’s elegant Dark Souls print, which is available from Fangamer in three sizes, on their wall.
iam8bit has a good selection of great videogame soundtracks on vinyl, from Austin Wintory’s peerless score to the brand-new game The Pathless, to Kero Kero Bonito’s smash single from Bugsnax. From What the Golf, to Untitled Goose Game, to the jazzy and chaotic Ape Out, iam8bit’s record collection proves how stylistically diverse videogame music can be.
The widespread love for Undertale hasn’t abated, five years after its original release. Indeed, Toby Fox’s powerful RPG continues to attract new fans every year, ensuring that there’s always a thriving market for Undertale merch. Music is a big part of the game’s appeal, and now there’s a box set that includes its entire soundtrack on vinyl for the first time. Any fan of Undertale or videogame music would find room on their turntable for these records.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, music, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.