The BreakmanX.com 2004 Holiday Gift Guide

So you have a gamer on your holiday gift list that you don't know what to get.  Well, luckily you came to the right place.  I'll help you sort through the crap and show you the real gems in each genre for each system.  Don't worry, Jack is here, and he'll help you make sure that you get that special someone a gift they're sure to love.  I'll give you my #1 choice for each genre and a few other games in the genre that they'll be sure to like as well as the #1 choice.

 



So you have a gamer on your holiday gift list that you don't know what to get.  Well, luckily you came to the right place.  I'll help you sort through the crap and show you the real gems in each genre for each system.  Don't worry, Jack is here, and he'll help you make sure that you get that special someone a gift they're sure to love.  I'll give you my #1 choice for each genre and a few other games in the genre that they'll be sure to like as well as the #1 choice.

 

Gameboy Advance (GBA):

The gamer with the GBA is probably the one who's on the go all of the time, and they love the old-school games, too.   The nintendo games for the system are all great, and you really can't go wrong with any of them.

Hardware:  The system itself comes in two different forms, you can buy the original GBA that runs on two AA-batteries and has an unlit screen, and runs for about $60.  The other option that you have for the GBA is the GBA SP, which has a slicker design than the regular GBA, includes a backlit screen allowing for play in the dark, and also runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which is packaged in with an AC Adapter for only $20 more, at a reasonable $80.  Both systems allow for backwards-compatibility for all Gameboy and Gameboy Color games, so even if you have a lot of those, you can still play them on the GBA and GBA SP.

Recommendation:  GBA SP  ($79.99)

Image

 

Gameboy Advance (GBA) Games:

Platformer:

Sonic Advance 3 ($29.99)

Image

Sonic the Hedgehog returns for this great little platformer, featuring some very fun levels, a great sense of speed, and fixes that hampered the first two Sonic Advance games.  Overall, it's a very fun platformer for the GBA that you can't go wrong with.

Other Selections:  Donkey Kong Country 2 ($29.99), Spyro Orange($29.99), and Crash Purple ($29.99).

 

Action/Adventure:

Metroid Zero Mission ($29.99)

Image

The bounty hunter Samus makes her debut (again) in this remake of the original Metroid for GBA.  The smoother graphics and special surprises throughout the game will make this a classic for some years to come.

Other Selections:  Max Payne ($19.99), NES Castlevania ($19.99), NES Zelda II ($19.99), Boktai 2 ($29.99), Mega Man Zero 3 ($29.99), Advance Guardian Heroes ($29.99), and Kirby and the Amazing Mirror ($29.99).

Old-Skool:

NES Series ($19.99 each)

Image

The entire NES lineup on the GBA is really cool and astounding.  Any one of these games is sure to brighten your young gamer's smile, and even the older ones will get a devilish grin at these as well. 

Other Selections:  None this year

 

Role-Playing (RPG):

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga ($29.99)

Image

The follow-up in spirit to Paper Mario on N64, this RPG starring the most famous plumbers in the world is a complete hoot from start to finish, and the combat and style of play is just as interesting as the jabs the game manages to take at itself and other Mario games.  A must-have for any Mario or RPG fanatic.

Other Selections:  Pokemon Fire Red ($34.99), Pokemon Leaf Green ($34.99), MegaMan Battle Network 4 Blue Moon ($29.99), and MegaMan Battle Network 4 Red Sun ($29.99).

 

Sports:

Mario Golf: Advance Tour ($29.99)

Image

Mario Golf is a great golfing game, even for those that loathe the sport.  It's fun theme and great RPG-aspect is sure to keep gamers playing for months to come.  The courses are unique and the characters are just as snappy, be sure to check this one out.

Other Selections:  Tony Hawk's Underground 2 ($29.99), F-Zero: GP Legend ($29.99), Madden NFL 2005 ($29.99), and Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games ($29.99).

 

Strategy:

Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon ($29.99)

Image

Shining Force is a great strategy game for those that thoroughly enjoyed last year's Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.  Not quite as good as those two games, but still the best offering in the genre for the system.

Other Selections: None released this year.

 

Overall, the GBA Lineup is pretty stellar coming into the end of 2004, with some great games on the shelves of your local gamestores that you're sure to find that will please gamers both young and old, regardless of their tastes.

 

Next Page: Nintendo Gamecube now!



Nintendo Gamecube (GC):

The Gamecube has had a troubled year, seeing many of its third-party developers shrink once again, and a declining marketshare due to the ferocious competition in the console market.  However, not everything is bleak for the Gamecube, as it still has some great games out this year and a few just over the horizon in 2005.

Hardware:  The system itself can be found this holiday season in a few different forms, but the most common will be a bundle with Mario Kart: Double Dash, easily one of the Gamecube's best games, and a gift check for $15 to spend on another game of the buyer's choice.  All of this for just $100, and you've got yourself quite a deal on a next-generation system this year.  The hardware comes with one controller and all the connections you'll need to get started as long as you have standard RCA jacks on your TV.  The Gamecube does not support DVD-playback, and also requires memory cards for saving progress in games.

Recommendation:  Mario Kart Bundle ($99.99).

Image

 

Gamecube Games:

Platformer:

Tak 2: Staff of Dreams ($39.99)

Image

Tak is back in this sequel to the unique game based on the Nickelodeon cartoon series.  Control Tak and other members of the Juju clan in an effort to rid the jungle of evil.

Other Selections:  Sonic Heroes ($49.99) and Spongebob Squarepants Movie ($39.99).

 

Action/Adventure:

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes ($49.99)

Image

Samus Aran is back and trying to save the galaxy once again from the dreaded space pirates, and the Ing on a planet where both light and dark collide spilling over into each other.  Samus must use all of her wits and power to save the planet and the Luminoth that call the world home.

Other Selections:  Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow ($49.99), Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes ($39.99), and Second Sight ($19.99).

 

Old-Skool:

Legend of Zelda: Four Swords ($49.99)

Image

note: Gameboy Advances REQUIRED for Multiplayer

Link is in the house and he's ready to get busy with his shadows.  Using up to 4 GBAs with link cables, you and 3 buddies can press through all of Hyrule in an effort to save Princess Zelda once again from the clutches of evil in the old-skool Super NES-style of gameplay found in Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Other Selections: MegaMan Anniversary Collection ($29.99) and Midway Arcade Treasures 2 ($19.99).

 

Role-Playing:

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door ($49.99)

Mario is back in the sequel to the wonderful N64 Paper Mario.  The unique paper-thin visual style is back and is put to fun and exciting use within the game to open up many wonderful events and puzzles, and the combat is just as fun as ever.  Complete with parodies of classic Mario games, this is definitely an RPG for everyone.

Mario is back in the sequel to the wonderful N64 Paper Mario.  The unique paper-thin visual style is back and is put to fun and exciting use within the game to open up many wonderful events and puzzles, and the combat is just as fun as ever.  Complete with parodies of classic Mario games, this is definitely an RPG for everyone.Other Selections:  Tales of Symphonia ($49.99), MegaMan X: Command Mission ($49.99), X-Men Legends ($49.99), and Lord of the Rings: The Third Age ($49.99).

 

Sports:

Madden NFL 2005 ($29.99)

Image

Madden is back, and unfortunately it's the only choice for NFL Football on the Gamecube.  Despite it not being quite as great and grandiose as the wonderful ESPN NFL Football 2K5, it is still a very solid football game, sure to please all of those that purchase it.

Other Selections:  Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 ($49.99), MVP Baseball 2004 ($29.99), Mario Power Tennis ($49.99), and Need for Speed Underground 2 ($49.99).

 

Strategy:

Pikmin 2 ($49.99)

Image

The pikmin have returned to Earth in search of money for Captain Olimar's boss, and they have to keep finding trinkets scattered around the planet in order to pay off his debts.  A quirky and deliciously fun game that is sure to get any who play addicted.

Other Selections: None released this year.

 

Other: 

Donkey Konga ($49.99 w/ DK Bongo controller)

Image

The music game genre got a swift boot to the head when Donkey Konga was released earlier this year, making for some truly unique gameplay with a pair of bongos that come bundled with the game.  With songs ranging from the Zelda theme to Sing, Sing, Sing, you're sure to have hours of fun playing with the bongos.

Other Selections:  Puyo Pop Fever ($19.99) and Wario Ware ($29.99).

 

Accessories:

GameBoy Player ($49.99)

While it does not quite top last year's best accessory, the Wireless Wavebird controller, the GameBoy Player does a great job of adding functionality to the Gamecube.  The add-on allows you to play Gameboy Advance games on your Gamecube with the larger viewscreen of your TV, so you aren't reduced to squinting at your tiny screen on your GBA all day for those long gaming sessions at home.

Other Considerations:  Memory Card 1019 ($29.99) and DK Bongos ($39.99).

 

Next: Take me to the Nintendo DS!



Nintendo DS (DS):

The DS is finally here after months and months of anticipation.  Is it worth the wait?  Of course it is. 

Hardware: This handy-dandy system is backwards-compatible with all GBA games, and it works with its own DS games as well.  The dual-screens are incredibly innovative, and the bottom screen actually serves as a touch-screen which can be activated with the provided stylus or finger "nub".  The graphics are between N64 and Dreamcast-quality, and the gameplay provided is top-notch thus far, even with the thin lineup.  Also included in the system pack is a demo for Metroid Prime: Hunters, and a full version of Pictochat, a program that allows DS users to wirelessly chat to one another when they are within range of eachother.

Recommendation:  Nintendo DS ($149.99)

Image

 

Nintendo DS Games:

Since the DS has just been released there are currently only 6 games available on the market, with 7 more anticipated for an early December release.  As such, here are my top choices for the system as of writing this:

Super Mario 64 DS ($29.99)

Image

Mario returns again in the remake of the wonderfully innovative 3D-platformer that helped make 3D-gaming a true reality.  The dozens of mini-games thrown in add to the replayability, and the game looks even better than it did on the N64 back on its release.

Other Considerations:  Feel The Magic: XY/XX ($29.99) and Asphalt Urban GT ($29.99).

 

Next, Back to the Consoles, the PS2 Beast!



Sony Playstation 2 (PS2):

The PS2 still enjoys the majority of game releases first, including Grand Theft Auto, and the Metal Gear series, but the hardware's age is really beginning to show in comparison to the newer Gamecube and Xbox, and the games on the PS2 do not look nearly as good as those on the other two systems.

Hardware:  Sony has managed to phase out the older, bigger models of the PS2 in favor of the new, PSTwo models, which are thinner, smaller, and have built-in ethernet and modem ports for online gaming with the PS2.  The downside to this is that the Hard Drive does not work with the new model PS2, and the multitap does not work with it, either.  Overall, it's just a smaller, less adaptable version of the PS2, but it's the only one that is available now.

Recommendation:  PSTwo ($149.99)

Image

 

PS2 Games:

Platformer:

Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal ($39.99)

Image

The duo of Ratchet and Clank return to save the galaxy again in this hilarious and fun sequel to last year's Going Commando.  The multiplayer portion of the game is the real reason to buy the game, though, as the single-player, while incredibly fun, just feels like an add-on to the 2nd game in the series.

Other Considerations:  Jak 3 ($39.99), Sonic Heroes ($49.99), and Sly 2: Band of Thieves ($39.99).

 

Action/Adventure:

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($49.99)

Image

The 5th installment of the GTA series is here and it doesn't waste time or pull punches in this game set in the 1990's.  The same style and feel of the series comes out in full force in the game, and those who enjoyed the past games will enjoy this one as well, and those looking for a great adventure game will certainly find that this one will satisfy them.

Other Considerations:  Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater ($49.99), Mortal Kombat: Deception ($49.99 or $59.99), Silent Hill 4: The Room ($39.99), Psi-Ops ($29.99), and Onimusha 3 ($39.99).

 

Old-Skool:

MegaMan Anniversary Collection ($29.99)

Image

A compilation of all of the MegaMan games, 1-8 with remixed music all for just $30?  You've got yourself a deal.  These are some of the hardest and most fun games of all-time, and this is probably the greatest deal ever made available to gamers everywhere.

Other Considerations:  Capcom Fighting Evolution ($29.99), Street Fighter Anniversary Collection ($29.99), Sonic Mega Collection Plus ($19.99) and Midway Arcade Treasures 2 ($19.99).

 

Role-Playing:

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne ($49.99)

Image

This interesting and demonic RPG finally makes its way to America for the first time, and it's about time it did.  The game is phenomenal, from the great storyline, to the capturable demons and guest-appearances by Dante, of Devil May Cry fame, this is an RPG that is not to be missed, and it is incredibly fun.

Other Considerations:  Final Fantasy XI (requires older PS2 model for Hard Drive and requires internet connection and monthly fee) ($99.99), Shadow Hearts: Covenant ($49.99), and Lord of the Rings: The Third Age ($49.99).

 

Sports:

ESPN NFL Football 2K5 ($19.99)

Image

This year's king of football is in the house!  You will never play a more realistic game of football in your life after you've played ESPN NFL 2K5.  The ESPN broadcast style immerses you from the very moment that the game loads up, and the visual presentation and sound is simply magnificent.  This is possibly the greatest sports game ever.  And did I mention it's just $20?

Other Considerations:  ESPN College Hoops 2K5 ($19.99), ESPN NBA Basketball 2K5 ($19.99), Fight Night 2004 ($39.99), MVP Baseball 2004 ($39.99), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 ($49.99), and Hot Shots Golf: Fore ($39.99).

 

Strategy:

La Pucelle Tactics ($49.99)

Image

This tactical RPG is a phenomenal game that will simply blow your mind.  The depth and the tactics needed to get through the game are so deep that even the most military-minded and calculating will find this game to be their sweet embrace for weeks and months to come.

Other Considerations:  Samurai Warriors: Extreme Legends ($39.99), Romance of the Three Kingdoms IX ($49.99), Phantom Brave ($49.99), and Front Mission 4 ($29.99).

Other:

Katamari Damacy ($19.99)

Image

The wackiest game to come out of Japan in years, and possibly ever.  Absurdity rules the day in this game, where you roll a ball around Japan, and eventually the world in an effort to remake the cosmos.  Pure, simple, and addictive fun, Katamari Damacy is something you do not want to miss.  Prepare for culture-shock.

Other Considerations:  Taiko Drum Master ($59.99), Dance Dance Revolution Extreme ($39.99 or $59.99 w/pad), and Sega Superstars (requires EyeToy) ($29.99).

 

Accessories:

Logitech Wireless Controller ($39.99)

Image

The Logitech Wireless Controller is a great wireless solution for the PS2 gamer that is tired of getting tangled cords and still wants the responsiveness of the 1st-party PS2 controllers.  The range is long, and the battery life is as well, so gamers who get these controllers will not be disappointed at all.

Other Considerations:  Hard Drive ($99.99), Mad Catz Multitap ($19.99).

 

Next:  Alright, let's get to the Xbox already!



Microsoft Xbox (Xbox):

The Microsoft Xbox has arguably the biggest year out of all three of the major consoles.  Their signature series, Halo has its second game out this fall, and everyone and their mother seems to be enjoying it, and the Xbox has a great variety of games, but not quite to the point of the PS2's ridiculously huge library.

Hardware:  The Xbox this year has a great deal for people looking to join the next-generation of gaming consoles, or just looking at getting another console.  The Xbox is arguably the most powerful console on the market right now, boasting the best graphics and HDTV support for almost every single game, and the only console with Dolby Digital 5.1 support in-game for all of the games on the system.  The Xbox also features a built-in 8-GB Hard drive so you can save your games directly to the Xbox without the purchase of a memory card.  It also allows you to burn CDs to the hard drive so that you can listen to your music during games which support custom soundtracks.  There is a holiday bundle that Microsoft is offering for this holiday season as well.  The bundle includes free copies of NCAA Football 2005 and Top Spin Tennis, and also a free 2-month trial of Xbox Live, the online gaming service for Xbox.

Recommendation:  Xbox Holiday Bundle 2005 ($149.99)

Image

 

Xbox Games:

Action/Adventure:

Halo 2 ($49.99 or $54.99)

Image

Halo 2.  The sequel to the #1 selling Xbox game to date, and the reason that Bungie will take over the world soon.  With a fantastic, but short single-player campaign, and the best multiplayer portion ever, Halo 2 is sure to break even more records before the holiday season is over, and will surely cement Bungie's position in the halls of great game developers.

Other Considerations:  Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow ($39.99), Guilty Gear XX Reload ($19.99), Ninja Gaiden ($49.99), Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow ($39.99), Tom Clancy's Triple Pack ($39.99), Psi-Ops ($29.99), Ghost Recon 2 ($39.99), and Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay ($29.99).

 

Old-Skool:

Metal Slug 3 ($39.99)

Image

Metal Slug is Contra-style action on steroids.  That's all you need to know because the game is simply old-skool arcade action pumped up to be incredible.  It's tough, and it's unforgiving, but it's damn fun.

Other Considerations:  Midway Arcade Treasures 2 ($19.99) and Intellivision Lives ($19.99).

 

Role-Playing:

Fable ($49.99)

Image

Fable is an entirely open-ended RPG that allows you to customize your appearance and personality to whatever ends you might want, as well as leading whatever kind of life you want, and the world around you reacts to what you do as well.

Other Considerations:  Sudeki ($29.99), X-Men Legends ($49.99), and Lord of the Rings: The Third Age ($49.99).

 

Sports:

ESPN NFL Football 2K5 ($19.99)

Image

This year's king of football is in the house!  You will never play a more realistic game of football in your life after you've played ESPN NFL 2K5.  The ESPN broadcast style immerses you from the very moment that the game loads up, and the visual presentation and sound is simply magnificent.  This is possibly the greatest sports game ever.  And did I mention it's just $20?

Other Considerations:  ESPN College Hoops 2K5 ($19.99), ESPN NBA Basketball 2K5 ($19.99), Fight Night 2004 ($39.99), MVP Baseball 2004 ($39.99), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 ($49.99), Rallisport Challenge 2 ($29.99), Outrun 2 ($39.99), and Burnout 3: Takedown ($49.99).

 

Strategy:

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders ($39.99)

Image

Kingdom Under Fire is basically the marriage of Warcraft and Dynasty Warriors, and it works out very well.  The game is a lot of fun, and with a little bit of work, the online play over Xbox Live is a blast once you get the nuances of the game.  This is definitely a strategy game that is a worthy contender to the Dynasty Warriors series.

Other Considerations:  Samurai Warriors ($29.99).

 

Other: 

Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 ($39.99 or $59.99 w/pad)

Image

DDR Ultramix 2 is really another great DDR game.  The song list is decent, and the promise of more songs via downloadable content over Xbox Live is really nice.  But it is DDR in the end, so some may not really get into the game at all.

Other Considerations:  Karaoke Revolution ($59.99 w/microphone).

 

Accessories:

Plantronics Halo 2 Headset ($49.99)

Image

The Plantronics Halo 2 Headset is a very comfortable piece of hardware that is a really nice alternative to the standard Xbox Live headset.  It offers better clarity in the earpiece, and it also sends a higher quality signal as well.

Other Considerations:  New Logitech Wireless Xbox Controller ($49.99) and Xbox Live Starter Kit 3.0 ($69.99).

 

Next: Consoles suck…where's my PC games?



PC Games:

Action/Adventure:

Half-Life 2 (starting at $49.99 up to $79.99)

Image

Half-Life 2 is the most-anticipated PC game of all-time, and for good reason.  The game is simply amazing, and it's an incredible breakthrough in graphics technology and digital acting.  The game is amazing, and it will be tough to top in even in years to come.

Other Considerations:  Call of Duty: United Offensive (Requires Call of Duty) ($29.99), Doom 3 ($39.99), Battlefield Vietnam ($39.99), and Counter-Strike: Source (with Half-Life 2).

 

Role-Playing:

Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines ($49.99)

Image

Vampire the Masquerade is a very interesting sort of game.  With numerous options for playing through the game, such as different clans of vampires that bring about different situations and options for dealing with them, Vampire is incredibly vast and expansive, and it'll definitely keep you busy for a very long time to come.

Other Considerations: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic ($29.99), Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia (Requires Final Fantasy XI) ($29.99), and World of Warcraft ($49.99 or $79.99).

 

Sports:

Madden NFL 2005 ($29.99)

Image

Madden is back, and unfortunately it's the only choice for NFL Football on the PC.  Despite it not being quite as great and grandiose as the wonderful ESPN NFL Football 2K5, it is still a very solid football game, sure to please all of those that purchase it.

Other Selections:  Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 ($39.99), MVP Baseball 2004 ($29.99), and Need for Speed Underground 2 ($29.99).

 

Strategy: 

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War ($49.99)

Image

Warhammer is a brilliant Real-time strategy game, that, while it is a little on the short side, holds an incredibly powerful engine with stunning visuals and great gameplay to boot.  Overall, with the great multiplayer included in the game, you'll have a great time with this one.

Other Considerations:  Sims 2 ($49.99).

 

Well, that wraps up the BreakmanX.com 2004 Holiday Strategy Guide.  If you have any more questions, or you want to ask me anything in particular about a game or something on the list, just e-mail me at jackburton@breakmanx.com or any other member of the BreakmanX.com crew.  Happy Holidays from us here at BreakmanX.com, and shop safely!

Copyright 11/23/04 Kevin Augspurger and BreakmanX.com