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Now's a nice time to buy a Wii U: Here's everything you should know

Nov 17 // Steven Hansen
How do I buy a Wii U? This part is harder than you might think. First, you need a job, under the table or otherwise -- just some source of income (note: if you are genealogically wealthy, feel free to skip this step!). I know what you're thinking: A job? In this economy? Be prepared to work harder than you should for less than you deserve. Doing so dutifully, without violent outbursts or unionizing, will see you repaid with varicose veins, ulcers, and a meager stipend which can be exchanged for goods and services. One such good is a Wii U, of which there are different types. Don't buy an 8gb Wii U. The main option there is this Skylanders bundle. For the same default price ($300), you can get the 32gb "deluxe" Wii U with copies of New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.  You're not being sneaky paying $250 for the Skylanders bundle from GameStop because you're still stuck with an 8gb system. If you want to be a bit sneaky, get a refurbished "deluxe" Wii U with Nintendo Land for $200. Plus, "deluxe" owners still get cash back on digital purchases. Save money without Craigslist strangers insisting you walk into the shed in their backyards to pick up the console.  NOTE: The $330 Mario Kart 8 bundle isn't the worst idea if you know you want Mario Kart 8, which, like most Nintendo games, probably won't end up on sale soon. You also have until July 31 to register that Mario Kart 8 copy and get a free game. Availability is the problem here. No GameStop within 100 miles of San Francisco has one, for example.  What else do I need? Well, hopefully you have enough money from your job (after paying medical expenses, if you're American, lol) to afford a living space wired with electricity. You'll need it, along with a screen. You might also want more controllers for multiplayer games and an external hard drive if you're worried about the 32gb "deluxe" storage size. If you have Wii remotes from the U-less Wii, you can use those as controllers, though some games may require the Wii Motion Plus extension. You can also pick up a Wii U Pro Controller, which resembles the gamepads of its contemporaries, or try your luck with cheaper third party alternatives. Of course, there's always Craigslist. Just say no to sheds. Or tell you friends that your super cool get together hangout is BYOC -- Bring Your Own Controller. Wouldn't that be a cute thing to tell them? Your friends, I mean. "And b-t-w, it's going to be BYOC, and we have to keep the noise down because my diabetic cat gets spooked, and I hope you don't mind gluten-free treats, okay, hope to see you Saturday night!" Good videogames that wouldn't work if put in something besides a Wii U Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Indeed, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker suffers from some archaic mechanics, its fundamentals not having aged quite so gracefully as its aesthetics. Its unwieldiness and occasional sluggish pace can, in fact, grow temporarily infuriating. However, the streamlined menu system and map access go some way toward making up for any setbacks, while the unmistakable Wind Wakercharisma ensures you won't ever stay mad at it for long.  After all, in a world of greedy cartography fish and cynical French Minesweeper purveyors, how could you not keep smiling? - Jim Sterling Pikmin 3 Pikmin 3 isn't everything that Pikmin has ever been before, but it's still the best representation of the concept to date. It feels like a full replacement of Pikmin 1, and a perfect companion to the different-but-equal Pikmin 2. The series' signature creepy, cartoon-like take on real trials of life is there in full force, bolstered by incredibly beautiful graphics, an unexpectedly involving story, tons of secrets, and new ways to play, all while never straying from the spirit of the original game. - Jonathan Holmes The Wonderful 101 The Wonderful 101 is one of those rare games that keeps getting more and more fun the more that you play it. If you have the dexterity to handle the controls and the patience to deal with a few momentum-killing platforming/puzzle bits, you're in for a heck of a time. - Jonathan Holmes Nintendo Land Those unconvinced about what the Wii U can do would benefit from finding themselves a way of trying out Nintendo Land. It manages to do a lot with the system without, I believe, even scratching the surface of what more focused and dedicated videogames could achieve. It's a game meant to excite you more about the system you just purchased, and that is what it does. Well worth checking out, at any rate. - Jim Sterling Lego City Undercover For all its faults, charming is absolutely the word best describing LEGO City Undercover. While more could have been done to exploit the sandbox scenario, and while it sticks a bit too nervously to formula than it could have, Undercover is nonetheless a frequently pleasurable, occasionally hilarious little romp in a new LEGO world full of potential. Should TT Games get another chance to revisit this idea, I hope for -- and expect -- a lot more of an expansion on the concept, and a lot more focus on the fresh elements that provide Undercover's highest points. As for this first try, we have a pretty damn good effort that I'd love to see more of. - Jim Sterling Super Mario 3D World There was a moment where I was taking in the beautiful soundtrack, hovering over a tricky jump as cat Peach, and watching the glistening water below where the game really came together. It was then that I realized that Super Mario 3D World had achieved a level of platforming design that's close to perfection, and there was almost never a moment where I didn't have a smile on my face. This is the unequivocally the best Mario game since Galaxy 2, and it shows up anything the "New" series has ever done, and then some. - Chris Carter New Super Mario Bros/Super Luigi U New Super Mario Bros. U is a great little platformer that kicks off the Wii U launch with a bang. Players know exactly what they're getting with this one -- an entertaining and incomplex bit of gaming that provides challenge and smirks in equal measure. While certainly a "safe" game to launch with, it is by no means unremarkable, and the only people who would fail to have fun are those with a fundamental aversion to Mario or platformers in general. Literally everybody else would find it incredibly difficult to dislike this one ... even if some of those latter stages will make them temporarily despise it. - Jim Sterling Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze I didn't think it was possible, but Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has topped Returns. It's an incredibly crafted platformer with an HD sheen and an insane attention to detail, and any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to experience it. With the addition of control options to the already proven formula, Retro Studios' rendition of Donkey Kong is pretty much flawless - Chris Carter Mario Kart 8 Mario Kart 8 is my favorite series entry since Double Dash, and if it gets arena battle tracks at some point by way of DLC, it will be a near-perfect package. Its vibrant visuals will hold up for years to come, ensuring that the game will withstand the test of time, and it will be a staple in my household for a long, long while. - Chris Carter ZombiU ZombiU is awkward, ugly, crawling in its pace, and often nonsensical with its narrative ... and I remember when horror games weren't ashamed of any of that, even actively exploiting it to create alienating, frightening atmospheres that stuck in a players' memories and made them too spooked to want to take another step forward. ZombiU did that to me. It made me afraid to walk into rooms, it made me think twice before tackling two opponents at once, and it frequently reminded me I was weak, piteous, but maybe just careful and lucky enough to get through.  And for as much as it screws up, ZombiU somehow does it well. - Jim Sterling Good videogames that would work if placed in consoles other than a Wii U (unless you tried to place the Wii U disc of that game in another console, which would not work, obviously) Rayman Legends Rayman Legends is occasionally flustering, and sometimes seems to demand more than a conventional controller is capable of. The surprisingly slapdash jury-rigging of Wii U features on other systems is glaring in its inelegance, too. However, we're still left with an impressively designed platformer that proves itself a worthy followup to Rayman Origins, making a few notable omissions, but adding some excellent new ideas of its own.  Charming, funny, and only sometimes exasperating, Rayman Legends is the kind of game that makes this industry a better place for its existence.  - Jim Sterling Deus Ex: Director's Cut Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director's Cut gives you a ton of extra bang for your buck on top of an already stellar game, and if you haven't experienced it yet, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. If you have played it, I'm not sure the $20 Wii U premium is worth it, especially if you don't plan on using the Remote Play option. But somewhere down the line, the lower price of the other versions is a very enticing offer should you get that Human Revolution itch at some point, because this is the clear-cut best version of the game. - Chris Carter Resident Evil: Revelations Resident Evil Revelations isn't as good on consoles as it is on the 3DS. It clearly wasn't designed for larger machines, and the somewhat clunky, rudimentary controls indicate that it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up to prove a superior alternative. However, it's still a fine game and still the best Resident Evil game available right now, and if you've not played it already, you truly ought to. If you've already tried it on 3DS, there's not a lot to bring you back, but any other Resident Evilfan would be best served giving it a go. - Jim Sterling  Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U As long as you're prepared to deal with the decidedly smaller community, the Wii U Edition ofTekken Tag Tournament 2 is the best version of the game. It's essentially the exact same package with a few extras, and a few tiny conveniences that put it slightly over the original. While I wouldn't double-dip if you're already a Tekken adopter, the Wii U Edition is a great place to start. - Chris Carter Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Encountering monsters in Monster Hunter isn't like most other games. Monsters will take your breath away shortly before they take your life away. This is a game that will force you to learn from your mistakes, lest you repeat them and achieve the same failure as before.  While the visuals are far from stunning and the online lacks any sort of host migration, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is one of the best and most rewarding experiences in a long time, and will certainly keep you busy for a while. - Patrick Hancock Hahaha these videogames don't even have discs Shovel Knight Shovel Knight is one of the best platformers I've ever played, period. As I sit here with the theme song stuck in my head, I'm realizing that Yacht Club Games has created something truly special, and it was absolutely worth the risk to start their own studio. In addition to a potential Shovel Knight 2, I can't wait to see what they have in store for us down the road. - Chris Carter The Cave All told, The Cave is a morbid, humorous romp filled with life lessons which should be apparent already to all but the total sociopath. While there are some niggling issues with overall polish, it's a fun time for fans of adventure games that should set you to giggling and, hopefully, feeling just a little bit guilty about that glee. - Conrad Zimmerman Bit.Trip Runner 2 Runner2 feels like a very natural progression for the series. The team at Gaijin Games has crafted a more nuanced and impressive follow-up to what was great title in its own right. Avant-garde but with a healthy respect for the past, Runner2 is a marvelous rhythmic platformer that just about anyone should be able to enjoy. - Kyle MacGregor  Little Inferno Some may complain that the game is too short or is overpriced. They'd be missing the point, which is arguably part of the Little Inferno concept. As for me, I feel that the game is a bargain at $15. It's the only game of its type on the market today. I can't think of the last time that a game has made me think, feel, and laugh at such a consistent pace. It's mix of high-concept messages and simple, more-fun-than-it-should be "gameplay" make it a must buy for anyone who likes thinking about videogames and/or burning things. - Jonathan Holmes Guacamelee! Right from the start, Guacamelee! offers up a sugar skull-covered playground to delight in and devour with mucho gusto. It's a game I'll be playing and replaying again for some time to come. - Jonathan Holmes Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition In fact, I still to this day can't beat par on every single stage in either version. WayForward really pulled out the stops on this one to make it truly challenging, should you decide to try and conquer every single score. Right now, there are no plans to bring the hyper stages to the 3DS version. - Chris Carter  NES Remix 1 and 2 NES Remix 2 is a solid follow-up with more "must have" games and a few extras to sweeten the deal. If you passed due to the ho-hum nature of some of the titles in the original offering, think about checking it out this time around. - Chris Carter  Pushmo World As much as I love the originals on the 3DS, this is pretty much the definitive version of Pushmo, especially when you consider the fact that the Wii U GamePad makes it semi-portable. So long as you haven't tired from the core formula yet you won't be disappointed, and genre-fans who haven't played the series in general should pick it up. - Chris Carter Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes Like Dr. Wily or Jigsaw from the Saw films, the temple designers of 1001 Spikes put a lot of thought and care into all the ways they've planned to kill you. They want you to feel smarter, braver, more patient, more skilled, and closer to them as artists as you unravel the puzzling deathtraps that they've created. You must truly get inside their minds in order to fully deconstruct the monstrosities that they have built for your desperate pleasure, and ideally, you'll know yourself and the developers of the game better for the experience. This is a game that will have you thinking about how intense, perplexing, and perfect it was for days. Like a tiny mouse says early in the game -- "the harder the victory, the greater the joy of success" - Jonathan Holmes Good videogames you may or may not have played while Boyz 2 Men and Ace of Base were winning American music awards and Darryl Strawberry was being suspended for 50 days and cut from the Giants' roster Super Mario World It's still not on 3DS god damn it.  Earthbound I was too busy listening to Ace of Base to play Earthbound, I'll get to that eventually. Advance Wars  Fire Emblem: Awakening introduced a lot of people to Intelligent Systems, but the strategy developers have another delightful series, Advanced Wars, that seems doomed to never get a sequel while four Fire Emblem characters end up in Smash. Videogames that are not out yet but by the grace of our lord and savior Luigi will be soon barring acts of Luigi, amen Super Smash Bros. If you have a Wii U, you should probably get this game. Yes, it's on 3DS, but is that how you want to play the next Smash Bros.? Dust off your rolodex, get the gang back together, or find people on Craigslist to play with you. Bayonetta 2 'I feel that it's important to let your creativity flow and Nintendo has been able to provide us with the freedom to do what we had originally envisioned,' director Yusuke Hashimoto said. 'We were able to have a lot of back-and-forth between Platinum Games and Nintendo and they were able to provide objective feedback; 'Maybe that's a little too much', or, 'maybe you should try this'. I feel that was really good and helped push Bayonetta 2 to even higher quality.' Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden The Wii has yet to bring us a new a new Pokemon Snap, but at least there's Fatal Frame. Hopefully this isn't just for Japan. I am now saying "Crimson Butterfly" in my head over and over. Xenoblade Chronicles X Bad name? Well, uh, better chance that it's a good JRPG.  Splatoon Its shooter by way of Tony Hawk graffiti mode is a novel concept that has, in early impressions, worked surprisingly well. It's a shooter that does things differently. We could use some of that. Used to be some pleasant variety in the genre.  -- Good-bye.
Wii U buying guide photo
Console break down and the best games, present and upcoming
[Bumping this guide from July 2014 as-was in anticipation of Smash Bros. week, the holidays, and some new Wii U owners. The only good "Black Friday" deal for the console seems to be $360 from Best Buy with Smash, Do...

Destructoid Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Miscellany

Nov 27 // Steven Hansen
Destructoid clothing (under $20) Hey, you know we have a neat store with a bunch of really cool t-shirt and hoodie designs, right? C'mon, man, These are easy gifts, for yourself or for your loved ones. You can just guess the size. Your babushka will love a Mario nesting dolls shirt, and who wouldn't love a shirt covered in cartoon corgis? Persona 4 Arena Mitsuru figure ($115 USD) Seriously though, someone buy this for me. Please. I'm so damn sad the amazing Persona 3 Mitsuru figure is basically only available on eBay for hundreds of dollars. Pokemon Hanafuda cards ($25) These are not easily obtainable in the US, unfortunately, but they're too cool to ignore. I started playing hanafuda recently thanks to a free flash version and it's a blast. If someone finds me a multiplayer version, I'll play with you. Not with these cards, though, which might prove better decorative. Too pretty and rare to risk damaging. The $150, framed, uncut set is glorious. Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($30) A cast iron dutch oven for only $30? Sign me up. These thing are incredibly versatile and perfect for slow cooking. You could brain someone real good with one, too, I bet. Cast iron really is the way to go in the world of "non stick" finishes.  Stackable Tetris light ($40) You can rearrange the seven interlocking tetrominoes in this nifty little lamp any way you like. The vivacious, bright colors are perfect ambient lighting for your next te-tryst, provided your carnal companion doesn't notice it, think you a nerd, and escape down the fire escape.  Sumo bean bags chairs ($270) These things are super dumb and super comfortable. We had one in the Destructoid office for a long while, but we had to get rid of it because of its energy sapping powers (also, to clear space). Just settling down on one of these is inviting the sweet suckle of nap time. Wreck-It Ralph Blu-Ray ($15) Have you seen Wreck-It Ralph yet? It's really good! It's a good film independent of its videogame premise, but plenty full of nods for people who like games, without coming across as cloying and overeager. Socks People always think I'm joking when I say I'd like socks for Christmas. Do I look like I'm f---ing joking? Why would I be joking about this? I need socks. The Road ($12) The Last of Us was a big deal this year. Read the book that everyone kept comparing it to. Cormac McCarthy's staggeringly bleak and bare novel is so unlike his more colorful, Faulknerian oeuvre. It's one of my favorite novels and if you like good things, you will like it. The movie is worth a watch, too. The 31 Days of Zero Suit Samus ($25) This delightful collection of miniature comics by Chriss Furniss focus on Samus Aran during her off days, when she's not bounty hunting. There are also some bonus contributions from various awesome artists, like Zac Gorman. If you just want pretty pictures, you can buy it digitally and name your price. Super kawaii cat stockings ($4!) These are literally the best. Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia ($8) A 200+ page, hardcover Capcom character encyclopedia for under $10? Alright. Deva Zan ($30) This is the first novel from famed Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano. Naturally, it's also replete with hundreds of pieces of original artwork. It would probably be worth it for the art alone, but hopefully the samurai tale is a fun read, too. Jurassic 5 Feedback ($10) Just one of the best albums ever. Venusaur figure ($35) Sure, you can get a Charizard or a Blastoise, but all the cool cats are down with the 'Saur. 7" Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Link plushie ($11) Celebrate the best Zelda game getting an HD release with this adorable Link plushie. Amazon actually has a surprisingly robust collection (mostly Nintendo-related) of reasonably priced plushies. I've seen comparable things in Japantown run you $20 or $30. This adorable Boo is only $6! I don't stand a ghost of a chance. Chie in the Meat Dimension ($32) This lovely Persona 4 is filled with meat and Chie, just like my dreams. Alligator Tail Meat 5 lbs ($60) I've only had alligator once, at the stupid, overpriced, sweltering, dusty Gilroy Garlic Festival. It was okay. Not something I'd pay over $10/lb for, but maybe you would, either for yourself or someone you love. You could say, "See you later, alligator," after every bite. The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy Boxed Set ($60) If Deva Zan doesn't do it for you, how about this three volume collection of Amano's work on Final Fantasy? Dark Horse's website lists it at $140. Amazon has it for $60. I think I will buy this now before it is harder to find. Okami Official Complete Works ($32) So many art books, so little money. Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection) ($25) C'mon, Criterion. If you're going to charge me $25, at least give me a blu ray. Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts Action Figure ($39) Fighting evil by moonlight! Winning love by daylight! Never running from a real fight! She is the one named Sailor Moon! I'm very stoked for the Sailor Moon anime reboot.  Money ($?) "It’s not fun”? It’s not fun my behind. Not having money for food or rent or doctor’s visits is not fun, either, but I’m sure your giftee will enjoy the heck out of that chintzy glassware set and Mork & Mindy on DVD. -- Is Christmas over yet?
Gift Guide: Miscellany photo
How about a book by Miss Ellaine Yi?
You've read the Games Guide, you've read the Hardware and Accessories Guide. I know what you're thinking. "Steven, you goofy-haired jerk, tell me something I don't know." Fine, smart guy. Here are a bunch of arbitrary suggestions.

Destructoid Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Hardware/Accessories

Nov 27 // Steven Hansen
THE NEXT GENERATION OF GIFT GIVING The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are bound to be hot commodities this holiday season. If you can find them -- they're purportedly sold out -- you can buy an Xbox One for $500 and a PlayStation 4 for $400. If I were to do either, my recommendation is the PlayStation 4. My larger recommendation is you don't need either, yet. But here are some thing that could go with them or serve as gifts for people who have them. Extra Controllers (PS4, Xbox One) You know what's great? Your Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers are useless with the new systems. Those with friends who have the gall to want to play mulitplayer games will need to re-up on controllers. At least both controllers are quite nice and the PS4 controller will double as a PC controller since PS4 has no games. $60 is steep, though. Hard drives  Xbox One and PS4 games a very big. Those 500GB packed in hard drives won't last long, especially with disc installs in addition to full downloadable games. You can't freely crack open your One without voiding warranty, but PS4 hard drives are simple to replace with most 2.5", 9.5mm hard drives. You can double your storage space with reasonably priced 1TB drives or even throw down another bill for this $100, 1TB solid state hybrid drive. Modestly priced compared to a full solid state, but it will indeed shave some load off your PS4 games. OLDER SYSTEMS  Didn't have a PlayStation 3? A 360? Why plunk down next-gen money when you could get a console you missed at a steal? PS3 250 GB Uncharted 3 and PS Plus Bundle ($250)PS3 500 GB Grand Theft Auto V Bundle ($270)Xbox 360 E 250GB Tomb Raider & Halo 4 Bundle ($250) Wii U At $300, maybe it's not that much more enticing than the shiny, new PlayStation 4, but the Wii U has seen some lovely recent releases like Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Now might be the time to pick up a Wii U bundle. Amazon seems to be out, but other retailers aren't Nintendo Wii U Deluxe - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Bundle ($300)Nintendo Wii U Console Deluxe Set + New Super Mario Bros. U & New Super Luigi U ($300) Bonus: UK-exclusive Mario Mega Bundle. £299.99. Free delivery. Black 32GB Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U, Super Mario 3D World, a limited edition Mario Wii Remote Plus, and a Mario hat. 3DS XL, 2DS The 3DS was rolling this year, from Fire Emblem to Luigi's Mansion to Shin Megami Tensei IV to Animal Crossing to Pokemon. You'll also be able to find them -- even the gold Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds one -- for like $150 this weekend, which you should do.  I got my 3DS XL for $180 last year (not even on a Black Friday sale of any kind), but they're starting at $200 at the moment.  Nintendo 3DS XL (Gold) + The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds ($210; $150 on sale)Nintendo 3DS XL - Black ($200) Also consider the Nintendo 2DS at $130. PlayStation Vita In light of the 3DS' explosion, people aren't perfectly satisfied with the Vita's library. I am not one of those people, however, as my top three games of of the last two years (Gravity Rush, Persona 4 Golden, Tearaway)  have been exclusive to the system. The PS4 might inject some lifeblood into the handheld as well -- consider, perhaps, what appears to be an upcoming PS4 and PS Vita bundle. There's also the PS Vita TV, though it precludes you from playing feature heavy Vita games like Tearaway. Sony PS Vita 3G/Wi-Fi The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series Limited Edition Bundle ($170 on sale right now; normally $200)Sony PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi) 8GB Bundle ($170 on sale; extra 4gb card space if you've already played or are disinterested in The Walking Dead)PlayStation Vita Wi-Fi Assassin's Creed III Liberation Bundle ($200; the white Vita is pretty, if you can find it) PC MASTER RACE Getting carded AMD Radeon R9 290X GPU ($550)XFX Radeon HD 7970 ($280)NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 ($500)NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 ($313) Logitech G430 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset ($80)Logitech G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse ($55)Logitech G710+ Mechanical Gaming Keyboard ($150) Gunnar Intercept ($55) Got to look cool and protect your eyes while PC gaming all night, right? What if a pretty person walks by your window? LOL Samsung UN65F9000 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV ($4,500) -- Remember to check out the Games Guide and catch our Miscellany Guide coming up soon.
Gift Guide: Hardware photo
This Christmas, why be an accessory to family drama fueled murder when you could give an accessory instead?
Like it or not, Christmas is rearing its frost bitten head yet again. I know you're still a day from sitting through fraught Thanksgiving dinners, but I'm here to remind you in advance and offer you a primer for planning you...

Destructoid Holiday Gift Guide 2013: The Games

Nov 25 // Steven Hansen
[embed]266349:51567:0[/embed] Proper Paganism The pagan holiday the church co-opted for Christmas to sell pagans on Christianity was one of turpitude. Frightful stuff, really. Thankfully, videogames let you live out the id harmlessly with playable avatars and worlds designed with little interaction outside the base. Some games more than others.  Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, Xbox 360) Grand Theft Auto is synonymous with wanton violence and depravity and V doesn't disappoint there. It's a cynical, nihilistic and technically faithful recreation of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. Being from San Francisco, I spent early time with the game floored at how distinctly it looked like California, from the geography to the fire hydrant colors and road signs. Then I stripped to my undies, stole a bicycle, and crashed into body builders on Venice Beach. Once, I chased a guy on foot for five minutes because he had a dumb scarf. Just like real life.     Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, Xbox 360) This game is subtitled Revengeance, for Pete's sake. Why wasn't this name already used by dozens of 80's action movies? This Metal Gear eschews sneaking in favor of ripping the gooey electric spines out of robots while you dance about with a sprightliness Michelle Kwan could only dream of. And it's all set to some transcendental butt rock. Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine (PC, Xbox 360) What better fantasy than that of the cat burglar? You go into Monaco, ideally with three friends in tow, planning to be the sneakiest of sneaks, pinching every coin. But does that ever happen? Mona-NO. Each level devolves into a heightened frenzy accompanied by ragtime piano and shouting in French. Sometimes it's more fun when a plan doesn't come together.    Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS) Arbitrary ascension to power sans qualifications? A town littered with animals, cats and dogs living in proximity? Extortionist realtors? Lawless island getaways with separate monetary systems for money laundering? A dog secretary? New Leaf is pure anarchy, letting you hunt wildlife, build and destroy civic monuments, and push jerks into holes.  Someone think about the children! I gave Tearaway a 10/10 and I am not a children, so clearly this list doesn't preclude those ossified by the harsh reality of age. These delightful, age appropriate choices are great for both kids and your inner youth. Gross. Of course, other games on this list, like Ni no Kuni, are plenty child appropriate as well. Tearaway (PlayStation Vita) Tearaway is among the most creative games to come out this year and it makes you a part of that, as you snap photos and cut designs -- hats, snowflakes, whatever -- out of construction paper. Media Molecule delivered a gem that's high on charm and originality, backed up by robust gameplay as you wind down a surprisingly interesting tale. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) If you needed any extra incentive to pick up Super Mario 3D World after learning it had a catsuit and kitty Goombas, we clearly have different ideas on what makes a good game. That's feline; I won't get catty. Maybe Chris Carter's purrfect score swayed you. Or Dale's picture of the Xbox One in a rubbish bin while Super Mario 3D World is on his TV. 3D World is the cat's pajamas. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) If you didn't know, 2013 is the Year of Luigi. The punishment for your ignorance is having to clear five spooky mansions of ghosts. It's a great punishment. People gave me looks when I spent much of the year calling Dark Moon my Game of the Year, but it's absolutely delightful. As Luigi shakes in fear or hums along to the soundtrack, he proves himself the superior Mario brother.   Rayman Legends (Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PS3, Xbox 360) Rayman Legends seems to have joined Puppeteer as wonderful, colorful games released but a few months ago yet already forgotten. Maybe the delay for multiplatformity hurt the game. Still, for my money, Rayman Origins and its sequel, Rayman Legends, are the standard bearers for contemporary 2D platforming. Doesn't get much better than this gorgeous, great-music-filled, precision platforming, even with touch control additions.  Cool games for cool people These games are so aloof you could use them in the shower to get clean. Bang them against a jukebox and you'd get a free play without a coin. "What are you playing?" your attractive neighbor will ask. "Oh, just The Last of Us, no big deal," you say modestly. Kissing on the mouth ensues  The Last of Us (PS3) It felt like I was the last of us to finally get to Naughty Dog's opus, but I'm glad I caught up. As far as massively budgeted affairs go, it is among the most deserving of its praise. The gameplay works, typically feeling appropriately stressful and haphazard without ever feeling too "fun." The writing deserves praise for its pithiness. As a whole, The Last of Us gets points for being appropriately subdued and subtle in its presentation of an indifferent world and its loathsome inhabitants. Gunpoint (PC) Jumping out windows to idiosynctratic jazz while dressed like Humphrey Bogart and living to tell the tale because of your Bullfrog Hypertrousers. That is Gunpoint, a stealth and puzzle blend of noir and self-aware, amusing neo-noir. You'll look cooler jumping out of windows than Leon S. Kennedy. The Wolf Among Us (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita) Telltale's follow up to last year's critical darling, The Walking Dead, is off to a good start. As with Gunpoint, the noir inspirations give the story-heavy adventure game a coolness lock. It's a gritty fairytale pastiche. Not wholly original, but not a bad thing, either. The style has done well for Tarantino. Artsy games for artsy people Are games art? Is this even a game? If you ask dumb questions like these, these games will probably annoy the heck out of you. If you're a more reasonable human being that wants to experience neat things, try these interesting games on for size.   Kentucky Route Zero (PC) I recommend Kentucky Route Zero as I wait impatiently for the third episode, going on a year since the first episode's debut, and without having played the second yet. This moody, mysterious, bluegrass delight is just that good, though. I think it's better than the The Walking Dead. It's one part ghost story, one part journey of self exploration, one part having a cool dog.  Rain (PS3) Like the two days of rain that just swept San Francisco, Sony Japan's Rain seems to have came and went. The bleak and beautiful title puts you into the transparent shoes of a young boy who has faded into invisibility in a mysterious city. You can enjoy the metaphor, the light puzzle gameplay, or just get lost in its dreamy soundtrack. Papers, Please (PC, Mac) Papers, Please describes itself as, "A Dystopian Document Thriller," if you need a reason for it to be on this list. It's also garnered a lot of deserved praise for just how affecting a tale it is, putting you in the shoes of an immigration inspector of a country in tenuous peace. You decide who crosses the border and who is arrested and detained. Screw up, and your ass is on the line. Think about that when you stare into the face of a starving child without proper paperwork. Well, I'm really into roleplay... It's my favorite fetish. Hah! Get it? Because "role playing games," but also kinky role play. Like in the bedroom. It's hard looking back amidst Persona 5 hype, but this year has some good role-playing options, almost enough to hold a candle to Persona 4: Golden, which enraptured me last year. Pokemon X & Y (3DS) After burning out quickly on Pokemon Diamond and giving the series a rest, its 3DS iteration was a warm experience, almost a decade removed from the series. Chock full of weird new pocket monsters, endearing 3D models that look 2D, and distractions like clothes shopping and PR video shooting (mine is the best), X and Y are a lot of fun. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) Ni no Kuni is in some ways a modernized Baby's First JRPG. It hits every note genre fans expect it to, ditching things like random battles and the need for excessive grinding. Still, through sheer sincerity and other facets of originality (art design, music, world building), it's worth playing for fans and newcomers alike. At its best, it's like playing a Studio Ghibli film. At its worst, it's like playing a lovely JRPG. XCOM: Enemy Within (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) The XCOM expansion is sitting nearer to a budget price and marks the most robust way to play the game, adding in micro and macro wrinkles to the already wonderful strategy experience. Plus, additional voice packs let troops speak in their native languages, which doesn't change too much, but is really cool and helps serve the personal stories you write with your pawns. Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)  This decadent strategy game not only saved the series from being shelved, but kicked off an absolutely wonderful year for 3DS owners. Gorgeous flourishes, from legitimately good use of 3D to unrivaled 2D art, help the sprite-based strategy game keep from feeling dated. Still, all that addictive strategy goodness is in tow. So, you bought a next gen console? Well look at you, Mrs. Moneybags. Too bad it has no games! At least it has games coming. You could always gift someone money so they can save it for use when the good games (like The Witness!) actually do come out, but you feel like that takes the fun out of gift giving. Even though that's what your recipient would prefer. Christmas really is a selfish holiday. Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) You have to show off the horsepower of the new system, right? Good on Killzone for finally being able to stand alone as a launch game, right? A lot less to derisively compare it to now. Resogun (PS4) The best launch game on either new system is an indie shooter that is actually free with a PlayStation Plus subscription so you probably won't be buying it anyway. But play it. It's a blast.  Forza 5 (Xbox One) Forza 5 might feel a little barren compared to its predecessors, but it's gorgeous (again, for showing off your new console) and the racing is top notch, thanks in part to Drivatar supplanting racing AI. Zoo Tycoon (Xbox One, Xbox 360) First-person animals. You know you want it. -- Stay tuned for the rest of our 2013 Holiday Gift Guides and feel free to verbally berate me in the comments for not including any one of the innumerable games that didn't end up on the list!
Gift Guide: Games photo
The best gifts come from the heart. Barring that, buy some games and hit the bars.
Like it or not, Christmas is happening yet again. I know you've yet to sit through fraught Thanksgiving dinners, but I'm here to remind you in advance and offer you a primer for planning your consumerist immolation.  This list is just games. Hardware, accessories, and miscellany are coming up throughout the day. Merry Christmas, you filthy animal.


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Help us shape our Holiday Gift Guide!


Tell us what you want to see this year
Nov 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
It's that time of the year again where we start finalizing all the hottest and coolest stuff we want to nab for the holidays. New consoles are upon us, there's a ton of great games to get, and there's plenty of other cool gad...

Destructoid's 2012 Hardware Holiday Gift Guide

Dec 07 // Jordan Devore
Higher-end If you or someone you know can afford the following big-ticket items on a whim, I probably wouldn't go announcing that on the internet for all to see. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure doesn't hurt, either. If some of these recommendations seem crazy to you, don't worry -- the choices will become drastically more budget-friendly as we progress. Razer Blade - from $1999 at Razer You knew this was coming. While far from practical, the revamped 2012 model is one sexy piece of gaming hardware. This 17.3" laptop isn't the total powerhouse to end all others, but its form factor, aesthetics, and decked-out keyboard are there to make up for it. A modern gaming PC Rather than include a pre-built gaming PC only for you guys to write long-winded comments about how we can all save so much money by building ourselves (we know!), I'll save us all the time by suggesting buyers do exactly that. Yes, this approach takes the surprise out of it, but going for a custom-made rig will get the most bang for your buck and, going a step further, the building process itself could be a way to bond with the recipient. It's not that hard! Since we are just ahead of the next console generation, this is a particularly good time to beef up your PC. iPad mini - from $329 at Apple To be perfectly frank, I was skeptical of the iPad mini from day one, but I've since come around after seeing the device used in-person. Last year, we recommended the iPad 2 as a safe-bet purchase, and that more or less holds true again this time with the mini. Alternatively, there's the iPad with Retina display should you feel that bigger is better. Wii U - from $299 online This was another big surprise for me. Up until a week or two before launch, there wasn't a whole lot of anticipation for the Wii U outside of those who would get a new Nintendo system or "next-gen" console no matter what. And then it hit. While there is much for the company to prove over the coming years, the Wii U is quite promising in its current state. Seriously, though, the GamePad -- I never expected to like it as much as I do. If you're going to have a big family get-together, this would be a nice choice. NEOGEO X Gold System - from $199 online It's still a little hard to believe that this thing -- 20 games on a handheld with a 4.3" screen, a docking station, and a full arcade stick -- actually exists. Your money could almost certainly be better spent on, oh, a PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS (both are excellent choices given the discounting that's been going on), but there's an old-school charm to this device that the others are missing. Have a die-hard NEOGEO fan in your life? Done! Medium-priced These are the gifts you'd still be delighted to see under the Christmas tree, even if they aren't quite so luxurious. And, hell, you won't feel totally guilty when your present for the gift-giver pails in comparison. The last thing we'd want is for the holiday season to become a competition. Nintendo 3DS - from $169 online As stated earlier, the PlayStation Vita and 3DS are solid buys. While the former is absolutely worth investing in if you can still find a great deal, the long-term viability of the platform is still up in the air to some extent, much as I want to believe. While the Vita has the nice tech behind it, the 3DS picks up the slack in the software department. Now is as good of time as any to grab either the base 3DS model, or its big brother, the 3DS XL. PlayStation Pulse headset - from $149 at Sony We originally reviewed this back in October, and Dale says he still uses it as his gaming headset of choice. If you knew how many of these devices move through the North household, you'd understand the weight those words carry. As the branding would imply, the PlayStation Pulse is best used for Sony's console, but it's still a solid recommendation with its virtual 7.1 surround sound, sleek look, and build quality. Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition - from $149 online Recording game footage (and live streaming, for that matter) has really picked up in the last few years, and I can only see the phenomenon growing in popularity as viewership increases and additional revenue options become available to more people. The HD PVR 2 is one option for those looking to partake -- it's a small USB 2.0 capture box with HDMI and component in that promises a "no-delay" passthrough. Could be a neat project for the holiday break. Affordable / Assorted Oh, yes. This is where the real fun begins. To keep you on your toes, this list is in no particular order. Actually, some of these recommendations defy categories and wouldn't have grouped well together anyway. If nothing else, we hope these picks inspire you to think of something fun and memorable to give to a loved one. Ready Player One  Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play A print or poster from Fangamer An amazing, terrifying work of art from Wednesday Wolf The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia Steam Gift Card World of Warcraft Mega Bloks Mice and Mystics Jakks Creepy Crawlers Bugmaker (make sure to get a bulb, too) The Portal gun (miniature or full-size) Raspberry Pi (see the "where to buy" links on the right) Head Massager Anything Revoltech Comics! Check the comments of this post (scroll all the way down) for amazing choices A fine t-shirt or hoodie from the Dtoid store (couldn't resist) Get a rad pixel portrait from Vic Nguyen That one old videogame that your son or daughter played obsessively when they were a child that has since been lost or sold. [Disclosure: Some, but not all, of the aforementioned products were sent to Destructoid for evaluation purposes. Trust me -- you would know if someone gave me that Creepy Crawlers Bugmaker, because I wouldn't have shut up about it.]
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Spread the cheer
[Special thanks to Jonathan Ross, Brett, and Dale for helping me put this all together. The list would have been much more dull without their creative suggestions.] For me, gift guides have always been more about the fun of...

Destructoid's 2012 Games Holiday Gift Guide

Nov 29 // Allistair Pinsof
The Philosopher likes to sip tea, become immersed in an original, fascinating game world, and then blog about it while weeping over a thesaurus. Please don't poke, the philosopher is already crippled by the crushing beauty of the latest meaningful piece of art. Journey (PlayStation 3)There are few games as profound, visually arresting, and calming as Journey. For anyone open to taking a little journey that requires no button-mashing and platforming trickery, thatgamecompany’s latest, most ambitious project will capture the philosopher's imagination and leave them with a fond experience to look back on. Dishonored (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)Not many games are built upon a foundation of research, creating a mythology, and spending years expanding their fiction. There are a lot of great things that can be said of Dishonored’s mechanics, but it’s the incredibly original, rich world that makes this so special. Not many games as daring as Dishonored get a budget so big and a development period so long, but it shows in every inch of the game’s world. Hotline Miami (PC)This is the perfect game for that friend who can’t stand violence in videogames. Yes, it is incredibly violent -- sickening, even. But Hotline Miami’s bizarre plot forces the player to enter a downward spiral, leading the player to eventually face their violent actions. The message isn’t impactful but the delivery is. The philosopher will have much chin stroking to do after.Also consider: Persona 4 Golden, Resonance, Fez, Spec Ops: The Line, The Unfinished Swan, and Thirty Flights of Loving. The Explorer craves freedom from their dull life. Their virtual life is one of discovery, adventure, and jackassery. They love to horse around and break a game, disregarding the rules and getting lost in its polygons. Dust: An Elysian Tale (Xbox 360)If you're anything like me, you're pining for more than a few Metroidvania games in this day and age. Dust: An Elysian Tale provides a completely unique sense of charm with wonderful hand-drawn art and a solid combat system. For $15, you really can't go wrong exploring the vibrant, sprawling world of Falana. Spelunky (Xbox 360)Difficult games are hard to come by. Gone are the days where we consistently smash controllers and pull our hair out, in favor of hours-long hand-holding tutorials and frequent checkpoints. Spelunky throws all of this out the window with permadeath and a crushing level of difficulty, all on top of the veneer of a wonderful art style and gameplay with depth. If you know someone who is longing for games to be hard again, Spelunky is a safe bet. Sleeping Dogs (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)For that friend who can’t wait for the next Grand Theft Auto, Sleeping Dogs will keep them happy for some time. Sleeping Dogs doesn’t invite demonstrations of urban chaos as much as GTA or Saints Row, but the robust set of features, rollicking story, and fantastic presentation will likely hold any action junkie’s attention. Also for: Cock fighting enthusiasts. Also consider: Far Cry 3, Assassin's Creed III, Darksiders 2, Mass Effect 3, Tokyo Jungle, and Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?! The Tactician loves to learn and show others how their mighty brain will conquer all, unearthing new strategies by the millisecond. Don't ever make eye contact or comment on their hygiene during the process of gift giving. Mark of the Ninja (Xbox 360, PC)It’s not often a sidescolling platformer manages to innovate in this decade, but I can’t recall another game like Mark of the Ninja. While it allows players to act brashly, the meat of the game is in observing an area, forming a plan, and quickly acting on it. When everything aligns perfectly, you’ll feel like a ninja that puts his wits before his sword. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)The original X-COM was something special, but it’s a rough game to return to, dated in many more ways than the tactician would like to admit. This XCOM reboot from Firaxis injects the original’s classic take on squad-based tactical combat with cinematic presentation, unbelievably good console controls, and intuitive design. The Tactician will thank you, curse you after losing their squad, and then thank you again when they replay the game on Impossible. The Last Story (Wii) Once the tactician stops bashing the Wii and Nintendo, he or she will eventually pop your gifted Last Story into their system and experience the joy that only a great Japanese RPG can give -- a joy all too rare in this generation. While it's true that The Last Story has as much in common with Gears of War as Final Fantasy, the high adventure, leveling, and character progression will keep RPG-lovin' folk happy. Just be sure to tell them to use a Classic Controller and set the game to 'Manual'. Also consider: Xenoblade, Natural Selection 2, Paper Mario Sticker Star, ZombiU, Pushmo, Crashmo, Hitman Absolution, Guardians of Middle-earth, Pid, Orcs Must Die! 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The Socialite doesn't have time for games. They would never be caught playing one, except they are constantly playing one and just don't want to admit it. "It's a puzzle" or "it's a what I do while preparing for work, for like four or five hours," they often tell others. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward (PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS)If there's a bookworm in your life, you might be thinking about gifting that special someone the latest John Grisham thriller or J. K. Rowling's What the Hell? There Are No Wizards in This! or whatever. Fuck that noise! Pick up Virtue's Last Reward, the sequel to the cult hit Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. A combination of choose-your-own-adventure, visual novel, and escape-the-room puzzler, VLR will put your critical thinking skills to the test while hurtling you along a tense sci-fi mystery escapade with more twists than a bag of Cheetos. Kirby's Dream Collection (Wii)The Kirby series is one of Nintendo's most notable franchises, easy enough for entry-level gamers but with just enough challenge to satisfy seasoned vets. Kirby's Dream Collection compiles six of the pink puffballs mainline outings into one tremendous package filled to the brim with extras, like episodes of the Kirby anime, a soundtrack CD, and a challenge mode based on Kirby's Return to Dream Land. It's Nintendo's best game collection to date, easily eclipsing Mario's 25th Anniversary Collection. It would make a great companion purchase should you plan on picking up a discounted Wii this holiday season. The Walking Dead (Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS)I’m always surprised by how AMC’s Walking Dead mini-series manages to crossover to audience that don’t usually pay attention to horror. The human drama that drives Telltale’s adventure series is the very same of the show, albeit the plot, characters, and surrounding circumstances are entirely different. The Walking Dead is one of the most accessible adventure games ever made, demanding very little of players. It may drive old-school adventure fans nuts, but it’s the perfect gift for that family member that is easily scared from games and yet likes a good spooky poop. Also consider: Quantum Conundrum, Rhythm Heaven Fever, Deponia, Closure, Retro/Grade, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Lumines: Electronic Symphony, and Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure. The Entertainer loves to throw a party and have the newest gadgets and latest toys. When they aren't the center of attention, the duty is passed on to their media system. They can be pretty annoying but we're okay with that. We think. Rock Band Blitz (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)If you know someone who's either a fan of Rock Band or Amplitude, Rock Band Blitz is your huckleberry. There's plenty of replay value, as you'll hack away over and over to best the score of your friends, and the global online leaderboard. Blitz isn't your typical Rock Band experience, but even if they don't enjoy the core package, they'll still net themselves a 25-song track pack, fully compatible with Rock Band 3 -- not too shabby! Borderlands 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Repeatedly shooting dudes in the face will and will always be better with friends. Though traversing Borderlands 2's large world can be monotonous at times, these moments give players the opportunity to chat, goof, and show off newly acquired gear with friends. I played Borderlands 2 by myself and had a great time, but that doesn't mean the entertainer should as well. Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360 - Kinect required) Though it is very likely that any Kinect-owning entertainer owns Dance Central, they may not have the latest and greatest iteration in the series. Dance Central 3 ups the ante with better graphics, modes, story, and "Gangnam Style" DLC. Just make sure this isn't your roommate or neighbor you are buying it for, otherwise you may regret your purchase as they pound the floor until the early morning. Also consider: New Super Mario Bros. U, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Nintendo Land, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and Halo 4. The Thrillseeker likes to drive fast, shoot first and ask questions later (or never), and turn a game on mute in favor of their own adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. The bastards of '90s arcade culture, the thrillseeker doesn't get along with others but finds them a necessity in the art of bragging. Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) Depending on whether your thrillseeker is a single-player of multiplayer-focused guy, you may want to consider Need for Speed Most Wanted (which does online great!). Forza Horizon is a much safer bet since it's an all-around better game, online and offline. The slick presentation, accessible driving, and massive world bring Forza to a larger audience with stunning results. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U) It can be tricky finding out who has the latest Call of Duty and who doesn't. A good strategy is to invite your thrillseeker to an online match. If they say no and ask if the game is any good, LIE to them. This way you know they haven't and won't pick it up for themselves. In truth, Black Ops II is Treyarch's best game yet and stands up with Infinity Ward's best entries. Zombies, single-player, and multiplayer have gone under some smart revamps without losing the elements that made the series a record-breaking hit. Akai Katana (Xbox 360) Though some shoot-em-up fans moaned and groaned at Akai Katana receiving a retail release, instead of downloadable, they all shut up when they purchased the game and basked in its glory. Developer Cave has a long history of making excellent shooters and Akai Katana stands up with the all-time greats. You can find the game for dirt cheap now, making it an excellent gift for those who are low on funds. Also consider: Kid Icarus: Uprising, Shinobi, Code of Princess, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Need for Speed Most Wanted, Trials Evolution, Binary Domain, The Darkness 2, and Painkiller Hell & Damnation. [Special thanks to Max Scoville for the illustrations, and Tony Ponce and Chris Carter for contributions.]
Holiday Gift Guide photo
Know your gamer
Let's pretend that we all have friends and family, for a moment. And, let's pretend we have the funds and consideration to buy them holiday gifts -- I'm losing page views by the second with this far-fetched imaginary realm of...

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Destructoid's European gift guide


Nov 30
// Becca Roberts
It’s that wonderful time of year again when we eat too much and feel all merry, but who can forget the presents? That’s right, the ever more difficult task of buying gifts for your nerdy friends and family has bee...
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Hey gang, in spite of the torrential downpour of news coming out of the Tokyo Game Show right now, the studio was closed today, so we had to shoot today's episode in advance. With the sudden realization that the great Holi...

Top five computer monitors for under $200

Aug 16 // Alex Bout
Before we begin, one thing that is commonly misunderstood by a lot of people is the difference between an LCD screen and a LED screen. In a nutshell, the big difference is how they're lit (thank you, Captain Obvious). LCD has one white light in the back that shines through different filters, creating the colors you see on the screen. LED. on the other hand, has different colored lights with no filters. This allows the LED screen to actually dim parts of the screen and create a pure black instead of that really dark gray we're all used to (LCD screens can't do that). In addition to the increased color accuracy, LED screens also offer increased viewing angles and thinner screens, and they use 40% less power than LCD screens. However, the downside is that they cost about 50% more than a similar LCD screen. Click here to read more about this. In addition to the LED/LCD misconception, there is also a specification that a lot of manufacturers use to really mislead their customers: contrast ratio. There's no set standard of measure for contrast ratio, which makes it exceedingly difficult to tell how good a ratio is. My best suggestion is to look at the monitors side by side in person if you can. If not, just look at reviews of each product and decide for yourself. Anyway, if you take a look in the table below, you'll see both DC and ASCR along with DiC. First off, DC stands for Dynamic Contrast -- it's somewhat of a standard that companies use, but that's not always the case. ASCR stands for ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio, and is pretty much something ASUS made up to more or less hide the real dynamic contrast their screens have. However, they've gotten decent reviews, so I would peg them to be about average. It's something really hard to tell, and it's a little sketchy that they don't release these numbers -- it suggests they have something to hide. One thing I found pretty odd on the LG monitor was that their DC didn't mean dynamic contrast like the rest did, but digital contrast instead which means that we have yet another bogus term to worry about, which is why I labeled it DiC instead of DC. Finally, the number in parenthesis is the static contrast ratio, which seems to be more or less standard from what I've seen at 1000:1. What worries me is that this statistic couldn't be found on some of the monitors, which is what makes me the most suspicious that they might be hiding something. I guess the bottom line is, ignore this statistic, and judge what you can from the rest of the specs given. For all of you who don't really know the different video inputs, I figured it would be nice to have some quick information on it. VGA and D-Sub are both analog signals, which are becoming rarer and rarer in a digital age, and are generally thrown onto a monitor just for those people who still cling to the Stone Age. DVI and HDMI are the real powerhouses that are taking the stage at the moment. They both have the same video quality, but the difference is that HDMI has sound included. So if your monitor has speakers built in, you don't have to worry about plugging in a separate auxiliary audio cable to plug in. These inputs are digital and can carry much more information to the monitor, in addition to not making it convert the digital signal that your computer sends out into an analog signal like a VGA or D-sub cable must do. Now, let's move on to the rankings! 1. Asus VK246H ($196) I picked the VK246H as my first choice for a couple of different reasons. Not only does it sport a nice, large 24" screen, but it's also pretty inexpensive at only $196, considering what it comes with. In addition to the phenomenal pricing, it is 1080p, sports two built-in 2W speakers, and a built-in webcam. Don't like the idea that it has a webcam attached? Buy the camera-less variant for about the same price. Oh, did I also mention that it has a 2ms response time? This will reduce any ghosting you might experience, which is a big deal for gamers. However, because these values aren't absolute, you should probably expect to see a slightly higher response time. There are some things that could be better about this monitor, however. For one, it's an LCD screen, so you'll lose some of the contrast that comes with LED. That also means that you're only really going to get mediocre color accuracy with this monitor. Fortunately, the average eye probably won't be able to tell the difference. 2. Asus VH238H LED ($175) I picked this one after the VK246H mainly because of the reduction in size and brightness, though I don't think the difference would be very noticeable. This monitor is LED instead of LCD, so it was a pretty close call in my eyes. For all of you who don't want a built-in webcam, I'd go with this option; I could see someone going either way, especially considering the overwhelmingly better color contrast. I'll admit that I had a hard time deciding and only picked the other monitor because of the size and webcam. 3. Viewsonic VA2431wm ($170) The Viewsonic VA2431wm is actually better than the ASUS VH238H that I mentioned above in some respects such as size and brightness, except that it loses a little in terms of response time and that it lacks the HDMI port. In addition to this, it is only a LCD screen, where as the ASUS is an LED. However for five dollars less, it might be worth your money to take the hit for those nice perks.   4. Asus VH222H-P ($139) With a smaller screen and a 5ms response time, the VH222H-P is my third choice only because of its relatively attractive price. The response time pretty much rules it out for any serious gamers. However, for all of the more casual gaming, home, and office users, this monitor will do fine. Honestly, I don't know a lot of people who can really tell a huge difference in 3ms. 5. LG E2350V-SN ($194) EDIT: I apologize so much! I don't know how I goofed up on the previous link here, and the image above. I would replace the image above, but I don't have the source code from the table that I have above with me (it's an image right now), because I'm on vacation right now. Either way, the specs are as follows...23" LED backlight screen, 1920x1080 resolution, 250 cd/m2 brightness, DC 5,000,000:1 contrast, response time of 5ms, D-Sub, DVI, and HDMI video inputs, and no built-in speakers. While it is a good monitor, the price really put me off because I feel you could get better deal on another monitor. However, it does have a good screen size, resolution, contrast, and decent brightness as long as looking quite sharp. Again, I apologize for the goof-up with the table and such. Bottom Line All of the top three choices are excellent monitors and I highly recommend all three. You will have to decide for yourself which is the best for you personally. I'd probably buy the Asus VH222H-P for a home or office computer because of the slower response time and the low price. I would only recommend LG W2486L if you really want a nice LED screen. Still, it was ranked above the Acer S201HL because of the Acer's low resolution and small screen size. P.S. Special thanks to those that contributed to my research in my community blog. What other kinds of PC hardware coverage would you like to see on Destructoid? Let us know!
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As good of a gaming computer as you might have, whether you spent $400 or $2000, its visual output will more or less look like crap unless you have a good monitor to show off what it can do. Today, I'm going to rank the top f...

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CPU Wars: AMD A6-3650 review round-up


Aug 06
// Daniel Starkey
As many of our more tech-savvy readers surely know, this week saw the launch of AMD's latest salvo in the CPU wars -- the Fusion-based Llano APU line. Only the A6-3650 and the A8-3850 have been released so far,...

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