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Destructoid staff presents: Holiday Gift Guide 2009

4:00 PM on 11.24.2009 // Nick Chester

Tis' the season for gift giving. With some many great games released this year, finding the perfect gift for that gamer in your life (or for yourself, you selfish jerk!) can be quite a task.

That's where we come in. Destructoid staff writers were asked to make a few holiday, game-related gift picks, either based on personal choice or simply in the spirit of giving. The results were wide and varied, as each staff member's tastes and gaming experiences, uh, vary widely. We're quite an eclectic bunch, that's for sure. 

Hit the jump to see what made the list, and we hope to ignite some gift-giving sparks for you this holiday.

Anthony Burch

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Nintendo for Wii)

Price: $49.99

Why it made my list:
Is NSMBW a co-op game? A competitive experience? Both? Yeah, probably both. Even ignoring the fact that it's got some of the best 2D level design in Mario history, NSMBW is really an educational tool. Think you like your friends? You'll think twice about how cool they are once they hit a powerup block and then steal all the powerups inside, or accidentally jump on your head while you're in midair, sending you plummeting to your death. The sheer joy you'll experience from the platforming and happy-go-lucky atmosphere will be distinctly, horrifyingly, wonderfully contradicted by the sheer controller-breaking misanthropy you'll feel toward those whom you once thought you loved.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Romantic couples who want to test the limits of their relationship; people looking for an excuse to break up with friends they don't actually like very much.

Brad Rice

Phoenix Wright Case Files: Volume 2 (Del Rey Manga)

Price: $14.99

Why it made my list:
This chalks up to nothing more than professionally done Phoenix Wright fanfiction, but it's pretty damn good fanfiction. The first volume was somewhat of a wreck, but if you were at all a fan of Miles Edgeworth, then the second volume will rock your socks off. The art, storytelling and homo-eroticism in this volume are all much improved.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Just about any Phoenix Wright fan; Fujoshi; Topher

BlazBlue (Aksys Games for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)

Price: $59.99

Why it made my list:
Really, there's no 2D fighter that's as fun as BlazBlue, and it's a game that'll take you a while to master -- so it's not something that you'll play and exchange at GameStop or Goozex two weeks after you get it. The game is also a notch slower than its predecessor, Guilty Gear, which should make it a bit more accessible for most players.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Topher; Anyone who enjoys getting competitive in games; Also, weeaboos

Colette Bennett

Devil May Cry 4 Nero PVC Figure, Yamato

Price: $103.00

Why it made my list:
It's well sculpted (as most collectibles from Yamato are), it looks completely badass, and at $103, it won't break my pocketbook to add it to my collectibles shelf.

Who it would make a great gift for:
The friend that doesn't have a huge toy collection, but totally will love having one large piece that has a lot of style. Helps if he likes badasses, too.

Ocarina of Time Link (Goron and Zora tunic versions), First 4 Figures

Price: $109.99

Why it made my list:
This polystone statue just screams class, and if you have a passionate love of all things Zelda like I do, surely your heart will flutter around in your chest at the sight of this beautiful statue. It's also fairly reasonably priced for a collectible of this quality.

Who it would make a great gift for:
The friend who has obsessively played every Legend of Zelda title since the NES golden cartridge. (Hey! That's me!)

Aegis Figma from Persona 3, Max Factory

Price: $31.99

Why it made my list:
Aegis is one of the most visually memorable characters in the Persona universe, and this version of her is also fully poseable and lots of fun to play with. It's also a lot cheaper than the heavies you see above, which you may appreciate if you're shopping for friends on a smaller budget.

 Who it would make a great gift for:
The fanatic Persona obsessee (guys like Dale North and Josh Tolentino!).

Dale North

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (EA Sports for Wii)
Price: $49.99 (but great sale prices this holiday season)
Why it made my list:
I don't know what else Nintendo did with Wii MotionPlus, but it did great things for this game. Golf can be as casual or as hardcore as you'd like, and PGA Tour 10 embraces both aspects. Simply put, it's both crazy fun and realistic at the same time. It's like no other golf game. Also, Frisbee golf!

Who it would make a great gift for:
Good for Wii-owning golf dad, but fun for anyone.

Hamza Aziz

Street Fighter IV Cozy

Price: $20ish

Why it made my list:
Because I don't celebrate Christmas and if I have to really get you something, it will be the most useless, yet most awesomest, thing I can think of. 

Who it would make a great gift for:
People that play in tournaments like EVO. Think about it. You show up in the Cozy and your opponents will be too busy laughing at you and won't be able to focus on playing the game. You'll totally have the advantage over your opponents. Totally.

Jim Sterling

Left 4 Dead 2 (Valve for PC, Xbox 360)
Price: $59.99
Why it made my list:
You need something replayable for the holidays, with all that time off. You also need something with multiplayer, since plenty of people with time on their hands will be ready for a game. Having co-op so your friends and family can join in is always good too. Left 4 Dead 2 is the perfect answer.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Families that like to stay together and slay together.

EyePet (Sony for PlayStation 3)

MSRP: £39.99

Why it made my list:
Although the game itself isn't all that great, it's perfect fodder for hyperactive children and a solid gimmick to distract the family for a while. Europeans can already get this right now, while Americans can import it for a not-too-shabby price.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Kids who need shutting up for an hour.

Jordan Devore

Half-Minute Hero (XSEED for PlayStation Portable)

Price: $29.99

Why it made my list:
This game alone has made me happy I chose to hang onto my PSP. Half-Minute Hero offers something you won't find anywhere else: a charming mix of puzzle-style play with everything that makes role playing games great. Combined with its genuinely funny script and phenomenal soundtrack, you would be a fool to miss out on this one.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Old-school JRPG players and anyone who finds self-referential videogame humor to be funny.

Josh Tolentino

Kenka Bancho: Badass Rumble (Atlus for PlayStation Portable)

Price: $39.99

Why it made my list:
Kenka Bancho is about the only recently released game that can lay claim to the genre of "brawler" without embarrassing itself. The title's additional RPG-like time management, absolutely insane character customization, and sense of Japanese-infused humor make it a great ride for someone looking for a brawler that fits in the modern world.
Who it would make a great gift for:
Your otaku friends; someone who wishes the cheering squads of Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents would quit dancing and punch somebody; any punk-ass shabazo looking to be a real shibui yankii.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona (Atlus for PlayStation Portable)

Price: $39.99

Why it made my list:
It's a Persona game! Furthermore, it's the Persona game! Being the only game at the time to incorporate the real world into the typical fantasy setting of RPGs, Persona was a groundbreaker, both for the Shin Megami Tensei series and RPGs. Having been fully updated with much higher-quality localization, a new soundtrack, added content and technical optimization, the end result is practically a new game, finally restored to its personality and charm.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Those who pine for the good ol' days of the PlayStation 1; folks who are angry the "Snow Queen" quest was cut out; fans of Persona 3 and 4 who want to know what it was like back then.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (Atlus for Nintendo DS)
Price: $29.99

Why it made my list:
Despite its small, DS-sized stature, Devil Survivor is one of the finest JRPGs in years, going farther than many recent titles to inject a feeling of true choice and consequence into the typically linear, unalterable JRPG story. The fact that it's happily couched in a deep demon fusion and tactical combat system only makes the package sweeter.

Who it would make a great gift for:

Folks who want something more out of their JRPG formulas; people who want to experience more MegaTen beyond Persona; fans of desperately-impractical-but-stylish headphones.

Jonathan Ross

Torchlight (Runic Games for PC)

Price: $19.95

Why it made my list:
CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK. Dungeon-crawling bliss at a great price, with system requirements so low that basically anyone can run it (it even has a netbook mode!). You'll get so sucked in you won't even notice the lack of multiplayer. 

Who it would make a great gift for:
Everyone who's been crushed by the news that Diablo III probably won't be out until 2011.
Matthew Razak

The Legend of Zelda 3-Poster Series (Nintendo)

Free (as long as you have some Nintendo-developed Wii and DS games lying around)
Why it made my list:
This 3-pack of Zelda posters features two promotional posters (one for Wind Waker and one for Twilight Princess) you can't get anywhere else (unless you stole them from a videogame store), and an exclusive Zelda time-line poster you actually can't get anywhere else. They're collectors items and they're hard to get. The best part is they're free. All anyone has to do is register a few Wii and DS games at Club Nintendo and they'll be mailed to your door. Might get there a bit late, but just get Ashley Davis to draw you some cute replicas, tell the gift receiver the real gift is in the mail, and you've got two awesome gifts for the price of none.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Zelda fans, anyone who doesn't have enough Nintendo games to earn enough points, college students, people with broke friends.


Nyko Rechargeable Battery Stations (or any rechargeable battery station for Wii, Xbox 360, PS3)

$34 - $60, depending on the system and number of controllers
Why it made the list:
It may be cliche, and it may sound dumb, but these are one of those things that most gamers don't buy for themselves, but they will use all the frickin' time. Not only will it eventually save them some money on battery costs and help the environment (theoretically), but never having to scrounge around for new batteries is a godsend. For anyone who owns multiple systems a collection of these is especially useful as battery swapping gets real old, real fast. Rechargeable battery stations might not be the sexiest gift ever or the most clever, but you sure as hell know they'll get used.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Any gamer who has more than one controller.

Nick Chester

EA Sports Active Bundle, EA Active: More Workouts (EA Sports for Wii)

Price: $49.99 for bundle, $39.99 for (optional) updated workouts disc

Why it made my list:
EA sent me this disc a few weeks ago, and given my recent busy schedule getting in the way of me going to the gym, I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, EA Sports Active can be a pretty damned good workout, once you get over how silly you might feel stretching and jogging in front of your television with a Wii Remote/Nunchuk in your hand.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Anyone too lazy to leave the house; someone who's already making working New Year's Resolutions.


(Gearbox Software for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC)


Why it made my list:
Make no mistake -- shooting stuff is fun, especially when you have a bajillion guns at your disposal. Marry a tight first-person shooting mechanic with a non-stop, hardcore loot-fest, and you have yourself a winner. Add three friends to the mix in online co-op, and it doesn't get much better.

Who it would make a great gift for:
People who like to shoot at stuff with big, crazy-looking guns; people who like to pick up big, crazy-looking guns.

160000 MS Points/200000 Wii Points/$2000.00 in PSN Cards


Why it made my list:
This week marks the week that Harmonix/MTV Games has finally reached the 1,000-plus mark of available songs to play in Rock Band/Rock Band 2. Ignoring special track pack pricing, single songs offered for free or at a "discount" price, and the fact that some of the 1000 songs are "exportable" from disc-only games... you're looking at around spending $2000.00.

Since the number isn't entirely accurate, rockers can save some of the money for spending later, or when the Rock Band Network gets flooded with music when it finally launches. (Download suggestions: Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" ($1.99); Cannibal Corpse's "Hammer Smashed Face")

Who it would make a great gift for:
Music lovers; music game nut jobs who simply need to have it all.

Samit Sarkar

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Sony for PlayStation 3)


Why it made my list:

Naughty Dog has raised the bar for action gaming with Uncharted 2, which offers a satisfying single-player campaign with an engrossing story and charming, effortlessly likable characters, as well as a deep multiplayer component including numerous of cooperative and competitive modes. Protagonist Nathan Drake takes a beating but perseveres in his journey to find the mythical lost city of Shambhala, and he's joined by old friends and new acquaintances on the way. No one tells a cinematic story like Naughty Dog, and you'll fall in love with the game's characters from the very beginning as you fight through a wide variety of gorgeously rendered locales like a Turkish museum, a war-torn Nepalese town, and a dilapidated monastery in the Himalayas. It might be the best sixty bucks you'll spend this year.

Who it would make a great gift for:

Anyone from teens on up will enjoy the gunplay and witty story, and folks who desire stunning visuals need look no further.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
(Activision for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)

Why it made my list:
Modern Warfare
developer Infinity Ward is the only studio that can provide some legitimate competition to Naughty Dog when it comes to putting together epic set pieces, which Modern Warfare 2 loosely strings together in a barely coherent story that was ostensibly designed to pack as many "holy crap!" moments into a five- to six-hour experience as possible. But no one plays Modern Warfare for the story anyway, right? Right. This time around, Infinity Ward has expanded the multiplayer offering by introducing a two-player cooperative mode, Special Ops, that uses setups from the campaign but makes them completely new experiences by having you play through them with a friend. And of course, the traditional competitive mode has been refined and augmented as well, with way more weapons, perks, and levels (Prestige Mode comes at level 70 instead of 55 now). This is a game you'll be playing for the next two years -- until Modern Warfare 3 comes out.
Who it would make a great gift for:
Keep this one away from the kids -- it's got some extremely mature and disturbing content. Still, if your giftee digs first-person shooters, this is unquestionably the best one on the market this holiday season.

NHL 10
(EA Sports for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Price: $59.99 

Why it made my list:
Hockey may rank last in popularity when it comes to the four major North American professional sports, but that hasn't deterred developer EA Canada from putting together the best simulation of the sport year-in and year-out. The single-player Be A Pro mode lets you put yourself on the ice and work your way up to the NHL from the minors, providing a deep and engaging experience that's available in few other sports titles, and its multiplayer equivalent, the EA Sports Hockey League, allows you to join with up to five of your friends to take on other teams from around the world in six-on-six online action. If your budget is tight this holiday season, know that whomever you buy this for will be playing it for a long, long time to come.
Who it would make a great gift for:
Hockey is interesting in that the videogame version of the sport is fun enough to attract people who don't even care about real-life hockey, so whether the person you're getting this for is a die-hard Rangers fan or a casual observer, chances are, he/she will find some enjoyment here.

Tom Fronczak

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (Nintendo/Level 5 for Nintendo DS)

Why it made my list:
Let's face it. The majority of "the holidays" involves lots of busy shopping and/or running around from family to family for a month, then Christmas, then a few days to dig into your gifts before going back to work or school. Get this cheap game on your own and have Santa bring you one of the more expensive must-plays out there. While you're on the go this Thanksgiving, and desperately trying to keep your brain buzzed so you and your stomach don't submit to tryptophan-induced sleep, this is the game you want for the car rides to and from relatives' houses.
Who it would make a great gift for:
The early teen or pre-teen son or daughter of the person in your family who refuses to let their children play console or PC games. Either help them enjoy their DS the most, or, if they don't even have a DS, then talk about the DS all day so they bug their parents into getting one for them!

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
 (Electronic Arts for Nintendo DS)

Why it made my list:
Because I don't think it made enough Christmas lists last year. This is easily one of the very best DS games to date, because it's the best of multiple genres. Puzzle Quest got so much positive attention, which it deserved, while this title is arguably twice as good as it in every way. Do you absolutely love the side-scrolling Mario or Metroid games? Did you enjoy Tetris or Lumines? If not, then what the heck is wrong with you?! This game is all of those games and more, and is an exceptional example of how to use both of the screens.
Who it would make a great gift for:
ANY person, of ANY age who owns a DS, but does not own this game yet.

DotA, a.k.a., Defense of the Ancients, Icefrog mod of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, Blizzard
Price: Warcraft III Battle Chest (expansion is necessary), $34.99

Why it made my list:
Because, years and years later, it's still the most strategic multiplayer game I've ever played. If you enjoyed the hero aspect of Warcraft III more than the actual RTS micromanaging madness where reaction time and reflexes trumped skill, then you need to try this game. Not just once though -- the learning curve WILL kick your ass, but it's worth it. Here's some mathcraft reasons for why I've played every week for almost two years, but still haven't played the same game twice. Each game is a 5v5 that lasts roughly 45 minutes, and consists of each player selecting one of 95 heroes, each that starts at level 1 and maxes at level 25 after upgrading all of their stats and four spells in a detailed order of their choosing. Before diving into the astronomical exponential and factorial math already involved, don't forget that each hero can also buy half a dozen items from a pool of almost one hundred unique weapons, armors, potions, spells, etc. Thankfully the map is almost always the same, because this is truly the chess of online multiplayer games. Can you handle it? If not, then pass on DotA and try Heroes of Newerth, which is a cheaper, prettier, and easier version of the game that recently came out.

Who it would make a great gift for:
Only the most hardcore of gamers, and any friend or family who is a supporter of the cult classic novel Ender's Game. If the game alone doesn't make you or your friends cry, then the vicious online community surely will.

Topher Cantler

Mushihime-sama Futari Ver. 1.5
(Cave for Xbox 360)


Why it made my list:
Import gaming often being a huge pain in the ass to facilitate, you can show your good will this season by saving someone the trouble. Mushihime-sama Futari is an excellent Cave shooter, and a great introduction to the more hardcore corner of the genre for casual shmup fans. It'll even run legit on their North American 360. If you know someone who's curious about what lies beyond our shores in terms of arcade-style gaming, help them get their feet wet by cutting out the expense and confusion of trying to import it for themselves.

Who it would make a great gift for:

Entry-level STG fans who want something a little more serious than what the US versions of XBLA or Virtual Console can offer them.
Pre-order for Super Street Fighter IV (Capcom for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Price: $39.99 (unconfirmed)
Why it made my list:
The best way to convince a complaining Street Fighter fan to STFU? Give them a paid pre-order for the game as a gift, thus taking away the only thing they have to piss and moan about: The cost. For all the people who thought it should have been DLC, free, or otherwise believe that such a colossal overhaul isn't worth its measly price point, Merry Christmas. Shut your fucking mouth.

Who it would make a great gift for:

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
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