Tech Column: Holiday Buyers Guide for the 2012 Season

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and with it, Black Friday. Black Friday is by far one of the best times to step out onto the department store floor and bust that fresh move that retailers call the “credit card swipe.” Video games and electronics are released in droves around this time of year, with most manufacturers attempting to tantalize you with millions of megabytes, pico-scale pixels, monolithic memory and all-around awesomeness.

Thus, seeing that this crucial month is upon us once more, it seems only appropriate to sit back after gorging ourselves on stuffed, dead avians and assess the state of the video game industry. So, without further ado: a list of video games you should be begging your friends, neighbors, relatives and extended family members for this holiday season.

First off, WiiU. I doubt I have to say anything more. Those who want one have probably already set up their tent outside the nearest GameStop. With initial sales forecasts vaulting loftily into the five to six million range and a 250,000+ person online preorder waiting list at GameStop, this new standard of Nintendo is going to be one hot item this Christmas.

Nintendo is almost certain to play the same false-scarcity tactics it always uses at launch time, so if you do want one and haven’t preordered it, go out and put your name in the hat. You might get lucky and receive one in April. If you don’t want one … well, honestly, you really do. With a superb starting lineup including New Super Mario Bros. U, Rayman Legends, Pikmin 3, Call of Duty Black Ops. 2, Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect 3 and a bunch of others, the WiiU really stands poised to appeal to nearly every kind of gamer.

To be fair, many of the games mentioned above either have been or will soon be released on PC, Xbox 360 and the new SUPER-slim PS3. In addition to the ones mentioned above,Dishonored, Medal of Honor Warfighter and Borderlands 2 might make nice stocking stuffers. Also, keep an eye out for Bioshock Infinite in February. On the more indie side of things,Cart Life, the poverty simulator, can take the “holly” right out of the holidays, vertical shooter/acid trip Dyad can let you ride the ride without taking the ticket and Bloop for iPad can help you identify which of your passive-aggressive aunts to steer extra clear of when the eggnog comes out on Christmas Eve.

There are also a couple of interesting mobile platforms to watch from a gaming perspective this year. First, the Wikipad, a 500 dollar 1.4ghz Quad Core Tegra 3 Android tablet (tech-speak for REALLY FREAKING FAST) will be hitting GameStop shelves this Christmas. Although the name would imply that browsing Wikipedia is its primary function, the Wikipad is actually one of the first tablets to feature a built-in controller, which would be absolutely great if there were any games that supported it.

Second is the kickstarter-famous Ouya, which isn’t going to be ready for the holidays, but it’s a good one to look out for (I’ll probably be reviewing it when it does come out). This standalone Android-powered console begs to be hacked, and will supposedly support most games currently available in the Google Play store. Because we all need to be able to play Angry Birds Star Wars on a standalone game console, right?

Also, Microsoft has leaked plans to build their own seven-inch gaming tablet, which we know absolutely nothing about. Yay.

Finally, just because I know some kids are going to be getting one this Christmas: you can play games on the new iPod Touch. Most of them are not good games, but you can play them nonetheless.

Other than that, there’s not much to say. The 3DS XL might be worth getting if you haven’t gotten a 3DS yet; Paper Mario Sticker Star looks amazing and even Persona 4 Solid Gold Premium Edition cannot change the fact that the PS Vita has fewer games than the Apple Bandai Pippin as of the time of this writing. What’s a Pippin? Exactly.

So, happy holidays and happy gaming, and most importantly, happy spending. Oh, and I’ll be happy to pat your back and hold you all until you stop crying over not getting a WiiU at launch. That is, until I get bored and go back to playing on my WiiU.

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