Racketboy Staff’s Retro Gaming Gift Guide

Retro Gaming Gift Guide 2010

The holiday shopping season is in full swing now and I thought it would be a great time to round up some products that would be useful for not only building up your own wishlists, but also might be some good gift ideas for other gamers in your lives or for friends that just need a little friendly re-introduction to retro gaming.

As an added bonus, I invited the Racketboy staff members to share their recommendation for this gift guide.  I figured this would be a nice time to get to know the staff and their interests a bit better.  BTW, if you have any really good recommendations, please feel free to share them in the comments section below 🙂

Racketboy’s Selections

It was hard for me to narrow down my list of interesting gift recommendations… I guess I’ll just save some for next year. Anyway, I think this little lineup of mine will give some afforadable options for all ranges of people interested in retro gaming.

King of Kong The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters DVD
Even if your gift recipient is a casual retro fan, it will be hard for them not to enjoy this wonderful documentary.  This cult classic chronicles the ongoning battle over the world record for the high score in Donkey Kong.  Sure, on the surface, it may not sound especially exciting, but once you dive into this DVD, you’ll quickly discover an it’s a story of interesting personalities and situations.  I actually just watched this one again this past weekend with my significant other and we both enjoyed it.
Shop for The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters on eBay
Shop for The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters on Amazon.com
Pac-Man Moleskine Notebooks Pac-Man 30th Anniversary Moleskine Notebooks
Do you know someone that is often stuck in the office or is a personal organization guru that needs to let their retro gaming enthusiasm show just a bit?   This collection of notebooks and organizers are a subtle but fun solution.  (They are also an interesting collectible for Pac-Man fans…)
Shop for Pac-Man 30th Anniversary Moleskine Notebooks on Amazon.com
XBL Card PSN/XBL/Wii Points w/ Note
If you have friends that you know just need a little kick in the pants to get back into old-school gaming, maybe you can ease them in with some modern two-dimensional action.  If they have a current-gen console, there’s plenty of great options for some games that just about any hardcore gamer would love (my personal recommendations include Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Castle Crashers, Mega Man 9 or 10 — also check last year’s best retro games for more suggestions).  Just get them a card for PSN, Xbox Live, or Wii Points and put a little note with it with game recommendations.
Check Amazon for PSN Cards, Xbox Live Cards, or Wii Points Cards
Wii Komodo Adapter Wii Retro Adaptor for NES, SNES, Genesis, and N64 Controllers
If your friends already have a Wii and are actually enjoying some NES or SNES classics on the Virtual Console, why don’t you make the experience even more authentic with a real NES or SNES controller?   The Wii Virtua or Komodo adapters will do the trick easily.   Maybe this will inspire your buddies to branch out to “real” retro systems 🙂
Shop for Wii Controller Adapters on eBay
Shop for Wii Controller Adapters on Amazon.com
Invincibility Star Necklace Handmade Retro Gaming Jewelry
If you’re in need of some more feminine retro gaming goodies, Etsy has a number of sellers with some cool, handmade items such as jewelry.   I’m not an expert at jewelry, but I think there are pretty cool and I’m thinking about picking up one or two for my Mario-loving lady-friend.
Shop at Until It Ends Studios on Etsy
Dreamcast VGA Box AV Upgrades for Classic Systems
Ok, so this one is a partial plug for the Racketboy store, but it’s a genuine recommendation (and I’ll even provide some other links to compare prices elsewhere).   With HDTVs growing in popularity, it’s becoming more important for consoles to have high-quality video connections to avoid looking like an smeared mess.  Some quick recommendations include SNES/N64/Gamecube S-Video (Amazon, eBay, RB Store), Sega Saturn S-Video (eBay, RB Store), and Dreamcast VGA cable (Amazon, eBay, RB Store)

Dsheinem’s Selections

Our podcast host, Dave shares a couple excellent options.  Personally, I forgot about the Ultimate Genesis Collection, so I might have to pick that one up soon.  However, I’ve been using Goo Gone for more than a decade now and can’t recommend it enough 🙂

Sonic Genesis Collection Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection – PS3/360
For many people, this represents their childhood on one disc. As a big collector of classic game compilations, I have yet to come across one that is perfect – but this one is close.  More than 40 memorable games for the Sega Genesis, all playable on HDTVs with Trophy/Achievement support, save states, no crippling emulation problems, and lots of cool bonuses and unlockable arcade games.  At less than .50 each, this is a bargain hunter’s dream and one of the best compilations ever made.  There’s very little filler, and most titles are some of Sega’s all time best.
**For those without a HD console, you might also pick up the Sega Genesis Collection for PS2/PSP, for about the same price
Shop for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on eBay
Shop for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection on Amazon.com
Goo Gone Homax Goo Gone
Anyone who collects classic games inevitably comes across sticky old labels, gunky cartridges, or other disgusting filth when bargain hunting.  With this 32Oz jug (also available in packs of 6!), your gamer will have a long time supply of the magical stuff that can make those games seem like new.
Shop for Goo Gone on eBay
Shop for Goo Gone on Amazon.com

Ack’s Selections

Our resident bookworm, Evan has some rock-solid literary recommendations for those wanting to increase their retrogaming knowledge.  I actually received Arcade Mania for Christmas last year and enjoyed it quite a bit!

Arcade Mania Arcade Mania: The Turbo-Charged World of Japan’s Game Centers
Brian Ashcraft and Jean Snow’s book on the ongoings of Japan’s arcade scene may not go as in depth as some people would like, but they provide an excellent breakdown by genre, including areas usually not considered by many gamers like the photo booth and crane game.  Each chapter focuses on a different area, providing history and bio information from an individual heavily involved in the genre, ranging from the Japan Crane Game champion to a child who enjoys electronic card games.
Shop for Arcade Mania on eBay
Shop for Arcade Mania on Amazon.com
Ultimate History of Video Games The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon–The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World
Journalist Steven L. Kent’s history of video games focuses heavily on the corporate history of gaming, particularly as it relates to the US market, but it’s a must read for anyone interested in how games have developed and the corporate decisions which have fueled the industry and its highs and lows.  Atari’s hey day receives particular attention, including many of its seedier details, as does Nintendo’s rise as console king in the late 1980s, and its battle with Sega for dominance.  The biggest downside to the book is that it’s nearly a decade old now, seeing release about a month and a half before Microsoft released their Xbox console in the United States.
Shop for The Ultimate History of Video Games on eBay
Shop for The Ultimate History of Video Games on Amazon.com

SpaceBooger’s Selections

In addition to being one of forum moderators and contributers, Fred is also one of biggest Comic Book aficianados (see his Print-N-Pixel feature at SpaceBooger.com).  Below are his picks for the best Comic Book-Based Video Games.

Batman NES Batman (NES)
Batman for the NES was one of those games that was more a “video game” than a “comic book licensed video game,” meaning quite simply that it didn’t suck. Most comic book licensed games were crap games counting on the popularity of a character or franchise instead of solid gameplay to boost sales, and because of the movie, Batman was the hottest property on the planet in 1989. There seemed to be a downside to the game though. Even though it was an almost perfect platforming experience, the game had little to do with the movie other than Batman, the Joker, and the cut scenes. This left some comic book fans disappointed in the game.  As a video game, Sunsoft’s Batman ranks up there with the best action-platforming games ever. As a comic book influenced video game it does a great job of emulating the mood of the comics while trying (emphasis on “trying”) to incorporate the comic’s characters, even if they don’t fit properly into continuity.
Shop for Batman on eBay
Shop for Batman on Amazon.com
Spiderman PS1 Spider-Man (Playstaion, N64, PC, and Dreamcast)
Prior to 2000 most of Spider-Man’s video game appearances were in 2D platform games where web swinging and wall climbing seemed like a novelty and not natural. When Neversoft’s self titledSpider-Man game was released I was immediately wowed by the graphics, controls, and most importantly the natural feel of of Spidey’s web swinging and wall crawling. Before this game, the Spider-Man games played the same as either a Batman platform game or a Final Fight style beat-em-up. Neversoft’s Spider-Man was the first unique Spider-Man game that let the player really feel like the Web Slinger, and therefore it is my favorite Spider-Man game.
Shop for Spiderman on eBay
Shop for Spiderman on Amazon.com
Chakan Genesis Chakan The Forever Man (Sega Genesis)
Chakan The Forever Man was a brutally hard video game, but his origin story and comic counterpart’s journeys were just as brutal. Before Bloodlines made it’s way to the SEGA Genesis, Chakan was the best Castlevania option the system had to offer. Some may say that Chakan is nothing like Castlevania since he has a greater range of attacks, the game features an alchemy system, and he is definitely more mobile than any Belmont but the challenge and sometimes unfair nature of the game is similar to Konami’s series. Chakan is immortal and can not die but he can feel all of the pain associated with every wound, like the main character you will feel the pain of every challenge and you will feel immortal upon completion of this classic Genesis game.
Shop for Chakan The Forever Man on eBay
Shop for Chakan The Forever Man on Amazon.com


Runners Up:

  • Marvel Super Heroes (Sega Saturn & Playstaion)
  • Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (N64 & PC)
  • Spider-Man vs The Kingpin (SEGA Genesis, SEGA CD)
  • Adventures of Batman And Robin (SNES)
  • The Death and Return of Superman (SEGA Genesis & SNES)

Marurun’s Selection

Long-time forum moderator and occassional guide contributer, Brandon had to share his love for the Metal Slug series and the excellent compilation that is availible on multiple platforms.  Sure, it’s been out for a while, but it’s a solid value that run-n-gun fans should not pass up.

Metal Slug Anthology Metal Slug Anthology
Except from Marurun’s full review: Metal Slug Anthology has been out for a while for the Playstation 2, Playstation Portable, and Wii, and is quite affordable, under $15 via Amazon.com. It’s a great gift for the retro-gamer in your household, especially if they’re fans of Contra and run-n-guns in general. …   If you have a Wii, a GameCube controller, and can comfortably sit close enough to the Wii to use that GameCube controller, Metal Slug Anthology is a retro run-n-gun dream. If you don’t, well, this game is cheap enough you should add a GC controller onto your order, maybe a wireless one so you can sit back and get comfy.
Shop for Metal Slug Anthology on eBay
Shop for Metal Slug Anthology on Amazon.com

MrPopo’s Selections

And finally, Aaron recommends some great ways to take authentic classic gaming (more authentic than emulation, anyway) on the road.

Portable NES Portable NES & SNES
While one can make a portable out of the original NES and SNES hardware, this is a task that requires a lot of patience and a steady hand with a soldering iron, and is not for everyone.  Fortunately, you have another option; mass produced portable NES and SNES hardware.  These utilize the on a chip technology so they aren’t as perfect as original hardware, but they do get the job done.  There are few things as fun as having everyonoe look your way while you play some Kirby’s Adventure on a park bench.  One thing to note; both utilize a screen that is slightly wider than 4:3.  This will cause everything to be slightly stretched horizontally, and this is most evident in games like Super Mario Bros.  But that’s only a minor complaint.  Both are great for getting your old games on the go.
Shop for Portable NES on Amazon.com
Shop for Portable SNES on Amazon.com

11 Comments

  1. A great overall list, I am definitely shopping for these items.

  2. Covarr says:

    Oy, I cannot possibly second that recommendation for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. It won’t lock on Sonic 3 with Sonic and Knuckles, which is an unforgivable oversight.

  3. marurun says:

    Interestingly enough, the old “Sonic Jam” collection for Sega Saturn DID support the Sonic and Knuckles lock-on just fine.

  4. Mike says:

    Oooh! The Ultimate History of Video Games was a fantastic book! I hope the author comes out with a revised second edition to cover the important stuff of the last generation and on the eve of the rise of the PS4 and its competitors.

  5. CRTGAMER says:

    AV upgrades are a great idea. Before purchasing a new TV scrutinize if the HD has that now uncommon S-Video connection. As an alternate, there are S-Video to VGA adaptors in the market. Most set the video at 640×480 resolution, be sure your HD will support that.

    Another plug for The Ultimate History of Video Games. A great read, with insider stories.

  6. 90sGamerThru&Thru says:

    Me and a friend played through streets or rage 1 on the ps3 sega collection just the other day and it brought back a lot of good memories(Foolishly tried to join the boss at the end and it sent me back 2 levels). Highly recommend it if you wanna play the MD classics on your PS

  7. 90sGamerThru&Thru says:

    “Oy, I cannot possibly second that recommendation for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. It won’t lock on Sonic 3 with Sonic and Knuckles, which is an unforgivable oversight.”

    -though i fully support this statement. 🙂

  8. Abe says:

    Nice list. At least, it reminded me to add The King of Kong to my Christmas list…

  9. Big props for including Goo Gone! Best thing ever for cleaning up ebay finds!

  10. BroBuzz says:

    Great list Rocketboy! And you can buy Goo Gone at alot of $1-stores.

  11. portable NES or SNES would be awesome!