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Happy Holidays!

Shawn Smith

Tis the season for game-magazine gift guides to drop the blatantly obvious on your head like a sack of fruitcakes. Wait...you mean shooter fans will want Halo 2? Sportos will crave Madden? Racing junkies will like Gran Turismo 4? Get out of here!

We’ll let the competition tell you what you already know. We’re using our holiday gift guide to highlight the hottest gaming paraphernalia: game-related toys, clothes, books, movies, gadgets—all conveniently ranked in ascending order of niftiness. And if you have more enemies than friends on your shopping list, we might be able to help you out there, too. (Hint: Turn your magazine upside down.)

The Gift of Protection

d_skin • www.d-skin.com • $6

Truth be told, we thought these rubbery game-disc covers—basically condoms for your DVDs—were gimmicky when we first saw them, but now we’re sold. They protect the tender undersides of your favorite games from scratches and make perfecto (read: cheap) stocking stuffers.

Book ’Em

Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar • www.primagames.com • $30

Masters of Doom • www.amazon.com • $11

Power-Up • www.bradygames.com • $20

When the blisters on your thumbs make playing unbearable, take a break and open up one of these slick reads to gain a new perspective on gaming. The Making of Half-Life 2 is a lavish behind-the-scenes coffee-table tome that’ll make the wait for the game to hit the Xbox more bearable. Meanwhile, frequent EGM contributor David Kushner’s Masters of Doom tells the cockle-warming tale of the two guys who built the first-person-shooter genre. And the just-released Power-Up gives a look at the Japanese culture behind gaming.

Time Machine

Atari Flashback • www.atari.com • $45

This slinky black box—styled after the Atari 7800 system—will give you tingles in your special place, thanks to the 20 Atari classics found inside. Play Adventure, Yar’s Revenge, Battlezone, and a few games that were never even released. If you get bored, invite a friend over for two-player Warlords.

Must-see DVDs

Red vs. Blue • www.redvsblue.com • $20

Mega64: Version 1 • www.mega64.com • $20

Once Upon Atari • www.onceuponatari.com • $30

Laugh it up with either Red vs. Blue—a Halo parody starring Master Chief characters—or Mega64, whose balls-of-steel stars commit game-inspired pranks in the real world. For an equally entertaining but more serious look at the history of games, go for Once Upon Atari, which explores the early days of the industry with the people who made it happen.

Star Guidance: The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes will give his friends...

"Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I’m very much looking forward to it. Though I always feel bad when I run over a civilian. I actually had to stop playing Vice City for a while.”

Clothes That Make the Gamer

Gaming Duds • www.80stees.com • $20

NES Belt Buckle • www.nesbuckle.com • $30

There was a time when wearing an anything-gaming-related shirt screamed, “Kick my ass—I’m a dork!” Nowadays it’s fashionable. So grab a Pitfall Harry trucker’s hat, throw on your Nintendo shirt, add a studded NES controller belt (made from genuine NES joypads, no less!), and continue on your hipster quest with confidence.

Play It Loud

Minibosses • www.minibosses.com

Saskrotch • givedaddytheknife.tripod.com

14 Year Old Girls • www.retarddisco.com

The Advantage • www.theadvantageband.com

Totally Radd!! • www.retarddisco.com

Moist Biscuits • www.moistbiscuits.comWhether jamming out tunes inspired by games or covering classic gaming hits, these bands give us the urge to hold up our lighters and show much respect. From the heavy-metalized covers of the Minibosses to the catchy riffs of 14 Year Old Girls (typical lyric: Nintendo should smell its doom / it’s gonna go third-party soon), any of these CDs will rock you like a shoryuken.

Too Fly

GameFly gift card • www.gamefly.com • $30

In a perfect world, we could buy every game that came along. Since that’s not really how life works, ask for a GameFly gift card. The service is essentially NetFlix for gamers, letting players rent games through the mail and play them for as long as needed.

Star Guidance: 24’s Dennis Haysbert will give his friends...

"GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. I love the intrigue of those games. I’ve always been a big James Bond fan. And Sean Connery’s my favorite Bond, to answer your next question.”

Sprite Might

Mario Stage Figures • www.play-asia.com • $5 each

Most game-related toys are good at one thing: collecting dust. But here’s something you can actually play with: Straight from Japan, these pixel-style Super Mario Bros. dioramas can be rearranged however you like using the mysterious power of magnets. Several sets are available, and you can even buy bonus Koopas and other characters to add to the scenery.

Seating Arrangement

AK Designs Rocker • www.ak.com • $80

Just because furniture is designed for gaming doesn’t mean you have to hide it in the closest when you expect company. Such is the case with AK Designs’ Rocker. It’s beefy, yet sensibly designed with gamers in mind. Sit back and play for hours on end without the usual ass fatigue.

Hearing Aid

Pioneer Wireless Dolby Digital 5.1 Headphones

www.pioneerelectronics.com • $400

The best of the best this holiday goes to these wireless 5.1 digital headphones. Turn on, tune in, block out your yapping girlfriend, and enjoy your favorite games in all of their Dolby Digital glory instead. It also supports all popular surround-sound modes, including Pro Logic II. The headphones even have a built-in rechargeable battery. All this coolness comes with a price, so maybe you can live without a few other items in this guide. Those game-disc condoms, for instance. P

Star Guidance: National treasure Donny Osmond will give his friends...

"Halo 2. I have this big room with a pool table, ping pong, and, of course, videogames. Halo is the game of choice these days, but I hear Halo 2 is going to be even better.”

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.





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