Game-related tech is a serious issue, especially if you're looking for stuff to get the gamer in your life. Luckily, we've got you covered, to make your shopping easier. First, we're going to take a look, courtesy of X-Play, at some peripherals for the Wii.
Gadget Pr0n is an itch that is incredibly hard to scratch, which is where our Holiday Buyers Guide should come in very handy. This details the tech, gadgets, and gizmos that most gamers, geeks, and nerds out there will be craving. Whether you have Nintendo's Wii, a PlayStation 3, an Xbox 360, a gaming PC, or just a love of gadgets, there's going to be something on this list that will make you want it, or have you wanting to buy it for someone else. James Bond has nothing on us.
FOR THE CONSOLE GAMER
- Pro Elite Wireless Controller: PS3 controller with textured grips, Xbox 360-style analog sticks, and built-in rumble/SIXAXIS.
- Pro Pack Mini: 35 percent smaller Wiimote and "Minichuk."
- Lego Play & Build Wiimote: Build your own Wiimote!
- Raven Standard and Alternative: Rubberized PS3 controllers with ergonomic grips and angled triggers. Built-in rumble, SIXAXIS, and Wireless, these controllers are great replacements for the standard controller. The Alternative version gives you Xbox 360-style analog sticks.
- Wand+ Wiimote: Nyko's Wiimote looks fairly standard, but it has "Full Motion" technology built in, which is fully compatible with Wii Motion Plus games. So you get all that control, without an additional piece of plastic to snap on.
- Charge Station Quad for Move: Keeping controllers charged is a pain, and Nyko has that market just about cornered. These brand-new Move charge stations for Sony's new baby keep your controllers organized and charged in this sleek little unit that looks like it came out of Sharper Image.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops PrecisionAIM Controllers: (wired for Xbox 360 and wireless for PS3) Call of Duty: BO branded, and they have two precision aim buttons underneath that can be customized. Plus, they light up! Not exactly stealthy, but awesome. Just looking to apply some Black Ops to your existing controller? Pick up a CoD: Black Ops faceplate.
- Xbox 360 MC2 Racing Wheel: This wheel comes complete with brake and accelerator pedal attachments, and features vibration feedback and retractable leg supports. We tried this out in racing games where it performed admirably, even spooking us with the wheel vibration. Then we took it into Call of Duty: Black Ops, and managed a couple of very lucky headshots.
- F.L.Y. 9 Wireless Flight Stick: If you want to fully simulate flight in a game, a normal controller won't cut it. Instead, you need a flight stick to give you total nuanced control over your airborne vehicle. While this flight stick might look like something out of a sci-fi flick, it actually works perfectly in giving you a throttle lever, full stick mobility, triggers, thumb buttons, and twist controls for your rudders. I took this into IL-2 Sturmovik and Apache: Air Assault, and was surprised by how different (and better) the games felt immediately.
- Xbox 360 Collector's Edition TRON Controller: This thing is a work of art. Even the packaging is slick! While I wish it were wireless (it has a nice braided cable), the truth is that it would suck down a lot of battery life. When this sucker lights up, your inner TRON fanboy will squeal with glee.
- Wii Collector's Edition TRON Controller: Like the Xbox controller above, this looks incredible when it lights up. Thankfully, this one has a switch inside that lets you turn the lights on and off.
- Disney Epic Mickey Paintbrush Chuk: Is it possible to take your love for Disney Epic Mickey too far? PDP doesn't think so. That's why they've created this nunchuk modeled after Mickey's in-game paintbrush. It's very cute, and really stands out. Everyone who stopped by my desk wanted to know what it was. Thinner not included.
- Disney Epic Mickey Wii Remote Controller Charger: This is where you go a bit overboard. But, unlike the paintbrush chuk, this one includes Mickey Mouse. He's set to do battle against an enormous inkblot, which also holds and chargers your Wiimote. It even comes with its own battery covers and battery. Nifty.
- KontrolFreeks Controller Attachments: I gave Abbie Heppe a pair of these to take to the Call of Duty: Black Ops review event, and now she swears by them. These little suckers pop on top of your analog sticks, and they give you a 40% wider range of control, with neat textures. There's the TD Freek that looks like little footballs (laces out!), Hoops Freek that looks like a basketball, FPS Freek Prestige, which has some quasi-military branding, and even FPS Freek Legendary that is Halo-esque. We recommend the GamerPack, which gives you one set of the FPS Freeks, and one set of Speed Freeks, which are U-shaped and meant to give you a better sense of steering when using a controller.
And now, let's take a look at some of X-Play's recommendations for tech stuff usable with the Xbox 360.
FOR THE AUDIOPHILE
- A30 Headset: Smaller version of their A40 headsets that features an in-line microphone, or an attachable boom. Sleek lines, great sounds, these provide some serious sound for your ears.
- Wireless Mixamp 5.8: As an Astro fan and user, the biggest frustration has been cables trailing across your living room floor. Well, no more, thanks to the Mixamp 5.8, which cuts the cable and gives you the same sound experience, but wireless. Sexy.
- A*Star In-Ear Headset: For listening to portable devices like your laptop, DS, PSP, or iPhone, this headset is where you want to be. It has an in-line mic, pushbutton control, volume control, and a flat cable to avoid entanglements. Plus, it comes with a stealthy little carrying case. They look like something Batman might wear.
- Spectrum 5XB Gaming Headset: These were designed with the Xbox 360 in mind, and they come with a piece of tech that SteelSeries calls the "secret sauce" - the AudioMixer. This sucker attaches to your Xbox 360 controller, and lets you control the chat and volume on your own. The headset has a retractable mic, breaks into three pieces to transport easily, and sounds fantastic.
- SteelSeries 7H USB: I first tried these on at BlizzCon, and I was surprised to hear the outside world drop away. If you want some seriously good headphones that block sounds while pumping in some amazing audio from your own source, these are for you. Connects via standard PC jacks or USB, breaks down into four pieces to easily fit in small spaces, and also features their retractable headset.
- Psyko 5.1 Gaming Headset: You'd have to be psycho to design something like this, right? Psyko claims that this headset is the first gaming headset to create sound directionally, giving you pinpoint accuracy on location. While it might look strange, it does indeed sound awesome. There's a series of tubes directing the sound and controlling when it hits your ears, and you'll be surprised at how comfortable it is sitting on your head.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Dolby Digital True 5.1 ProGaming Headset: That's a mouthful of label right there. It might have a very long name, but it also has amazing sound, and that's probably what you really care about. This Tritton-powered headset delivers surprisingly awesome 5.1 sound to your ears, while letting you chat back with a boom mic. They even light up. This will connect to your Xbox 360, your PC, and your PS3, and it's entirely Black Ops branded, and comes with a CoD: Black Ops carrying case.
- Orca: Yes, they are extremely green. I mean, extremely, extremely green. Like, the kind of green that very nearly blinds you when you see it. Thankfully, that's why I never lose these things. Friends of mine can attest that I have a tendency to lose headsets when traveling, but that won't happen when you can spot these from the surface of the moon. Plus, they sound great.
FOR THE MMO / RTS PLAYER
- Shift: This keyboard accepts the SteelSeries keyset inserts, where you can insert an entirely new keyboard to change your game up. This allows you to suddenly be a macro wizard in StarCraft II, or have the perfect buttons right at hand when you're raiding through World of Warcraft. Each key is customizable, and the back of the board has two USB ports and standard PC headset/audio connectors on it. It's very sturdy, and guaranteed to last through 15 million keycycles, which is a hell of a lot of WASDing.
- Zboard: The Zboard is a slightly more affordable keyboard that also accepts the keysets, but don't let the price difference fool you. It offers the same amount of customization and control over your game. You can also get this in a bundle that includes the standard keyset and one customized to your game. They'll have a new World of Warcraft: Cataclysm keyset out very soon that works with both the Shift and Zboard.
- 6GV2: Talk about a workhorse, this mechanical keyboard is rated for 50 million keycycles, which is more than 10 times the lifespan on any normal keyboard. Which means you'll be using this thing forever, although you won't be complaining about it. With extremely satisfying key-clicks, this keyboard can take anything you throw at it, and then some. I've worn out several keyboards, which usually feel flimsy and "dead" by the time I toss them out. This thing weighs a ton (okay, not an actual ton, but still) and feels like it was made in the 1930s, when steel was king. Awesome brute of a board.
- Lycosa Mirror Edition: Full disclosure: this is the keyboard that I used at home, so I'm a bit biased. Yes, the glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet, but I love the way this keyboard looks and feels. The keys illuminate, which is perfect for nighttime fragging, and the entire board is very low-slung. You can even light up just the WASD keys, branding yourself as a nerd forever.
- Black Widow Ultimate: This has to be the heftiest keyboard I've ever tried. It's mechanical, and it feels like it came out of an aircraft hangar. Remember that scene in Gattaca where the project director has been killed with a keyboard? No normal keyboard could handle that. But this sucker could get the job done. Five levels of illumination, dedicated macro keys, and powerful clicks at each keypress. This keyboard does not mess around.
FOR THE MMO / RTS / CASUAL GAMER
- R.A.T. 7 Gaming Mouse: I have never in my life seen a mouse that is this customizable. You can change the palm rests, the button placement, the pinkie grips, and even add or subtract weight from it. The thumb panel even pivots forwards, backwards, or out, giving you total control over what your mouse looks like, and how it responds. As our own Leah says, "This thing feels like a hand grenade!" I didn't tell her that's because I had all of the weights in it, but she's right. It's solid. It also looks like it's going to transform and eat your face off at any moment, which is exactly what you need in a mouse.
- Imperator: Likewise, I'll have to point out that this is my mouse at home, both on my PC and my Mac. After trying out a slew of mice earlier this year, I settled on the Imperator because it gave me solid control and a lot of options, without looking like something that fell off the console of the space shuttle. Two adjustable side buttons and a precision laser underneath give you great control, without sacrificing ergonomics. Plus the "breathing" Razer logo on the palm looks very cool.
- World of Warcraft: Catacylsm MMO Gaming Mouse: That's a lot of branding going on right there. This mouse was on display front and center at this year's BlizzCon, and I put it through several paces, which nearly included dropping it on the floor (my bad, admittedly). But it stood up to everything I could muster, and I fell in love with the way it looks and feels. Which is to say, it looks like a mouse wearing armor, and feels like a chunk of gold in your palm. Fourteen buttons, up to 10 profiles, and 16 million different illumination colors. Infinite nerdiness.
- Rock Band Ottoman: When you can combine game storage with a piece of furniture, not only is it genius, it's also incredibly useful. Like this ottoman, for example. Rest your feet on it, sit on it, eat on it, sleep on it, whatever. It's an ottoman, right? Wrong. Flip it open, and you've got a complete storage solution for your entire Rock Band setup. The interior of the lid holds two guitars, and you can breakdown the drum set and store it in the bottom. There are labeled side pockets for everything else, and a couple of trays to hold controllers and games. Plus, there's a sweet Rock Band graphic image under the lid.
- Optix Universal Wall Mount: This bolts onto your wall and can hold two guitars, four controllers, and a bunch of your games. Perfect for keeping things off the floor and out of the way, they're also just an arm's length away should you feel the need to play, pwn, or rock.
- AR.Drone: Awesome is too light of a word to use for this. "Glee-inducing" might be a bit better, if that musical show hadn't ruined the usage of the word glee for generations. For those of you who don't know, the AR.Drone is an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad-controlled quadricopter that has both a front-facing and downward-facing camera, giving you a complete bird's eye view of your piloting experience. You fly by tilting your device, which means that at some point you will be crashing it. Luckily, it's tough. Remote-controlled flying machines are nothing new, but the moment I flew this thing from one room, down a hallway, and into another room all by looking at my iPhone screen, I was hooked. Definitely a good item for the person you want to impress this year.