The 2023 Player 2 Gift Guide

The 2023 Player 2 Gift Guide

It is that time of year again, time to lash out on loved ones and spoil them with pressies, gifts and tokens of love. But finding the right gift for someone can be tough so the P2 crew have compiled a list of weird and wonderful present ideas for those you love the most. But be warned, we are an eclectic bunch with equally eclectic taste in what makes a great gift. 

Tim Henderson

Under $50 - Dreamcast Tree Ornament

I never thought I’d see the day when I would find myself suggesting something from Hallmark, but with the soaring cost of daily necessities I suppose that crow is starting to look pretty tasty. We all have our sentimental nostalgia buttons, and this particular item manages to smash that particular button in the most festive way imaginable.

The item in question? This little Dreamcast-shaped bauble (there’s also a Mega Drive or Sonic one, if those are more to taste). Isn’t it cute? It doesn’t seem to be directly available in Australia, however, so you’re going to have to hurry up to make sure that international shipping gets it to you on time. 

You really may want to make sure it arrives early, too. Afterall, it’s an ornament for a Christmas tree – it’d be nice to be able to give this gift a week or so prior to the day itself so that it has a chance to be put to work this year as opposed to having to sit boxed up with all the other decorations until next December.

Over $50 - Atari 50

Okay, this one is dancing right around the fifty buckaroo mark – I believe it retails for seventy Aussie dollars, but you may even find it below fifty if it’s on sale – so I’m actually suggesting a nice gift that probably won’t leave you um-ing and ah-ing over the price for once. Honestly, it’s so affordable that you could probably toss in a key for The Making of Karateka without hurting your finances too much.

So, yes, I’m suggesting what is technically a game from last year in a year that actually had an absolute avalanche of excellent releases. Why? Well, aside from it being available on all major platforms with no particularly notable compromises between them, it’s also just an awesome little piece of gaming history that everyone seems to agree is now the watermark that all should aspire to. And yet, it’s also something that most people you know don’t already own, likely wouldn’t buy for themselves, but are also very likely to enjoy and appreciate.

Price is no object - A (Significant) Majority Shareholder Stake in Epic

I’m setting the sky pretty damn high this year. As for why Epic, in particular… it probably came down to my mood at time of writing as there are several big players in this industry that this gift could be applied to. Receiving it would come with a couple of conditions, though.

The first being a requirement to get serious for a minute and insist that Sweeney take a pay cut and be removed from his position as some form of actual consequence for his actions. Force him to spend the rest of his days working on Fortnite skins. In addition to this, also insist on offering to rehire every person who was fired as a result of Sweeny’s mismanagement. Also, all the regular staff get a 10% pay rise because fuck, man – inflation. Oh, and they have to buy Bandcamp back and actually support the site, too.

The second would be a bit more fun. Since you hold such massive power, you may as well use this influence to insist on your dream game. Afterall, your dream game has at least as much chance of turning into a surprise hit as anything that this games-as-a-service chasing industry has been trying at these past couple of years. And you get to play the end result!

Renee O'flynn

Under $50 - Nanoblocks

Nanoblocks are bricks that are smaller than Lego with the single brick being a tiny 2mm (about 0.08 in) by 2mm (about 0.08 in). What makes these micro blocks a great gift is that they often don’t take up much space when assembled. This means it’s easier to find places to display them unlike some of the larger Lego pieces that require an entire room. They have a great price point, starting as low as $13 for the smaller kits. They do go up to $150 for the largest ones, but the biggest selection is in the $13-25 range. As well as these positives, Nanoblock often does crossovers with other franchises including games, anime and brands like Santori. The video game franchises they’ve crossed over with so far are Crash bandicoot, Kirby, Sonic the Hedgehog and they have a large Pokemon selection too. Whoever you’re buying for, there’s bound to be a Nanoblock that suits them. 

Over $50 - Aftershock's Fruit Milk PC

Black and White. These are usually the two “colours” that pcs or gaming peripherals come in. And when you do get an option of having a colour, it’s often a bold, in your face one. I’m a big fan of pastel colours, but it always seems that aside from pink, these colours just aren’t on the tech radar. This is why it’s so nice to see Aftershock bring out a milk fruit series of PCs with pastel yellow, green and pink. These follow the theme of banana milk, melon milk and strawberry milk, all of which are popular drinks in Japan. Everything in the PC follows this adorable theme, including the PCs specifications as a nutritional information panel. For some reason, the Strawberry one has different specs in comparison to the Banana and Melon, but they’re all so adorable, it doesn’t matter. The icing on the cake for these PCs is the fact they give you a magnetic straw to go on top of your case to finish the look. If I had one of these pcs, I absolutely would want to show it off and not hide it under my desk like my current one.  

Price is no object - Stronger Together in Games Campaign

As everyone knows, it’s been a rough year for the game industry. Really rough. Not so much for the big wigs but for the people who make the games we know and love. Many of these people have lost their jobs in the name of chasing larger profits and pleasing shareholders. What could be a better Christmas present for them then sponsoring them until they get back on their feet? Or better yet, start a new company with all the sacked employees and create the ultimate game creation studio. That’ll show those big companies who’s boss. While Stronger Together in Games is asking for donations of all sizes, a massive one would certainly help if you happened to be the one with money to spare. 

Jason Hawkins

Under $50 - 3 Months of Xbox Gamepass

If you’re like me, and sometimes you just don’t know what to play, or something looks good but you’re not sure if you want to take the plunge, giving the gift of Game Pass is an awesome idea. In an era where kids want gaming subscriptions more than anything, Game Pass is a sure-fire winner. It gives you access to tonnes of games, and it’s a nice way to dip your feet into trying something without taking the plunge on buying it. You’ll also find cool hidden gems this way, so it’s a great way to broaden your gaming horizons. Works on PC or Xbox, or both if you shell out for Ultimate.

Over $50 - History of JRPGs (Hardcover)

For the JRPG lover in your life. Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. Bitmap Books were kind enough to distil this nostalgia for JRPGs down to a single, gorgeous hardcover book. 652 pages of art, reviews and discussions on JRPGs between 1982 and 2020, this would look amazing on any shelf or coffee table. Whether it’s a way to relive the days of your youth, or to just find some games in the genre that might’ve slipped under your radar, this is one hell of a good deal. They’ve also got other books based on CRPGs and beat-’em-up’s too, so there’s some fine options here.

Price is no object - Steam Deck

My compatriots will surely shoot for the moon with their recommendations, but in the end I am constrained by being a filthy miser. With that in mind, the absolute best I can stretch for is a Steam Deck. Admittedly, this is more of an IOU because their stock is limited so you might be waiting a while, but in with return-to-office mandates in full swing, a Steam Deck is a worthwhile companion for those long commutes. Or maybe you just want to play something while on the pooper. I’m not here to judge. There’s just been a new OLED model released, so it’s another win for portable gamers everywhere. It’s still anywhere between ~$600-1100, and you’ll have to either do a post proxy service or grey import but hey, gaming on the go has its costs.

Kyle Verschuuren

Under $50 - Pokemon Squishmallow 14"

Squishmallows have taken over the plush world in recent times. Who doesn’t love a fluffy, soft-to-the-touch, round plush with everyone’s (debatable) favourite Pokemon mascot the yellow rat guy? You’re not limited to this size or design so take a look through the options as the Squishmallow range expands like the dang Pokedex.

Over $50 - Miyoo Mini Plus

Wanting to get that special someone a portable gaming experience that won’t break the bank is hard to find with full blown computers like the steam deck costing a few thousand dollars. However with a Miyoo Mini Plus, you can run almost every retro game in the palm of your hand. Your gift reciever will no longer need to dedicate their mobile phone to the task with a bulky controller addon. Don’t expect it to run any fancy newer titles. A gift for retro lovers or even as a cheeky present to your kids while saying “back in my day”.

Price is no object - The Entire Stock of a Local Computer Store

10 ancient HDMI cables? A brand new 6 year old computer? What will you find in your ultimate local computer store loot box this Christmas. A recent Linus video shows that this can be a hell of a fun time. Doing so could also be an exciting way to give back to the repair stores that have been taking care of everyone’s repairs for years.

Stephen del Prado

Under $50 - An Escape Room Experience

If you’ve never managed one of these before, it’s a great excuse to get a few friends together and find out how quickly a group really is as smart as it’s dimmest member. There are Escape Rooms all over Australia, so as long as you’re not too far in the middle, chances are you can make it to one without too much hassle. Be sure to check beforehand on the difficulty of each game however – if you aren’t used to the sort of logic some of these things demand, it can be disappointing to find out you’ve gotten ¾ of the way through their most difficult room before running out of time, and a repeat experience just isn’t quite the same.

Over $50 - A Decent Gaming Table

This one can scale quite high obviously, but one of the biggest barriers to tabletop gaming is a lack of space or decent facilities in your own home. You don’t need the fanciest hardwood table known to man, as even a number of Ikea tables will do nicely, but a large neoprene mat will do wonders to almost any surface in making it a far more enjoyable space to play on, especially if there are any cards involved. For those with small children and pesky cats, finding a table with an inset and cover allows you to leave a game setup in between sessions. Personally, I have an electric standing desk with a large HyperVyper neoprene mat that suits both sitting and standing at the push of a button, while the removeable mat means I can make almost any table a gaming table very quickly.

Price is no object - Turn Your House into an Escape Room

Forget an hour, why not turn your entire house into an escape room? Invite your unsuspecting friends over and give them a real Resident Evil VII experience they won’t forget, or better yet a Krampus themed Christmas game! You might want to start preparing now for Christmas 2024 however, as getting that authentic lived in feel takes time, so cease all cleaning, hoard furiously and by November next year you’ll only need a few finishing touches – bonus points if you minimise contact with said victi-I mean, friends for the next 10 or so months and then send them all a mysterious invitation, perhaps implying you have some fabulous gift or wealth to bestow upon them. Classic murder mystery setup!

Tom Koch

Under $50 - Meta Quest 2 Elite Strap

If you were able to pick up a cheap Meta Quest 2 VR headset during the recent Black Friday sales, then I highly recommend switching out the standard head strap with an upgraded one from Amazon. With extra cushioning, twist-turn adjustment, and the ability to have your headset flip up, Ready Player One style, it definitely makes the VR experience that much better. Personally, it’s provided hours of additional comfort when playing games like Beat Saber or Gorn and makes shifting the headset to another person a breeze when you’re playing with some friends.

Over $50 - New 1440p Gaming Monitor

Consumers have been blessed over the last 18 months when it comes to new gaming monitor pricing. QHD or 1440p screens with 144hz or more refresh rates have been popping up more frequently, and competition is always good for the buyer. If you’re looking for a new upgrade from a current 1080p screen, then there’s never been a better time to buy. My personal recommendation is the MSI G274QPF QD (I hate all monitor names with a passion). With great response times, a wide colour gamut, GSync functionality, and all for less than $450 AUD (at the time of writing), it would be a perfect upgrade. Assuming your graphics can handle it.

Price is no object - Cooler Master’s Orb X Gaming Station

Why spend years slowly perfecting your own gaming setup, slowly getting the right pieces and putting it all together, when you could get Cooler Master to just do it for you with the Orb X Gaming Station?. With support for up to 3 x 27” screens, Wireless charging, a comfy leather chair with a leg rest, a cup holder and more, you can shut out the world, lock yourself in, and game on a throne of comfort and RGB. For a cool 15 thousand dollars for the base model and weighing in at just over 500 kg’s, it’s definitely something that would level up your gaming experience. I tried this at PAX Australia this year and it’s something that changes the way I think about how my gaming setup might look like in the next 5-10 years.

Paul James

Under $50 - Mario Kart 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle

If you’re in the same window of life as I am, you’ll have kids who are now of an age to start immersing themselves in games. In the last two months my eldest has begun to play games, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch is his absolute favourite thing in the world. He’s also seen the Super Mario Bros movie and tried out Super Mario Bros Wonder (although it’s still a bit advanced). If your kids are discovering and devouring all things Mario, why not pick up the ultimate bonding activity (and time-sink), the Mario Kart 1000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle! Maybe a bit of parental help is going to be needed if they’re as young as mine, but for the older ones you’ve got a brain stimulating activity geared around a franchise we all love.

Over $50 - Satechi Magnetic Wireless Car Charger

If you’re like me, you own a phone that’s a couple of years old, and the new updates, geared for newer models are starting to drain your device at a faster rate than before… that and (again like me) you’re playing a whole lot of Monster Hunter Now. Enter the Satechi Magnetic Wireless Car Charger. This fantastic phone mount can be affixed to many space within your car, and charges via the cigarette lighter with USB-C charging. That phone of yours will be ready to tackle a Ratholos again before you know it!

Price is no object - Playstation Portal

The PlayStation Portal won’t be out for about 2 months yet, but as someone who has, on multiple occasions, screamed the praise of remote play via my Backbone One, the Portal will be the ideal step-up for PlayStation owners who are looking to free up the phone for use again, have a significant other keen on using the TV, or even want to play from bed. It’s not a small investment, but given it’s the holiday season and the Portal won’t launch until next year, that significant person in your life I’m sure would love a deposit on the Portal at least

Matt Hewson

Under $50 - Anything From The Old Gods of Asgard

The Old Gods of Asgard are simultaneously a smashing old-school metal band, a pair of doddering old fools and the saviours of Bright Falls. For those that understand all of that, you will know that the real-life band Poets of the Fall, in conjunction with Remedy, created The Old Gods of Asgard for Alan Wake and have since returned in Control and Alan Wake 2. 

Now, just as is the case with any great band, you can get merch. Excellent merch in fact. A hoodie, a Vinyl of their greatest hits, a coffee mug or even a mouse pad. The perfect gift for the Alan Wake tragic or rocker in the family.

Over $50 - CERA+ Portable Espresso Machine

I love camping, there is nothing more relaxing for me than escaping off-grid for a weekend. No tech, no service, just friends, family, cooking and a few beverages. But just because I like being off-grid doesn’t mean I become a savage, hence the CERA+ Portable Espresso Machine.

I bought one of these beauties a few years ago and let me tell you, it is the first thing I pack when I head to the bush. USB C chargeable, it heats water and makes 2 shots of fresh espresso in about 4 minutes. You can use your own ground coffee (my preferred option) or a Nespresso-compatible pod and each charge will make about 5 servings (more if you pre-heat the water.) This really is the perfect option for those who need their morning fix, no matter where they are.

Price is no object - Pig & Pilgrim Parrilla Gril

If you have been following P2 for any length of time you know that I really like to cook. So with that in mind, my latest cooking implement is just about to arrive in my backyard and I want to share with you all why it is so fantastic. It is the P1 Grill from Pig & Pilgrim.

What makes this grill so great? Well, there are a few things. For starters, it is a Parrilla Grill, which is a type of grill originating from Latin America, a region I have a strong connection to. It uses a winch system to give cooks the ability to raise and lower the grill over a bed of charcoal or wood, allowing control over temperature and timing. Next on the list, it is built-to-order, right here in Australia and as a result, it can be customised. I am getting mine with a rotisserie and warming rack, to give me more cooking options. 

The final reason is simple, fire. I swear that when used properly, fire makes the best food hands down. From veggies to steaks, from seafood to desserts, if it is cooked well on fire, it is amazing. But that is just my personal feeling. If you feel the same, this grill may just be for you.

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