I’ve been fielding questions all week from friends, family, and the internet masses concerning gift ideas for the Nintendo faithful. As GeekDad’s resident “Nintendo Guy,” dispensing such wisdom is a job I have come to expect and to take very seriously.
Well, okay, as seriously as one can truly take a brand built around a rotund plumber who occasionally turns into a tanuki… or a pro golfer… or a master kart racer.
Lucky for you, I’ve been making notes along the way—which I have compiled below for your holiday shopping convenience.
Nintendo Wii U
Admittedly, the Wii U isn’t likely to sell like gangbusters over the 2016 holiday season. That being said, I’ll go on record as stating that it is, hands down, my family’s favorite console of this generation. That nondescript box and funny-looking controller still have a lot to offer, and, while I don’t anticipate a lot of Black Friday deals for the system itself, here are some games to keep on your radar for current (or future) Wii U owners.
Probably my favorite shooter of all time, its novel, ink-based combat mechanic and endlessly customizable characters still make for some fun, frenetic multiplayer—even after its golden age of regular Splatfest events has sadly passed.
Best price: Wal-Mart’s Black Friday deal lets you net all these squids for a mere $25.
Super Mario Maker
SMM puts a Mario-centric, 2D platforming twist on Minecraft-style level building. Its asset sets are swappable, meaning you can easily skin a single design as everything from an old school 8-bit side-scroller to a shiny current gen New Super Mario Bros. masterpiece with just a couple of taps of the GamePad.
Best price: Toys’R’Us should have this must-buy title available for a nicely discounted $40 come Black Friday.
Paper Mario Color Splash
Mario’s latest adventure is also probably his best Wii U outing to date—and, given the strength of those other titles, that’s saying something. With gorgeous art direction and a charm all its own, Color Splash is the first-party send-off this console (and its mascot) deserved.
Best price: As of this writing, there are no published Black Friday deals for Paper Mario Color Splash, but you can cop it for the regular Amazon price of $54.93.
Few handhelds have seen the myriad iterations of Nintendo’s flagship 3DS line. From the original model to the XL to the 2DS and then to the New Nintendo 3DS and New 3DS XL, picking up your preferred portable can get a little hairy. Allow me to drop some knowledge.
By far, the best deal going on 3DS hardware this holiday season is the newest New Nintendo 3DS. While not XL, obviously, it does boast the faster processor, more stable 3D eye-tracking, and all the extras controls. Plus this thing accommodates those awesome faceplates!
Best price: $100 Black Friday bundles will be available at retailers nationwide for both the standard white and the never-before-available (in the States, that is) black New Nintendo 3DS. Each will include a special edition Super Mario faceplate.
Pokémon Sun and Moon
3DS software deals abound this time of year, but the game you need is the newest Pokémon title: Sun and Moon. It easily displaced the previous X and Y editions as the standout Pokémon game of this generation and managed to take the franchise to a whole new level of gameplay and storytelling.
Best price: There’s no need to wait for Black Friday; the best deal on these games is available now, but only to Amazon Prime members. With the Prime discount, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are available for a mere $31.99.
NES Classic Edition
The NES Classic Edition is the toy to get this holiday season—which is, paradoxically, why it’s so damn hard to find! I’ve yet to dig up any reliable leads concerning system availability for Black Friday, but I’ll keep my eyes out for any signs of more in-stock hardware. Right now, expect the pickings to be extremely slim.
Nyko Miniboss and Extend Link
If, by some miracle, you do manage to get your hands on an NES Classic, you’ll quickly find that its controller cable is horribly inadequate. While any other number of Wii/Wii U controller expansions will work, right now your best options for actually playing these 8-bit classics from your couch—as opposed to, say, 2 feet away from your TV—is the Nyko Extend Link. Come December, you’ll also be able to go wireless for a few dollars more with Nyko’s Miniboss.
Best price: The Extend Link will give you 6 more feet of cable for only $9.99, but beware that the male end (the part that plugs into the console itself) boasts an unfortunately integrated clip design that makes using two of these extenders nigh impossible. For two-player play, your best bet is the $19.99 Nyko Miniboss. This wireless solution has a 30-foot range and feels solid and satisfying in-hand—even if the buttons and d-pad aren’t quite as snappy and responsive as Nintendo’s own stock controller. As I said, this little fellow won’t be making an appearance until next month, but it’s definitely the accessory to be looking out for.
Right now, some of the best Wii U/3DS deals running are from Nintendo’s own eShop. By Buying digitally, you can save up to 50% on titles like the following.
Nintendo 3DS games on sale include:
Wii U games on sale include:
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD $34.99
Super Mario Galaxy 2 $9.99
LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment $23.99
Fast Racing NEO – Shin’en $7.49
Super Meat Boy – Blitworks $11.20
The best thing about shopping for the Nintendo fan is the simple fact that he’ll probably dig anything as long as it’s related to his favored console/handheld manufacturer and its core characters. Thankfully, such options abound.
Longtime mall anchor J.C. Penney has already rolled out Black Friday deals on tons of Nintendo clothing items. Everything from t-shirts to pajamas to a pair of really swanky button-ups is on sale for a song. We’re talking $7 tees and $15 for their short-sleeve woven shirts. (Pro-tip: you’re gonna wanna size down on the latter.)
PDP Pixel Pals
These battery-powered, pixel art mini-lamps make the perfect stocking stuffer for the gamer on your list. They’ll be available this Black Friday at your local GameStop, or you can pick one up now from the virtual storefront for only $14.99. These pixel-perfect tchotchkes come in three models: Super Mario Bros. 3-era Mario, classic Mega Man, and, for the youngsters, the one and only Vault Boy.
World of Nintendo Toys
The World of Nintendo toyline represents the Cadillac of functional Nintendo collectibles. The 2.5-inch toys don’t offer a lot in the way of articulation, but they do boast a solid build quality that makes them great for play–even by younger fans–and they do a deep dive on Nintendo’s properties, featuring everything from the classic Metroid to Ice Mario to the humble Animal Crossing Villager. The 4-inch figures are even better, with up to a dozen points of articulation, vibrant paints, and bundled accessories. If what your workspace needs is a Goron Tunic Link or a Gravity Suit Samus, you’ll only find them from World of Nintendo.
If you’re trying to liven up a kid’s play area or game room, though, your best bet is the new Sounds Plush collection. Ticking Bob-Ombs, clinking Coins, and even Warp Pipes offer motion-activated sound effects that gamers of any age can enjoy. Best of all, while there are no specific Black Friday deals for WoT toys, they’re already affordably priced and available practically anywhere.