The holidays and retro gaming are two of my favorite things in the world, so I think I’m in a good position to help you find gifts for the friends and family in your life who would rather see Nintendo and Capcom than Currier and Ives under their tree.
I tried to gather a list of potential presents that can appeal to different kinds of retro gamers. I also tried to find items that make up a decent price range (so don’t freak out when you see the $245 gift that I suggest).
Sega Genesis Mini
This is the hot retro gift of the year, and you can check out my review for my in-depth thoughts on the plug-and-play machine. But to summarize, the Sega Genesis Mini is one of the best micro-consoles out there, and it has a fantastic library of 16-bit classics like Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar Heroes, and Ecco the Dolphin.
8Bitdo Bluetooth SNES controller
This handsome gamepad looks like a typical SNES controller, but its Bluetooth capabilities make it a versatile piece of hardware. You can use it with your Switch, which is a great way to play the library of Super Nintendo games available through Nintendo Switch Online. You can also hook it up to your computer, Android device, or Raspberry Pi.
EON Super 64 HDMI adapter
Yes, this is a bit on the high end, but it’s an awesome gift if you have someone you really love who really loves the Nintendo 64. This adapter helps the console connect to modern TVs through the HDMI port. It offers smooth visuals and none of the input lag that you usually get when you try hook up older machines to newer TVs.
Final Fantasy VII Buster Sword keychain
OK, after that expensive gift, here’s something a bit more affordable. I love giving keychains as little stocking stuffers or smaller presents, and you can find a bunch of great gaming-related ones online. I especially like this one modeled after the iconic Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII.
Zelda gold cartridge throw blanket
The Legend of Zelda gold cartridge is one of the most iconic game packages of all time, and now you can have it in a cozy, soft blanket form. This is a great gift for hardcore Zelda or Nintendo Entertainment System fans.
Mega Man E-Tank travel can
I love Mega Man, so I always have to include something from the Blue Bomber on here. This E-Tank travel can is attractive and functional, although I can’t guarantee that it’ll refill all of your health in the middle of a tricky boss fight.
Arcade 1Up Street Fighter II cabinet
This is the big-ticket item, so only get this for someone who’s been super-good this year. Arcade 1Up makes new arcade cabinets of classic games, giving you a chance to have your own arcade game in your home. And while $245 is a lot, it’s a great price for a full-sized arcade cabinet. This Street Fighter II one actually comes with three versions of the iconic fighting game: Street Fighter ll: Champion Edition, Street Fighter ll: The New Challengers, and Street Fighter ll Turbo.
Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King
Hey, look! An actual game on the list! This is actually a compilation from Digital Eclipse, a company that excels at preserving classic games. This includes the Genesis version of Aladdin and the SNES version of The Lion King. You also get some cool bonuses, including a sort of director’s cut mode for Aladdin. This collection is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.