Video games aren't as simple as they used to be. Now, you got to hop all over your living room playing Wii Sports clones or "enjoy" getting shot in the head repeatedly in Call of Duty. Once upon a time, things were different. The graphics were limited and the sound was all blippy-sounding.
With Pac-Man and Super Mario both celebrating their 30th and 25th birthdays since their original debuts, respectively, DVICE decided to pay a tribute to all that was and still is great about 8-bit gaming with 10 of the best gifts for those who just love what 8-bit represents in style and form.(Click on any image below to see it larger.)
1. 8-Bit Watches
Why wear a watch anymore when your cellphone can tell you the time? Because if no one wears one anymore, you'll be the only cool one who does! The 8-Bit watch is the epitome of what is great about retro — boxy, rubbery and geeky. Next time someone asks you what time it is, reply with, "It's time to save the princess again."
2. Limited Edition Red 25th Anniversary Wii Bundle & Super Mario All Stars
Relive every coin bling, Goomba stomp and crotch-slamming-into-the-flag-pole move with the limited edition 25th anniversary Wii bundle. It comes in Mario red and includes a copy of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Sports, Wii Remote (with MotionPlus built-in) and nunchuk. Wii's Virtual Console channel has hundreds of old-school 8-bit NES games to download. After playing Megaman for the NES, a game like Halo: Reach on Xbox 360 is a walk in the park.
To really get the retro-gaming rolling, you can also pick up a copy of Super Mario All Stars — a bundle of four remastered Mario games, Super Mario history soundtrack CD and a special booklet with original art and interviews.
3. 3D Dot Game Heroes for PS3
3D Dot Game Heroes is the ultimate homage to 8-bit gaming, but with a 3D twist. Gamers will create their own individual 3D pixel hero and use him/her to traverse a land of dungeons and monsters. If Nintendo wanted to pay tribute to its original Legend of Zelda game, this game would be the shining example of how to do it. I've seen dozens of iconic game characters that started out on the NES recreated in this game with 3D pixels — everyone from Link to Megaman to Samus.
4. GP2X Caanoo MAME/Console Emulator
If you already own original copies of your old-school video games, then legally emulating them is a go-go. Relive classic games such as Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! and Donkey Kong with the Caanoo. The handheld can emulate a dozen old-school hardware such as the Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Atari 7800, Colecovision, Sega Genesis and Neo Geo easily without scrambling itself. Games are stored on an SD card (super cheap nowadays) and wireless Wi-Fi allows for multiplayer gaming.
5. Moleskine Pac-Man Deluxe Gift Pack
All great ideas start on paper, and all great creatives seem to carry around a Moleskine (say it with me: mol-a-skeen'-a) notebook in their back pocket. Jot down your next big idea with these officially licensed Pac-Man Moleskine notebooks. Each notebook has its own 8-bit icon printed on the front — a cute throwback to what was great about games in the 1980s.
6. Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak 3D Bust
Have an affinity with both of Apple's original Steves? Does Apple inspire you so much that you need to have both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on you mantel? Don't tell me Jobs, doesn't inspire with his "awesome, magical, beautiful and one more thing" taglines. Segway-riding Woz is apparently so much more kick-ass (remember he was on Dancing with the Stars?) that his 3D bust costs more.
7. Atari 2600 USB controller
Not everyone had the privilege of playing what is considered the worst video game ever made: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. It's oodles of fun — if your definition of fun is considered not working. ThinkGeek's gone and revived the Atari 2600 joystick controller and updated it with USB. Go ahead and run your Atari emulator on your computer, but I assure you, playing with your keyboard won't be as faithful as with using one of these babies.
8. Griffin iClear Sketch case for iPod Nano 4G and 5G
Did you get handed an old iPod Nano 4G or 5G? Both iPods are still perfectly useable, so don't toss it yet. Keep it in pristine condition with Griffin's Space Invaders-inspired case. It's cheap and stylish — just like you. We're kidding!
9. NESOID for Android
Can't afford the Caanoo? That's okay, most of the best 8-bit games were available on the NES — the only system that really counts as legendary anyway. For only four bucks, you can run any NES rom right on your Android smartphone. Like most touchscreen devices, the buttons are overlaid on top of the game's visuals — not a perfect solution — just a small inconvenience. What matters is that NESOID is functional and supports cheats, save states, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi multiplayer right?
10. eBoy FixPix for iOS
The basic premise of this game is extremely simple: using your iOS's accelerometer, shift the broken 8-bit imagery to "fix" it. Legendary pixel artist, eBoy, is behind this blocky app of wonder and I got to say, it's super addictive, especially in the harder stages. The images make for great home screen and wallpaper backgrounds too.