The Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! Part 2: Stuff!

Welcome to Part 2 of the Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! It’s only a few more days until the big day, so if you’re stuck on what to get or need some inspiration for gift giving, you’ve come to the right place!

If you haven’t read Part 1, click here to check it out!

Continuing on from my previous list, Part 2 will cover apparel, accessories, trinkets and other recommendations that would be great to give this holiday season, if you haven’t already went and made your purchases! As I mentioned earlier, I won’t be providing links, just ideas on what to get for your favourite person this holiday season.

Warning: Shameless Plug Incoming!

Once you find that perfect gift or gifts, chances are you’ll need to wrap it up and put a neat little gift tag on it, right? Well, instead of some generic, boring tags you can find at the store, why not print out a set of really spiffy, hand-lettered tags made by my awesome wife, Usha from the blog Lettering by Usha!? For a paltry sum, you can get a PDF copy of a set of beautifully designed printable tags that you can print out, cut up and attach to your gift! Tags like these make a gift that much more personable, so when you’re done with this list, click here to get to her Etsy shop and pick up a set today!
End Shameless Plug!

And now, onto the list!


Apparel and Accessories

Alright, let’s face it: sometimes you just wanna wear and show off your favourite gaming series. From casual to professional and everything in between, I’ve got a few gift suggestions for the Mature, Distinguished Gamer.

*Note that several of these items are available for purchase on ThinkGeek, however they’re note sponsoring this post.*

Socks

Dress codes in professional settings can be a tad restrictive, but it doesn’t mean you can’t show off your gamer pride in some ways! And one of the best ways to do that is by wearing an awesome pair of socks, like these ones:

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Eye-catching and comfortable!

Socks are one of those items that you need (unless you live and work on the beach, then no socks for you!), so why not make it fun! These Mega Man socks aren’t the only ones available though; you can find a whole slew based on your favourite series or characters online! For example:

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Metroid: Samus Aran Socks

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(Clockwise from top left) Super Mario, Mario Kart, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Super Nintendo-motif.

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Halo Casual Crew Socks

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There are even God of War Socks!

The choices available are only as limited as your search terms on Google or Amazon!

T-Shirts

For Casual Fridays, weekends or anytime in between, nothing beats a T-Shirt. Again, there are tons available, but here’s some ideas to choose from:

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Princess Peach T-Shirt

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“Scarface” Legend of Zelda Shirt (I have this one, it’s awesome!)

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Divine Beasts Women’s T-shirt

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Shovel Knight Shirt

 

Sweaters and Hoodies

Still on the hunt for an ugly Christmas sweater? Here’s a few suggestions:

Pokémon Winter Sweater

Pokemon Ugly Sweater

Pokémon Pikachu Holiday Sweater

Pikachu Ugly Sweater

Ugly Christmas Sweater: Nintendo (S)

Legend of Zelda Ugly Sweater

Hoodies are also a great choice to get. Who doesn’t want to feel warm when it’s -30 degrees Celsius outside!

Kingdom Hearts Evil Heart Hoodie (MD)

Kingdom Hearts Heartless Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Long Vinyl Ladies' Cowl Hoodie

Mass Effect N7 Hoodie

Space Invaders Sleeve Print Hoodie

Space Invaders Hoodie

Wallets & Watches

If you’re eyeing some wallets, here’s some ideas for you!

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Yoshi Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Sora Flap Wallet

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet - Exclusive

Kingdom Hearts Fandom Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Atari Black Katakana Wallet

Nintendo Mario World Wallet

Super Mario World Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Wallet

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Wallet (Also available in a large format)

NES Controller Zip Wallet

Nintendo NES Zip Up Wallet

Watches are also a great gift to give for this holiday season! Here’s a few ideas:

Legend of Zelda Leather Watch - Exclusive

Legend of Zelda Men’s Watch

Pokémon Pokeball Watch

Pokemon Pokeball Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Hearts Watch

8-Bit Watch

8-Bit Watch

Fallout RadGlow Watch - Exclusive

Fallout RadGlow Watch (Looks pretty neat!)

Nintendo Mario Watch - Black

Nintendo Classic Mario Watch

Sonic Hedgehog Watch

Sonic the Hedgehog Watch

Toys and Collectibles

Have some young’uns in your life? Or just a collector yourself? Then behold some ideas for you!

Amiibo - Ridley

Look at him, standing there all menacing-like…

Amibo

The collectible that does more than collect dust on the shelf, it can unlock a wealth of content in compatible Nintendo games. For instance, in Smash (referenced in my previous post), using an amiibo unlocks a figure player to use and level up. Young and old, amiibo make the perfect stocking stuffer for your favourite person!*

*Just make sure they own a Switch or any other compatible Nintendo system first…

Nendoroid - Kratos

Kratos as you’ve never seen him before!

Nendoroids

Nendoroids are representations of your favourite gaming, anime and pop culture characters chibi-fied. These cute collectibles are highly poseable and come with a wealth of accessories so that you can recreate your favourite scenes! An excellent, albeit pricey, present to give!

Hasbro, makers of board games aplenty, seems to have a pretty good relationship with gaming IP’s of all kinds. Hence why you see icons like Mario slapped on Monopoly all the time. I haven’t had a real opportunity to play any new board games, so I can’t put forth any recommendations on that front.

Books

However, I can recommend a couple of books! For instance:

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Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a great companion to anyone playing God of War. It provides backstory to the many characters you see in the game and provides some context to some of the tales you hear from Mimir. I highly recommend paring this book with the game.

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The Little Red Writing Book is a great gift for the writer (or blogger!) to give this season. It’s got a Well Red Recommendation from the Well Red Mage himself. (I’m totally coining that one Red!). This book helped me a lot in terms of my writing, both here and on my fictional works, so it’s on my recommended list.

And now for a couple books that may seem out of place on a list like these, but here me out:

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If anyone you know is looking to make some changes for the new year, I recommend these two books. The Code of the Samurai and How to Live Like a Gentleman are books that have helped me become a Mature, Distinguished Gamer over the years and I find myself re-reading these on occasion.

And last but certainly not least:

Coffee Mugs

Of course on this list we can’t forget about coffee mugs! Here’s a few to look for:

Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Legend of Zelda Heat Changing Mug

Super Mario Turtle Mug

Super Mario Red Shell Mug

Spyro the Dragon 3D Sculpted Mug

Spyro 3-D Mug

PAC-MAN 20 oz. Sculpted Ceramic Mug

PAC-MAN Mug

Super Mario Group Photo Mug

Super Mario Group Picture Mug

Crash Bandicoot: Crash Mug

Crash Bandicoot Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Come To The Dorkside Mug

Game Boy 16oz Heat Change Molded Mug

Game Boy Heat Changing Mug


And there you have it! All the ideas you’ll need over the next day and a half to get you shopping done! But don’t think these are only good for Christmas; you can pick up these items any time during they year as a gift for any occasion!

So, good luck on your shopping everyone! This is Ryan from Games with Coffee reminding you to stay safe during that mad rush, enjoy the holidays and the food and gifts they offer and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

See you at the end of the year!

The Second Annual Games with Coffee Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Guide! Part 1: Games!

Hey everyone! Welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

With Christmas just around the corner, I’m once again creating a list of last minute gift ideas that will be sure to please the cherished gamer in your life!*

*Results may vary.

Unlike last year’s list, I’ll be splitting this entry into two lists. The first will be solely about games and the other will be for gaming and pop culture merch (apparel, toys, collectibles, etc. ). Also, I won’t be supplying any links: I’m just here to supply the ideas to either jump start or help complete your Christmas shopping! The items I list here and in the next entry should be relatively easy to find/procure (Google and Amazon will be your best friends during this harrowing time…)

Warning: Shameless Plug Incoming!

Once you find that perfect gift or gifts, chances are you’ll need to wrap it up and put a neat little gift tag on it, right? Well, instead of some generic, boring tags you can find at the store, why not print out a set of really spiffy, hand-lettered tags made by my awesome wife, Usha from the blog Lettering by Usha!? For a paltry sum, you can get a PDF copy of a set of beautifully designed printable tags that you can print out, cut up and attach to your gift! Tags like these make a gift that much more personable, so when you’re done with this list, click here to get to her Etsy shop and pick up a set today!

End Shameless Plug!

Now, onto the list!


Nintendo [Switch]

Games-wise, the Big N’s second year post-Switch hasn’t been as exciting as the first year’s, but nevertheless, the Switch has a solid lineup of games. Surely, you’ll find the perfect one for that special someone in your life, but how’s about I provide a few suggestions?

Two of 2017’s best games are still perfect gifts to give to someone looking for a deep and riveting adventure to immerse themselves into! Super Mario Odyssey presents a fun, light story about Mario and his top-hat looking buddy, Cappy, as they journey through each kingdom to stop Bowser from marrying Princess Peach and rescue both her and Cappy’s sister, Tiara. Odyssey shows off the best that Mario platforming has to offer, borrowing heavily from games such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. 

Breath of the Wild on the other hand, is one of the best Legend of Zelda games released in a long time. You can hear myself and my good friend, The Mail Order Ninja Mage (Daniel Flatt) talk highly of the game on The Well Red Mage’s podcast, Mage Cast. I’ll let you listen to that to tell you just how good of a game it is.

Splatoon 2 is also a great choice for the consummate FPS gamer owning a Switch. It operates differently than traditional shooter in that the focus is on inking turf for your team as opposed to blasting everything that moves. There are all kinds of modes to play and practically all of them focus on teamwork.

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Super Mario Party is also a great game to get this holiday season for family get-togethers. Like Smash, it’s the best version of its series released in recent years as it goes back to its roots and shows just how great Mario Party is. A definite holiday classic!

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If you’re aching for a JRPG with a classic, Final Fantasy feel, look no further to Octopath Traveler! I adored this game so much; eight separate stories focusing on a character’s particular struggle, fantastic battle and job systems and a beautiful graphical style that I hope is used more often in RPG’s of this caliber. Honestly, this should have won awards for Best RPG, but I digress.

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Seriously though, let’s get to the biggest game being released this holiday season: Super Smash Bros. UltimateUltimate is THE game to get this holiday season for anyone who owns a Switch. Don’t take my word for it, just talk to everyone about the hype this game has generated. Also talk to me about it because this game is off the CHAIN! The venerable multiplayer fighting series where fighters knock their opponents off-screen to win is the biggest iteration ever released, with over 70 characters, 100 stages, tons of game modes and endless hours of entertainment. Definitely, definitely recommended to get for Christmas!

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If online Smashing or Turf Inking is high on your special person’s priorities, consider picking up the Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Not only is it required to play online, but a subscription comes with access to a ton of old school NES games! Win-win.

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Sony [PlayStation 4/ Vita]

PlayStation 4 has had a banner year this 2018 with its list of exclusives. My biggest pick to get for the holiday season would be God of War, recent winner of Game of the Year at The Game Awards. God of War continues the story of the Kratos, former Greek God of War, who lives in the harsh, cold wilderness of Midgard, one of the Nine Realms in Norse Mythology. He had cast aside his old life and settled down with a wife and son up until his wife’s death. Her final wish was for Kratos and his son, Atreus, to climb to the highest peak in all the Nine Realms and scatter her ashes. And while that is the main objective of the story, the majority of the game tells the story of the bonds between father and son and the trials and tribulations they both endure throughout their journey.

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Another must-get exclusive on the list is Marvel’s Spider Man. Easily one of the best Spider Man games in a long time, Spider-Man continues Peter Parker’s story as the web-slinging superhero. It’s a game that’s on my radar to get for Christmas (*wink wink!*). From what I heard, the web-slinging mechanics are as good or better than the ones in Spider-Man 2 [PS2] (which I played a ton of!). Grab it and check it off your Christmas List!

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Want some more suggestions? Pick up Guacamelee! and Guacamelee! 2; Both are excellent games to play!

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Ni No Kuni 2 is a great choice as well for the RPG fan!

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Yakuza 6 is great for those who are fans of Action-RPG’s and badass ex-Yakuza bosses.

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Detroit: Become Human is an excellent choice for those who love narrative-based gameplay.

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The remastered Shadow of the Colossus is a masterpiece that can’t be missed.

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And last year’s fantastic exclusives, like Horizon: Zero Dawn, are also excellent gift ideas to give as well.

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There’s a fairly good chance that the majority of these aforementioned titles will be available for free on PS Plus, so why not get them a yearly subscription for them?! PlayStation Plus grants members access to multiplayer games, allows for free pick up of select games monthly and let’s players in on exclusive sale prices for games. A great gift idea IMO!

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Microsoft [Xbox One]

Xbox fans! Don’t think I left out you out of the loop! I don’t own one, but I know of many people who own the Microsoft system who have suggested some solid games to gift, like Sea of Thieves

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Forza Horizon 4

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Sunset Overdrive

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Gears of War 4

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Halo 5: Guardians

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and Rare Replay (My biggest recommendation due to all the great Rare games available on the compilation!).

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Another recommendation put forth to me is a game called RecoreIf your gamer is a big fan of old school gaming, this would be a good choice to get as well.

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And finally, the best gift that should be in every Xbox One gamer’s stocking is the XBox GamePass. AKA the “Netflix of Video Games,” GamePass grants Xbox One gamers access to a huge catalog of games all for a monthly subscription fee.

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With exclusives done with, onward now to third party/cross-platform games!


Third Party/Cross-Platform

Beyond the above exclusives, there are a ton of of other games to pick up, from third party games developed by well-known studios to indies that have made quite the impact.

Moonlighter is one of those indies that I want to pick up and was recommended to me by The Well Red Mage.

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CelesteI’ve recently played and I absolutely adored it! The game easily deserves the nods it gained for The Game Awards, especially the big win it earned for Best Independent Game.

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I recently started playing Undertale and it operates more as a thought experiment with RPG mechanics; it’s quite interesting, despite it being the older one in this list.

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Dead Cells is also high on the recommended list, as are other Metroidvania’s like Axiom Verge and a game I’m recently playing (for free this month on PS Plus): Iconoclasts.

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Once again, I’m recommending Stardew Valley to pick up;  a relaxing farming simulator that’s incredibly engaging. A multiplayer patch is about to drop on the Switch any minute, so it makes it worthwhile to pick up!

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Along with that is Shovel Knight; an excellent platformer whose title character is an Assist Trophy in Smash.

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SNK released a 40th Anniversary Collection of games, which includes titles like King of FightersMetal Slug and Crystalis.

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Capcom also joined in on the action, releasing the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2, consisting of the first eight Mega Man X games.

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Activision published the Spyro: Reignited trilogy; the first three Spyro games remade from the ground up in glorious HD.

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Even Sega got in on the retro re-release train, bringing out (yet another) collection series called Sega Ages – older titles given new life thanks to new modes and online leaderboards. The Hopeful Sega Mage and I had a lengthy discussion about this new collection that you can check out here.

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Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best Dragon Ball Z fighters since Budokai! I definitely need that one in my life, and it’s one I recommend as a gift!

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If assassinations and exploring Ancient Greece are your thing, go check out Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey! Highly recommended to me to play, so I’ll recommend it to you as well!

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SoulCaliber VI seems to be a return to form for the series (I haven’t played it yet – gave up after IV which I loved…), so that might be a good gift to get?

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Starlink: Battle for Atlas is one of the best spacefaring shooters I’ve played in recent memory. A combination of Star Fox, Skylanders and No Man’s SkyStarlink allows players to explore a bunch of different, visually stunning planets and liberate them from the Legion, all while giving the ability to hot-swap virtually every component on their ship with different pilots, ships, wings and weapons depending on the situation. Unlike most other Toys-to-Life games, Starlink allows players to purchase and download new weapons, ships and pilots without the use of the toys themselves. Arguably, the best part of this game is the additional Star Fox content for the Switch! With the Switch version, you get the Arwing, Fox McCloud as a pilot and a set of weapons, with an additional pilot and ship available digitally. On top of that, Team Star Fox has its own story mission that runs parallel with The Starlink Initiative; find Wolf O’Donnell, who’s fled Lylat after Andross’ defeat. It’s a great addition to the Starlink story!

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And finally, I cannot forget about Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2. If there was a game that was as highly anticipated as God of Warthis would be it. Set in the backdrop of the eve of the American West era, it weaves together an incredible story revolving around one last heist. Or so I’m told (I haven’t played it).

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And that’s Part 1 of the list! For more gift ideas, Part 2 is right behind this one, so go and check it out here!

With that, this is Ryan from Games with Coffee, hoping that your quest to get the perfect Christmas gift is successful and always reminding you Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

Presenting The Ultimate Emulation System – The RetroPie!

Salutations! Welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!

Today, we’ll be talking about a wild addition to my gaming repertoire; the RetroPie! I’ll also mention the controllers that I’ve equipped onto this versatile, little system. So, without further ado, let’s begin.


What is a RetroPie?

RetroPie is an OS that can be loaded onto a Raspberry Pi – basically an inexpensive microcomputer – and transforms it into a retro gaming emulation machine! RetroPie can be loaded as its own OS or it can be overlaid on top of an existing full OS. In my case, I loaded it up on a Raspberry Pi.

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To put one of these bad boys together, you’ll need the following:

  • A working computer to download the software, games, and the like.
  • A Raspberry Pi 3 (Model B or higher is recommended)
  • A power source for the Pi (must be rated at 2.5 amps)
  • a Micro SD card (16 GB minimum, but I use a 32 GB card)
  • A USB-capable controller or keyboard
  • A 16 GB minimum USB stick (I recommend getting a fresh stick, but reformatting an old one works too)
  • A Micro SD to USB adapter
  • An HDMI Cable
  • A HDMI compatible screen
  • A case (completely optional, but good to have nevertheless)

Installing RetroPie on the Pi computer is not too difficult to do – just follow the steps listed here.

Pro tip: once the software is written onto the MicroSD card, your computer may tell you that it can’t read the device and will recommend to format it. DO NOT FORMAT IT! Just remove it once the writing process is complete and insert the SD card into the Pi. This happened to me a couple of times until I figured that out.


What Games Does RetroPie Play?

In a nutshell, practically all generations of consoles and games up to and including the original PlayStation. There are emulators that can play beyond that system, but the Pi isn’t powerful enough for them to work properly.

In general, a majority of games are compatible with the emulators on the system. In other words, I’ve yet to find a game that doesn’t play perfectly on here.

There are also some homebrew games and ports available to play, such as Duke Nukem and Doom. These can be found through the Manage Packages option on the main RetroPie menu.

Getting the games into the Pi is as simple as inserting a fresh/formatted USB stick into the Pi and taking it out after it creates all the directories on the stick, which usually takes a few minutes. Next you insert the stick into a computer, copy your games into the respective console folders and put the stick back into the Pi. If all goes well, you should see a list of systems appear on the main menu of the RetroPie interface, which will contain the games.

Options and RetroArch

Once you launch a game, you can access a list of options that allow you to modify the screen resolution to fit your screen or change the default emulator for the game, among others. This is done by pressing any button before the emulator starts.

RetroArch is a front end that’s accessed while the emulator is running and provides options to save and load states, modify control configurations and adjust settings. The default command to access this menu (assuming you’re using an SNES controller) is Select + X.


What about Controllers?

Thanks to the Pi’s Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily use wireless controllers to play your favourite classic games! While you can connect PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox controllers to the system, I find that the perfect controllers to use are the ones by 8bitdo.

I have the SNES30 (or the SN30) Bluetooth controller and it’s a BLAST to use! The controller feels exactly like the Super Nintendo controller, down to its weight, the feel of the buttons and grip.

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The setup is a bit of a chore, but once it’s all done, you just turn on the system and the controller and you’re good to go!

If wired is what you’re looking for, you can use a USB wired controller or, if you have some classic controllers lying around, a USB to (insert console here) converter also works great!


Where Can I Get All This Stuff!?

Luckily, you can get a complete Raspberry Pi kit on Amazon for a relatively modest price. Either check Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.

As for the case, there are plenty to choose from! There are even some cases that look like classic consoles of yore! The one I used is this one – the transparent, seven-layer construction is stylish, it comes with plenty of heat sinks and it has a fan that you can connect to the Pi’s GPIO board to keep the unit cool. It’s very useful!

Amazon also has a plethora of controller options available. You can also find wireless controllers, including the popular 8bitdo controllers, at any electronic big-box store or gaming stores, like Best Buy (CA) or GameStop/EB Games for example.

As for games, well emulation is still a very gray area in legal terms. I won’t tell you where you where explicitly you can find any, but Google is your best friend in that regard.


So, there you have it. All the tools you need to build your very own retro arcade system! Whether you’re looking to play the finest offerings of retro gaming for the first time or the millionth time, the RetroPie is probably the best option available, in my opinion.

With another edition concluded, this has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, off to play some Mega Man X on my own RetroPie setup and reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!

The Games with Coffee Guide to Last-minute Christmas Shopping!

Another day, another edition of “Games with Coffee,” and what a great edition it will be! As of today, Christmas is a little less than a week away: are you ready for it? Or have you run right out of ideas for what to get for your favourite gamer? Or perhaps you’ve put Christmas shopping to the very last minute and don’t know where to start?

Well, God rest thee merry gentlepeople, because I got you covered! Below are a few ideas that you can either quickly run to the store and pick up, if you’re up north here in good ‘ole Canada, or order online: chances are, you’ll be able to get all of the below by Christmas (barring a few additional charges for expedited shipping). I’ll have plenty of links available to access, so no worries. So, keep that itchy trigger finger ready on your mouse and let’s make some magic happen!


Game Ideas

Well besides the obvious items on a gamer’s Christmas list (new systems, latest popular games, everything Nintendo, etc.), here’s an idea for you: how about trying something a little outside of the norm?

Stardew Valley, Axiom Verge, Cave Story+ and Shovel Knight are excellent choices to buy: all four are great games with retro-inspired graphics, poignant storylines, excellent controls and are available on all current generation systems, with the exception of Cave Story+. Check below on where you can find these games:

Stardew Valley:

Shovel Knight:

Axiom Verge:

Cave Story+


Gaming Apparel and Accessories

Graphic T-shirts: for the individual who loves to show off what they love.

Who among us used to hate getting clothes for Christmas? Well, with these selection of men’s, women’s and kid’s game culture T-shirts, your favourite person will hate you a little less this year.*

*Results may vary.

Men’s T-shirts:

Women’s T-shirts:

Kid’s T-shirts:

Ugly Sweaters: for the gamer who wants to rock this year’s Christmas party.

Ugly Sweaters are all the rage these days! Why not get something that reflects your favourite person’s gaming passion? Whether it’s Mario, Sonic or any of gaming’s famous faces, you’ll definitely have some heads turning at your next Christmas gathering! Here’s a few examples:

Satchels, Bags, Cardigans and Scarves: for the lady with a love for fashion and a passion for gaming.

If you’re looking for a great gift for an even greater gal in your life that enjoys gaming, check out these choice selections from EB Games (Canada) and ThinkGeek (everywhere else):

These aren’t limited to just gift-giving alone; ladies, in the words of an almighty master: Treat yo’ selves!


Toys and Games

Nerf Rival Guns: for the individuals who dreams of LARPing a Call of Duty scenario with their good friends.

With a variety of guns available, free-for-alls have never been so much fun! There are plenty of guns available, bit my personal favourite is the Artemis – a shotgun. Check em out!

Funko Pop’s, Nendoroids and Amiibo figures: for the consummate collector.

It figures that figures would be a great gift to give! From the highly collectible Funko Pop’s, to the picture perfect and adorable Nendoroids, to Amiibos that combine collectibility with function, there are plenty of options available! Now, there are too many for me to link, but check the stores; there’s bound to be plenty available!

Board Games: for those looking to game offscreen.

Want to bring the family together without resorting to playing Mario Kart? How about a few board games? Some of gaming’s biggest names have been associated with board game classics, like “The Legend of Zelda” Monopoly and Clue. Others, like Mega Man, have their own board games and there are even some video game inspired tabletop and card games, like Boss Monster. Finally, games like Settlers of Catan are a perfect gift for those who enjoy games like Civilization.

MegaConstrux Pokemon: for the kid or kid at heart.

If you’re kid’s like any other kid, they have vivid imaginations, a desire to build anything their minds can conjure up and a love for all things Pokemon. How do you combine the three? Easy: get them a Pokemon they can build themselves! MegaConstrux has several Pokemon related figures kids will go nuts over, especially Charizard and Gyarados! Heck, I’m a grown man and I want those for myself!

A Raspberry Pi, a Pi Case and the SNES30 Bluetooth Controller: for those who enjoy retro gaming as much as they love building things from scratch.

Ah, the good ol’ Raspberry Pi, giving you the ability to access all the games you used to play as a kid in a device the side of a credit card. If you got a tinkerer on your list who also loves dropping rounds of Super Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES, then this one’s for you!

For gift ideas, I would go with the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 kit, available on Amazon; it has everything one would need to get started. Alternatively, if you have time and resources to spare, you can buy the board, a case and an SD card and really personalize it for the recipient. I highly recommend the Smraza case, again from Amazon: it’s a case divided into seven layers that comes with two heat sinks, a fan to plug into the GPIO on the Pi and a power supply with an on/off button! It’s a great little package!

But you can’t just the Pi and not get controllers? PS4 and Xbox One controllers work with Retropie, but if you want to give that real old-school feel, I recommend the 8bitdo SNES30 Bluetooth Controller. Easy to set up and use, this is the controller of choice to delve into old-school gaming! Here’s where you can find it:


Stocking Stuffers and Other Small Gifts

Books: for those who appreciate a great story on and off screen.

This might sound odd, but books are an awesome gift to give. I say this because some of the best presents I got, besides video games, were books. I’ve gushed many times about the Mistborn series, it’s perfect for those who are obsessed with RPG’s, magic systems and a deep, immersive world full of lore and legend.

Another book I recommend is Red Rising, a science fiction/fantasy set on a colonized Mars. This might sound a bit spoilerish, but I feel that the story is somewhat analogous to God of War, with Kratos’ struggles for revenge, mixed in with undertones of power and politics a la Games of Thrones. My description doesn’t really do it justice, but fans of the God of War series may enjoy it.

Finally, Ready Player One is the perfect book to give a gamer, either young or old. The younger generation will appreciate the plucky protagonist’s journey from rags to riches, while the older ones from the late 80’s and below will fall in love with the heavy retro gaming and pop culture influences that are scattered throughout the book.

Gaming Ornaments: for those who want to combine Christmas with Gaming.

Ornaments make for great stocking stuffers! Check out a few here:

Journals and Notebooks: for those who want to write the story to the next big blockbuster game.

I got this Legend of Zelda journal as a present from my wife and I’ve yet to stop writing in it. In fact, I picked up a second one for my birthday this year. There are plenty of others available, check out below:

Gift Cards: for when you’re truly stuck on what to buy this year.

If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with giving a PSN, Xbox Live or Nintendo e-Shop gift card. Unlike most other gift cards, the receiver will definitely appreciate it. Bonus if you get them a year-long subscription to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold: you’ll be appreciated all year round!

If they’re a mobile game lover, an iTunes or Google Play gift card will also go a long way!

Coffee Mugs: for those who literally want to have their Games with Coffee.*

Didja see what I did there? Didja? Eh, I digress, coffee mugs make for excellent stocking stuffers: they’re statement pieces tailored to that person’s particularly favourite game or series and they can drink coffee out of it! Win-win. Here’s some examples:


And that’s that! Hope this helps with your last minute shopping. Today (at least up here in Canada) is the last day you can order online for it to reach before Christmas! (Additional shipping charges will be required…). So get cracking!

As for the next edition, I’ll catch up with you all near the end of the year, where I’ll talk about my Quest status in “The Year In Review.” Of course, I’ll be working on a few Espresso Shot Reviews, which will come in the new year, along with something else. What that is, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and hoping you’re spending equal time with loved ones and cherished games this holiday season, this is Ryan from “Games with Coffee”, reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.

The Hcman Gaming Keyboard: An Inexpensively Reliable Mechanical Keyboard!

Hey everyone, welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Continuing where I left off with the G502 Proteus Spectrum Mouse, I’d like to talk about my next acquisition: a mechanical gaming keyboard! This thing ain’t no Razer, or a Logitech Gaming Keyboard by any means, but it lights up, has that special, clicky mechanical feel, has various configuration options and all for a fraction of the price of the more high end keyboards available! This is the Hcman (HOW do you pronounce that?!) Mechanical Gaming Keyboard!

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Backstory

I have an ASUS Transformer laptop. It was the perfect unit to type stories and blog posts on due to it being compact, lightweight and easy to use. Well, it used to be perfect because only a few months ago, my keyboard dock started to fritz out on me and I lost the ability to type the ‘C’ and ‘S’ keys! I looked up solutions, applied BIOS updates and generally mashed the keys to force it to work once more, but it was no use: the keys were toast and are currently not working at all. So I had to find a new solution.

I first tried a wireless keyboard with a USB input. Things were going good for the first month until it ultimately crapped out on me. Anything I connected the USB reciever into – laptop, Raspberry Pi, etc. – the device couldn’t recognize the keyboard, so it became a useless paperweight that I bought for about $20…

Learning from my mistake, I decided to get a gaming keyboard with mechanical switches. They’re durable, the back light makes it easy to work in the dark and the clicking sounds they make were oddly satisfying to me. I didn’t have the scratch to plonk down for a high end keyboard, but I also didn’t want to cheap out either. After doing my research on Amazon, I settled on the Hcman keyboard, which (and I may be biased here) was an amazing purchase!


The Keyboard

For a roughly $40 keyboard, the quality is not that bad. The top has a sandblasted aluminum finish, with the company’s logo milled onto the surface between the arrow and page up/down key areas. It gives it a nice, upscale look. The bottom is plastic with rubber pads on the corners to keep it from moving when on a surface. r Each row has its own coloured back light; from top to bottom, orange, white, green, violet, blue and red.

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Look at those colours!

The keyboard actually quite compact: measuring in at about 14″ long by 5″ wide (355 mm x 127 mm for the metric folks). There’s no number pad on this board, hence why it’s smaller in size compared to other keyboards. There are a total of 87 keys on the board.

They keyboard has an anti-ghosting or NKRO (N-key rollover) feature, which allows a user to press multiple keys at once; perfect for gamers who need to press multiple keys to accomplish various actions.

The keys have a nice, clicky feel to them and look extremely durable. They’re a bit noisy, but I feel in a state of zen whenever I type on it. The noise, however, may annoy others around you; My wife hates whenever I use it and she complains that it’s always too loud.

The keycaps can be replaced, thanks to the included key removal tool, so it’s easy to customize the keyboard to however you like.

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I think the coolest part about this keyboard is the multiple lighting effects! There are nine in total, including pulsating, wave, scrolling and ripple, among others. Another neat feature included on the board is the capability to customize your key back lights for various games! There’s a built in RTS (real time strategy) and FPS (first person shooter) configuration, which lights up only the keys that you would use for those games, but there are three additional profiles that can be reprogrammed to suit your specific game. For instance, I have one specifically tailored to Path of Exile and another for emulation. Customizing the board is extremely simple; select the empty profile by hitting FN + 1, 2 or 3, hit FN +Esc to start recording, type the keys that you use for the game you’re playing and then hit FN + Esc to end the recording and save it to the board!

Performance-wise, I’m very pleased with it. The keys are very responsive and connecting it to my laptop was incredibly easy; just plug in the braided USB cable and you’re set!   I’ve put it through its paces by writing posts and my fanfic and I’ve had no problems doing either. If you’re a writer or enjoy writing, I recommend that you pick up a mechanical keyboard over all others. There’s even a back light setting specifically tailored for the office. It doesn’t do anything for the noise however…

I think the only complaint I have about this keyboard is how people complain how noisy it is. I love the sounds myself, but again, the noise may drive others crazy… Others may not like the fact that the number pad is not included with the unit, but I personally don’t miss it.


Right now, you can pick it up on Amazon for $39.99 CAD with free shipping, which I think is a great price for a mechanical gaming keyboard. If you’re looking for a great gift this Christmas, either for your favourite mature, distinguished gamer, or for yourself (because you gotta treat yourself at times!), I highly recommend this.

Stay tuned for the next edition coming very soon: Christmas is next week and if you’re looking for some last minute gaming gift ideas for your favourite person, then I have a few ideas for you!

Once again, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing. See you next time!

 

The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum: Great for Gaming and For the Consummate Professional!

Good day and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee!” Holiday season is upon us, so now’s the time to finalize your Christmas shopping! However, if you’re looking for a gift that your special someone can use both for the gaming and professional worlds, then look no further than the Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum RGB Tunable Mouse!

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I got this mouse when I started my last position as a mechanical engineering designer, and it was perfect for the job! With incredible tracking accuracy thanks to its advanced optic sensors, the G502 is extremely precise, whether you’re battling for online supremacy, or using computer aided design (CAD) software to create world changing designs or products.

The mouse can be calibrated for multiple surfaces and has the option of setting up to five different DPI settings, from the lowest, where the pointer moves like a snail, to the highest where it moves quickly across screens with but the lightest of touches. This fast movement is great for project managers, engineers or architects who read large Gantt charts, schedules, drawings and project spreadsheets.

The G502 has a great, molded ergonomic feel to it and feels comfortable in my right hand. It comes with six 3.6g metal weights that can be installed on the bottom of the mouse (just remove the bottom plate) to adjust the weight to your needs.

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The G502 has eleven keys that can be programmed with custom command macros, like setting the DPI or CTRL-C, or keystrokes in a specific sequence. This is highly useful for when you want to use common keyboard shortcuts or commands in programs like AutoCAD with one hand, which can really help improve efficiency at work. Additionally, if you program one of the keys as a G-Shift, you increase the amount of programmable keys to almost double! This is because when you hold down the G-Shift key and press another key on the mouse, it executes a different macro or command. It’s an extremely useful function.

The scroll wheel also has multiple speeds: a toggle switch on top of the mouse allows for speedy or precise scrolling. Great for when you need to scroll through maps or online documents.

In order to program the mouse, you’ll need the Logitech Gaming Software. It’s an easy to use tool that helps with setting surface calibration, DPI settings, key command allocation and even RGB colour options. The logo and DPI setting indicator can change colour depending on the settings, which is really cool! The mouse holds up to three different profiles which is great if you play different types of games, or if you used a variety of programs for work purposes.

The G502 Proteus Spectrum Mouse is available for purchase through the Logitech website. It’s currently selling for $119.99 with free shipping. So if you’re thinking of getting a gaming mouse, whether for work or play, this is the one I recommend the most!


Stay tuned, because tomorrow, I’ll be talking about an inexpensive mechanical keyboard that I recently picked up and fell in love with! It’s a great gift to give to your favourite mature, distinguished gamer for Christmas! And speaking of the holidays, I’ll be sharing a few gaming-themed ideas that I’m sure will level up your gift-giving game! Keep an eye out for it!

Once again, this has been Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!