I love retro gaming. I love the holidays. Put them together, and I’m one happy Mikey.
Every year, I put together a list of some retro-themed gaming gift ideas as part of our Black Friday coverage. I do my best to suggest gifts of varying types and price ranges. So if you’re shopping for anyone who loves games from the last century, I think you’ll find something here that they will enjoy.
Arcade 1Up NBA Jam Arcade Cabinet
This is the granddaddy of retro gaming gifts. Arcade 1Up makes replica machines of many hit arcade games, like NBA Jam, Street Fighter II, and Mortal Kombat. Prices can vary depending on which cabinet you’re looking at, but it’s going to be a hefty purchase no matter what. Still, every retro gamer dreams of owning their own arcade machine. While these cabinets aren’t quite the same size as the originals, they’re close enough for most people. They also come with multiple games. This NBA Jam one, for example, also comes with NBA Jam: Tournament Edition and NBA Hang Time.
Arcade 1Up NBA Jam Adjustable Stool
Store: Arcade 1Up
If you’re looking for an arcade-themed gift that isn’t going to completely wipe out your bank account, Arcade 1Up also sells some spiffy stools. Although they would obviously go great with their respective cabinets, they can make for fine gifts on their own.
Back before it was an anime, Digimon started as a kind of Tamagotchi competitor. The big difference with Digimon was that you could make the pixelized pets fight each other. Bandai has brought back this original version of Digimon, which is sure to bring a smile to anyone who ever had one back in the ’90s.
mClassic Graphics Enhancer
This one is interesting. The mClassic is an HDMI connector that upscales graphics for Switch on your TV. It also works with PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. You can also use it with retro consoles — PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Wii, and Dreamcast — if you have an HDMI adapter for them. This could be a good gift for someone who owns a lot of old systems.
The Making of Prince of Persia hardcover
This book by Jordan Mechner goes into the creation of the original Prince of Persia, the classic sidescroller. It’s a fun look at classic video game history and development. I also like the cover. It makes for a handsome addition to your coffee table or library shelf.
Sonic the Hedgehog Encyclo-speed-ia
First off, you have to appreciate that name. This book, which helps celebrate the Sega mascot’s 30th anniversary, goes deep into Sonic’s gaming history. It’s a great gift for any Sega fans that you may have on your list.
8BitDo SN30 Pro+ Wireless Bluetooth Game Controller
This controller captures that classic feel of the SNES gamepad but makes it work with a modern button layout by adding the two analog sticks and extra shoulder buttons. This wireless Bluetooth pad is compatible with Windows, Mac, Switch, Android, and Raspberry Pi devices.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2
The only actual game on this list, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 is an incredible package of remakes. These games now look as good as any modern title, and they’re still an absolute joy to play thanks to the series’ tight controls and brilliant level designs. This game is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and both versions will run on their respective newer consoles thanks to backward compatibility. I was happy to see how great it looks on my PS5, but the game still looks good on my old PlayStation 4 Pro.
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.