This is the year of the Wii U. If your gamer friends and relatives don't have it, get them one. If they do have it, here are some suggestions for stuff they'd like to have. Also be sure to read my guide on how to choose a game as a gift.
Almost every game released for the Wii U is available for download, both eShop-only titles and major retail releases. This makes a prepaid eShop card a really handy gift. You can also use this card to buy 3DS games if you have a mind to.
We can all argue about whether the Wii U will ultimately be a hit or a flop, about whether it will get good exclusives, about whether it will win over core gamers and whether it will retain casual gamers, but beyond all that, the Wii U is really pretty cool. The gamepad really changes the way you interact with a console, affecting both gameplay and menu navigation, and if you can find one this holiday season, go for it. One piece of advice; spend the extra $50 for the Deluxe Set if it's available, it's worth the extra money.
This old school survival horror game has gotten a wide range of reviews, but it's ingenuity and commitment to showing off the Wii U gamepad arguably makes it the most interesting Wii U game of 2012. If your idea of a horror survival game is something like the exciting Resident Evil 4 you might be put off by this one, but if you appreciate the early, atmospheric, deliberately paced Resident Evil games with their insistence on making survival a real struggle, you're going to love this.
This latest entry in the unique action adventure series moves to revolutionary America, replacing the marble palaces of previous games with wooden churches and thick forests. A vast open world gives players much to do, and it's tempting to wander away from the story just to see what's out there. The Wii U version doesn't do a whole lot with the gamepad beyond giving you a constant view of the map, but the gameplay itself is so terrific that I can't get too annoyed about it.
I'm not a huge Super Mario Bros. fan, but gift giving isn't about the giver but the recipient, and for a lot of Nintendo fans, this colorful, clever, and difficult side-scrolling platformer is the best Wii U game out there. It's use of the gamepad to create phantom platforms allows co-players to help - or hinder - their friends and relations.
Since you still need Wii remotes for the Wii U, you'll also still want a rechargeable battery system to avoid the annoyance of purchasing bushels of batteries. The Energizer Flat Panel has proved to be the best recharger I've seen, well designed and still working years later.
While the main Wii U controller is the gamepad, in multiplayer games you'll still need Wii remotes. The standard remote will work for most games, but you might as well go ahead and get the newer, more sophisticated Wii Remote Plus, which will work with any Wii U game that needs a Wii remote.
The Wii U doesn't have an internal hard drive, and while it does have enough storage for owners to download some games, those who want to buy a lot of games will soon run out of room. Fortunately the Wii U supports external USB drives, and they even have a very short list of drives
they have successfully tested with the console (although other drives will work
). They don't have to be on this list, they can be smaller than 1 or 2 terabytes, but this is what Nintendo suggests for those who don't want to guess at compatibility.