With Christmas day rapidly approaching it's fair to say that there will be plenty of people struggling for gift ideas. Here at Ten Ton Hammer we feel your nervousness and have put together a list of gifts we think are awesome. Some are conventional, some are quirky and the budget for all of them varies from free to a few hundred dollars. Even if you're a modern day scrooge and intend on buying for no one this year, you could always pick some of these up for yourself.
Saga is, quite possibly, the best comic series I've ever read. Not only is it beautifully presented but the characters, story and setting is something that I've never encountered before. The sub-plot of warring factions might be nothing new but everything else surrounding it lifts it miles above the competition. I've constantly got the next Volume on pre-order and at around $10, it's a steal. Considering there are only four Volumes so far, there's no better time to start reading.
The opening story arc introduces the series' leads, Alana and Marko, two lovers from different worlds whose people are at war with one another. Alana comes from the technologically advanced Landfall Coalition, so named after Landfall, the largest planet in the galaxy, and Marko is from Wreath, Landfall's only satellite, whose people wield magic. Because the destruction of one of the worlds would send the other spinning out of orbit, the war was "outsourced" to other worlds.
This is probably one of our quirkier items but when I saw them recently I instantly fell in love. They serve absolutely no purpose besides visual eyecandy, but who cares. What's clever about these is their use of negative space to show imagery and the story. Each one feels like a Studio Ghibli film shrunk into a few tiny seconds of motion. They're relatively expensive at $16-25 each but they are undoubtedbly awesome.
I love board games and I think it's fair to say that too few people play them. I'm not talking about Monopoly or Clue but instead a board game which encourages you to cause misery on your fellow players while simultaneously wanting to punch them in the face. The goal of Cosmic Encounter is to establish colonies in other players' star systems with negotiation critical to your success. It'll set you back around $50 but I guarantee it's well worth it if you've a group of friends who you regularly get together with.
I recently played DeadNaut after having it recommended to me. If you're a fan of the original X-Com or enjoy strategy games, this is going to be right up your street. It's squad based and sees you as the commander of a group of troops. It's super difficult and all of its content is procedurally generated. What I find so attractive about the game is its low-fi graphics (you see your soldiers and enemies only as icons on a computer screen) but its rediculous amount of depth. At $9.99 it's a steal and there's also a free demo.
The nVidia Shield Tablet will set you back $300 but I'd argue it's worth the expense. It's without doubt the best Android gaming tablet available and looks pretty good in the process. Unfortunately it doesn't come with a controller but that's an extra cost that you can always pass on to relatives who don't know what else to buy you. Considering Hearthstone has just released on Android, we're not sure just how much use you'll get out of the tablets power, but it's pretty future proof for at least a while yet.
Smart Watches are a big deal at the moment and until Apple launch theirs and if you're an Android lover, the Moto360 is hard to beat. It has a really good build quality, it looks good and it's a good price at $250. If there's any downsides to it it's the fact its battery life is poor and its processor isn't brilliant. That isn't however entirely unsurprising considering it's tiny!
There seems to be a strategy game theme to this list and although it isn't intentional, I really couldn't leave off Chaos Reborn. If you've followed the Kick Starter you'll know that it was successfully backed, that it's now on Steam as Early Access and that it's made by the original creator of X-Com. Besides looking absolutely gorgeous, it's a fast paced, turn-based wizard combat game with an RPG twist. Even in its current form it already plays amazingly well.
The OnePlusOne phone is one of the best currently on the market. At around $400 it's one of the most expensive gifts on our list but by phone standards, it's unbelievably cheap. If you're looking for a handset for yourself or to gift to someone else, you can't go far wrong here. If it has any downsides it's the fact it has no Micro-SD slot and you can't remove the battery. None of these should cause too much trouble however if you pick up the 64gb version.
I'm slightly cheating here by linking ShanaLogic and not suggesting a product but that's because the website is so jam packed with awesome things to buy it's difficult to even know where to begin. Prices range from a few dollars to the big bucks, but there's something available for all budgets. What I love so much about ShanaLogic is that everything is handmade and independantly designed. They also sell a cow that looks like a watermelon.
As the only book I'm recommending on this list I'd have to say that Blindness, regardless of its release date, is timeless. It's just a stunning book that covers many things I love in subject matter: human interactions, hierachy and post-apololyptic settings. It's available for Kindle or as a physical copy for around $7.
Blindness is the story of an unexplained mass epidemic of blindness afflicting nearly everyone in an unnamed city, and the social breakdown that swiftly follows. The novel follows the misfortunes of a handful of characters who are among the first to be stricken and centers on "the doctor's wife," her husband, several of his patients, and assorted others, thrown together by chance.
So here's another squad based shooter to play or gift over Christmas (totally by chance, I swear). Infested Planet is an indie strategy game that's available on Steam for $14,99. You command a team of 5 elite soldiers against an alien horde of 100,000. Surrounded on all sides, you must outmaneuver and outsmart the enemy. Its review over on Quarter To Three speaks volumes and my brother rates it as his game of the year. My brother is so incredibly fussy that for him to even praise a game had me sitting up to listen. Go buy it now!