It won’t be long until the doors on your advent calendar start opening at a troubling pace – so here’s Quench Technology to do the thinking for you on what techie bits and pieces you should consider this Christmas!
Marvel’s Spider Man
Veteran studio Insomniac Games boasts a number of iconic titles, ranging from Ratchet and Clank to Resistance – but PS4-exclusive Marvel’s Spider Man is arguably their best effort yet. It may have taken an agonizing fourteen years, but the much-beloved contextual web-slinging of Spider-Man 2 (PS2) has been bested at last. The movement alone is worth the price of admission; zipping across New York’s skyline strikes a perfect balance between both weight and fluidity simultaneously, and Spider-Man has a number of ways to manoeuvre his environment. You could be sprinting up a wall one moment and hurtling yourself through the gaps in a crane the next!
Outside of arachrobatics – a word which I’m prouder to have invented than I ought to be – Marvel’s Spider Man also features a brilliantly dynamic combat system. Fundamentally, it’s similar to the Batman: Arkham series of games, in the sense that you take on groups of aggressive opponents with a mixture of precise blows and counter-attacks – but Spider-Man is about adaptation and quick strategy. The environment is just as much of a weapon as Spidey’s own gadgets; you can fling yourself from walls to start combos with extra momentum, use webs to swing and hurl manhole covers at your opponents, and even stick them to floors, walls, or ceilings if you’re feeling flashy.
To top it off, Marvel’s Spider-Man offers an approximately 15-20 hour main story, and much to my surprise, it may very well be the best Spider-Man narrative available outside the comic universe. Insomniac has opted to tell an original story instead of adapting a film this time, and it shows. Whilst the plot itself is the rudimentary superhero romp that one should expect from a Spider-Man game, the characters are given the depth and attention that recent cinematic entries have failed to provide. In particular, the relationship between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius is some of the finest chemistry between actors that I’ve seen in a game for quite some time.
Marvel’s Spider-Man is an ideal gift for any PS4 owner. With its intuitive movement and combat mechanics, in addition to a wide array of accessibility options (such as skipping puzzles and quicktime events), this is a game anyone can pick up and enjoy. Kids can hit stuff and swing, and the big boys and girls among us can appreciate a little character development. What’s not to love?
A company most famous for producing joyous games for kids and families, Nintendo have aimed their sights at the adult market with the Nintendo Switch. That’s not to say Nintendo games aren’t still innocent fun for all – but the Switch is a home for both mature third-party experiences and Nintendo’s famous first-party adventures. On top of that, it can transition between TV play and handheld play instantly at any time, meaning you can continue your game on the bus or during a lunch break with no effort at all.
The Switch is home to a variety of amazing games as well. For those after a beautiful and revolutionary open-world experience, you could do much worse than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is presently the best-rated game of the generation on Metacritic. If you enjoyed Super Mario 64 back in the day, Super Mario Odyssey is the successor you’ve been waiting for since ‘96. Beyond that, a variety of easy-to-play but hard-to-master multiplayer games are available, from the surprisingly competitive Mario Tennis Aces to the brilliant reminder that life is deeply unfair that is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Don’t forget Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this December as well!
Jackbox Party Pack 3
There are few traditions as cherished as board games at Christmas – but if you’ve got a fairly open minded bunch who aren’t afraid to get creative and crack a few jokes, the Jackbox Party Pack is a priceless alternative.
The Jackbox Party Pack games are a series of party video games which you can purchase on any console (or PC!) – and the best part is, you play with your phone! No need to worry about buying multiple controllers or teaching your mum how to work a Dualshock 4.
There are five games in the series now, but I maintain that Jackbox Party Pack 3 is far and away the best. Included is Quiplash 2, which is sort of like Cards Against Humanity, but you can write what you like to fill the blanks instead of playing with white cards. There’s also Fakin’ It, in which everyone in the room will be given a prompt on their phone – for instance, ‘point to the player with the worst taste in music’ – but one person will not receive a prompt at all, and simply be told to point at someone else in the room. That person is the ‘faker’, and must avoid detection at all costs by any means necessary, even if it means lying and making up stories. If you can go three rounds without the whole room sussing you out, you win!
Those two are personal favourites, but between the various games within the pack (and the various packs indeed), the Jackbox Party Pack series is far and away my favourite game to bring out with friends and family, and you are simply robbing yourself should you choose not to buy it!
For our last suggestion, one of Quench’s own Copy Editors, Lauren Ryan, has a wonderful suggestion that I might just heed myself – so I’ll let her take it away!
Although Christmas is a magical and wonderful time of year, we all face the stress of picking the perfect gift for someone special. When I think back over the years and consider all the lovely gifts I’ve received – though I feel bad for picking a favourite – there is one gift in particular that will always stick out. Two years on, I still remember that exciting feeling of unwrapping the paper to find a beautiful, glossy red polaroid camera in my hands.
I fangirled hard over my Polaroid PIC-300 camera for many months after (and still do). It’s such a brilliant device and makes photos tangible and special. It has various settings (cloudy, sunny, indoors etc), which makes it a really versatile camera that you can take anywhere. Its instant print truly captures the moment.
Many people would dispute that the films are too expensive, which isn’t wrong – the refills aren’t cheap and don’t come in large quantities. However, I feel like this taught me the importance of not taking too many photos and to decide what particular moment was most special to me. For example, I took my Polaroid on my first holiday with my boyfriend; I only have ten photos from the entire trip, yet when I see them, I can distinctly remember everything from the moment, unlike the hundreds of forgettable snaps we have on our smartphones.
The Polaroid PIC-300 is the perfect gift for a loved one. It gives them the chance to be creative with their picture-taking, and having palpable pictures is ideal for scrapbooking, home decorations or to simply possess the moment.