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Gaming is more popular and accessible than ever before. As a result, there’s a seemingly infinite amount of consoles, games, and accessories for gamers out there. Where to start?
We tapped several gaming professionals and experts and asked them what players need in their collections to get the most out of their consoles. We also asked for recommendations on products for casual and hardcore gamers, alike.
Here’s what the experts had to say:
Gaming journalist Matt Cabral (IGN, Entertainment Weekly, Kotaku and others), recommends the Sega Genesis Mini as the best retro mini gaming console for its wide selection of games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, including Sonic The Hedgehog, Streets of Rage 2, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Strider and much more.
“The Sega Genesis mini really hit it out of the park this year, offering a slick little replica unit of the fan-favorite, late-eighties console,” Cabral says. “It's packed with a great selection of 40-plus games, from popular favorites to some cult classics, and they all look and play great. Following the success of Nintendo's mini consoles, the market was flooded with lots of me-too units, but the Genesis mini is one of the best, on par with Nintendo's diminutive devices.”
Shop it: Sega Genesis Mini, $70, walmart.com
If you grew up as a Nintendo kid, the Super NES Classic Edition is the choice for retro gamers, according to Sam Franklin, former e-sports gamer and founder of GameFinder.com. It includes 21 games from the ‘90s, such as Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Kirby's Dream Course and much more, while the never-before-released Star Fox 2 is featured as a “hidden” game on the mini console.
“Given the nostalgic focus of the retro mini game console market, the best choice for an individual is likely to depend on their favorite games of the past,” Franklin says to Yahoo Lifestyle. “That being said the Super NES Classic stands out with its 21 games that offer some of the various best Nintendo games to ever be released with the likes of A Link to the Past and Super Mario World in the lineup. While some of the other retro mini gaming consoles have similar sized or even larger libraries available, the selections on these aren't as impressive and often miss some of the fan favorites of these old platforms.”
Shop it: Super NES Classic Edition, $154, amazon.com
One of the best accessories for the Xbox One is more storage. Out-of-the-box, both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X have a storage capacity of just 1TB. And you’ll be surprised how quickly you can fill 1TB with games, movies, songs and TV shows.
“For Xbox One, this means a large 2-4TB hard drive to hold the increasing large game sizes which are consistently hitting and often exceeding 100GB in size. Red Dead Redemption 2 for example needs around 150GB of space to unpack itself and install,” adds GameFinder.com's Sam Franklin.
The Seagate GameDrive checks all the boxes for a gaming external hard drive. It offers an additional 4TB and plugs directly into the Xbox One via USB 3.0. It’s clean and speedy, so games won’t slow down or get throttled during playtime. It’s also on sale for $116, or $14 off its list price at Walmart.
Shop it: Seagate GameDrive for Xbox One (4TB), $116 (was $130), walmart.com
For the Nintendo Switch, a handy carrying case is the ideal gaming accessory for this portable and home console hybrid. According to co-founder and president of Kast, online hangout media platform and former-professional gamer Justin Weissberg, the Orzly Carry Case is the best pick for Nintendo Switch users.
“I don’t think any Nintendo Switch owner should be without a carry case,” says Weissberg. “The one I have is quite inexpensive and was picked up on Amazon for less than $10. One time, on a trip from Los Angeles to the UK, we started a Super Smash Bros. tournament on the plane and a group of complete strangers joined in with us. It was so much fun! That’s one of the best things about this console; you will make new friends, so be prepared to play and have room for all the extra gear because you will need it wherever you go. It’s the experiences that this piece of kit can give that makes it so special.”
Shop it: Orzly Carry Case for Nintendo Switch, $19 (was $25), amazon.com
Picking the perfect headset can be tough, but Franklin believes it comes down to two premium brands, HyperX and SteelSeries, for their premium designs and high two-way audio quality. But if you had to go with one over the other, HyperX just edges it out in the end, according to the founder of GameFinder.com.
“It's always a tough pick between HyperX and SteelSeries when it comes to the gaming headset market both of which offer fantastic sound and general build quality at competitive price points while being able to maintain stylish designs,” says Franklin. “Currently, the award has to go to HyperX with their various Cloud editions that offer superior comfort, ear pad customization and a perfectly sized audio control box to mute and adjust volume easily without having to fiddle around mid-game, which nudged out my previous SteelSeries headset for me in my recent purchase of a HyperX Cloud.”
Shop it: HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset, $80 (was $99), walmart.com
When it comes to traditional arcade cabinets for the home, Arcade1UP is a go-to. It wowed beginner and expert gamers alike for its high-quality gaming emulation and precision replica work at an affordable price. However, with some many top-tier titles, picking the best arcade cabinet game is another story.
“There are a few awesome ones to pick from, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Marvel Super Heroes, but my favorite is the Star Wars cabinet,” according to Cabral. “It includes the classic vector graphic flight combat sim from the early eighties, as well as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi follow-ups. It really nails the experience of playing those games in that classic cabinet, and it does an especially great job emulating the look and feel of the flight yoke controller that really differentiated this one back in the day.”
The Arcade1UP Star Wars Arcade Machine comes with three games—Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi—and it’s on sale for $399, $101 off its list price at Walmart.
Shop it: Arcade1UP Star Wars Arcade Machine, $399 (was $500), walmart.com
If you’re a fan of the beat ‘em up gaming genre, Arcade1UP’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rises to the occasion. This game was released in 1989 and it features everyone’s “Heroes in a Half-Shell” battling the evil Foot Clan through New York City (and time) with two classic games: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Turtles In Time.
“Without a doubt, it has to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I loved the TV series when I was younger, although some of the films were questionable,” Weissberg says. “With this Arcade1UP arcade cabinet specifically, you can choose to play with your friends together at the same time or play on your own. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are synonymous with people of all ages, meaning that everyone can relate and even join in. Dibs on Michelangelo!”
Shop it: Arcade1UP Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade Machine, $349 (was $400), walmart.com
However, if you want to play one of the best games at home, Weissberg recommends the long-awaited Death Stranding for the Sony PlayStation 4. The game is from legendary game creator Hideo Kojima, who also designed the iconic Metal Gear for the NES, and gamers and critics are in love with the title because of its in-depth gameplay and sophisticated character and world design.
“It’s hard to choose just one game, but I have to say that Death Stranding is a masterpiece, from what I have played so far,” says Justin Weissberg to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Hideo Kojima is an absolute genius and I can’t wait to get to the end so I can start talking to people who have already completed it so I can share theories and opinions with others. I can see how this game could split opinions and not everyone will love it, but it is exceptional in its own right.”
Shop it: Death Stranding (PS4), $60, walmart.com
Control (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One)
“My favorite is Remedy’s Control,” he recommends. “It's a highly original, and haunting, single-player and story-driven experience. The developer (who also created Max Payne, Alan Wake and Quantum Break) are at the top of their game. It's a fantastic showcase of their ability to weave rich narrative elements with compelling gameplay.”
Shop it: Control for PS4, $30 (was $45), walmart.com | Shop it: Control for Xbox One, $50, amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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