2021 Holiday Hardware Buyer’s Guide

MMO Fallout’s guide to holiday buying.

The 2021 holiday shopping season is upon us, and MMO Fallout has decided to go ahead and post a holiday shopping guide for those who may not be as in-tune with which consoles are in and out. Maybe you’re buying for a loved one and don’t really know much about the video games.

Here’s what to expect this holiday season.

PlayStation 4/Xbox One

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are seemingly on the way out, so most parents and casual gamers might be wondering if they are still worth buying. The short answer is yes, especially this year. The long answer is a bit more complicated and depends on what you expect out of the holiday season. It doesn’t exactly help that both the Series X and the PlayStation 5 are completely backwards compatible.

Good news for those who buy the PS4/XB1 is that neither console is going away any time soon. With hundreds of games slated for release in 2022 and beyond, only a fraction of those titles are actually confirmed to be next-gen exclusive. In other words, both the Xbox and PlayStation have massive back catalogs of games to play that will easily keep you or your child busy for years to come, and you’ll still be able to play 95% of the titles on the horizon. Also since the systems are backwards compatible, if you do pick up a next gen system in a couple of years you can move your games to the new system and keep the old one as a backup. Or put it in den. If dens are still legal in 2025.

Also the games are dead cheap and you can find websites just about liquidating stock on early titles. Choice in console will generally come down to your choice in games. PlayStation arguably has the better catalog of exclusives while Xbox has the benefit of the Game Pass subscription offering access to tons of games for a cheap price, not to mention the console is backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games which offers an even bigger library of dead ass cheap games to choose from.

Do we recommend: Absolutely
Chance of availability: High
Chance of sales: Guaranteed

PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are the cutting edge, top of the line, next gen doohickey tchotchke dangly things that everyone wants. What I’m trying to say here is that you will probably absolutely very likely maybe perhaps undoubtedly not find either console in stock up until the holidays. Unless you’re willing to go through rather ridiculous measures to track console stock, find the stores that have it, follow the right Twitter accounts, digitally wait in line, and funny other thing, you’re probably not going to get your hands on either one of these systems for the holidays.

Unless you pay a scalper. Don’t pay scalpers. For the love of God don’t pay scalpers.

If you’re dead set on buying a PS5 or a Series X for the holidays, my big piece of advice is to not wait if you happen to find it in stock somewhere. Do not wait for a Black Friday sale, because stores can’t keep this thing in stock and nobody is going to be offering a reasonable discount to get you in the door. They probably won’t have them period. If you see it, hit that buy button and pray to Arnold that the process completes.

Do we recommend: Yes, but don’t pay scalper costs.
Chance of availability: Don’t’ make me laugh
Chance of sale: Roughly up there with the sun extinguishing tomorrow

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a hell of a system, and I’ll be honest when I say it’s probably the one that deserves the most explanation. You might be thinking about buying a Switch only to realize that there are multiple versions of the Switch, each with their own reasons to buy and reasons not to buy. Good news right off the bat is that the Nintendo Switch should be pretty easy to find in stock this holiday season, and there might even be a good sale or two.

Which version to buy completely comes down to how you expect the system to be played. The standard Switch retails for $300 and includes the ability to play it docked or in handheld mode. The joycons also function as two controllers when removed from the base unit. I recommend this version over the Lite. The OLED Switch runs at $350 and this one is going to be harder to find. The OLED model has a sharper screen and more internal memory, but is functionally the same as the standard Switch.

The Lite model is one I don’t recommend unless it’s being gifted to a child who will use it solely in handheld mode or an adult who does not care about the extra frills. The Switch Lite costs $200 (a $100 decrease) and comes with some heavy downgrades. The joycons are attached to the system, it cannot be hooked up to a TV, and some games that require TV mode do not work on the system at all. Playing multiplayer games is difficult if not impossible because you have both players trying to share a 5 inch screen and requires additional controllers to be purchased.

Do we recommend: Yes
Chance of availability: High
Chance of sales: High

The Evercade/Evercade Vs.

The Evercade and Evercade Vs. are two versions of the same console, both of whom I recommend for those looking for a gift for their retro-loving selves/others. One is a handheld that technically can connect to a television while the other is a home console. Both systems play the same cartridges, so there’s no need to be confused on which version you should buy.

I will recommend the Evercade Vs. over the Evercade for two reasons. The first is that the Evercade handheld is slightly crampy and does not play multiplayer games, while the Vs. home console does and has more normal controllers. Many of the retro games on the Evercade are best played with multiple people, and with the handheld system you’re cutting off a lot of the entertainment potential. The second is that while the Evercade handheld can technically connect to a television, it doesn’t do it well. I’ve had jittery video and inconsistent success with the Evercade’s video out quality.

The Vs. just looks cooler and really these games deserve to be played on a television instead of a tiny screen. Evercade is a full-on retro console. There is no online store to buy games digitally, but they are available on cartridges through specific publisher packs like Atari, Intellivision, and more. Every Evercade cart runs approximately $20 USD and contains anywhere between 6-20 games (some outliers). The Evercade Vs. isn’t out yet, it doesn’t release until early November. I will be getting the system and will upgrade this guide if the console is a verifiable mess, but there’s no reason to assume at it will run worse than the Evercade handheld or be hard to find for Christmas.

One thing you won’t find on the Evercade is the big two. While there are tons of games here from arcade, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Genesis, Atari, and more, you’re not going to find Super Mario Bros. or Sonic on the system. First party Nintendo/Sega developed games are just not going to come out since both companies already have their collections on other consoles.

Do we recommend: Yes
Chance of availability: High
Chance of sale: Unknown

Intellivision Amico

I decided for, and then against, and then back again for including the Intellivision Amico on this list for the sole reason that it’s available for pre-order on GameStop and Best Buy and people might be thinking about buying this for their kids with the expectation that it’ll be out before Christmas. Don’t do that. The Amico is not going to be out before Christmas. I’ll bet Tommy Tallarico a crisp $100 billion in legal tender if my unit gets to my door before the Christmas shopping season. That’s not a joke.

The Intellivision Amico is an upcoming console aiming at the same sort of market the Wii catered to, that being people who aren’t “gamers.” Its big selling point is that the games it sells are good for groups of people, that parents can be assured the games are child-friendly and easy to understand, that it’s something for family game night, and that the titles don’t have predatory microtransactions. Or any microtransactions.

The fact that there are games for sale and the system is up for pre-order might give the false impression that the console is right around the corner. It ain’t. Bear in mind the Amico was supposed to launch in October 2020. Gamestop has a December 31, 2021 placeholder date for release. It isn’t real. Don’t buy this assuming it’ll at least ship right after Christmas.

Do we recommend: No (For Holiday 2021)
Chance of availability: None
Chance of sale: Also none

Honorable Mentions

I didn’t include mention of the Steam Deck or Playdate on this list simply because both systems are very upfront over the fact that they won’t be out until 2022 unless you pre-ordered them months ago, in which case you don’t need this guide anyway since you already bought them. That’s all I have to say about them. The same goes for the Analogue Pocket.

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