RFMag Editor’s Holiday Picks

The misfits at Royal Flush Magazine banded together to comprise an interesting holiday list this year. Our staff covers everything from video games and music right down to cooking utensils. If you still need help finding something for anyone on your holiday shopping list, well then, keep reading ‘cause we might have you covered!

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Steve Chanks…is Royal Flush‘s Managing Editor and sworn protector of its honest to the end idiot agenda. This artist, writer, BBQ aficionado and indiscriminate beer-chugger is responsible for such Flush Classics as The Mitzvah 4 and Rob Zombie‘s 2009 home invasion. Honest opinions and a quick wit keep him a float in the ever growing Flush talent pool. Available for bar mitzvahs and bachelorette parties.

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Anyone who knows me knows I love cooking just about as much as I love drawing… It’s sort of my other art form. So I cook and I talk cooking with other food nerds and we swap technique and talk shop so I thought I’d share a couple must-haves for the kitchen with our food-loving Flush community for this holiday season.

Calaphalon 8″ Chef’s Knife
Available from:
Amazon

The number one thing any aspiring chef needs is a proper knife and if you’re going to gift just one then it better be the workhorse of the back line. This Calaphalon 8″ Chef’s Knife is the be all, end all. It’s razor sharp and holds its edge for a long, long time and it is perfect for chopping veggies and gently slicing that dry aged Porter House you slaved over. Many people fear large, sharp knives thinking they’ll cut themselves but any kitchen jockey will tell you that it’s the dull knife that always slips and slices your finger tips off. Save your loved ones a fingerless existence and get them the right tool for the job. Thumbie and Pinkie will thank you.

 

Emerilware 10-Inch Cast-Iron Square Grill Pan
Available from:
Amazon

Ok, since we mentioned that dry aged Porter House, we better not let it go to shit in the broiler. No sir! It’s time to cook like the big boys with a cast iron grill pan. This grill pan from Emeril (BAM!) weighs like 40lbs. and is a bitch to clean but you forget all that shit when you sink your teeth into a seared-to-perfection, medium rear slab of beef. If your Secret Santa loves steak and loves cooking and isn’t using one of these bad-boys then you need to set his ass straight… like now. Make sure he reads the instructions on proper pan seasoning and make him swear on his manhood that he will never, ever let soup touch it. Give him a couple weeks to get his technique down and them make him repay his debts with a steak dinner. Thank me later.

 

American Vampire
Available from:
Amazon

Now let’s switch direction back to my other love, art, specifically comics. The comic world isn’t just the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, it hasn’t been for like years now and there is a genre for everybody out there. Let’s say your holiday buddy likes vampires and not those sparkly, brooding Abercrombie & Fitch types. Like the real ruthless blood sucking murdering types. Vertigo Comics has just the remedy to cure your True Blood-Twilightous. American Vampire follows Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire as he wreaks havoc on the old world European vampires in the American west of the 1920’s. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 advance through time and new characters are added but the story stays intense and the artwork is always brutal. A guaranteed hit for the true vamp lover on your holiday list.

 

HarleyQ

…is a Brooklyn-born, bonafide Gamer Girl. She enjoys games of all genres, (ok maybe with the exception of dancing games, and racing games) and can’t go anywhere without her iPod. Her favorite franchises include Devil May Cry, Soul Calibur, Kingdom Hearts, Batman Arkham Asylum, Cooking Mama, and Resident Evil to name a few. Catch her on twitter @evenstar720 or email her: Harley [at] royalflushmagazine [dot] com

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Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic!
Available on: Nintendo 3DS
Rated E for Everyone

Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic is the first outing in the Cooking Mama series on the 3DS, and it comes full of more mini-games, recipes, and content than ever before. Like nearly every other title in the franchise, Cooking Mama 4 rewards more content to those who finish the creations they start with. Fans of the series will definitely want to snatch up this upgrade without hesitation. With the series starting to age, the extras and 3D visuals in Cooking Mama 4 are a step in the right direction, to bring in some new players. However some might feel like they are getting the same experience they received in previous offerings, but this one for the casual gamers rather than the hardcore ones. If you are looking for a delightful and equally enjoyable addition for a growing 3DS library, Mama’s magical kitchen can certainly curb your craving of a good 3DS game.

 

Batman: Arkham City
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, & PC
Rated T for Teen

Two years ago Rocksteady and Warner Brothers released Batman: Arkham Asylum, and it was not only a commercial success, but a title that could easily be called ‘The Best Batman Game of All Time.’ The problem with making such an amazing title, is following up with a sequel that could possibly surpass the original. It took the team two years, but they created a game that is just shy of perfection. Batman: Arkham City is quite large in size and there is more than ever to do in the streets overrun with criminals. Fans of its predecessor will appreciate the upgrade to the combat system and the various gadgets that are earned as you progress in the game. With more villains than you could possibly imagine, the main story often takes surprising twists and even after you finish it, you’ll want more. With many other side quests to complete, and not to mention the recent string on DLC now available and more coming soon, the replay value on this game is extremely high. Once you play Batman: Arkham City, it draws you in, and you’ll never want to stop!

 

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Available on: PS3
Rated T for Teen

The Uncharted series has always branded itself as a cinematic experience, and in that aspect it succeeds entirely. Drake’s Deception, is no exception to that. As a matter of fact, it is practically one of the best looking, and best acted games this year. Drake, Sully, Chloe, and the rest of the Uncharted gang are back for another adventure along with a few new characters, and beyond that a pretty decent multi-player too. Drake’s Deception is a must own, a must see, and sets the standard for every action game that follows it. Some of the best moments that you could ever experience in gaming will undoubtedly come from Uncharted 3.

 

Stephanie K.…… travels through cyberspace in her e-TARDIS, saving humanity from the clenches of evil like bad video game purchases and poor grammar. When not saving the digital universe she is writing for RFMag, being the Lead Editor of a 3-year running independent gaming site, and wants to be a paperback writer. You can follow her on her whimsical adventures on her Twitter feed: zomg_its_steph.

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Batman: Arkham City
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, & PC
Rated T for Teen

Arkham City is one of the most enjoyable and well put together superhero games I have seen in a quite some time.  It brings back the fun of old school brawlers while paying great tribute to the Batman series. While not only being written by Paul Dini, but it features much of the cast of the 90s animated series including Mark Harmill as the Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman. Even if your gamer is not a diehard Batman fan and might not catch all the small references to the comics, the game is still incredibly fun with plenty to do in order to occupy their hands for the rest of winter.

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Available on: PC, PS3, & Xbox 360
Rated M for Mature

As an easy competitor for Game of the Year, I will go on record to say that Skyrim is among one of the best $60 investments of this console generation. Its large, expansive world and new dynamic quest system opens the door to nearly endless possibilities to even the mightiest of Dovakiin, giving gamers hundreds upon hundreds of hours to experience something new. Even with additional play-throughs. Skyrim greatly improves on the already solid game-play mechanics of the Elder Scroll series – catering to both the hardcore RPG junkies and new adventurers alike.

 

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Available on: Wii
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+

After nearly two years of impatient waiting, Skyward Sword is finally on store shelves and has done nothing but lived up to its expectations. Staying true to the Legend of Zelda formula, Skyward Sword offers a few new improvements like the ability to turn off the heads-up display, a couple of tweaks to the game-play, and addition of a stamina bar, while also giving us all a reason to pull out our Motion Pluses. For once, the Motion Plus actual feels needed as we fight alongside Link on his fantastic, whimsical quest. If your gamer has a Wii, there is almost no reason as to why they should not have Skyward Sword waiting beneath their tree for them this year.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
Available on: 3DS, PS3, Xbox 360, & Wii
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+

While the $69.99 price tag and additional cost of costs might be a turn off, Skylanders is surprisingly worth the investment. The game is easy-to-jump-into, making it accessible to both kids and causal gamers alike. While its simplistic-Gauntlet game-play style will satisfy veterans, Skylanders has the ability of creating a middle ground to bring two types of gamers together. It is a fantastic bonding game as it supports both multi-player and co-operative game-play with each person having the ability to personally customize their individual Skylander. You can complete the game with the three figures included with its initial purchase, but you cannot gather all the items or explore all the areas without at least one Skylander of each element. This allows additional figures to become great stocking stuffers!

 

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Available on: PS3
Rated T for Teen

Good ol’ Nathan Drake has easily made his way into many of our hearts. His carelessness and snarky attitude make him look adorable as he leaps from burning, collapsing builds and derailing trains. The Uncharted series has always offered over-the-top, cinematic style action and pure entertainment; so it should be of no surprise to see Uncharted 3 following in its predecessors’ footsteps. The controls are as solid and fluent as always. Creating a nice little package of awesomeness as it ties itself together with breath taking graphics and movie-like presentation.

Needless to say, Uncharted 3 is a “must have” for any PS3 owner.

 

3DS
The 3DS had a bit of a rough start earlier in the year, but now with its $169.99 price tag, it has plenty to offer. The specs are a great improvement over the older DS models, offering better looking games and more options with the upgraded hardware. Not only can you now play games in 3D as well as all your current DS games, but you also have Netflix and Hulu in the palm of your hands. At the same time, the 3DS still contains helpful features the DSi systems contained such as built in web browser and camera. It’s a snazzy little device that is bound to give you something to do regardless if you are on a trip or sitting around at home.

 

Modest Law

… also referred to as Johnny by his parents and friends, is a Gamer, Artist, and Professional Nerd. In his free time, he writes for RFMag, is a hobbyist game designer, takes photos, and writes short little blurbs about himself in the third person. If you wish to read more short blurbs written by him, usually in the first person and not exclusively about himself, you can check out his Twitter feed @modestlaw

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Rage
Available on: Mac, PS3, PC, iPhone
Rated M for Mature

This is classic FPS inspired game with modern graphics and RPG elements. It bares a close resemblance to Borderlands with some level design that could have been pulled from a Half Life game. While there are a lot of really great multi-player FPS’s this year, Rage will win you or your gift receiver over with a strong campaign, brilliant graphics and AI. Another great surprise is the vehicles, they handle great, are fun to race and battle with, and like many other elements of the game, completely customizable.  If you love first person shooters but getting tired of multi-player focused military shooters, then this is the game to get.

 

Super Mario 3D Land
Available on: Nintendo 3DS
Rated E for Everyone

The 3DS and it’s owners have been waiting for that killer app that shows off why the hardware is great, Super Mario 3D Land is no doubt that game.

The reason you may be interested in Super Mario 3D Land is the return of the Tanooki suit, but this game is also among Mario’s best outings ever. The game features the best in industry 3D effects that enhances the game-play experiences and a smart pacing that can appeal to the casual mobile gamer (no really, my Mom loves this game) to the dedicated core gamer. Games just don’t hit that wide of an audience anymore. But like all Mario games, you always get a breath of content and every level is a new and unique experience that has more thought and creativity on display in one three minute level than most entire games these days. The game also draws from Mario and Nintendo‘s rich history, so if you have a favorite thing about Mario games, odds are it’s probably in the game.

If you already have a 3DS, this is the system’s must have game you and your friends have been waiting for. If you don’t own one, this game and Mario Kart 7 are a great way to justify getting one this Christmas.

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Available on: PC, PS3, & Xbox 360
Rated M for Mature

What can I say about this game that has not already been said: It’s huge, you can do anything you want, you can duel wield magic and swords, and there are dragons… lots of dragons.
The experiences you have in between story missions are special to you, but if you played any Bethesda game, you no doubt already knew and expected that. What you might be surprised to find is that the game is remarkably well paced for a open world game, and richly rewards the player for their triumphs during the countless hours you will no doubt sink into it. If you could only have one game to last you all of 2012, Skyrim is the must have game to get.

 

MC Frontalot’s – “Solved”

Give the ever continuing gift of Nerdcore this Christmas with the new MC Frontalot CD art, “Solved”, for the low low price of 15 dollars. Never heard of him? Well shame on you, he is only the scientifically proven World’s 579th greatest rapper, godfather of Nerdcore and still it’s Final Boss.

Catchy tunes on this album like “Critical Hit” compare the music industry to a Dungeons and Dragon‘s game while a song about three giant robot pilots argue on who will form the head, in the song “I’ll Form the Head.” The beats are all fresh like Ziploc and dorkier than that one kid you knew who sat in a corner during lunch talking non stop about Mega-man; little did you realize then that he was the most awesome kid in the room.

Other great nerdy new albums I would recommend include:
Jonathan Coulton – “Artificial Heart”
Hank Green – “Ellen Hardcastle”
Supercommuter –  “Products of Science”
MC Lars – “Lars Attacks!”

All these guys have mix tapes and singles available on their respective websites as well as songs and music video’s posted on YouTube, just in case you don’t trust my taste in awesome music. Besides, CD art is a rare treat in today’s world of online digital distribution and will no doubt come as a pleasant and colorful surprise to whoever you give it to.

 

GamerGal… more commonly known as Dani, is a lover of all things. Her taste in games varies just as much as her taste in music. Lover of anything Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Kingdom Hearts, Halo, Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band. Feel free to contact her on Twitter at @RoyalFlushGal or email her at GamerGal [at] RoyalFlushMagazine [dot] com.

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Dance Central 2
Available on: Xbox 360 Kinect
Rated T for Teen

If there’s one definitive game for the Kinect it’s Dance Central. It’s intuitive menu and easy to follow dance routines make this game an easy recommendation for me. Dance Central 2 builds upon the addictive game-play and allows you to battle alongside your friends. While most might turn away from it, ultimately, everyone falls for its catchy dance tunes and ease of play. Filled with music for just about anyone, Dance Central 2 is the quintessential game for the Kinect. And yes, I’m willing to repeat myself! With it’s responsive voice command system and new two player dance battle mode, Dance Central 2 is the one game for Kinect everyone should get.

 

Disney Universe
Available on: Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PC
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+

I was truly shocked by this gem. Disney Universe is perfect for any Disney fan! It’s a straight-forward platformer where players done cute outfits from Disney’s most popular characters while trying to free enslaved tourists. It’s cute and comical levels cleverly increase the difficulty when more players join in on the fun thus transforming the levels into mini co-op missions where aiding each other is key. This is a must have if you are looking for a game to share with your little ones that isn’t overwhelming or even boring.

 

Gears of War 3
Available on: Xbox 360
Rated M for Mature

Yup, I still think this is the best f-ing Gears game in the franchise. With a revamped Horde mode, brand new Beast mode, and a compelling campaign, Gears of War 3 is simply the best shooter out there when it comes to versatility. It’s up there with Halo: Reach and Rock Band 3 which are still games I can be found playing constantly. If you have a Gears fan in your midst and they haven’t pick up this title, why just do them a favor and pick it up for them!

 

Twister Mania
Available on: Xbox 360
Rated E for Everyone

I don’t see a lot of people talking about this little gem, honestly. It’s perfect for any casual gamer and might be the perfect game for family gatherings!

The premise is simple: Players either battle head-to-head or cooperatively through a gauntlet of mini-games that has everyone twisting, bending and contorting their way through various puzzles. Every puzzle is unique and has players bend their body to either fill, dodge or destroy shapes that stand in your path. While it requires ample space to play in, it’s still an amazing game that honestly only requires your imagination and a high tolerance, maybe even appreciation, for contortionism.

 

GamerGal // Pop Culture Editor

GamerGal, more commonly known as Dani, is a Pop Culture Editor for Royal Flush Magazine. She is a lover of all things gaming. Her favorite game franchises include Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Kingdom Hearts, Halo, Dance Dance Revolution, and Rock Band. When not gaming, she's navigating the dangerous waters of Web Development while having a long lasting love/hate relationship with IE7.

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