What were the best games and gadgets of Christmas 2014

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Christmas feels like the distant past and you’ve now had time to try out all your new games and gadgets.  Were they up to scratch or were you sorely disappointed? Are you still addicted or have they been packed away with all the other dusty old rejects.  Here we’ve put together a list of what we think are the best of the best sellers from the world of video, old school games and fun gadgets.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

The PS4 version of Shadow of Mordor made it’s way to the top of the Amazon best-sellers list, and small wonder.  This classic vengeance narrative game will satisfy The Lord of the Rings fanatics and avid gamers won’t be disappointed either.  But it’s not for the kids, this 18+ action packed adventure has a lot more blood and gore than the movie versions.  Players take the role of Talion, who returns from the dead with special powers to seek revenge on the brutal murder of his family by Sauron and his army. Players face unique enemies with different personalities, strengths and weaknesses, which makes for some excellent combat.  Nemesis System allows player decisions to shape personal archenemies and gamers can craft their own battles and rewards within a dynamic landscape that adapts to their choices.

Pinball

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The appeal of this shining, chiming, vibrant, iconic all American game endures. The pinball revival that has swept America and is now also taking hold in the UK  has in turn influenced a dramatic increase in sales of machines for home use.

“Pinball sales have increased dramatically year on year, and are now up over 800%! … There is a definite resurgence in the market and demand for both new and used machines,” says Andy Bereford of Home Leisure Direct.

This classic game has been through its highs and lows historically speaking but now a new generation of gamers, brought up on the digital version, are loving the real thing. A classic pinball machine in the home is not only a great way to enjoy digital free gaming but makes for an impressive and stylish addition to the general aesthetics of your living space.  Imagine finding one of these in your stocking!

Super Smash Bros Wii U

Another best seller both in UK and America, Super Smash Bros had sold 2.1 million in the US by December 2014 alone and this doesn’t even include Christmas sales. A must have for fans of the Nintendo classic, and it makes perfect sense that it has turned out to be a favourite in college dorms all over the world. The game is fast paced and action packed with new characters, gameplay modes, arenas and actions. You’ll recognise a huge cast of characters and stages from many of the Nintendo universes too who come together in a party style fighting brawl of intense fun.

Minecraft

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Minecraft now ranks as the second best selling video game ever made, coming in close behind Wii Sports, with combined sales reaching an astronomical 54 million to date.  Kids love Minecraft: because they can use their imaginations and create fantastical worlds. Parents love Mindcraft: because it doesn’t involve violent combat and (according to some sources) it improves spatial reasoning, logic and even encourages reading.  The fact that it is gender neutral and appeals equally to girls and boys is another attraction.  The artfully simple idea of breaking and placing blocks is just a clever red herring in this complex game. Structures are built to protect against night fiends, and players can create imaginative places, objects and buildings individually or together. With lands of mushrooms, Minecraft cakes, sunsets over blocky seas, and the need to survive against the lurking evil monsters, this game appeals to many ages and preferences and is proving to be a modern classic. 

Home pool table

Data from games room producers reveals that there is a huge increase in sales of games room games for home use.  Andy Beresford of Home Leisure Direct, a leading UK company says: “Pool tables were our biggest seller in 2014, by a long way. Lots of customers are looking to engage family and friends away from the TV, iPads and game consoles.”  And you don’t need a designated games room either. Sales of pool dining tables have also increased allowing people with smaller living spaces to enjoy the luxury of a decent sized pool table in their homes.

Sphero Ollie

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The Ollie is the latest app-controlled robot from Orbotix. It’s a update on the previous Sphero ball and is a faster tubular adaptation, reaching speeds of 14 mph with colour changing lights. Anyone who enjoys a remote controlled car will love this. You need an iOS and Android device loaded with the relevant app to control an Ollie which connects via Bluetooth. You can change the tires and hubcaps for even really tough outside terrain, and with a bit of practice the Ollie will perform tricks.

Robo Thespian

There are only about 35 of these robots in the world.  Produced in a factory in Penryn, Cornwall, it takes engineers a week or more to build one of these anthropomorphic machines.  They can be found performing on stage in plays and leading guided tours at museums and exhibitions.  They are installed with cameras, depth perception and facial recognition, and can respond to people and audience with an adaptive script and a slightly affected English accent.  But at £55,000 each, this is clearly only a gift only for the rich and the foolish.

Polaroid Socialmatic camera

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The iconic Polaroid camera is making a comeback.  The kids love its vintage look while enjoying the digital update so they can still share photos digitally on their favourite social channels.  The Polaroid Socialmatic has all of the appeal of a classic Polaroid camera, like instant photo printing,  but is fully aligned with the demands of todays’ digitally submerged youth.  Wi-Fi capabilities  allow for instant uploading to Instagram and other social media. The new stylish design and colour range make the Polaroid Socialmatic a great all rounder, cool, practical and fun.

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