The holidays are here again, and the shopping season isn’t going to be anything like we’ve seen in the past.

American shoppers plan to spend around $2 billion every day between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 except for the Thanksgiving break, which runs from Nov. 22 through Dec. 2. There will also be an average $3 billion in daily online spending, as the Deseret News reported.

And deals will go throughout the month. It’s not one day. It’s the entire month, said John Copeland, head of marketing and customer insights at Adobe.

“As retailers adapt to consumers’ new behaviors in this pandemic, we expect earlier discounts, more shipping and pickup options and uncertainty around in-store purchases to drive this year’s online holiday sales to record highs,” Copeland said in a statement, according to the Deseret News.

“This year is unlike any in the past, and for the first time we are no longer referring to peak holiday sales as Cyber Week — it’s now Cyber Month.”

We’ve pulled together a number of video games, tech devices and toys, among other items, that you can buy right now for Black Friday and the holiday season.

This list is not all-inclusive. To submit a product for potential review or a Black Friday deal, email [email protected]


Here’s the order of what’s included in the review so you can find your desired item:

Video games

  • NBA 2K21
  • FIFA 21
  • Madden 21
  • Super Mario 3D All-Stars
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King
  • Pikmin 3 Deluxe
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Tech devices

  • PlayStation 5
  • Yeti Nano Microphone
  • MX Vertical Mouse
  • Logitech TKL Gaming keyboard

Other


Video games

NBA 2K21

  • Price: $59.99.
  • Systems: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows.
  • Rating: E for mild language.

Kobe Bryant appears to NBA 2K21.

Kobe Bryant appears to NBA 2K21.
Matt Chang, 2K

NBA 2K21 does a good job of playing homage to the traditional games, while implementing new ideas like a “seasons” award agenda, as well as changes to the shooting mechanics.

Should you buy it? Here’s what I wrote in my review:

Honestly, it depends what you like. If you’re a MyTeam fan, there is plenty of new content to get you started on a new grind. That said, NBA 2K20 fans can compete with their old set of players for as long as they want. Those happy with their NBA 2K20 lineups may want to wait until the new best players come out in NBA 2K21.

But there’s also Next Gen to consider. NBA 2K21 will be released on the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox One X, so who knows what they’ll lead to for gamers.

It’s also an odd time for basketball. The real NBA season just ended and we won’t see another until maybe … well, who knows when. So, I’d say pick whichever version will fill your need for new NBA content. Because we’re going to need it.


FIFA 2021

  • Price: $59.99.
  • Systems: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows.
  • Rating: E.

FIFA is one of those games where if you play every year, you’re not bound to find any major differences between the years. Most of the games tend to have the same feel, vibe and style. Sometimes you get a nice update to the menu screens or the soccer clubs themselves. Rarely do we get a change to the gameplay itself.

That changes with FIFA 21, where the game feels as realistic as games come. The play feels slower, more methodical and less like you’re playing an arcade game with players running all over the field. Players make smart decisions on the pitch, working alongside their teammates and operating within a full system — something that’s perfect for a soccer game.

The typical modes of FIFA 21 are in this game, as you’d expect them to be. The Ultimate Team mode is a little clunky and hard to embrace at first, especially since there are so many players across the world that it’s hard to keep track of which virtual cards you want.

The volta mode continues to add a fun new aspect to the FIFA games, giving you a break from the long grind of a traditional soccer match. It’s been nice to see a FIFA game with so many different modes to embrace, making it easier to play and stay engaged with the games.

Here’s the thing — FIFA 21 needed to be a strong game for it to make an impact. The game is going to appear on the PlayStation 5, so it needed to be a strong game for it to be something worth buying on the new system. And the game totally hit the mark. The gameplay is fresh and more methodical, putting you right in the middle of the game. It also provides fun gameplay modes to keep you engaged long after your match is done.

And the last note about this game — the soundtrack is stellar. FIFA soundtracks are hit or miss in most cases. Some have absolutely fire soundtracks with songs that you’ll be singing for years to come. FIFA 21 has one of those soundtracks. It’s a great soundtrack to have on in the background when you’re working from home, and one you’ll add to your own personal playlists.


Madden 21

  • Price: $59.99.
  • Systems: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows.
  • Rating: E for mild lyrics.

Madden 21 first-look photo of Kyler Murray.

Madden 21 first-look photo of Kyler Murray.
fortyseven communications

“Madden 21” might be one of the most fun “Madden” experiences in the last five years or so, bringing fans back into a game that anyone can dive into without needing a vast amount of football knowledge or know-how.

“Madden 21” came out just before there was clear indication there would be an NFL season. So there was a pretty good chance that most fans would get their NFL fix from simply playing Madden. The game delivers in that regard by a long shot. Simplicity is key here for a game that’s about one of the more difficult sports to understand, and it’s never been easier to hop right in for gameplay.

Let’s talk about the soundtrack. It’s fire. It will continually get songs stuck in your head, making you jam out while playing. There have been a few times where I’ve left the menu on during the work day for background noise because the tracks are just that good.

The Madden Ultimate Team mode — similar to the NBA MyTeam mode, where you can pay to buy in-game cards that represent players that can help build a squad — is exceptional this year, too. The mode offers mini-challenges that you can complete to earn points, which helps you buy players and build out your squad. It comes with a few more options than NBA 2K21 does, and allows you to search the auction house a bit more. The mode also lets you control some of your favorite players early on, too.

Overall, “Madden 21” is a sold entry into the franchise at a time when we could all use a little more sports with fans and that feel like they’re actually happening. If this is the direction Madden goes for the future, then there’s a lot to be happy about for football fans.


Super Mario 3D All-Stars

Price: $59.99.

Available on: Nintendo Switch.

Rating: E for mild cartoon violence.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars is hands-down a must-own collection for Nintendo Switch. Three of Nintendo’s best Mario titles are in great form here, with upgraded resolution and controls that more or less bring Super Mario’s 64, Sunshine and Galaxy into the modern era — Galaxy, the most recent title, is over 10 years old, and it and its predecessors have been trapped on their respective launch consoles until now.

Outside of a soundtrack mode for each game there isn’t much in terms of bonuses or extras included in the package, which is unfortunate considering the $60 price tag. It would have been nice to see a digital art book or videos related to each game, but the games themselves have transitioned well into the modern era.

“Super Mario 3D All-Stars” includes remastered versions of “Super Mario 64,” “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy” for Nintendo Switch.

“Super Mario 3D All-Stars” includes remastered versions of “Super Mario 64,” “Super Mario Sunshine” and “Super Mario Galaxy” for Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo

While these games are dated, the subtle update makes them perfectly playable on the Switch — 64 and Sunshine might look a little blocky, the textures are clear and the framerate stays stable.

Super Mario Galaxy, on the other hand, looks and feels almost like a current-generation game — while it’s not as pretty as Super Mario Odyssey, it still shines brightly.

The collection also features about 100 hours of excellent gameplay. While Mario 64 translates the series’ 2D platforming successfully into 3D, Sunshine and Galaxy show Nintendo at its most creative — Sunshine toys with a water-spraying jetpack, while Galaxy sends players to space, complete with convincing zero-gravity effects. Mario always feels great to control, and the variety in each mission makes collecting hundreds of stars fun, even long after Bowser has been defeated.


Paper Mario: The Origami King

Price: $59.99.

Available on: Nintendo Switch.

Rating: E for mild cartoon violence.

Paper Mario: The Origami King is a return to form for the role-playing spinoff series. Past games introduced 2D platforming, stickers and card game mechanics, but Origami King brings Mario back for a more traditional adventure similar to Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. While the series’ trademark sense of humor is entertaining and whimsical, new puzzle mechanics introduced into the battle system shake things up a bit.

The game introduces a new cast of characters for players to meet — namely Olly, the Origami King, who wraps the Mushroom Kingdom in gigantic streamers and converts its paper residents into folded soldiers. Throughout the game’s story players explore detailed papercraft environments and take on powerful bosses, like origami dragons, rubber bands and colored pencils.

The gameplay itself focuses on exploring the world to find collectibles and coins, which help enhance the battle system. Instead of relying on experience points like a traditional RPG, Mario levels up at predetermined intervals — usually after finding a secret or defeating a boss. Saving Toads — each of which is very chatty — adds them to your audience, which adds to the game’s puzzle system.

Instead of a regular turn-based battle system, Paper Mario introduces a new ring puzzle system, where players need to line up enemies by type for full effectiveness. Players are usually given enough turns to solve each ring puzzle. If you succeed, Mario gets a damage bonus to his jump and hammer attacks. Toads can also be called on to partially solve puzzles, which can be a huge help during more complicated boss fights.

While the battle system is the weakest part of the game, Paper Mario: The Origami King has a witty, wholesome sense of humor and a great sense of exploration, making it great for gamers of all ages.


Pikmin 3 Deluxe

Price: $59.99.

Available on: Nintendo Switch.

Rating: E10+ for mild cartoon violence.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the latest Wii U export to Nintendo Switch and is the developer’s answer to the real-time strategy genre. As a crew of diminutive astronauts, players will lead an army of Pikmin while on a rescue mission to save Captain Olimar, the protagonist of the series. Each Pikmin comes in a variety of colors (each with their own unique ability), which in turn allows players to accomplish different tasks.

Gameplay mostly involves multitasking between three groups of Pikmin to explore wild untamed environments, gather fruit and artifacts and defeat a variety of insect enemies. Players can grow new Pikmin and use a variety of different actions (like an attention-grabbing whistle or throwing Pikmin) to solve puzzles and discover new secrets.

While the game itself is essentially the same as it was on the Wii U, Nintendo has added new content in the form of new side stories starring Olimar and his companion, Louie. The entire game can also be played in cooperative couch multiplayer, letting up to two players work together.


Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time

Price: $59.99.

Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One.

Rating: E10+ for alcohol reference, cartoon violence, comic mischief and language.

Crash Bandicoot 4, developed by Toys For Bob (of “Skylanders” fame), picks up on the legacy of Naughty Dog’s original ’90s-era platforming series, which has seen numerous sequels, spinoffs and remakes over the years. However, this new entry pulls Crash back to his pure platforming, dimension-hopping roots.

The game follows the titular marsupial and his sister, Coco, as they attempt to stop Neo Cortex from conquering the multiverse. Players take control of either Bandicoot across dozens of levels and can use various mystical masks to slow down time, shift gravity and phase through obstacles. Players can also replay levels to collect gems, clear alternate paths and complete time trials, which extends the replay value and adds new challenges.

Caption: Crash and Aku Aku slide on a vine in this screenshot from “Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time”.

Crash and Aku Aku slide on a vine in this screenshot from Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.
Activision, Toys For Bob

Bonus levels also feature other characters, like Cortex, and introduce new abilities and gameplay hooks. There are also several options to adjust the game’s difficulty — a modern mode offers unlimited lives and adaptive checkpoints, which can help younger players clear more difficult levels. Classic mode instead limits players to pre-set checkpoints and finite lives, which can be replenished by collecting tokens and wumpa fruit.


Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Price: $49.99 (Standard) $69.99 (Ultimate Edition).

Available on: PlayStation 5, PS4.

Rating: T for blood, drug reference, language and violence.

Spider-Man: Miles Morales follows 2018’s “Spider-Man,” taking what worked well from its predecessor and expanding on it for a tighter, more focused adventure. Set in a wintery New York City, the game follows Miles Morales — a newly-minted Spider-Man — as he discovers his powers during a conflict between the Roxxon Energy Corporation and the Tinkerer, an inventor and leader of the Underground resistance.

Fans of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” or the last decade of Spider-comics should be pleased with the tone and portrayal of the title character, as well as his adventures. The game’s missions strike a great tone of high-energy action and great humor while giving players powerful abilities, like web-slinging or powered-up venom strikes. Sneaking through heavily-guarded power stations or chasing pigeons are all equally engaging thanks to great voice-over, combat and interesting environmental puzzles.

Miles Morales web swings through New York City in “Spider-Man: Miles Morales”.

Miles Morales web swings through New York City in Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
Insomniac Games, Marvel, PlayStation

Spider-Man is also one of the PlayStation 5’s launch titles and features improved graphics, near-instant load times and ray-tracing support, which is used to create realistic reflections and lighting throughout the game. The Ultimate Edition, which costs an additional $20, also includes a remastered version of the first “Spider-Man” game, which has received the same graphical and performance upgrades. PS4 owners who purchase Miles Morales will also be able to upgrade to the PS5 version for free.


Tech tools

PlayStation 5

Price: $499 (standard), $399 (digital edition).

The PlayStation 5 is a major step up from its predecessor, the PS4, thanks to innovations with its controller and storage technology. The most noticeable benefit to upgrading to a new console is loading times — both PS4 and newer PS5 games take advantage of the system’s solid-state drive, which can allow games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Bugsnax to load in a matter of seconds. Loading screens are also nonexistent in most games, which could mean more time actually exploring virtual worlds.

The PlayStation 5 is Sony’s newest video game console and can be purchased with or without a disc drive.

The PlayStation 5 is Sony’s newest video game console and can be purchased with or without a disc drive.
Sony, PlayStation

The DualSense controller could also be considered the PS5’s biggest selling point. The controller features haptic feedback, which allows for more nuanced vibration patterns in games. Walking across snow in games causes the controller to vibrate softly and slowly, while an in-game rainstorm causes small pops across the face of the controller — it’s convincing enough to allow for more immersion. The controller also features adaptive triggers, which can create tension to simulate actions like drawing back a bow string or swinging through the air as Spider-Man.

The small lineup of launch games also allows for Astro’s Playroom, a pack-in game, to shine. The 3D platformer is about two hours long, but is packed full of showcases for the PS5’s new features. It’s incredibly charming and shows what the console is capable of, from loading levels instantly to teaching players how diverse the controller’s haptics can be. PlayStation Plus subscribers can also download 20 critically-acclaimed PS4 games at no additional cost, according to the PlayStation Blog.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the console itself comes in two models — one with a disc drive for $499, and a disc-free version for $399. The latter is cheaper but targeted more towards people with digital game collections, so anyone who prefers physical game discs should look at picking up the full-price console. However, both versions of the PS5 still offer the same features and performance.

YETI NANO MICROPHONE

This microphone works wonders for those looking to record a podcast or simply use it for gaming purposes. The microphone connects cleanly into your computer through a USB port. The sound quality from the microphone exceeds most gaming headlines. Make sure you sit or stand a little bit away from the microphone to avoid causing static noise. Otherwise, it’s a great microphone for recording your new podcast or voice messages.

JAYBIRD VISTA EARBUDS

These headphones — which come from the Utah-based company Jaybird — are a solid and cheaper alternative to the wireless headphone model popularized by Apple AirPods. The headphones fit more snuggly into your ears. The sound quality isn’t as good — it’s a little more flat than dynamics like you’d see on the AirPods. But the battery power is where you win the day. I used these headphones every day for two weeks and didn’t have to charge the charging case. The Apple AirPods seem to lose battery super quick. These are a great budget pair of wireless headphones. Just know you may lose a little sound quality for the sake of saving cash.

MX VERTICAL MOUSE

Vertical mouses are the new ergonomic way to handle your home office. The MX Vertical Mouse took some time to get use to with its buttons on the side and it inverted style. But overall, the mouse works like any another. I can confirm your wrist hurts less after using this mouse than the traditional one. It even works without a mouse bad, which provides a benefit.

LOGITECH TKL GAMING KEYBOARD

The keyboard is a solid gaming keyboard that works for the casual gamer. The clicky version is a fun one if you’re into the sounds of a keyboard. But there are other keyboards out there that shine with colors as your fingers move. So the colors will follow your writing pattern. This one simply glows with various colors and there doesn’t seem to be a proper pattern. But the keyboard has spaced out keys that make it easy to flip between commands as you game or as you write and work from home.

Funko Pops

A number of Funko Pops are available for the holiday season that will appeal to fans of Utah, “Star Wars” and other products. Here’s a quick rundown of the types available this season.

More deals:

  • OnePlus is offering $100 off its 2020 flagship devices — the OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro — during Black Friday and Cyber Monday week (Nov. 18 through Nov. 30).

This article will be updated with new reviews.