Holiday Gift Guide: Top Kids Games

19 November, 2012 Play No comments
Holiday Gift Guide: Top Kids Games

Kids to together like ice cream and nuts, like peanut butter and jelly, like—well, you get the idea. Even though video games have reached far beyond the youth market, young people are far and away the most enthusiastic patrons of the pastime and there are still plenty of safe, fun games for them to enjoy. 

In fact, this list of 2012’s best games for kids shouldn’t exclusively be viewed as a collection of games that are for children; every game named is capable of ensnaring any player of any gender or age. The important thing is that they’re thematically safe and easy to learn. 

Epic Mickey 2: Power of Two (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Windows, Mac) – This sequel to 2012’s Epic Mickey for the Wii lets to players adventure side-by-side as Mickey Mouse and his compatriot, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The duo team up to save the Cartoon Wasteland once more, and much like the first game, splashing paint or thinner on the scenery plays a big part in getting things done. 

Skylanders: Giants (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS) – It’s no surprise that 2011’s monster hit Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure received a sequel. As was the case in the first game, this action/adventure experience pairs up a digital experience with collectable plastic toys that become “real” in the game world. The merger is sure to continue to be a hit with kids. 

Super Mario Wii U (Wii U) – Kids love Mario games, and for good reason. Nintendo is launching the Wii U alongside its latest side-scrolling Mario platformer, and both look great. Four players can work through the game simultaneously, which should put an end to “I’M NEXT!” battles. 

Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita) – The Lego property and comic book heroes tend to fit together like, uh, Lego bricks. This open-world action/adventure game starting Batman and his pals (and enemies) is colorful, fun, and will delight young new fans and veterans alike. 

Scribblenauts Unlimited (Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Windows) – Scribblenauts Unlimited is more than a fun game with a great sense of humor. It’s also an opportunity to let kids practice creative problem solving. Players reach the goals outlined in each stage using  a magic notebook that can make almost any object come to life. 

Paper Mario Sticker Star (Nintendo 3DS) – The latest entry from the weird but wonderful Paper Mario game series combines action, platforming, and role-playing. Of course, there are battles to be fought—lots of them—which Mario accomplishes by collecting and utilizing stickers. The shinier, the better. 

Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 (Nintendo DS) – Pokemon lives. Pokemon Black Version 2/White Version 2 are direct follow-ups to Pokemon Black/White for the Nintendo DS. That equals a lot more exploration, a lot more story, and, needless to say, a lot more Pokemon-catching. 

Minecraft (Xbox 360, PC, iOS, Anrdoid) – Though Minecraft was released to a mainstream audience in late 2011, it has endured through 2012 as one of its most popular games. The world of Minecraft is as open-ended as a world can get. Players can choose to survive against enemies and hunger while they build shelters and forage for food, or they can simply build, build, build whatever their hearts desire. 

Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii) – Rhythm games that utilize licensed music (Guitar Hero/Rock Band) may have overstayed their welcome, but rhythm games that feature original, odd visuals and music are still thriving. Rhythm Heaven Fever for Wii is one of the best entries in the rhythm genre, as it features unique graphics and incredibly catchy tunes. It’s easy to play, but scoring a coveted “Perfect” on every stage is going to take hours of practice.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo 3DS) – If you remember the original Kid Icarus for the NES, you might be a little old. But you can be any age to appreciate Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. It combines non-stop shooting and action with one of the funniest game scripts to hit gaming in a long time.

Best Wii U Games: A Review and Recap

13 November, 2012 Play No comments
Best Wii U Games: A Review and Recap

Nintendo has a long, proud history of providing top-quality video game consoles for adults and kids of all ages, dating back to the 1985 release of its defining Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The device wasn’t just the first such machine to command a millions-strong global following in the post-Atari 2600 world. It also helped save the industry from a crippling 1983 crash, single-handedly proved that video games weren’t a fad (actually a cultural question mark at the time), and came to define home gaming for an entire generation. Dozens of popular franchises established during this era – including Super Mario Bros., Metroid and The Legend of Zelda – are still going strong today. Poised at the launch of its latest console, the Wii U (powered by a tablet PC-like touchscreen controller, fully online-/media-enabled, and the first Nintendo system to support high-definition graphics), the company’s legacy bears remembering.

Case in point: Over the past two decades, the much-beloved Japanese giant has brought players a wealth of technological advancements, proving that both innovation and imagination is in its DNA. Granted, not all have been successful: Anyone remember migraine-inducing semi-portable the Virtual Boy or two-hit wonder R.O.B. the robot (essentially included with the NES to con retailers burned by the ’83 crash into thinking it was more high-tech novelty item than game)? But from the original Game Boy tagalong to the 3D graphics-enabled Nintendo 3DS handheld, seminal 16-bit system the Super Nintendo to groundbreaking motion-controlled outing the Wii, you have to applaud the manufacturer. While it’s been prone to both wildly successful and wildly bizarre experiments, its many phenomenal successes have helped drive the industry forward, and the company has never been shy about its commitment to raising the bar. Say what you will about the house that brought us Mario, Donkey Kong and the rest of the supporting cast of Super Smash Bros.: It’s seldom one to follow in the footsteps of competitors.

All of which, of course, brings us to the dawn of the Wii U – the first of the next round of next-generation consoles to arrive, and among its most promising and original. Aimed at taking gamers beyond what they can currently get from rivals the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, it’s also the first shot fired in what promises to be a long and lasting battle for living room domination. Designed to deliver eye-popping 1080p HD graphics; facilitate digital downloads of music, movies, games and more; and allow for differing play experiences on TV vs. tablet controller, hopes for the system currently run high. As the first new set-top video game system in six years, and the long-awaited sequel to the Wii – the bestselling console of its generation, and first to both offer gesture controls and reach near-ubiquitous mainstream awareness – it’s hard not to be excited. But the sweetest news of all surrounding the system may also be a point that many have missed. As the below games illustrate, despite Nintendo’s storied and proud history to date, for both the manufacturer and fans alike, the best may be very well yet to come.

WII U SYSTEMS

The Wii U is available in two configurations: Basic (includes 8GB internal storage) and Deluxe (offers 32GB internal storage + Nintendo Land video game, console stand and a cradle/stand for your GamePad). Systems are defined by a custom 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen-powered tablet GamePad controller which offers secondary perspectives on on-screen action, and lets you view videos separately from the TV. Features allow for gameplay viewing on both your television and the GamePad, and support for controlling your set using the tablet, with benefits also extending to wireless Internet connectivity, online multiplayer and multimedia downloads, and video chat or second-screen viewing experiences. Needless to say, it crams a lot of performance into one small package.

Nintendo Wii U (Basic) – Click Here for More

Nintendo Wii U (Deluxe) – Click Here for More

 

BEST WII U GAMES

Note that you can click the below links to learn more about all Wii U game options, and for online shopping deals.


 

 

 

 

 

 

New Super Mario Bros. U

Classic arcade fun for all ages: Run, jump and stomp on enemies’ heads while collecting coins, nabbing ability-enhancing power-ups and exploring the Mushroom Kingdom’s candy-colored cartoon world. Featuring favorite characters such as Mario, Toad and Luigi, it offers familiar fast-paced thrills that players of every skill level can enjoy, plus a new twist: The ability for GamePad users to try and assist or antagonize others enjoying simultaneous multiplayer challenges. Besides a raft of sweet features – e.g. bonuses like the Flying Squirrel suit, options to import your Mii virtual avatar into various challenges, and more – it’s also the first must-have title for the system. Blending nostalgia with new high-tech tricks, we’d be amazed if it also wasn’t the first bestseller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Epic Mickey: The Power of Two

An original adventure pairing Mr. M-O-U-S-E himself with less well-known predecessor Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, this gorgeously-appointed action-adventure sends you wandering through a world of forgotten Disney characters and backdrops. Wielding a magical paint brush and high-powered remote control, players must help the twin heroes solve tricky puzzles, overcome fiendish foes and explore an evolving storyline that changes based on your choices. Support for two-man cooperative (co-op) play lets friends and family get in on the excitement, and Wii U owners benefit especially, with the GamePad offering a second view on the action. As much a love letter to Disney’s creations as first-rate gaming experience, its rich storyline, engaging suite of challenges and atmospheric environs make the title a top draw this holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assassin’s Creed III

Rewinding the clock to the Revolutionary War, the latest in the multimillion-selling action-adventure series – wherein discerning adults play a historical hitman – puts you in the shoes of a lethal assassin. From the Battle of Bunker Hill to raging shipboard engagements and the streets of New York, you get a chance to rewrite history by cleverly stalking and eliminating targets, then making daring acrobatic escapes. Set in a living, breathing 3D world of haunting characters and locales, it’s designed to test both your wits and reflexes. The Wii U edition provides added benefits by putting a map of targets’ locations right at-hand, and offers touch commands for easy weapon switching when it’s time to do your patriotic duty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scribblenauts Unlimited

Among the most original puzzle games of the past decade, Scribblenauts Unlimited provides a clever approach to tackling challenges: With a touch of your finger, you can create objects and summon them on-screen to help hero Maxwell. Literally thousands of combinations are possible as you mix and match parts while moving through a seemingly hand-drawn, open-ended world designed to be traveled at your leisure. Inventions can also be shared online for friends to remix and pass along, making the title among the more creative options out there for kids and adults alike. Anyone who’s ever spent hours idly doodling in a notepad will understand its promise immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madden NFL 13

EA Sports’ line of popular athletic simulations – other options include FIFA Soccer 13, NHL 13, etc. – has been a longstanding hit with gamers of all ages. But even though, similar to its siblings, Madden NFL 13 is available (and highly recommended) on other systems, you haven’t seen virtual football like this before. Letting you take on the role of player or coach, and play in dazzling HD, the key upside here are touchscreen commands – you can use the GamePad to call plays, make substitutions and more in the most intuitive format yet seen on a gaming console. Backed by online connectivity, authentic game day presentation and commentary, and the same pigskin action millions know and love, it’s clearly among the year’s hottest new MVPs for sporting fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tekken Tag Tournament 2

Enjoy 3D fighting games? Check out the latest in the long-running martial arts series, which amps up the action with a huge roster of brawlers who can kick, punch and flying uppercut their way through one-on-one, one-on-two, or two-on-two tag team battles. Over 50 bruisers to pick from, extensive multiplayer support (up to four can get in on the action) and loads of extra features – i.e. killer replay videos, numerous game modes, extensive practice options, and an arresting range of international stages to scrap on – add ample replay value. If you’re looking for head-to-head action with a bit of nuance, you’ll find its strategic showdowns demand approaching with a sense of gravity, even as a range of kooky costumes and gonzo characters reflect the title’s unwillingness to take itself too seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZombiU

Outside of the Resident Evil series, horror-themed games typically aren’t the first thing you’d associate with Nintendo’s traditionally family-friendly systems. But UbiSoft hopes to challenge players’ thinking in this promising new survival horror outing custom-designed for the Wii U that pits you against legions of walking dead. Set in a London overrun by walking cadavers, your goal is simple: Stay alive. But that’s easier said than done when you have to keep glancing between your GamePad controller and the TV, or dealing with competing players in multiplayer modes that let evil-minded pals try and plague friends by becoming an adversarial Zombie Master.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Yes, the critically-acclaimed run-n-gun franchise is available on other systems such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; an obvious choice for first-person shooter fans; and for Mature audiences only. But if you’re a discerning adult looking for a Hollywood-style gun battle experience that’s sure to make the neighbors’ jaws drop, then pop this neo-futuristic firefight in and watch their eyes bug out of their head. Boasting branching storylines, multiplayer standoffs so immersive you’ll enjoy weeks’ worth of excitement from just these modes alone, and support for second-screen play (i.e. touchscreen controls for picking maps or loadouts), rest assured. For pure, white-knuckle thrills, they don’t make ‘em better than this – or more capable of keeping you glued to the screen, whichever (TV or GamePad) you prefer.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Mass Effect 3 (Role-Playing)

SiNG Party (Music)

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge (Action-Adventure)

Pikmin 3 (Strategy)

Ben 10: Omniverse (Action)

NintendoLand (Arcade)

Sonic & All-Stars Racing (Racing)

007 Legends (Shooter)

Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013 (Simulation)

Darksiders II (Action-Adventure)

This post is part of eBay Finders, a new partnership that presents collections of items curated by a carefully selected group of electronics experts. Meet more of the Finders on the eBay Electronics blog. #eBayFinders

Holiday Gift Guide: Best Video Games

12 November, 2012 Play No comments
Holiday Gift Guide: Best Video Games

It’s the holiday season once again, and perhaps you’re stuck for a good gift idea. Video games are a good option: Almost everyone loves receiving them, which makes them successful gifts in the short term. On the other hand, you don’t have to play a game for long in order to know it’s rotten. That’s why it’s a good idea to grab hold of some suggestions before you shop. 

Getting a game for an adult is a bit different from getting one for a kid. Games for grown-ups tend to contain mature content and/or gameplay mechanics that are difficult to grasp. That said, they also offer some remarkably deep experiences that can last for hours. Here are 2012’s best games for adults. 

Halo 4 (Xbox 360) – Microsoft’s latest entry in its popular first-person shooter series features an extremely detailed story and campaign, not to mention killer multiplayer features (literally). Its presentation is top-notch, and should be a hit with any fan of shooting games. 

Dishonored (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – Dishonored is a first-person stealth action adventure title. Seems like a mouthful, but what it basically means is that you play as an assassin who’s out for revenge against his betrayers—and we all know that assassins work best undetected. However, it’s actually possible to play through Dishonored without using lethal force. The story alters depending on how violent you are, or aren’t. 

FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Wii, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita) – Soccer may not be America’s favorite sport, but don’t let that drive you away from EA’s FIFA Soccer 13. It’s loaded with features. If you never got a chance to pick up FIFA 12, that’s all the more reason to jump right in with lucky 13. Also note: If you’re a hockey fan, don’t miss out on NHL 13 either – it’s a great choice for winter sports fans.

WWE ’13 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii) – Similarly, THQ’s latest large-budget WWE game might be familiar for anyone who played WWE ’12, but wrestling fans will love the game’s story, which takes place across the industry’s Attitude Era. 

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Wii U) – This role-playing /adventure game from BioWare received massive critical acclaim thanks to its epic story, interesting cast of characters, multi-tiered choice system, and stunning graphics. There was some controversy over the game’s supposedly lame ending, but the quality of the game’s finale ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder. It’s the whole experience that counts. 

Journey (PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Network) – Journey is a downloadable game that takes the player on a trip through the desert  and towards a distant mountain. You meet other players as you travel, and you can help one another—but your communications are restricted to wordless “singing.” How will you cooperate—if you choose to cooperate at all? Journey has received critical acclaim for its originality and beauty. 

Dragon’s Dogma (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – And sometimes, you just gotta bash things. Dragon’s Dogma is an action role-playing game by Capcom that takes place in an open world. There’s tons of hacking and slashing to be had, but the game’s real strength is its gigantic boss battles, which encourage you to search for unorthodox ways to bring down your prey. 

Tokyo Jungle (PlayStation 3) – Tokyo Jungle is a survival/action game that takes place in the deserted streets of Tokyo. It’s initially not clear what’s happened to humanity, but what’s important is that wildlife has reclaimed the region and you need to survive. You play through the game as a deer, a hyena, a couple of lions, and (prepare yourself) a Pomeranian. 

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows) – The must-have game of the holiday season. Dig first-person shooters? Then check out this home theater showpiece, which doubles down on pyrotechnics, Hollywood-style set pieces and online action galore – its Internet multiplayer mode alone will keep you busy for months.

Xenoblade (Wii) – This action/role-playing hybrid is the best role-playing game for the Wii, and one of the best RPGs ever released, period. You travel through large, open worlds and fight through swarms of enemies via a complex but compelling battle system. There’s a main story to follow, but you can do so at your own leisure while you pursue hundreds of side-quests. 

Max Payne 3 (Xbox, PlayStation 3, Windows) – In this third-person action/shooting game, you accompany a slightly older, slightly more cynical Max Payne as he works through Sao Paulo, Brazil. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for you, the player), he’s caught up in a conspiracy and is pulled into trouble. Max Payne 3 features some of the best graphics seen in any console title.

Borderlands 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) – Post-apocalyptic action role-playing in an animated, cel-shaded world: Where do we sign up? Letting you live out your every Mad Max fantasy, this sequel to the multiplatinum-selling megahit delivers more excitement, more gear, and more chances to collect loot while successfully straddling the line between run-n-gun thrills and detailed stat crunching.

Assassin’s Creed 3 (Xbox, PlayStation 3, Windows) – What can we say about the blockbuster franchise – in which you play a historical hitman, tasked with stalking and offing targets in a living, breathing 3D world – that hasn’t already been said in countless positive critical reviews? Rewinding the clock to the Revolutionary War, this latest installment blows the doors off the genre in the graphics, sound and gameplay departments, making it a must-play for mature audiences.

Special Mentions:

007 Legends

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Medal of Honor Warfighter

And of course, don’t miss Nintendo’s Wii U – a revolutionary new video game system which adds a tablet-like touchscreen controller, extensive online connectivity and games in dozens of favorite franchises such as Super Mario Bros. and Pikmin. The first of the next-generation (next next-generation?) consoles, it’s sure to be a hit with family and core gaming audiences of all ages, given its HD action, backwards compatibility with Wii games and extensive media playback and streaming options.