Video games are some of the finest holiday gifts money can buy. Back when I was a kid, my yearly Christmas gift from my parents was a video game just about every single time, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. They’re the gifts that keep on giving – a good video game never goes out of style (alright, unless it’s one of those games that gets a yearly update). And, now that gaming has erupted into the mainstream, they make good gifts for just about everyone, from the fitness focused to the couch-bound, and everyone in between. Here’s a sampler platter of some of the most intriguing titles on the market this year.
Video games and fitness get along just fine these days (except for when they don’t), thanks to the motion controls pioneered by Nintendo, and followed up by the Kinect. One of the hottest fitness titles for the Kinect this season is Nike+ Kinect Training. Fitness video games are a dime a dozen, but this one promises to be a little more – your own digital personal trainer. It requires commitment, but if the player stays consistent, Nike+ Kinect Training could deliver on its promise. The game tests for fitness and endurance every four weeks to track progress and keep users on track to meeting their goals. Along the way, tips from Nike-sponsored athletes will be unlocked, and teams can be formed with friends for competition and to keep each other honest. And, thanks to the Kinect, Nike+ Kinect Training will, over time, develop a workout regimen tailored to the player’s build, performance, and goals. Nike+ Kinect Training is selling for about $50 now on Amazon for the Xbox 360.
The perennial dance hit and party game favorite is back for more. Dance Central 3 has over 40 new tracks from a good variety of eras, and (for a little extra) Dance Central 2 and Dance Central tracks can be imported. And, because it’s on Kinect, it’s not limited to just four players – multiplayer supports up to eight people at once, making it a true party game. Additional tracks will also be available as DLC, keeping things fresh until the inevitable Dance Central 4 comes out. You can give the gift of getting down for $49 on Amazon. As it uses Kinect, this one is only for the Xbox 360.
The game with nigh innumerable expansion packs gets yet another one – the Sims can now enjoy seasonal festivities in The Sims 3 Seasons Expansion Pack. Your Sims fan will be able to access seasonal-themed housing, clothing, and activities for their denizens. Also, aliens. Not sure why, just aliens. Coming down from UFOs. Sims can buddy up with them and abduct other Sims, and I’m not really 100 percent sure what happens after that. Regardless, the expansion pack should be a good time for any fans of the Sims. You can pick up The Sims 3 Seasons from Amazon for about $40.
By no means the third game in the series, Assassin’s Creed III introduces the franchise’s third historical protagonist – Connor (born Ratonhnhaké:ton), a half-Native American, half-English assassin active during the American Revolutionary War. The series that has doubled as a history textbook for more than would care to admit it continues its tradition of stealth action gameplay, as players discover new ways to sneak up and end people who totally have it coming, anyway. Longtime fans probably only need to know that the game continues the series’ story and that you can assassinate people with tomahawks to be sold on it. This is going to be one of the highest profile titles of the holiday season, but you can get Assassin’s Creed III now for $10 off the full price, at $50. It’s out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and will be out for the Wii U when that console is released.
Speaking of the Wii U, we would be remiss in not mentioning a rare enough event in video gaming – a new console. The AMD-powered Nintendo Wii U is coming out on November 18 (incidentally, exactly one day before the Wii was released six years ago), and promises a new Nintendo experience, with personalized profiles based on Miis and a host of new online features, something the original Nintendo Wii sorely lacked. That includes full access to television shows via online apps and your own cable service, making the Wii U a sort of all-in-one media center for your home. Combine that with Nintendo’s venerable stable of first-party franchises and that new tablet-like gamepad (a touchscreen controller that you can actually use to play Wii U games without the television), and you’ve got potential. The Wii U looks like it has the third-party support that the Wii lacked, with titles like Assassin’s Creed III and Call of Duty: Black Ops II confirmed. It’s also backward-compatible with Wii games and Wii Motion Plus controllers. It’s a must for any Nintendo fan, at the very least. You can get the 32 GB Deluxe Wii U set on Amazon, but be warned that the price might be jacked up past the base $350 asking price in the weeks after launch.
That new Wii U won’t be coming with a new Mario Kart, though. So, how do kart fans get their fix this holiday season? With a little help from Sackboy and his friends in LittleBigPlanet Karting. The unofficial PlayStation 3 mascot jumps into kart racing for the first time, and in true LittleBigPlanet style, just about everything is customizable – your character, your kart, the tracks, and the rules that govern the game itself. You can share your own creations, or use others uploaded by equally creative people from around the world. The game itself features a whole host of modes, including a story mode with missions and boss battles (races?). Sackboy can get behind the wheel and into a lucky gamer’s hands this holiday season for $50. Sackboy being a Sony creation, this one is PlayStation 3 only.