Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gaming Gift Ideas! also for Gaming!

You may know that I am that rare bird, a Mom Gamer.

I know some of you who don't game get frustrated with your kids sitting in front of the TV playing games.  When the Wii came out with fitness games and sports to play with the family, I was really glad, too, that more kids were getting off of the couch and into the action.

But don't forget the benefits of gaming: improved concentration and focus, better hand/eye coordination, attention to detail, etc. And kids who game with online connections use gaming as a social community. Gone are the days of the lone gamer in the basement. Now, we are all connected! And even offline, the whole family can game together.

So, here are my favorite gaming gift ideas this season!

Top of my list: Xbox Kinect. It's amazing what this thing can do! Imagine: no controller, just your body doing the work. Talk about getting off the couch! And no more batteries to buy for the controllers, or trying to find lost controllers buried in the couch cushions, either!

The Kinect comes with Kinect Adventures. Recommended additional games: Kinect Sports, and Dance Central. Each of these games can be played with at least two players and will keep you moving AND entertained.

The Kinect sold one million units in just 10 days (!), and topped 1.5 million at the end of last month. If you can find it, you'll be someone's favorite Santa this year!

Games I personally reviewed and can recommend:

The Sims 3 (Xbox, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS).
I had never played a Sims game before, and was a bit overwhelmed with all you can do in this game. It's incredible the way you can customize it! I created a family with two teens just like my kids (really, not only do the avatars look like them, but you can give them personality traits like, 'doesn't like outdoors.' 'social,' 'clumsy,' or 'computer genius'!).  I learned that my own Sim lady needed cooking lessons after the oven in my little Sims 3 kitchen caught fire twice. And my Sims husband ended up delivering coffee for a living, while our oldest son in the game worked in a hospital and the youngest slept in and skipped school! Uh oh. Very, very cool game, with nearly endless possibilities for customization. I like this one for older kids and adults, as there is a learning curve (though tutorials help you get the hang of your options).

There's also a Sims game for younger kids, MySims SkyHeroes, which is just adorable. Cute little Sims fly through the skies, defeating dangerous enemies in aerial dogfights. What's especially nice about this title is the cooperative gameplay option for two friends (so many games have competitive multiplayer without offering a co-op one!). So kids can work together to defeat the bad guys.

If you are a fan of traditional board games, you'll really enjoy Monopoly Streets (Xbox, PS3, Wii) and will probably end up taking over the controller from the kids and playing it yourself! To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the world of Monopoly comes to life through a living, breathing city that you can build, own, and monopolize. MONOPOLY STREETS has everything you love about the board game, presented as a street level tour of Mr. Monopoly’s (okay, I never knew that was his actual name, did you?!) fully animated world. You can customize the game and play with your own avatar on Xbox 360 or Mii on the Wii, and when you play online the virtual board is populated with all your friends' avatars, too! 

The Tony Hawk: Shred (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3) bundle has the coolest controller I've ever seen outside of Guitar Hero: a skateboard with flames on it! The board has special motion-sensor technology, allowing you to lift, rotate and tilt the board to get "big air" on your tricks, and the gritty surface allows the player to stay on the board and "ride like the pros." The game is intended for ages 6 and up, and I think adults will like it, too (I did!). And if you have any skaters on your list, they will LOVE this game! Kids can play as one of 11 professional snowboarders/skateboarders, and unlock an additional mystery 4 through gameplay. You can even use the board controller to snowboard down mountains. To really get a feel of what the game play is like, screenshots don't do this game justice. Check out the videos here. Oh, and I have seen the bundle on sale on Amazon, with the board, for the price you would normally pay for just a game! That's a great bargain.

I received a copy of Sims 3, MySims SkyHeroes, Tony Hawk: Shred with board controller and Monopoly Streets to facilitate my review of the games. I received no other compensation (though, hey, if anyone wants to provide a Kinect...j/k), and my opinion is purely my own.

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