6th December 2009

Village Gamer Gift List For 2009

Christmas OrbyWith the holidays once again upon us, I’ve put together a list highlighting a few ideas for holiday gift giving. All of the prices listed are suggested retail prices, and do not take into account special retail sale prices. There are many, many great Canadian-developed game titles published every year, what I have listed here is but a small sampling. To search out more Canadian titles, I invite you to browse through the many titles I’ve talked about throughout the year. You can find them by hovering over the Games button to the left, and then choosing to browse either by Genre or Rating.

The easy gift solutions for that hard-to-buy-for gamer include the always timeless gift cards – whether for the Wii, Xbox 360 or PlayStation Network, these gift cards are always a safe bet, especially when you’re worried about duplicate games or “the wrong game” resulting in a less than enthusiastic reception. When giving the gift of game, please check the ESRB game rating to be sure that the title is age-appropriate, and if you are giving a game to a young person who is not living in your own household, check with the parents to see if they approve of the title. The ESRB has recently released a handy (and free) iPhone App so that you can search full game ratings anywhere, anytime.

PlayStation Network Cards have two versions: $20.00 or $50.00 and are good for both the PS3 and PSP. You can also buy game cards, which will allow for the downloading of games directly to the PSP. Check with local game retailers to see what game cards are available. Zombie Tycoon, developed for the PSP and available exclusively on the PlayStation Network, was developed by Frima Studio.

Xbox Live also has two versions: 1400 points ($19.99) or 2800 points ($39.99)
Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription: $59.99

Nintendo offers a 2000 Points card which is good for either the Wii or the DSi WiiWare Store ($19.99). There are some great Canadian titles available in the WiiWare store such as Copter Crisis (Wii) and Sudoku Challenge (DSi), both developed by Digital Leisure.

For those with iPhone or iPod users on their list, there are always the iTunes gift cards – just remember that Canadian iTunes cards CANNOT be used to purchase items in the App store on a Canadian iTunes store account; it is only good in the iTunes store itself. If you want your gift recipient to be able to shop in the App Store, I highly recommend the Vanilla Master Card. I’ve used them many times and have never yet had a problem with them – something I can’t say for cards such as the MyTreat gift credit cards. Naturally, there are also the store-brand gift cards for EB Games, Best Buy and Future Shop to name but three – check with your gamer’s favourite retailers to see if they offer gift cards. There are also a few subscription games which have cards available for game subscriptions and in-game items.

There are some great Canadian iPhone/iTouch developers with products in the App Store, including Genius Factor Games, IUGO Mobile Entertainment, Big Blue Bubble, PowerUp Studios, No Robots Interactive, Glass House Games, Howling Moon Games, LotusLand Studios, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games, Fuel Games, Cerebral Vortex Games and Tickle Tap Apps for youngsters – to name but a few.

For tech toddlers, I fully endorse Canadian-developed ClickToy The Meadow. This game is wonderful in ClickToy The Meadowits simplicity and encourages quiet story time at the PC with a parent. ClickToy has the ability to lock a PC keyboard so that the child cannot exit the game and wreak havoc in your files. Filled with colourful scenery and soothing music, this game is sure to please even those in the throes of terrible two-ness. Parents can order ClickToy online for both the PC and Mac, or pick it up at Apple Stores across Canada as well as in nine Vancouver-area Zeller’s stores (Lansdowne, Oakridge, Brentwood, Coquitlam, Scottsdale Centre, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack). At only $19.99, it’s a great interactive entertainment value.Academy of Champions

My family title top pick is Ubisoft Vancouver’s debut game for the Wii, Academy of Champions Soccer featuring soccer greats Pele and Mia Hamm. Built for one or two players, Academy of Champions is easy to learn and fun to play. Both Story Mode and Quick Play offer hours of endless action, with mini games along the way, as well as skill and equipment upgrades to unlock. Academy of Champions encourages fair play and good sportsmanship initiatives along with a well-designed and beautifully animated game environment. At only $29.99, Academy of Champions is a great buy, and at last check was in stock at Best Buy, Future Shop and EB Games.

Another great game for kids and family is Monsters vs Aliens, developed by Quebec City’s Beenox Studios Monsters vs Aliensfor the Wii, PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The Monsters vs. Aliens video game calls players into action to battle against Gallaxhar and his alien robot army. Taking on the roles of The Missing Link, the macho half-ape, half-fish; the gelatinous, indestructible and always hungry B.O.B.; and Ginormica, the 49-foot-11-inch tall woman, gamers team up with the helpful genius Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. and Insectosaurus, the 350-foot tall grub to defeat the alien invaders. Players master the unique and diverse abilities of each character as they ooze, brawl, skate, puzzle solve, climb, crawl, jump and race through more than 20 levels on Earth and through outer space.

The musically inclined family will enjoy Guitar Hero Smash Hits, also from Beenox Studios. Guitar Hero® Guitar HeroGreatest Hits is a compilation of 48 top hits from previous versions of the Guitar Hero® franchise, all updated for full band play on Guitar Hero® World Tour. The Greatest Hits releases have been produced from Guitar Hero® master recordings and feature several play modes – career mode, rockstar creator, Guitar Hero® music studio and an eight player online battle of the bands. The playlist is expandable through downloadable content, and has a suggested retail price of $59.99 for the 360 and PS3,  $49.99 for the Wii and $39.99 for the PS2.

For more family play, I also recommend the latest Scene It? title, Bright Lights! Big Screen! One word of Scene It? Wii Versioncaution though, this game is rated “T” for Teen (Drug Reference, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Violence, Sexual Themes). Developed by Montreal’s Artificial Mind & Movement, Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! has enhanced single and multi-player gameplay. Single-player mode tests player speed and knowledge, while multi-player mode allows for a spirited social gameplay experience, perfect for parties and family gatherings. Up to four teams can test their silver screen knowledge with more than 20 different puzzles and minigames across four play modes, providing new and unique ways for Scene It? competitors to engage. Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! is available for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. This title is available at stores for only $39.99.PunchOut!!

Next Level Games‘ remake of the E10 rated Punch Out! is another great family title that will get everyone into the virtual ring. Gamers can use either the Wiimote system or the classic controller to battle their way through the ranks, Players will find familiar names like Glass Joe, King Hippo and trainer Doc Louis. Next Level Games has brought the Punch Out characters back to life again with cell-shaded 3-D visuals, complete with hilarious fighting animations and back stories that capture all the fun and flair of the original Punch-Out!! games.

Where's WaldoWaldo has gotten lost in game land, and game creators Ludia invite players to immerse themselves in “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” – the ultimate search-and-find adventure for the entire family. Players can explore the unique and wondrous lands in search of Waldo, his friends and other hidden objects.The game is now available for the Wii™ system from Nintendo, the Nintendo DS™ system, Windows-based PC and Mac at North American retailers. Ludia has also developed such titles as Hell’s Kitchen, The Price Is Right, Press Your Luck and Family Feud.

Sports fans have a whole field of Canadian-made sport titles from EA Sports, including such worldwide hits as FIFA 2010, NHL 2010, Fight Night Round 4. All of the EA titles are available on a variety of platforms – check each game’s link to see if it’s available for your platform.

Read the rest of this entry »

Currently 1 Comment - Share Your Thoughts

posted in Editorials By: | Print This Post Print This Post

  • Archives

  • Subscribe to our Newsletter

  • Select a list:

  • GWEN Radio
  • Gamers Giving Back