The biggest shopping days of the year are upon us, and all the major retailers are having massive Black Friday sales on games and electronics in their never-ending fight for your hard-earned dollar. With all the hubbub over Black Friday sales and the ongoing battle between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo over who’s got the best motion-control setup, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide which games and products to buy for the holidays. Don’t be overwhelmed; be relaxed. We’ve put together a quick-hitting 2010 Holiday Gift Guide that should just about cover everyone in your home. Except maybe grandma.
Much like the big retailers are offering sales on products for every member of the family, we realize that each gamer has his or her own unique interests, so we’ve grouped our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide into several easily digestible categories. Find the category you’re looking for, read our thoughts about the best holiday purchases in that group, and your shopping is basically done. Heck, we’ve even included the Amazon links for you so you don’t even have to leave your home. If we learned anything from the yellow pages, it’s that we love to let our fingers to the walking. Or, in this case, the shopping.
We’ve organized our Holiday Gift Guide in chronological order based on the target consumer in each genre/group. Let’s start with the younger kids, shall we?
- Ivy the Kiwi?: This is a great little platforming puzzle game from the creators of Sonic the Hedgehog. A beautifully hand-drawn game, Ivy the Kiwi? has just enough challenge to keep older gamers entertained while younger gamers can also enjoy it.
- Super Mario Galaxy 2: Any time a new Mario game comes out, it’s bound to hit some Holiday lists. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is no exception. Improving ever so slightly on everything that was great about the first game, Mario Galaxy 2 is a must-own for any Wii gamer. Read our full Super Mario Galaxy 2 review.
- Dance Central: Although we’ve not yet personally played this Xbox 360 Kinect game, we’ve yet to hear a single bad word about it. In fact, it’s the Kinect game we hear most about — in a good way. From the fun dancing to the workout that you inadvertently get, Dance Central is a Kinect owner’s best bet this holiday season.
- DJ Hero 2: Adding a second turntable and microphone make parties with DJ Hero 2 come to life. The newly added freestyle modes adds a lot of freshness to an already enjoyable title, and the music is a nice change of pace from the other “Hero” games from Activision. Read our full DJ Hero 2 review.
- Rock Band 3: Even though the sales of rhythm games seems to be declining, Rock Band 3 is a great way to get a party rocking. Up to seven players can sing, strum, bash the drums and tickle the ivories at once, and with more than 2,000 songs in the library, we guarantee there’s something for everyone. Read our full Rock Band 3 review.
- Alan Wake: This descent into the mind of a writer has Stephen King homage written all over it, and that’s a good thing. With two downloadable expansion packs that take the story to even crazier depths, Alan Wake has a story that should be experienced by all Xbox owners. The psychological-thriller gameplay is fun, too. Read our full Alan Wake review.
- Heavy Rain: More interactive movie than game, Heavy Rain is able to tug on heartstrings of any parent out there. The new PlayStation Move integration adds a new depth to the game and makes it worth a replay, and branching paths for every character keeps the game fresh even on the second or third play through.
- Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: Ubisoft’s latest Creed, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, is more than just an expansion pack and definitely more than a simple multiplayer afterthought. This story extends the span of Ezio in Rome, adding modern-day sections where players control Desmond. The multiplayer is also a blast, boiling down to a massive Turing Test to test your skills as observer. Read our full Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood review.
- Halo Reach: Bungie’s swan song with the Halo series is much darker than previous outings and tackles much more mature themes. Though it doesn’t elicit emotional connections to any of characters, Halo Reach tells of a dire situation that strikes close to home. Add the powerful “Forge” multiplayer map editor, and you’ve got a gaming gift that’ll keep on giving for months. Read our Halo Reach review for more info on the game.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops: For all the concern about Infinity Ward leaving the COD franchise, Treyarch has finally taken the reins and guided the horse into the winner’s circle. Black Ops has already set records for multiplayer gameplay hours, so even if the gamers in your house don’t touch the Black Ops campaign, there’s plenty to keep them fragging for weeks on end.
Hardware and Peripherals
- Xbox 360 Kinect: Although the Xbox Kinect can be hard for young kids to handle, those older than eight really do enjoy themselves, and even adults have fun with some of the 15 launch games already available for Kinect. On the whole, the software still has a ways to go, but the hardware is incredibly advanced, and we can’t wait to see where Kinect goes from here.
- PlayStation Move: Sony just won recognition from Popular Science for its advanced PlayStation Move hardware, so you know there’s a lot of horsepower under the hood of this PS3 exclusive peripheral. Playing a game in stereoscopic 3D while using your hands to control the on-screen action sounds insane, but that’s exactly what’s on the horizon with Move. As with the Kinect, the software’s still a bit early, but the entire setup holds great promise.
- Nintendo DSi XL: Androids and iPhones may be the fashionable choice for mobile gaming, but Nintendo’s DS handheld system continues to rule the gaming roost. The latest version of the hardware, the Nintendo DSi XL, has two huge screens that just beg to be watched and touched. The hardware is a bit bulky to fit comfortably in a pocket, but for gaming it’s hard to top this device in the handheld arena.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Theatrical Edition) on Blu-ray: While we all sit and wonder what’s going to happen with The Hobbit, let’s gather round the One Ring and enjoy its luster in 1080p HD, shall we? Amazon’s even running a great holiday deal on it right now, if you click that hyperlink. Talk about precious….
- Icon Rogue 2 Dual-Output LED Flashlight: Before you think we’ve completely lost it with this gift idea, check the logic: We’re entering winter. Winter has storms. Storms knock out power. When winter’s over, we enter camping season. Camping requires a flashlight. And we’ve never seen a flashlight this bright. The first button-press is bright enough to light a room, and the “high beam” can pretty much bake a chicken. With 72 hours of runtime and a waterproof case up to one meter, this pocket-sized flashlight packs a lot of punch. You can find it at Radio Shack.
- A 3D TV: Hey, if you’re in a position to let loose with the holiday budget, why not go really crazy and count yourself among the early adopters of 3D TV? The glasses aren’t that annoying, watching broadcast TV looks just like a normal HDTV broadcast, and a slew of 3D Blu-ray movies are slated to release right before the holidays. We’re using the Sony Bravia 55HX800, but Vizio, Samsung and Panasonic also have 3D TVs available (click on each of the manufacturers’ names to see what’s on sale at Amazon).
With any luck, you’ve now found some items on our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide that you either hadn’t yet considered or had thought about briefly and needed a gentle push in its direction before making your decision. Now go out there and wrap-up that shopping before the crowds beat you to it.
– DailyGame staff