We’ve covered the kids, we’ve covered the pet lovers, it’s now time for the gamers. The video game console wars are heating up again with new tech for some and price slashes for others. And then there’s a whole load of mobile game accessories.
It’s not Game Over, though. We’ve got the gaming guide to break down this season’s cool tech and hot deals.
Nintendo’s new home console is here! The Wii U continues to use those old Wiimote controllers, but brings graphics up to current HD standards and adds a touchscreen tablet controller to the mix. Up to five players can join some games (hence the Wii) while the GamePad also allows players the ability to turn off the TV and play privately on their touch screens (hence the U). The game selection at launch is decent but not ground-breaking, leaving much of the new controller’s potential untapped. (Starts at $299, Nintendo)
Xbox 360 + Kinect Bundle
This may be Xbox 360′s last year as Microsoft prepares for their next-generation console to launch in 2013. Even if the technology will be outmoded next year, there’s no denying the impressive library of games the 360 has accumulated over the past 7 years. Add that to their kid-friendly 2010 Kinect motion sensor accessory and this well-priced bundle is a great deal for anyone who hasn’t jumped in on an Xbox already, particularly for parents looking to get some energy out of their children, or themselves. ($250, Microsoft)
Nintendo’s portable 3DS gaming system was super-sized this summer and the bigger screen feels like the perfect fit for on-the-go gaming, offering a happy medium between large tablet screens and small phone screens. The game quantity and quality have been steady as well, with Nintendo continuing popular franchises like New Super Mario Bros. and Paper Mario on the handheld. One game to watch: “Adventure Time: Hey Ice King, Why’d You Steal Our Garbage,” which has been receiving decent reviews. ($199, Nintend0)
In early 2012 Sony launched its latest handheld gaming system — with processing power on par with, if not greater than, a Playstation 2. In a sleek, thin package the PS Vita has a 5-inch touch screen and dual joysticks.
The Vita’s biggest issue at launch was a lack of great games. Now the problem is slowly being mended with well-received titles like “The Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation,” “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” and “Little Big Planet.” Still, a price drop would be welcome. ($249, Sony)
Mobile Gaming Accessories
Eating into both the handheld console and home console market are smartphones and tablets. Luckily for gift-getters, mobile gamers may not be using their fingers for long. A new wave of Bluetooth controllers has entered the market to boost gameplay accuracy for the fat-thumbed among us. If developers embrace these peripherals as expected, expect them to become the norm for mobile gaming in the future.
Know an Android phone owner who also owns a Playstation 3? Chances are they have a DualShock 3 Six-Axis controller for their Playstation and no idea that it is also compatible with their phone. GameKlip helps gamers use that controller to play games on their Android phones by snapping the phone over the controller. The compatible game library is small but growing and the price is nice and cheap for a quick gamer gift. Still, the Six-Axis doesn’t exactly slip into the pocket for gaming on the run. ($14.95, GameKlip)
Nyko’s Bluetooth controller, however, is built to be pocket-sized. It won’t exactly clip to your phone but it is compatible with more than Android phones, working with select iOS apps as well. The battery is rechargeable and the price is still well within cheap gift territory at $29.99. Nyko also offers a less-than-pocket sized larger version, the PlayPad Pro, at $39.99 exclusively through GameStop.com. (Starts at $29.99, GameStop)
The iCade 8-Bitty simplifies the wireless controller idea further, slapping some colorful stickers on a rectangular plastic shell in a design meant to evoke retro controllers of the ’80s and ’90s. The look makes for a more exciting novelty gift, though the choice of a D-pad over a joystick might limit gameplay. Batteries on the 8-Bitty are not rechargeable and require a screwdriver to replace. Best for young kids or fans of the iCade, ThinkGeek’s first foray into bringing buttons into a touch-screen world. ($29.99, ThinkGeek)