Used with the Xbox 360 gaming console, it opens up a whole new world for young kids, one that makes full use of Kinect's camera and motion sensor technology. And other companies are using these technologies to get kids up off the couch and moving more than their thumbs, while exploring and interacting as never before.
quicklist: 1 category: Video Games title: Kinectimals Build a Bear: Xbox 360 url: media: 15141115 text: Game and bear: $69.99
Every parent of young kids knows it's next to impossible to get through the mall without first stopping at Build-a-Bear. So what's better than putting your own bear into a video game, and being able to play with it?
You choose from one of four bears, personalize it with clothing and accessories and then scan it with the Kinect sensor. It will appear as a playable character on Bear Island. You can go off on adventures with it, explore caves and waterfalls, play games back and forth, or just use your hand to pet your bear friend. The animals respond to voice commands like "jump," "roll over" and "play dead."
quicklist: 2 category: Video Games title: Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster: Xbox 360 url: media: 15141125 text: $29.99; Kinect required
Along the way, they perform tasks -- but not just mini-games; they're actually interacting with the characters in the game, like tossing a ball of trash into a garbage can on screen, running along with them or flying by flapping their "wings."
Mixed in are lessons about cooperation and sympathy, and grownups hope that as in the TV show, they will learn to cultivate friendships and conquer their fears, right from their living room.
The game is designed so that two players can play at once, so a parent or sibling can join in. They can drop in or out of the game at any point, which is nice since a little one's patience for getting to the end of a game is sometimes lacking.
The games are just as much fun with one player because kids are using their whole body as the game controller, so they're fully engaged with what they're doing.
quicklist: 3 category: Video Games title: Disney Appmates for iPad 2 url: media: 15141135 text: $19.99
Let your kids drive a car on your iPad? Really? That's the basic idea behind Disney's new Appmates: iPad-friendly toys that basically turn your tablet into a virtual play mat. You buy a twin pack of mini toy cars, each representing a character from the movie "Cars 2" with sensors on the base of the cars. Download the free app and you're ready to hit the road. Each car is recognized by the app, so the game knows who is playing and where it is on the screen.
They can also compete in races and earn coins, which let them outfit the vehicle with virtual special tires, or add fuel.
Once you get the hang of it, the cars are easy to maneuver, and as we found in the newsroom, much easier for a 5-year-old than it is for an adult. We can see a lot of back-seat driving happening with these cars.
quicklist: 4 category: Video Games title: Spyro's Adventure url: media: 15141158 text: For Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, or Mac: $69.99
Skylanders, by Activision, is not a new title (many are familiar with Spyro the Dragon) but it's a new approach to the video game platform. The starter pack comes with the game software, plus three plastic toy figures based on the game, and a Portal of Power that plugs into the game console.
Placing a figurine on the portal brings the character to life in the game. Each character has different powers -- and of course, you'll need to collect them all in order to win the game so prepare for the add-ons -- but it's a great concept and will keep the game-play going for a long time.
Also welcome is the fact your kids can take their characters to a friend's house and battle with their characters in the virtual world.
The starter pack comes with: Spyro's Adventure game, Portal of Power, three Skylander Character Figures, poster, three trading cards, sticker sheet, three Web codes and AA batteries.
quicklist: 5 category: Video Games title: Everybody Dance url: media: 15141192 text: For PS3: $50; Sony Move Required
There's a dance class/tutorial mode for newbies, and a party mode in which you dance off against friends, create your own moves and see if they can match them. There's even a place where you earn extra points for singing along.
Using the PS Move controller and the PlayStation eye camera, your every move is recorded, so videos or snapshots, humiliating or not, can be posted and shared on Facebook or Twitter to keep the laughter going.
quicklist: 6 category: Video Games title: Logitech Joystick for iPad url: media: 15141237 text: Price: $20
Enter the Logitech Joystick for iPad, a small piece of plastic that adds a physical control to most tablet titles. The joystick itself is a black thumbpad, held in place by two suction cups you place right on the screen. It holds the trigger perfectly in place with enough sway to let you maneuver left or right, or whichever way you need to play a great game of Pac Man or Space Invaders.