Games Santa can count on to please the “E” crowd

Games Santa can count on to please the “E” crowd

Since mid October, video games for all platforms have been launching faster than a yellow angry bird (aka “missile bird”) can cut through wooden blocks to destroy egg-stealing pigs. Word is even Santa and his elves are having difficulty keeping up with the barrage of releases this holiday season.

To assist Santas everywhere, we’ve organized new releases by gaming platform, rating and price. If you’ve got a gamer on your Christmas list, take note on the latest and greatest.

Wanna game that everyone can play on Christmas morning? Look for the big “E” on these holiday releases.

Touted as the most realistic driving game available, Microsoft’s Forza 4 ($59.99) features an engine-revving soundtrack, authentic racetracks in varying conditions and a variety of cars. A favorite feature: Audiovista mode, which allows players bumper-to-bumper examination of 24 cars. Just a few weeks ago an IGN Pack was launched that includes 10 brand new cars, including turbo-charged new rides like the 2011 Monster Sport Suzuki SX4 and the classic 1957 Maserati 300 S. The pack is free for those with a Forza Season Pass, available at the Xbox Marketplace or retailers for $29.99.

No doubt the whole holiday crowd at your house will love Forza 4. Other “E” releases are more targeted to a specific age and interest, such as Skylanders. Reviewed Oct. 27, this game for the Xbox and Wii is worth another mention. It’s a game with Pokemon-like action figures that your gamer ages 5-11 can collect. The figures are placed on a magic “portal of power” and appear on the game screen. Their universe-saving actions are stored for future game-play. The game, portal and action figures (which make great stock stuffers) cost about $70.

Xbox with Kinect has released another Kinectimals ($43) allowing players to interact virtually with animals but just more of them than the first Kinectimals. The original award-winning game let’s players cuddle with cubs of all kinds; the new game introduces play with bears, pandas included. Ahhhh.

There are several “E” games recently released available in multiple platforms – uDraw Studio: Instant Artist, Sonic Generations and Nicktoons MLB.

uDraw (Wii, Xbox and PS3 for $29.99-$80, depending on platform and bundle with necessary drawing tablet) allows artists to use touch gestures to imagine and create. There are gaming modes but also options to create and save masterpieces to a udraw Web site for printing and sharing from the PC.

Sega’s blue hedgehog, Sonic, is back for high-speed action as he escapes “white space,” moving through history in Sonic Generation to free himself and his friends from the tactics of an evil Dr. Eggman. Find it on Xbox, 3DS and PSP for $50.

SpongeBob enters the holiday lineup in Nicktoons MLB ($30), a baseball video game pitting Nicktoons characters against MLB greats. For those of us who deplore SpongeBob, we can play as a Major League characters. Cute and fun play for young baseball lovers with minimal SpongeBob dialogue!

The holidays wouldn’t be merry without Mario. The Renaissance man of the gaming world races cars and conquers worlds this holiday season. In Mario 3D Land ($40) he races through eight levels from flagpole to flagpole, moving through colorful worlds and conquering one challenge after another and gaining points. It’s classic Mario with an ending in a dungeon to beat the “boss.” In Mario Kart 7 (3DS and Wii), the mustached hero drives to save Princess Peach from the beastly Bowser. It’s a formula “Kart” game, with rides through colorful, fast and competitive tracks and including recognizable Nintendo characters that kids love.

So there’s a few releases Santa can put in his sack for EVERYONE who loves games. Next week, we’ll discuss new releases for teens and more mature gamers.