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Even if you're rocking a relic, there's a holiday video game to keep you fat and happy



Right now, gaming fans are enjoying the industry's Renaissance, Industrial Revolution and Blue Period all at once. Not only are the games better than ever, but gaming is a business big enough to rival music, TV and movies, as $1.1 billion in October sales will attest.

Chances are, you either are a gamer or know someone who is. And now that we bring it up, why wouldn't you be one yourself?


As the holidays approach, companies flood the market with their best titles. Let us help guide you through. The handy-dandy guide below features the must-haves for every noteworthy platform. For your convenience, we've categorized games by system, age level and ESRB rating. Game on!

Xbox 360

Mass Effect If you have a television, you probably couldn't help but notice that a little game called Halo 3 came out in September. It was sold everywhere (even at 7-Eleven!) and had almost as much hype surrounding it as Bee Movie. Halo 3 certainly qualifies as must-have, but don't ignore Mass Effect, the incredible role-playing game that's an Xbox 360 exclusive.


You create your own human character and explore the universe as a soldier commanding the crew of the SSV Normandy. An engrossing plot, beautiful graphics, deep game play, an open-ended environment and the chance to make critical choices that affect the story arc make Mass Effect a sci-fi, choose-your-own-adventure classic. You need this game, you want this game, and your life will be shallow and meaningless without it.

Other age-specific options

For kids: Viva Piata: Party Animals This is a great game for kids to play together, with a wide variety of mini-games and races.


For family: Rock Band If you ever wanted to start your own version of the Partridge Family with plastic musical instruments, this is your chance. The full edition comes with a drum kit, guitar and mic.

For adults: Halo 3 There are plenty of other quality candidates on the 360 (BioShock, Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box, Assassin's Creed) but if you're an adult owning a 360, you absolutely have to have Halo 3. Kind of like Frampton Comes Alive! in the 1970s.

Nintendo Wii


Super Mario Galaxy One of the most recognizable and beloved characters in video game history is Mario, the plumber with the embarrassingly clichd Italian accent. Even a beauty-pageant contestant would recognize him. Mario has carried Nintendo for ages and does it again this year with Super Mario Galaxy. In a 3-D space universe, Mario chases Bowser down in order to save his dear Princess Peach. Stunning environments, cool new power-ups and a fun two-player co-op join the always-guaranteed-to-be-addictive game play.

Other age-specific options

For kids: Mario Party 8 Nobody does games for kids like Nintendo, and this party game (with Mario of course) can be enjoyed by up to four people.


For family: Smarty Pants A fun trivia game with 20,000 questions for the whole family.

For adults: Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles The great survival-horror franchise has a different look on the cute, little Wii, but it's just as creepy.

PlayStation 3


Uncharted: Drake's Fortune The PS3 has taken even more of a public beating than Britney Spears. Both deserve it. The PS3 has few console exclusives (of the games below, only Ratchet and Clank is PS3-only), its online service pales in comparison to the Xbox 360s, and, just like Britney, it isn't kid-friendly. Despite all that, the PS3 just needs a few games to call its own, and it's back in business. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is a step in the right direction. This stunning title, in which gamers control Nathan Drake, a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, plays like an up-to-date version of Tomb Raider minus the busty brunette.

Other age-specific options

For kids: Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction This humorous game is the fifth in the franchise and still going strong.


For family: The Simpsons Game Quite simple. Funniest. Game. Ever.

For adults: Assassin's Creed (M) A refreshingly different take on a common gaming theme killing people.

Other systems

Still haven't chosen a side in the console war? No problem, there are still some sweet options for you, too. If you're a PC, PS2, DS or PSP owner, the industry still cares about you. Everybody else? You're screwed.

PC: Crysis There are plenty of great options for PC gamers (Tabula Rasa, World in Conflict) but this alien invasion game set in 2020 is the best.

PlayStation 2: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock If you don't have a next-gen console don't worry. You can still play this great game on the PS2.

Nintendo DS: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Grab your tights and play the first Zelda game on the DS.

PlayStation Portable: Manhunt 2 If you're looking for a hand-held game where you can kick guys in the groin (and who isn't?), this controversial title is for you.

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