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Chris Leigh
24 Nov, 2006

Christmas Buyers Guide - Parents

PALGN Feature | How to avoid those Xmas Day tantrums.
Mooch around your local games store in the coming weeks, and you may spot a new breed of customer. With its distinctive appearance (uneasiness and slight apprehension), the Bemused Parent is usually a rare sight in the confines of the video game emporium, tending to only appear in the last two months of the year. But they are there. And as long as they are, PALGN will continue to embark on this, its annual Christmas Buyers Guide for parents. Parents of the World, be confused no longer. Here's what you should be buying your beloved offspring this Christmas.

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New Super Mario Bros.

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo DS
Players: 1-2
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
OFLC Rating: G


2006 saw a pretty marvellous return to form for Nintendo's portly mascot, who got his first proper 2D platforming game in absolutely ages. Much of what is here - the inch-perfect jumps, the hidden secrets, the return of classic enemies - has been seen before in Mario platformers, but there's also enough new features (mostly sensibly implemented) to make this feel fresh. Not overly challenging, either, which should mean the kids stick with it to the glorious end.

Our review said: "New Super Mario Bros. kicks the crap out of everything else currently available on both current generation handheld systems, even though it’s over a little too quickly. Some might argue that the game doesn’t have many innovative features, but in reality, all one really needs is a fun game, and fun is something that New Super Mario Bros. has truckloads of." [FULL REVIEW: 9.0]


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LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, PC, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance
Players: 1-2
Developer: Traveler’s Tales (GC PC PS2 PSP X360 Xb) Amaze (DS GBA)
Publisher: LucasArts
OFLC Rating: PG


Routinely acclaimed as one of the best series of kids' titles around, it's hard to imagine a child who won't fall in love with LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. This year's game returned to the original movies for its source material, though aside from the change in setting, little has altered. There's still the fun, accessible play mechanics, enjoyable and diverse puzzles, an excellent co-op mode (meaning no arguments over taking turns), and the sense of humour that made last year's game such a joy to play. This time it's a touch more challenging for children, but nothing that some well-timed parental intervention won't solve. A word of advice, though: avoid the poorly-ported and bug-ridden Nintendo DS version.

Our review said: "Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy doesn't make any major changes to the gameplay, but remains incredible fun for children and adults alike, putting you in a LEGO universe with some incredibly varied puzzles as well as some intense action. Just as fun as its predecessor." [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]


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Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 2
Players: 1-4
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony
OFLC Rating: G


Sony's Buzz! games are generally ideal for social gatherings, though it wasn't until this year that a Buzz! title aimed at kids appeared. Equipped with an impressive range of mini games and the ever-intuitive buzzers that anyone can pick up and play with, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is likely to keep your squirts happy for the rest of the holidays and beyond. And, although it's not going to keep adults glued for long on their own, it's perfect to play as a family.

Our review said: "The ideal gift for children who want to participate in the Buzz games but find the questions too difficult. Easy to pick up, has a large number of mini games, and features monkeys, which have to be the coolest animals ever." [FULL REVIEW: 6.0]


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Cars

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube, Wii, PC, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance
Players: 1-2
Developer: Rainbow
Publisher: THQ
OFLC Rating: G


Certainly one of the better movie-to-game adaptations of the last twelve months, and consequently a no-brainer for kids who loved the movie. Ideal for children (this isn't the most challenging of titles), Cars offers a solid, enjoyable drive, some very respectable visuals (the cars themselves really look the part) and an impressive soundtrack (something that was helped by the stars of the movie lending their voices to the game). We've seen it cheap as well, so keep your eyes peeled.

Our review said: "Cars isn't a highly innovative title, but for the most part the game is enjoyable, and great for fans of the film. The racing aspect of the game isn't deep, but children aren't likely to care. Cars is simply one of the best children's games released this year." [FULL REVIEW: 7.0]


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Nintendogs: Dalmatian and Friends

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo DS
Players: 1
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
OFLC Rating: G


Nintendogs is the most unashamedly adorable game ever. Fact. Originally released last year, the game made full use of all the features on the DS, with the stylus, microphone and touch screen all coming into play as you raised a ridiculously cute puppy and looked after its every need. It also sold by the kennelload, which probably explains why Nintendo released a Dalmatian-themed version of its puppy simulator this year. A bit of a cash-in? Perhaps, but if they haven't already got one of the first titles, this is a bit of a must-have for your darling tykes.

Our review said: "Nintendogs really is a game that seems to grow with you, in the sense that the more you play the more options and items open up for you. With its superb voice recognition, simplistic control and adorably animated puppies, it has something that will appeal to all sorts of people, young or old, male or female." [FULL REVIEW: 8.5]


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LocoRoco

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation Portable
Players: 1
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony
OFLC Rating: G


Sony's super-happy blob adventure is as sickly cute as games come, but is still irresistible. It's not too taxing to complete (indeed, it works on a fundamentally simple basis), and the character design will make children grin from ear to ear in much the same way as Katamari Damacy did. Dead easy to pick up, and easily one of the best games on Sony's handheld. Highly recommended.

Our review said: "This is a game that proves the PSP is more than competent at handling "pick up and play" titles, which are really the type of games that people want on handhelds. It's an addictive game, and I don't think I've ever smiled more whilst playing a game as LocoRoco. It's insanely addictive, and has a unique look that is unmatched on the PSP." [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]


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Big Brain Academy

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo DS
Players: 1-8
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
OFLC Rating: G


Having been absurdly successful wherever they appeared, it was only a matter of time before Nintendo's Brain Training games got a kid-oriented update. The result is Brain Age Academy, a title featuring fifteen different games designed to exercise the noggins of the young. With a more junior audience in mind, Nintendo has sensibly designed a simpler interface to go with the bright, cartoony look of the game, with none of the (frustratingly unreliable) voice recognition or writing that appeared in Brain Training.

Our review said: "Big Brain Academy has the edge [over Brain Training] where it counts." [FULL REVIEW: 7.5]


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Daxter

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation Portable
Players: 1-2
Developer: Ready At Dawn
Publisher: Sony
OFLC Rating: PG


The best game yet on Sony's handheld? It could well be Daxter, almost certainly one of the most fluid, polished, inventive and varied platformers we've played in many a year. Brilliant visuals and a generous checkpoint system (which will likely result in a frustration-free experience for youngsters) and a raft of nifty little extras round off an outstanding package.

Our review said: "Arguably the best game currently available on the PSP. It’s completely original, its exemplary design works to the system's strengths and it's truly the one of the first PSP ames to epitomise the philosophy behind the machine." [FULL REVIEW: 9.0]


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The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Nintendo DS, Game Boy Advance
Players: 1
Developer: Krome Studios
Publisher: Sierra Entertainment
OFLC Rating: PG


Don't be fooled by the 6.5 we gave to the latest adventure of gaming's most famous dragon (for our money, he just edges out Rhindle). After all, it was primarily a brief lifespan that cost The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning a mark of seven or more out of ten. In the hands of a younger gamer, Spyro is likely to last considerably longer, while the things it does well - the instant pick-up-and-play gameplay, the cute visuals, the power-up system (whereby you can upgrade Spyro) - are all likely to be appreciated by kids.

Our review said: "While it isn’t the perfect Spyro game, this still manages to be a decent and enjoyable action title." [FULL REVIEW: 6.5]


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Ape Escape 3

Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 2
Players: 1-2
Developer: Sony
Publisher: Sony
OFLC Rating: G


It's by no means the easiest game on this list to complete, but Sony's Ape Escape 3 will still divert the attention of junior gamers everywhere. Boasting stylised, attractive visuals and the same addictive catch-a-monkey gameplay of its predecessors, Ape Escape 3 is an excellent swansong for the series on the PS2. Plus, it's now at a budget price everywhere you look.

Our review said: "Really solid platforming action, and there's some real progression for the series here, with increased difficulty, better monkey AI and a plethora of new things, like the costumes and Mesaru Gear Solid mini-game. Retains the vibrant colours and cartoonish designs of its predecessors." [FULL REVIEW: 8.0]


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So there you are - ten titles that we're pretty certain will be ideal stocking-fillers for the little'uns. Don't say we didn't warn you, and all the best for a happy family Christmas this year.

Related Content

The Games of 2006 (so far)
29 Jun, 2006 The titles that should be taking up your time in the coming holidays.
Christmas Buyers Guide - Parents
27 Nov, 2005 Need some help picking something for the tykes this Christmas? PALGN's got you covered.
8 Comments
7 years ago
Nice list but I would have thrown Kameo in there, my youngest cousin loves playing the game - I spose its due to the nice vibrant colors and comic like characters.
7 years ago
The 'bemused parent' is something I see pretty regularly, actually. There's usually one or two of them herding their children around the local EB. Just last night, while picking up GoW, one interrupted the salesperson attending to me and (holding a copy of WoW) asked this gem of a question: "Excuse me, is this for computers or The Internet?".
I should have won some kind of 'self restraint' award for not laughing out loud right then and there icon_smile.gif
7 years ago
^
ROFLMAO Stupid kid icon_lol.gif
7 years ago
^ Umm I think it was the parent not the kid that asked that question.
7 years ago
^
ROFLMAO Thats even more funny
7 years ago
ugh the boot wrote
^ Umm I think it was the parent not the kid that asked that question.
And my ex-gf thought perverts and nerds come in game stores. icon_lol.gif
7 years ago
UmbrellaCEO wrote
ugh the boot wrote
^ Umm I think it was the parent not the kid that asked that question.
And my ex-gf thought perverts and nerds come in game stores. icon_lol.gif
Maybe DOA pervs
,,,icon_lol.gif ,,,
( , Y , )
7 years ago
retroman wrote
UmbrellaCEO wrote
ugh the boot wrote
^ Umm I think it was the parent not the kid that asked that question.
And my ex-gf thought perverts and nerds come in game stores. icon_lol.gif
Maybe DOA pervs
,,,icon_lol.gif ,,,
( , Y , )
Ironicly she didnt hate Dead or Alive series.
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