Buy The Best Video Games For Kids

One survey says almost half of Americans will purchase video games for kids this holiday season. There are literally hundreds out there and many are not even made for children.

Ankarino Lara, of Gamespot.com, shares with The Early Show some suggestions for parents who probably know a lot less about these games than their kids.

Knowing what to buy can be overwhelming Lara tells co-anchor Rene Syler. "This holiday season, over 650 games have come out, just this three months leading up to the holidays," she says.

The word, "game," in video game connotes a kiddie activity, but the truth is actually quite different. This year's most anticipated games are the most violent and aptly rated, M for "mature" by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). Lara warns that with so much attention paid to the M-rated games, many parents may be coxed into buying them even though there are plenty of other exciting and entertaining games for the whole family.

Lara talks about the games in three categories: E-rated games for kids 6-12 years old; and T-rated games for teenagers and games that have movie-ins. She also discusses the latest and best gaming systems. This season, there are some notable hardware advances that make playing video games better.

The new handheld system that tops the list is called the Nintendo DS, released this month. The other system, Eyetoy for Playstation was released late last year, but only now has good software that really takes advantage of the system. It's a camera that allows the actual image of the gamer to interact with the game in real time. This is really the future of video games: playing video games always meant you need some type of handheld controller to manipulate what was on the screen; but soon, the human body will become the controller. Eyetoy is just the tip of the iceberg and a saving grace for parents who are sick of kids sitting on a couch all day.

The following are games with movie tie-ins:
  • "Shrek 2," (all platforms; $39.00-$19.00; Rated E)
  • "Spongebob Square Pants Movie Game" (all platforms; $39.00; Rated E)
  • "The Incredibles" (all platforms; $39.00-$19.00; Rated T)
  • "The Polar Express" (all platforms; $39.00-$19.00; Rated E)

Suggested games for kids 6-12 years old:
  • Sly 2: Band of Thieves (Playstation2; $39.00; Rated E)
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 (Xbox, GC, PS2; $19.99, Rated E)
  • Mario Power Tennis (GC, $29.99; Rated E)
  • Donkey Konga (GC, $49.00 with controller; Rated E)
  • Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams (Xbox, GC, PS2; $39.95 - 29.95; Rated E)
  • Zoo Tycoon 2 (PC; Rated E, $39.00)
  • Madden 2005 (Rated E)M

Suggested games for kids 13-16 years old:
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GC; $49.00, Rated E)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (Playstation 2; $39.00, Rated T)
  • Jak 3 (PlayStation2; $39.00; Rated T)
  • Burnout 3: Point of Impact (Xbox, PS2; $49.00; Rated T)
  • Pikmin 2 (GC, $49.00; Rated E)
  • Rome: Total War (PC)
  • Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space (Xbox, $39.00, Rated T)

Rome: Total War - for the brainy teen, incorporates historical events. This is considered a "real-time strategy game" in which the gamer does not represent a single character; rather, they are the brains behind the military maneuvers.

This Season's highlights:
  1. The New Playstation 2 ($149.00) is much smaller than the previous Playstation 2. It is thinner, smaller and weighs almost 2 lbs., where the original PS2 weighs almost 5 lbs.

  2. Playstation 2 has also built better games for its Eyetoy,which premiered last year. The Eyetoy is a camera that attaches to the PS2 console and is best placed on top of the television. The Eyetoy captures the gamer's image in the game, which allows the gamer and the game to play together. There is no controller needed because the body is the controller.

    Originally, the Eyetoy was sold with a game called, "Play," but was too simplistic to capture a child's attention. Ankarino says that this year, gamers have really taken advantage of the Eyetoy system and have developed better games like the "Superstars" game by SEGA.

    Games include:
    • "Dance, Dance Revolution Extreme," which comes with a dance pad that interacts with the Eyetoy and software. The game indicates where to step, resulting in a unique, physically interactive experience. There have been several versions; the latest includes dance games; a workout mode, which allows players to track the calories they burn; and a diverse roster of 65 songs. ($59.00 dance mat and video game)

      There is also a Karaoke version that has a mic that hooks to the Playstation, though it is not used with the Eyetoy. However, it is a part of the trend that is getting kids up off the couch. The 'Karaoke Revolution' ($54.99) is a lot of fun, allowing players to pick their characters, clothing, concert venues and songs.

    • "SEGA Superstars" comes with several games, among them is the Superstar's 'Virtual Fighter' game, which allows the gamer to simulate a fight with a computer-generated opponent. The object is to "guard" or "attack" in the place indicated by the computer. Last year, the Eyetoy and the games were sold separately, meaning parents had to shell out extra bucks for the Eyetoy camera. But now it is bundled with the software, so the camera is essentially included FREE with the cost of the game. It is about $50. Superstars game alone costs $29.99.

    • "Nicktoons: Movin' "

  3. Nintendo DS- $149.00, the most notable new gaming system this year, is a portable video game and communication system. It builds on the Nintendo Gameboy Advanced system with added features such as two screens (color- touch screen right below the main gaming screen) dual computer processors, wireless networking and microphone. Works with old Gameboy Advanced cartridges and their own postage-stamp DS discs. Graphics far surpass any other handheld gaming system out today, including Nintendo's own Gameboy. Device comes with a communications program called Pictochat that lets players send notes and doodles to one another. Downside: not a lot of software to utilize all these new features but Nintendo does offer about 12 games for the new DS system.

  • Tatiana Morales

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