A good game can cost as much as $60. So you don't want to get stuck with a dud! CBS News Consumer Correspondent Herb Weisbaum has some sure-fire winners - all top-rated in this year's exclusive CBS Toy Test.
Every summer kids from all over the country flock to the Toy Test arcade. They love it because they get to check out the newest games. And they never need any quarters to play.
This year CBS rated 75 new titles: games for the Sony PlayStation, the new Sega Dreamcast and the Nintendo 64.
Dreamcast is the most powerful home video game machine ever. It has superior graphics and more fluid motion. And the testers said it also has most of the best games, including the No. 1 finisher: Power Stone.
In this fantasy fighting game, players assume the roles of eight different characters and use their special powers as they battle to collect power stones.
"It's a pretty cool game," one tester declared.
Because of all that fighting, Power Stone gets a teen rating.
Another Dreamcast game, Hydro Thunder, a high-speed boat racing game, captured the No. 2 spot. Players race their choice of 13 high-performance boats over 11 wet and wild 3-D courses.
Our third-place winner is an N-64 title that features an all-star cast of familiar faces. In Super Smash Brothers, eight Nintendo regulars, including Mario, Yoshi, and even Donkey Kong, duke it out to prove who is the world's toughest video game character.
"You kick the butt of your favorite or least favorite Nintendo character, using your favorite Nintendo character," explained one of the kid testers.
CBS did something a little different this year, to be more family friendly. CBS decided not to test violent video games - no stabbings, no first-person shoot-'em-ups, no on-screen blood. And guess what? The kids still found plenty of games they really liked.
One example, the No. 4 title: Pokemon Snap. There's a lot of shooting in this N-64 game, but it's all done with a camera. Players try to get photographs of wild Pokemon in their natural habitat. Got to act fast, though!
The pictures go into a virtual album, and if you get good enough ones, then you get to go on to another level.
It's not every day you see a killer whale chasing a hedgehog. But then this is no ordinary hedgehog. Our old friend Sonic comes in at No. 5 with his new Dreamcast game, Sonic Adventure.
Dreamcast games did very well in the CBS test capturing all but three of the top 10 spots.
But what if you have a Sony PlayStation?
The top-rated PlayStation game is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, which checked in at No. 9. Kids can pretend to be world-famous champion Tony Hawk or one of nine other professional skateboarders. You tear up the asphalt, but leave the blood and bruises on screen. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is rated for teen and older.
The second most popular PlayStation game is Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary, which came in at No. 14. Yes, Pac-Man, the granddaddy of video game characters is back on screen. This time our smiling yellow hero is in a new 3-D world, with a whole new assortment of mazes to conquer.
What can parents do if they are concerned about violent content in video games?
Parents can look at the rating on the game box. You can find more about video game ratings on the Entertainment Software Rating Board Web site at www.esrb.org and, if they still have concerns, parents can check out the video game itself.