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by Damon Brown, AARP, November 12, 2009
'Tis the season of video games, as publishers always save their best stuff for the gift-giving time of year. Also, for most of us, winter is the perfect time to curl up and explore fun, indoor worlds with our loved ones. So try these games for a little holiday family fun!
The Beatles: Rock Band (EA)
$60 (Game only) or $250 (With guitar, drums, and microphone)
Novice, Solo, or Group play; Fun for all ages
Yup, the Fab Four have finally made their video game debut–and it's incredible. Featuring 45 tracks and more songs via download, The Beatles: Rock Band lets you and three friends pretend to be the prolific group. You can use the same equipment from Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but you'll want to purchase an additional mic (or three) to do four-part harmonies. The groovy graphics fit the spirit of the sixties, while the various difficulty levels make the game playable for the whole family.
Active Life: Extreme Challenge (Namco Bandai)
Novice, Solo, or Group play; Fun for all ages
If you're looking for an alternative to the Wii Fit Balance Board, check out Active Life: Extreme Challenge and its special mat. Filled with sensors, the mat lets you and a friend run, hop, or scoot through 15 different challenges, including double-dutch jump-roping, base-jumping, and BMX biking. The cute characters are perfect for all ages, and the game never takes itself too seriously.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Sony)
Intermediate, Solo play
The original hit game was fun, but Uncharted 2: Among Thieves takes swashbuckling to a whole new level. Similar to Tomb Raider, Uncharted 2 has intense, Indiana Jones-inspired antics as you hop through exotic jungles, derailed trains, and ancient temples. The visuals and sound are Hollywood-level, and the action game-play is top-notch. Uncharted 2 is primarily a solo game, but you can play with other adventurers online. You may find this game a little too mature for pre-teens and younger kids.
Tetris Friends (The Tetris Company)
Novice, Solo or Group play; Fun for all ages
Tetris is one of the most popular—and addictive—puzzle games ever made, and Tetris Friends lets you compete with people worldwide. Played within your Web browser, Tetris Friends has almost a dozen different variants, including the insane six-player Tetris. You can also connect with friends, not unlike on Facebook, and see when they're available to play online. Best of all, the game is free (although you have to watch an occasional 15-second commercial)!
Scribblenauts (Warner Bros.)
Novice, Solo play; Fun for all ages
Scribblenauts is a truly unique puzzle game. The goal is to solve a series of problems by drawing on the Nintendo DS. The impressive (and entertaining!) part is that the game recognizes thousands of words and objects. Trying to reach an item? Draw a ladder—or type in the word "trampoline"—or do anything else that makes sense to you. The game magically accommodates your requests! The cartoon feel and the fun puzzles make Scribblenauts great to play with the grandkids.
Still looking for great video game ideas? Try some of these games AARP.org reviewed this year. Happy Holidays!
Damon Brown is Mobile Games Editor at About.com. His critically acclaimed book "Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture" is now available on the Amazon Kindle.
You can also follow Damon on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/browndamon.
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