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Holiday Buyer's Guide 2010

The PixlBit staff has put together the go-to game guide for all holiday shoppers, gamers or not.

2010 has seen a wide variety of great titles released all throughout the year. There's no doubt that any shopper, familiar with games or not, could get confused by the selection alone. That's why we here at PixlBit have done our best to make it easy for you. We've picked out the best from 2010 (and just a couple from 2009) to help you figure out how to stuff a gamer's stockings.

But first, a note: This year, we've denoted a few accolades to make things even simpler.

The Family That Games Together: A title receiving this accolade makes for a great game to play together with family.

Party Pick: Party Picks are not only easy to pick up and play, they often allow two to four players to play together for quick, short bursts so everyone can have a turn.

Bang For Your Buck: These are titles that remain compelling for dozens or even hundreds of hours, which are perfect for completionists or those on a budget.

Fair Fight: These games are highly competitive. Whether a match-up be one-on-one or team-based, a title bearing this accolade are for those who love to play, but hate to lose.

Popcorn Game: A short game that's fun to play, or even watch, merits the “Popcorn Game” accolade. These games are usually under ten hours long, but can be played again and again, thanks to sheer fun-factor.

Online Enabled: Simply put, any game with an Online Enabled accolade can be played with others online. Several of the games in our buyer's guide do have online capabilities, but ones receiving this accolade are meant for multiplayer, making them great gifts for friends who traditionally live long-distances away from their gaming buddies.

Table of Contents

Page 1 - RPG & Strategy

RPG stands for "Role-Playing Game." These games place their players deeply in the role of a fantasy-rooted environment, though there's two main divisions, western RPGs and Japanese RPGs. Western RPGs have a focus on making choices and developing an individual character, and often include wildly varying battle systems and character progression models. Japanese RPGs are more rooted in tradition, and usually have more linear stories and character progressions. Both types are text-heavy games that take place in virtually any imaginable setting. Like RPGs, Strategy titles place players in control of the actions of others. In these titles, players often control large groups, or even complete armies, managing resources and even planning moves in advance, not unlike a game of chess.

Page 2 - Music & Rhythm

Music games have a focus on rhythm and dexterity, and the genre currently inherits its traits from current and former hit songs. Most music games require extra peripherals, be it a microphone, a plastic guitar, or a basic electronic drum set.

Page 3 - Action

Action-oriented titles have an emphasis on timing, game physics, and reflexes. A specific genre includes fighters, like the popular Super Smash Bros. series or the arcade classic, Street Fighter 2. Super Mario Bros. and its many sequels represent platformers, games based on jumping from platform to platform to ultimately reach a destination, often on the right side of the screen. For simplicity's sake, we're including first-person shooters, like Halo, in our Action games section, since they, too are based on timing and reflexes.

Page 4 - Sports & Racing

Sports and Racing covers all different types of sports in the world, as well as all styles of racing including simulation, arcade, and kart. Realistic sports such as Madden NFL and Tiger Woods Golf are the obvious ones, and it also includes sports titles that take their own liberties on the rules, such as the various Mario sports titles.

Page 5 - Exploration & Adventure

Exploration titles contain a focus on open worlds and loose goals. Often, these games have no conclusive ending, though they may have light plot, instead allowing players to continue exploring landscapes, environments, and ecosystems. Likewise, Adventure games have a focus on exploration. Still, these games tend to have a more involved story, though typically an adventure-based title will allow the player to choose how he or she proceeds in exploring the title's story and setting.

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Comments

Jason Ross Senior Staff

12/14/2010 at 02:08 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Since we stuck to titles that could be found on the major consoles, we left out Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. If you know anyone with a PC powerful enough to play the game and an interest in gaming, consider StarCraft II.

I'm pondering an editorial about misleading gift games that shouldn't be given to anyone without a specific request, mostly because they're hit-or-miss or might lull gift-givers into a false sense of security. Toy Story: Midway Mania and Disney Epic Mickey would definitely be on that list, since they're probably not the quality one might expect from their names.

Anyway, despite having my name on it, this thing really was a PixlBit staff collaboration. I put together the base-work, Nick, Chessa, Kathrine, Nate, Chris, and I all wrote-up the various games, and then Nick made it look all nice and fancy.

Share your own recommendations in the comments, if you like!

Matt R Previews Editor

12/14/2010 at 02:15 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Three different thingies that tell you the game is fun in groups? One of them should've been -has online play-. I haven't read the rest yet though but you could do better with the badges.

birdo badges.

Jason Ross Senior Staff

12/14/2010 at 02:20 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Different sorts of groups! Different people like different ways of gaming. You're right to recommend information about online play, though. I'll see if we can't add something like it, and once we do, update the guide with that information once we compile it all and make it fit in.

Matt R Previews Editor

12/14/2010 at 02:36 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Motion Puss Enhanced Badge.

AUGHH MY ARM Waggle Badge.

These are what people care about.

Nick DiMola Director

12/15/2010 at 10:22 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Looks like Jason added in the Online Enabled accolade. Now you can further refine your purchase choice based on if a game goes online, if you so please.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

12/15/2010 at 03:10 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I think that 3D Dot Game Heroes to be much more akin to A Link To The Past than the original Legend Of Zelda.

Nick DiMola Director

12/15/2010 at 03:17 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Yeah, I think it settles firmly between those two experiences. I think A Link to the Past is a bit more advanced, but 3DDGH is most definitely ahead of the original Zelda.

Jason Ross Senior Staff

12/16/2010 at 01:13 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

For some odd reason, Chris didn't like 3D Dot Game Heroes. I didn't play it yet, but Link to the Past is the Zelda game I do like, and I noticed the resemblance, too. I did watch him play it when the guy was trying to make the wife choice that was in Dragon Quest V. That was definitely worth a laugh or two, right there.

Jason Ross Senior Staff

12/22/2010 at 04:30 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

Excuse the double post.

It just occurred to me we left out Kirby's Epic Yarn. That's right. We left out what might be one of the most friendly games out there. A game that can be picked up and played just to play. Kirby's Epic Yarn is an especially great title for folks new to gaming. It's impossible to die, it has a cute storyline, similar to a children's book, too. The game has merit on anyone's shelves, but it would make an especially great gift to people with a Wii who are just looking for light-hearted fun.

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