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Last Minute Shopping Guide: 2004 Day Two

By Michael David Sims
21 December 2004 Welcome to day two of this three-part journey down Last Minute Lane. Yesterday I presented you, Mr. and Mrs. Last Minute Shoppers, with plenty of ideas to finish off your Christmas shopping, and I could have left it at that. But because I'm such a kind, caring fellow, I've decided to come back for another day of helpful hints. Whereas yesterday was all about comic books and DVDs, today we will focus on Nintendo's video game offerings. (And the PSTwo.)

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Systems
Nintendo DS
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: Nintendo fanboys
Description: We all know the story of how Nintendo has ruled the handheld market for 15 years now, and how they've successfully devoured every last bit of competition that has come there way. And while next year they'll see another upstart in the form of Sony's PSP, this holiday season is all about Nintendo's latest handheld gaming system: the DS. With two screens one of which is touch-sensitive Nintendo once again stays ahead of the creative curve and offers gamers not only a machine that is twice as powerful as the GBA it's a handheld N64, where the GBA is a SNES but also something new for their gaming dollars. The ability to see two angles at once, or a map and the playing field, or an item screen and the field, or whatever developers so choose will breathe much needed life into the portable market and should boost Nintendo's reputation as a formidable opponent once more.
Note: The system itself does not come with a game unless you count Metroid Prime: Hunters First Hunt, which is nothing more than a demo so you'll want to grab Super Mario 64 DS should you purchase this $150 system for a loved one.

Sony PSTwo
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: every-freaking-one
Description: It's a much slimmer version of the PlayStation 2. A third of the size of the original and not much larger than the size of a game's box the PSTwo features an improved DVD player and a flip open lid. The only major downside is that the HDD will not work with this unit, but people who wanted the HDD already have a PS2 so it's no big deal.
The Big Question: Both the DS and PSTwo clock in at $150, so that leaves you with a major decision. Assuming whoever you're still shopping for has neither, which one do you get them? Well... the answer is quite simple: the PSTwo. The library is impossibly large and games range in price from $10 to $50. The DS, while a great machine with an awesome pedigree, is brand new and therefore has a very slim assortment of titles. You're also stuck paying $30 a pop for games, where as I said before many games for Sony's slim system can be found for under $20.

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GameBoy Advance
Astro Boy: Omega Factor
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: Japanophiles; old school gamers
Description: Side-scrolling action with a half-naked robot boy. Okay it sounds really weird, but gameplay is amazing and will surly bring pleasure to gamers of all ages.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: lovers of Disney and Final Fantasy; RPGers
Description: The story from the first Kingdom Hearts continues, but with platforming and card batting elements added in obviously to make up for the GBA's lack of power. While the average gamer will have little interest in this one, collectors of everything Disney as well as Final Fantasy fanboys (and girls) will offer a big hug upon opening this one in a few more days.

Mario Golf: Advance Tour
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: Nintendo/Mario fanboys; golfers
Description: Mario is no stranger to the links as he's been golfing since his days on the GameBoy Color but this one offers a surprising new RPG element that adds a refreshing change to the stale golf genre.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: Nintendo/Mario fanboys
Description: Older gamers who fondly recall the days of "Jump Man" leaping over barrels while climbing to the top of steel structures to save his girlfriend might mistake Mario vs. Donkey Kong as an update to the arcade classic. But they would be wrong! Yes Mario is once again going head-to-head with the famous ape, but this time it's all about solving simple puzzles and collecting mini-robotic Mario toys. Might sound strange and maybe even a little stupid but it's truly a fun game that will make a great addition to anyone's library.

Metroid: Zero Mission
Age Recommendation: 12+
Best For: Nintendo/Metroid fanboys; old school gamers
Description: Remember how hard the original NES Metroid was? Well, wrap some fresh graphics around the game, add some new boss battles and maps to explore, and turn the difficulty up to 11 and you have yourself a remake to a classic.
Note: This year Nintendo also released Metroid (Classic NES Series) for the GBA, which, of course, is the source material of Metroid: Zero Mission. If you're torn between which one to pick up, consider this: Metroid (Classic NES Series) is pushing two decades and while still a great game, might not be worth the $20. Metroid: Zero Mission on the other hand is an awesome remake that costs only $10 more and will appeal to gamers of all ages. So, unless someone specifically asks for Metroid (Classic NES Series), get Zero Mission.

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GameCube
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Age Recommendation: 12+
Best For: Nintendo/Metroid fanboys
Description: Samus is back and she's trapped on another world... without her powers. Anyway, as I said before, this franchise is now 20 years old, but thanks to innovative design and a switch from side-scrolling gameplay to that of a first-person shooter/third-person action, new life has been injected into the series. And while many gamers will complain about the lack of online support, Metroid Prime 2 is clearly a must have GameCube title.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Age Recommendation: all
Best For: Nintendo/Mario fanboys; RPGers
Description: This is one of those rare games that people of all ages and skill levels can play and enjoy. It is also one of those rare games that people can watch and enjoy. Filled with line after line of great dialog that sadly must be read (which adds many hours to the already long game) and could hinder younger gamers a great story and sleek animation, Paper Mario (like the Metroid Prime games) is an innovative take on an otherwise tired franchise and will be appreciated by anyone with a GameCube.

Tomorrow I'll delve further into video game goodness with PC and multi-system titles.

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Day One :: Day Two :: Day Three :: Day Four


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Marvel Introduces Timely Comics
Marvel Introduces Timely Comics

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