So you got a video game console for Christmas, Hannukah, or whatever it is that you celebrate. Chances are that it was a Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, a Nintendo Wii, or, for those on-the-go, a Nintendo DS. Given that all of those systems were first released about five years ago, you're probably not an early video game adopter. Plenty of games and accessories have been released for each of these systems over the years. If you're just getting started, here's a beginner's guide to your must-have games and accessories for your shiny new toy.
This year Microsoft rolled out the Xbox 360S, a quieter, sleeker console, with built in Wi-Fi. The new model comes in both 250GB and 450GB versions. If you got the 250 GB Xbox holiday bundle, then you already have two games: Forza Motorsport 3, a racing game, and Alan Wake, a psychological thriller. Here are our some other options for Xbox users:
- Must-have accessory: The Kinect bundle. Just months after releasing the souped-up XboxS, Xbox unveiled its latest add-on: Kinect. The Kinect sensor enables a controller-free motion-activated gaming experience.
- Kinect-only games: Star Wars Kinect; Dance Central
- Games with guns: Red Dead Redemption; Call of Duty: Black Ops; Halo: Reach
- Games with cars: Forza Motorsport 3; Grand Theft Auto IV
- Fun for the family: The Beatles Rock Band; Rock Band 3
- Sports games: NHL 11; FIFA Soccer 11
- Kid-friendly games: Lego Harry Potter
Like the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 comes in various models with hard drives of different sizes: 120GB, 160GB, 250GB, and 360GB. Whichever model you choose, they all contain a Blue-Ray disc drive, BlueTooth technology, Wi-Fi, and the set comes with a wireless controller. Check out these games and accessories for PS3:
- Must-have accessory: PlayStation Move. Released a few months ago, the PlayStation Move controller and camera enable motion-based game play. It works like the Xbox 360, but requires a Move controller.
- Playstation 3 Move-only games: Sports Champion
- Games with guns: Red Dead Redemption; Call of Duty: Black Ops; Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriot
- Games with cars: Grand Theft Auto IV; Burnout Paradise
- Fun for the family: Rock Band 3
- Sports games: FIFA Soccer 11; MLB 09: The Show
- Kid-friendly: Disney Sing-It: Family Hits
Unlike the XBox and PlayStation, the Wii remote -- a wireless device that detects movement in three directions -- is the defining feature of the console. The console also has Wi-Fi and provides a venue for streaming online video through your TV. Here are some good starter games and accessories for the Wii:
- Must-have accessory: Nyko Wii Charge Station. Instead of replacing your Wii controller's batteries all the time, invest in this docking station, which plugs into the wall and charges your remotes in eight hours.
- Games with guns: Call of Duty: Black Ops; Super Smash Brothers Brawl; Resident Evil 4
- Games with cars: Mario Kart Wii with Wii Wheel; Excite Truck
- Fun for the family: The Beatles: Rock Band; Mario Party 8
- Sports games: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10; Wii Sports
- Kid-friendly games: Super Mario Galaxy 2; Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Snow Princess
The Nintendo DS, a portable hand-held touch-screen gaming device, comes in three varieties: DSi, DS lite, and DSi XL. Each has a different weight and battery life, and the DS lite lacks some of the added features that the other two have, like the camera and recorder. They all have dual LCD screens, the bottom of which is a touch screen. Here are some Nintendo DS games and accessories to get your started:
- Must-have accessory: RocketFish Starter Kit for Nintendo DSi. This kit includes all the little parts you will probably lose or break after a week of owning your DS: a case, two screen shields, two camera lens shields, two extra styli, a USB car charge and charge cable, and ear buds.
- Games with guns: Chrono Trigger
- Games with cars: Mario Kart DS; Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
- Fun for the family: Henry Hatsworth's Puzzles; Lock's Quest
- Sports games: Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam; Madden NFL 09; MLB Power Pros 2008
- Kid-friendly games: Super Scribble Nauts; Professor Layton and the Unwound Future