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Top video games for kids’ wish lists

Now that you’ve had your fill of turkey and stuffing, it’s time to focus on the holidays. And you know what that means: our annual roundup of the hottest video games of the year! It’s been a long time since we’ve had this much excitement surrounding the industry. With two new consoles and a host of new games, this year is a gamer’s dream.

So why didn’t we review the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4? Simple. There isn’t a “must have” game for either system. Sure, there are new titles for both, but they’re nothing to write home about. All of the games you will want to play are available on current-generation systems (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3). Our advice: Save your parents’ money.

We will review each system next year when there is something worthwhile to play on them. Until then, here are 10 games that are sure to keep you occupied.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive

Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, 3DS and PC

Rating: Everyone

Price: $39.99-$59.99

Details: Players can jump into the shoes of their favorite Marvel hero (or villain) in the latest game set in the Lego universe. When Doctor Doom and the evil Loki take down the Silver Surfer in space, his board shatters all over Earth, and it’s up to Nick Fury and the Marvel heroes to gather up the powerful pieces. With more than 100 playable characters, Lego has given you plenty to do with this addicting adventure.

Pikmin 3

Publisher: Nintendo of America

Platform: Wii U

Rating: Everyone

Price: $59.99

Details: The latest in the “Pikmin” series puts players in charge of a small group of explorers as they venture to an alien world to save their home planet from starvation. Once again, you’ll be in charge of hordes of Pikmin that you must use to solve puzzles and take out enemies. New Pikmin include a Rock Pikmin, which can break through obstacles, and a Winged Pikmin that can fly over hazards. Challenging and fun, this game will definitely make you think.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3,
PlayStation 4, Wii U and PC

Rating: Teen for violence and mild swearing

Price: $59.99

Details: Ever wondered what would happen if Batman fought Lex Luthor? What about Superman vs. Green Lantern? DC Comics fans get to test their might in this amazing fighting game, in which they can do battle as their favorite hero or villain. Brawls go down in such familiar locales as the Batcave, the Fortress of Solitude and Wayne Manor. With more than 24 characters to choose from at the start and plenty more to download later (you have to pay for those), it will take your whole holiday break to master them all.

Super Mario 3D World

Publisher: Nintendo of America

Platform: Wii U

Rating: Everyone

Price: $59.99

Details: This latest version of the famed franchise takes players to a world where the evil Bowzer has invaded the peaceful Sprixie Kingdom, and it’s up to Mario to save the day. In previous games, Mario usually had to go about it alone, but in this game you can play with three other friends — a first for a Super Mario game. Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad all have unique skills and abilities. The levels are beautiful, and the platforming has never been better. Without question, this is the definitive Mario game, and it’s glorious.

Disney Infinity

Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii,
Wii U and 3DS

Rating: Everyone

Price: $74.99 for starter kit, various prices for additional characters

Details: Part action platformer and part sandbox experience, Disney’s ambitious game is truly unique. Gameplay is split into two modes: Play Set and Toy Box. Play Set utilizes physical toys (figurines) that allow players to engage in the respective worlds of the characters. Toy Box is where the game truly shines. Here, players are encouraged to experiment and create their own levels and games. These can be saved and shared online as well. If you’ve ever wanted to find out what would happen if you put Disney characters in a Pixar world, now’s your chance.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Publisher: Nintendo of America

Platform: 3DS

Rating: Everyone

Price: $34.99

Details: If you’re into discovering new things, making new friends and building a town to your liking, this will be your favorite title of the season. As mayor of your fictional town, you have full control of how it develops. Whether you’re raising money to help build your town’s stores, planting fruit trees or donating pieces of rare art to your museum, all of your actions have an impact on your townspeople. Fair warning: This game is incredibly addicting.

Rayman Legends

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Wii U

Rating: Everyone

Price: $54.99-$59.99

Details: With more than 120 levels of 2-D platforming combined with some of the most stunning visuals we’ve seen in a game this year, Rayman is back in his best adventure to date. When the 10 princesses are kidnapped by Bubble Dreamer’s nightmares, it’s up to Rayman and his crew to set things right. Helping you on your journey is your sidekick, Murfy. With his help, players can access hard-to-reach areas, activate switches and take down enemies. Cool.

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

Platform: PlayStation 3

Rating: Everyone

Price: $29.99

Details: In this truly wonderful role-playing game, players become Oliver, a boy who ventures into a parallel world in hopes of finding his mother’s soul twin. Standing in his way is the evil Shadar. Players must defeat him to save the world and hopefully bring back Oliver’s mom. Along the way, Oliver meets new friends who help him fight Shadar’s creatures. Players are treated to beautiful anime visuals similar to those in such films as “Spirited Away” and a musical score worthy of a top Hollywood film. Truly spectacular.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America

Platform: PlayStation 3

Rating: Everyone

Price: $19.99

Details: When the pages of the “Thievius Raccoonus” (the comprehensive account of the Cooper clan’s exploits) start to go missing, Sly and his gang band together to figure out who is trying to wipe his family from history. Players must travel though five places in time to help preserve his family tree. From feudal Japan to prehistoric ages, Sly will come across lots of challenging enemies and a handful of tricky bosses. Players who love to find things will be pleased about the number of collectibles that are in the game. A solid adventure through and through.

Need for Speed: Rivals

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC

Rating: Everyone

Price: $59.99

Details: We all like to drive fast (in video games, of course), and the latest “Need for Speed” puts players in the most exotic sports cars in the world. Players pick a side — street racers or the police — and then engage in epic races which you utilize cutting-edge car modifications, technology and your wicked driving skills to win. We love how single- and multi-player games are seamlessly combined: no more leaving a game and joining a public lobby. Now while you’re racing alone, friends can join your game instantly.

— Tom Ham

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