| Hayley Tsukayama |
A LOOK at video games for the younger gamer in your life:
Skylanders Trap Team
Get it: For kids who play at home and on the go
Skip it: If you don’t want to invest a lot of money in extra toys
Available on all consoles, Nintendo 2DS and 3DS. Toys compatible with tablet version.
The latest entry in the “Skylanders” franchise, “Trap Team” lets players capture the game’s villains and reform them into (playable) heroes.
The game is full of whimsy and jokes that will appeal to parents as well as kids.
Like its predecessors, the game also has smart toys of the in-game characters that remember what you’ve done in past games and let you build a character over time.
One thing to note before you buy: You don’t need to buy more toys than the one included in the starter pack, but the game is better with them.
There’s also a tablet version of the game, for iOS and Android, which includes its own mini-game controller.
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)
Get it: For good old nostalgic fun
Skip it: If driving games aren’t your thing
Lots of adults probably have memories of late-night sleepovers that involved racing around the MarioKart track; now they can share that with a new generation on Wii U.
There’s plenty of eye candy here, coupled with solid gameplay that should appeal to young and old gamers alike.
Users can play together online or together from the comfort of their own couch.
Nintendo stays true to its roots here, providing tracks with a lot of twists and turns.
Some parts of the game do need work; it’s not always easy, for example, to set up online matches.
Overall, it’s solid fun. “Mario Kart 8” also works with, but does not require, Nintendo’s “amiibo” toys — small figurines that store your stats no matter where you’re playing and give you in-game goodies.
Super Smash Bros (Wii U)
Get it: If you want a knock-down, drag-out evening with friends.
Skip it: If you’d prefer to play alone.
Custom-made for game night, “Super Smash Bros” for Wii U pits up to eight players against one another for lots of cooperative fighting fun.
The title, a console version of the same game released earlier this year for the Nintendo 3DS, has lots of familiar Nintendo faces, including Donkey Kong, Kirby, Pikachu, Link, Mario and Luigi. With lots of options for customisation, it’s also a game with a ton of replay value.
Nintendo devotees will get the most out of this game, which sets its levels in a variety of famous game locales.
But you don’t have to get all of the references to enjoy the fun.
This title also works with Nintendo’s amiibo toys, so you can take your characters on the road.
The Lego Movie Videogame (all consoles)
Get it: If you love Legos and loved “The Lego Movie”
Skip it: If you can’t stand a little monotony
It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like Lego, especially after its big summer blockbuster.
Kids who loved the film will be happy to step into the boxy shoes of protagonist Emmet and his friends, who are able to make what they need by pulling from the blocks around them.
It’s a neat trick — though this isn’t the best title the Lego franchise ever came up with.
The levels can get a little repetitive and boring — not a major concern for very young players but potentially frustrating for those a bit older.
To paraphrase a line from the movie’s theme song, not everything is awesome about this game, but it’s still a strong contender for a Christmas stocking.
Little Big Planet 3 (PlayStation 4)
Get it: For hours of custo-misable fun
Skip it: If you’d prefer something a bit more fast-paced
Now a standby for the holiday season, Sony’s “Little Big Planet” returns with its third installment, offering a lot of familiar puzzle-based and platforming fun.
As always, players create a highly customisable character, Sackboy, who acts as their avatar throughout the game’s whimsical world.
This year, the protagonist is joined by three new characters — the dog-like Oddsock, bird-like Swoop and the weighty Big Toggle — who all lend their special talents to the puzzle-solving.
A few new tricks in gameplay, such as the ability to move light objects around the level to solve puzzles, make this version fresh enough to keep players engaged for a lot of fun, leisurely play.