Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Hot Video Games for Children

Happy Holidays! We’ve selected 10 items for parents looking for great games for children. The key here is that these titles are all rated “E” for everyone, but they have enough excitement that they can be played by gamers of all ages.

Of special note is Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure, which comes with interchangeable collectable toys that interact with the game. You can also use the toys across all of your systems so your children can use them on their friends’ consoles as well.

Favorite Toys for Children – Thundercats, Transformers, Star Wars, Ben 10 & More

Super Mario 3D Land
3DS

super mario 3d land

Sonic Generations
Xbxo 360/PS3

Sonic Generations

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure Starter Pack
Xbox 360/PS3/Wii

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Wii/Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/DS/3DS

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension
PS3/Wii/DS

Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension

Pokemon – Black Version/ Pokemon – White Version
DS

Disney Universe
Xbox 360/PS3/Wii

Disney Universe

Kirby Mass Attack
DS

Cars 2: The Video Game
Wii/Xbox 360/PS3

Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
Wii

Kirby's Return to Dream Land

Bonus Picks
The Nintendo 3DS will be one of the hottest items this holiday for kids. Also, Moshi Monsters is one of the new crazes kids are falling in love with. While it’s not a game for gamers of all ages, it’s definitely a fun experience for younger children.

Nintendo 3DS
Available in: Cosmo Black, Aqua Blue and Flame Red

Moshi Monsters
DS

More Holiday Gift Guides:
10 Hot TV Series Picks on DVD & Blu-ray

Trading Card Game Review: Redakai Championship Tin with Cards

Fans of trading card games (TCG) like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, will get a kick out of the latest TCG from Spin Master.

Redakai is a new TCG based on an equally new animated series. Redakai: Conquer the Kairu is a cartoon about three friends, led by Ky, who travel the world searching for an ancient power called Kairu, a primordial alien energy source.

The cartoon features three-on-three battles between Ky and extraterrestrial teenage adversaries. While the cartoon is geared towards younger audiences, the TCG can be played by TCG fans of all ages.

The Redakai Championship Tin with Cards is the best way to start playing this new game.

The Championship Tin comes with 43 Blast3D X-Drive cards, a card screen with Kairu counters, draw deck, battle field and instruction manual.

The first thing you will notice about this card series is that each card is holographic. The cards are also slightly thicker than an average playing card, making Redakai cards more durable than most TCGs on the market.

There are three types of cards: Character cards, Monster Cards and Attack cards. The 43 cards included is a random assortment of cards, four of which are Character Cards and the rest are either Monster or Attack cards. Since each Character card has a different Character Version associated with it (such as Imperiaz or Stax Leader), chances are that your Characters will be different from another player who has bought a Championship Tin. Each Character Card is opaque. By contrast, the Monster and Attack cards have transparent areas so that you can see through them. This game is designed as a stacking game. You place one card on top of the next to alter gameplay.

Each card has three defense zones (which are colored red, blue or green), three damage zones and an ability area. Monster and Attack cards also have a Kairu cost associated with them.

The game is relatively easy to pick up and play. It is geared towards players ages 6 and up. The instruction manual has rules for a Basic Game setup and an Advanced Game setup. Most players will want to play the Advanced Game. The Basic game offers limited opportunity for strategy. In the Basic Game you simply draw cards, stacking Monster cards on top of your Character Cards to power them up or Attack cards on top of your opponent’s Monster cards to weaken them.

The Advanced Game makes use of the card screen with Kairu counters. Each player starts off with their Kairu counter set at three. You get an extra Kairu point at the start of every turn. The number Kairu points you have determine what cards you can play. Players will need to check the Kairu energy mark on top of their Monster and Attack cards to see how many Kairu points they need to spend to play each card. Your Kairu level can go as high as 20, but you’ll be spending Kairu points during each turn.

The game starts with each player selecting three Character cards, which they put down on the battlefield. These are the base base abilities for your Character. As the game progresses, both you and your opponent can alter Characters on either side of the field. Players can put down Attack cards on their opponents cards, which can diminish a character’s defensive power, block its ability or cause damage to one of the three damage zones on the card. You can put down a Monster card on your own Characters to raise its Defense power, alter its ability and even heal damaged zones.

There’s a lot of strategy and customization to be found in this game. You will have to give your deck the right mix of attack powers. Since the Character and Monster cards have three damage zones, you have to make sure that you have a good variety of Attack cards that can affect each of these zones (the Attack cards will be marked Red in the zone that it affects). While most Monster cards have transparent damage zones, there are a few that have Yellow damage zones. By placing this on top of an attack card, you can heal your monster. Sometimes it’s better to add a monster that has weaker defensive abilities to your deck if that monster also comes with Yellow Damage zones.

Like all card games, the abilities are where you find the most fun. Abilities can give your entire team a boost, ward off attacks, allow you to draw extra cards and much more. Also some cards have React abilities. These can be confusing at times.

In one section of the rules, it states that “React abilities may be used after any player plays an Attack Card, but before the Attack Card compares its Power.” Just make sure that you and your opponent agree on what this means before you start playing because I entered a few different battles and my opponents understood the rule and timing differently.

Overall, Redakai is a fun new addition to the TCG community. Spin Master has already released a few booster packs for added enjoyment.

Redakai Championship Tin with Cards
Redakai Championship Tin with Cards

Manufacturer: Spin Master Ltd.

Rating:
9 / 10

Children’s Toy Review: ‘Beyblade’ Metal Masters Triple Battle Set

Kids who love Beyblade and are a fan of the cartoon delight in collecting Beyblade battle tops, customizing their blades and competing with other Beyblade owners to see who has the best Beyblade and the best ripping technique.

The Beyblade Metal Masters Triple Battle Set comes with two Beyblade Tops as well as an arena to host your first Beyblade battle.

The tops are the real treat in this set. The Galaxy Pegasus is a red and blue metal top that comes with a classic circular rip cord. The second top is the gold and silver Meteo L-Drago Beyblade. This comes with a more sinister looking ripcord that has hooks instead of a the typical loop. The Meteo L-Drago actually rotates in a counterclockwise motion, making it the perfect opponent to the Galaxy Pegasus.

These tops can spin on practically any surface and are an instant joy to watch as they shift positions as they bump and maneuver around objects.

Both blades come pre-assembled. However, you can easily take them apart by following the instructions.

The Triple Battle Set is somewhat of a misnomer. It may lead you into thinking that the included arena is designed for three Beyblades to fight at once. The triple actually refers to three removable cores that come with the arena. Instead of a smooth surface, each core has varied jacked lines (or grooves) to produce different effects when the two Beyblades go into battle.

First of all, I have to point out the box, it features two children who seem exceptionally excited to be playing with their Triple Battle Set. It gets children excited to want to tear open the box and start up a quick competition.

Unfortunately, the grooves each of the arena’s cores due more harm than good in creating an exciting battle. The friction immediately slows down the Beyblades so that after two to three seconds, the battle is almost over. In those two to three seconds, however, the Beyblade vs Beyblade action is intense as each one spins in opposing motions, bumping the other. There are small pockets in the arena, called penalty pockets, but it’s rare that the Beyblades will ever sustain enough spinning momentum to make it into one of them.

While the cores all supposedly produce different styles of battle, the result is the same: an intense three seconds of action, followed by the blades slowing to a halt. This will definitely keep your children’s attention for an hour or two as they try to figure out how to make battle last longer. Eventually, they’ll give up on the arena and be left with two blades to play with.

For children new to the Beyblade series, this is a nice starter set. However, it’s probably best to get your child the individual Beyblades and search around for one of the older arenas.

Beyblade Metal Masters Triple Battle Set
Beyblade Metal Masters Triple Battle Set

Manufacturer: Hasbro

Rating:
7 / 10

Xbox 360 Review: ‘Lord of the Rings: War in the North’ – Makes Chopping off Orc Heads Fun

With two new The Lord of the Rings movies scheduled for release in 2012 and 2013 (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again), Warner Bros Interactive has decided to build on the renewed interest in the LOTR franchise with a new action-RPG game. Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a new (there’s a lot of new to spread about) Middle Earth story that takes place around the events the lead to the Sauron’s demise. While the RPG and battle elements don’t introduce anything revolutionary, the beautiful set pieces do a great job in bringing to life LOTR as written by Tolkien and visualized for the big screen by Peter Jackson. This game may have some of the licensed game stigma attached to it, but it is one of the best LOTR games yet and makes chopping off orc heads fun (just in case you thought it wasn’t).

War in the North begins with a familiar face and location. Aragorn, the Dúnedain, is sitting at the Prancing Pony inn/tavern in Bree. The story begins just days before Frodo and his fellow Hobbits set out with the One Ring. Farin the Dwarf, Eradan the Ranger (one of the Dúnedain) and Andriel the Elf have started their own unique fellowship. The three meet up with Aragorn to warn him about the nine riders heading for the Shire. They have news that The Witch King has met with Agandaur, the right hand of Sauron. In order to distract the all-seeing Eye from the Shire and put a wrench in Agandaur’s plans, Aragorn advises the three to set out for Formost.

After the opening sequence, players are given the option to walk up to Aragorn and engage in conversation. Although there are options, the conversation isn’t too dynamic. This may seem like a result of being the first conversation in the game, but you soon discover that most of the conversations are paper-thin. There are a few times when you will feel like you are affecting the story, such as when you speak with Elrond’s elves. However, for the most part, the conversation tree presents a two to three options and then it is time to move on with the action.

The game presents your typical RPG style weapon and loot system. Gamers can pick up weapons wherever they go, stop by stores to buy and sell goods and also visit local blacksmiths to get their weapons repaired. While swapping out your various crossbows and longbows may have little visual effect, the dwarf at least gets to switch between two-handed swords, axes or a combination of shield and weapon. It’s great to play with Farin and hack off the heads of orcs and other foul beasts.

Unfortunately, the combat tends to get monotonous at times. You shift from one area to the next, button mashing your way through hordes of enemies. None of the standard attacks or combinations are memorable. I’ve read the books and watched all three movies. Reading or seeing Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) in action always had an awe-inspiring feel to it. The three adventurers in the War in the North are as plain vanilla as it gets. There are a few skills that can be added to your arsenal with experience. Giving your dwarf the power to shoot multiple crossbows is a boon, but his supposed critical attack looks just like any other attack. Andriel probably has the most useful power. She casts a dome that replenishes your strength when you stand in it.

One of the best special features in this game is the ability to call Beleram the Eagle. He swoops down from the sky and pecks away at your enemies. Using Beleram is limited, but he always shows up just when you need him or if there is a giant troll running loose.

War in the North is always played as a three-person party. In the single player mode, you can only upgrade the character you are playing with. If you want to upgrade the other characters, you will have to wait until the next scene and switch the character out. Unfortunately, now you can’t upgrade the character you started with. It is a little frustrating since most RPG games allow you to dynamically upgrade and modify characters in your party. Also, AI members of your party will always block your way. This happens much too often after you clear one setting and want to move onto the next. I found that Eradan just liked to hang out on bridges all the time.

There is no real way to adjust the tactics of your party either. You can press up on the D-Pad to command your team to attack or press down so that they defend. I found that the only use for this was when I needed to move on to another area. I would press down so that my teammates would follow me. It would be great if I could have told them to hide for cover at times or if they actually defended me when I used a fire cannon to attack waves of remote enemies. Too often, an enemy would sneak up behind me and pull me away, forcing me get down and dirty.

While the combat may feel a little monotonous at times, the story drives you forward in the quest to take down Sauron and usher in the Fourth Age. As I played through the game, I always wanted to continue on and see how this story would end. The meaty campaign presents cut scenes at just the right moments without being too much or too little. The story may not have the depth of one of main novels, but it still is a wonderful game that is true to Middle Earth. Most of the character voicing was excellent. However, I found it difficult to play with Farin who lacked the more gruff voice of Gimli (Rhys-Davies) from the movie.

Fans of the fiction will revel in The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. The gameplay may not offer anything new with regards to the action or RPG elements, but this game does give you a glimpse at what could come from a Hobbit game done by Snowblind Studios and WB Games. Hopefully, the teams will amp up the combat system and give gamers more fantastical attacks to really capture the spirit of this legendary world. For now, I’ll just chop off a few more orc heads with my trustee axe.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: Xbox 360 (also available on PS3)
Publisher: WB Games
Developer: Snowblind Studios
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Rating:

7.7 / 10

Movie Review: ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol’ – Best Heart Pumping Flick of 2011

While minor references are made to previous Mission Impossible movies, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol feels more like a franchise reboot than a sequel. The intense non-stop action keeps the adrenaline high. Director Brad Bird set out to make an epic action movie and delivered just that. Tom Cruise reminds us just what it means to be an action hero. For Cruise, Ghost Protocol feels like a return to the 80s and early 90s Cruise that made him the star he is. Simon Pegg adds just enough quirky humor to the film to keep even the most dramatic moments light, but never takes this movie out of its heart-pumping niche. While Harry Potter fans may lean towards The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 as their choice action flick of the year, Ghost Protocol will easily top the charts on ever action fan’s list.

Ghost Protocol begins with a new IMF team. Paula Patton plays Jane and Simon Pegg returns to the role of engineering whiz Benji Dunn. Jane and Benji set off to free Ethan Hunt (Cruise) from prison, but the locked up hero is a little recalcitrant about leaving the easy way. The scene sets the tone for the movie. Hunt is still a bad ass and his team is still doing things the hard way.

After a mission on the Kremlin goes wrong, the IMF is disbanded and Ghost Protocol is initiated. The US wants to distance itself from the incident at the Kremlin so our heroes go rogue. Instead of being backed by the US government, Hunt’s team must make use of whatever gear they have on hand and restore order to Russian-US relations. This one setup adds loads of humor and gasp-worthy moments to the film. Hunt’s team lacks the tactical backing to do everything they need to do; yet they still are up for the impossible challenge.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a film that is definitely worth seeing in IMAX. The mission scale and gorgeous production design demand big screen viewing. Tense scenes revolving around a giant skyscraper become more real when you see the massiveness of the building. The IMAX screen really forces you into the moment.

It’s great to watch the banter between Benji and Ethan. Benji always makes wild suggestions in a nonchalant way since Ethan’s life is on the line instead of his own. Cruise’s reactions to Ethan’s suggestions are always a laugh, but you still love it when Ethan mentally thinks, “Oh, well I guess I have to do it.” I can’t say enough that this is Mission Impossible done right and it is a film that will make you want more from IMF. Jeremy Renner rounds out the team as Brandt. While Brandt doesn’t see much action in this film, he does enough to make you want to see more from him in a sequel. Patton mixes sex appeal with just the right touch of attitude. You feel like this is a pretty face who can kick butt too.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a terrific popcorn film to end the year on. It’s a movie that you will want to see again. I only wonder what will become of the next installment in this franchise. The Ghost Protocol theme really helped to sell this movie. With leftover equipment and no government to call in for backup, it really felt like the team was on an impossible mission. It will be interesting to see if the creative team can follow this up somehow and keep our IMF team working on more rogue missions.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton, Simon Pegg
Directed by: Brad Bird
Writers: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: December 21, 2011

Rating:

8.5 / 10

The Expendables 2 – Get Ready for More Outlandish Awesome-sauce (+Trailer)

Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger are coming back to theaters in 2012 in The Expendables 2. And this time, they’re bringing backup. Liam Hemsworth, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris round out the action-hero extravaganza in what promises to be one of the most outlandishly great action flicks of the summer.

I’ll be honest, As a Die Hard fan of 80s action heroes, I thoroughly enjoyed the first Expendables movie. Sure, there was no story, the action was purely fantastical and it even had a happy ending, but the self referential moments of commentary on each actor’s career made it great. You had to live and love 80s popcorn flicks to be a fan. And, I can proudly say in my best Yoda voice that a fan I am.

Check out the trailer for The Expendables 2:

My only concern is that Sly Stallone is credited as the only writer on this new flick (Dave Callaham gets a characters credit). While that may have kept cost low, I think he could have added a new layer by seeking out seasoned writers or trying to recruit members of the Bad Robot team.

Blu-ray Review: Dolphin Tale – The Most Endearing Family Film of 2011

dolphin taleDon’t let the title or the thought of another “family friendly” movie fool you, Dolphin Tale is a film that will quickly win over your heart with its inspirational story. The film is inspired by the true story of Winter, a dolphin that lost its tail and was nurtured back to health by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. What makes this film even more amazing is that it actually features Winter and not a caged dolphin that was trained for the role. The Blu-ray release adds several layers to the film with behind-the-scenes footage from Winter’s own story. Viewers will get a chance to see how she was nursed back to health and learned to use her prosthetic fin. This is by far the best family film of the year and definitely a movie that can be watched over and over.

Dolphin Tale centers on Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble), a boy who lost his father and has become apathetic towards school and life. When his cousin, the male role model in his life, goes off to war, Sawyer is left alone to the dregs of summer school. One day, while riding his bike past the beach, Sawyer spots a dolphin that has had its tail caught in a crab cage. The animal has been severely injured due to the crab trap. Sawyer cuts away the rope that was trapping the dolphin’s tale just as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s emergency response team arrived to help the injured dolphin.

Since the story is told through the eyes of a child, it has a very Disney Channel feel to it. We are introduced to the Clearwater Marine Team, led by Dr. Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr.). His daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) befriends Sawyer and the two develop a special bond with Winter. What could be a very cheesy movie is made overwhelmingly real and endearing thanks to Winter. You really get a sense of her playfulness and strength in each of the close ups. If knowing that Dolphin Tale is a true story draws you in to the film, knowing that the actual animal the story is based on is doing all the movements (without her prosthetic fin) is utterly captivating. This is a young dolphin who should have died, but persevered through her hardship with Clearwater Marine’s help. Add on to it a mischievous bird named Rufus, and the smiles don’t stop.

Morgan Freeman rounds out the cast as Dr. Cameron McCarthy, a military prosthetics doctor who is “crazy” enough to try to make a prosthetic for a dolphin. Freeman adds just the right touch of heart, buried in wiliness to make you believe that someone out there would just be “crazy” enough to entertain an animal prosthetic. McCarthy is actually based on a two prosthetic makers who had the imagination to help Winter out in real life. Through the “At Home with Winter” and “Winter’s Inspiration” featurettes, you get a sense of all the work that went into creating Winter’s fin. The prosthetics makers volunteered their time to helping the animal. They continue to create new prosthetics for Winter as she grows.

The Blu-ray also comes with two additional animated shorts. The first is “The Hutash Rainbow Bridge”, which tells the story Dr. Clay related to Sawyer in the movie. In the second short, “Ormie and the Cookie Jar”, viewers are given an original short in the vein of Pixar. It’s delightful to watch and a terrific bonus on this release.

Dolphin’s Tale is an amazing film that everyone should watch. If you’re like me, you will immediately head over to Seewinter.org and check out the live webcam of Winter. Winter has inspired several amputees through her strength and she continues to do so everyday. If you can, definitely support the Clearwater Marine Aquarium after seeing this amazing animal in action. While the film gets an 8, seeing Winter at home with her Marine family is a definite 10.

Buy Dolphin Tale on Digital Download through iTunes
Dolphin Tale

Note: Dolphin Tale is presented in a special holiday package during the giving season.

Special Features:
– The Hutash Rainbow Bridge
– At Home with Winter
– Dolphin Tale: Spotlight on a Scene
– Winter’s Inspiration
– Ormie and the Cookie Jar
– Additional Scene
– Gag Reel

Dolphin Tale [Blu-ray]
 Dolphin Tale

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Harry Connick Jr, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Kris Kristofferson
Executive Producer: Charles Martin Smith
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 20, 2011

Rating:
9 / 10

Xbox 360 Review: Sonic Generations – A Delightful Addition to the Hedgehog Library

Remember Sonic and the Black Knight? How about when Sonic transformed into a werehog in a very “leashed” game? The past several years were a Dark Age of sorts for everyone’s favorite hedgehog. It seemed like developers were struggling to keep Sonic relevant, but forgetting all the great things that made Sonic great. Sonic Generations is a return to everything that was great about the Sonic franchise. The gameplay mixes 2D and forward, moving 3D gameplay to satisfy Sonic gamers young and old. The action is fast-paced and its mixed with just enough humor in cut scenes to remind you of the Sonic’s past animated series. While boss battles run thin, the level design is sure to draw you into this excellent new installment of the Sonic franchise. This is the Sonic game most gamers have been waiting for since the fond but forgotten days of Sega Dreamcast.

Sonic Generations starts off by immediately taking players back in time to Sonic’s 2D roots. A shorter, lighter and pudgier Sonic races through a re-imagined Green Hill Zone. We then find the taller, marine blue Sonic walking into a surprise birthday party thrown by all of his friends. Just when Sonic is about to enjoy his birthday presents, a purple-black cloud kidnaps all of Sonic’s friends. Now, it’s time to take on the Green Hill Zone in the more contemporary 3D forward racing design. Although you’re theoretically racing through the same board, the level design in the 3D world is so in-depth that it feels like a totally different board. Yet, you are always reminded of the 2D environment you just sped through with Classic Sonic.

Soon, you meet up with Tails, Classic Sonic and Classic Tails. Sonic and his past counterpart must team up to restore balance to the world. Gamers navigate through a white map that shows off three zones and a boss area. Each zone has two acts. The first act is the classic Genesis 2D Sonic action. You gather speed, rev up as a ball or do jumping spin attacks to make your way through the 2D platforming adventure. These boards are usually shorter than the 3D boards, but are fun nonetheless. The 3D boards (denoted Act 2) are a smart mix of forward moving Sonic action and 2D areas. Although you can play Act 1 and Act 2 in any order, it is better to play through Act 1 first. Going from Act 2 to Act 1 feels like a bit of a let down since Act 1 is so much shorter and less difficult.

Most zones are re-imagined worlds from Sonic’s Genesis and Dreamcast days. The characters quirkily make references to this fact during the cut scenes, where classic Sonic, who can’t talk, emotes his responses. As you complete zones, each white zone will be filled in with color. You can actually jump around and explore the map to get to each of these challenge zones, which is a nice touch reminiscent of Super Mario Galaxy. After you complete three zones, you will unlock several challenge boards. These boards add a lot of variety to the gameplay. Generations forces you to play through a few of them so that you see what you are missing out on by not playing through all of them. Challenge zones may require you to get assistance from one of Sonic’s friends, race against them or take on more challenging enemies.

The boss battles are the one downfall of Generations. There are not that many of them. I can’t say that Sonic boss battles have ever truly been memorable. For me, it’s always been about the levels, which Generations delivers on in abundance. It’s great racing on skateboards, zipping through the sky on rockets, shifting back-and-forth between rails or just avoiding giant runaway trucks. The only problem comes when shifting back-and-forth between Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic. Several times, I would play the Classic sidescrolling Sonic board hoping to use Modern Sonic’s targeting ability. No such luck. Classic Sonic is just that—Classic Sonic.

Sonic Generations is a delightful addition to the Sonic Library. It’s a reminder of the “awesomeness” that is Sonic and should cleanse your memory of several lackluster games released over the last several years. Hopefully, the Sonic Team can release more excellent games like this, with meaty 3D/2D levels and at least four or five more boss battles. The design team did such a great job with some of the 2D to 3D battles that it makes you wonder why they didn’t just add in more.

Sonic Generations
Sonic Generations
Genre: 3D/2D Platformer
Platform: Xbox 360 (also available on PS3)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Rating:

8.7 / 10

‘Chuck’ Season 5 Episode 6 Review: Chuck vs. the Curse

What a fantastic episode of Chuck this week! This is without a doubt one of the most thrilling episodes of the season so far. A night of cat and mouse, mistaken identity, and reunions made for one heart racing night of television. Dilemmas, dilemmas! There were also some new and familiar faces this week which was quite a treat and put the cherry on top of the comedy, tension, and action in “Chuck vs. the Curse.”

“Babe, what if we’re on a real spy mission?” – Awesome
“Martini!” – Ellie and Awesome

It was wonderful to see General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) again after her absence in quite a few episodes, warning Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) of all things about the CIA hunting them. Beckman and John Casey’s (Adam Baldwin) help along the way was minimal and it would not have been more perfect any other way. Chuck going to save Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) on his own could be seen a mile away and it still did not take anything away from the emotions of the night. How exciting it was to see guest star, Rebecca Romijn back on the small screen and as a spy setting off the virus no less!

“There is no curse. You’re not your father.” – Sara

Robin may not have gotten through Alex (Mekenna Melvin) and a not so slick Morgan (Joshua Gomez), which was one of the first of many heart racing moments last night, but Ellie and Captain Awesome took the cake. By the way, how exciting was it to see Mekenna Melvin again? It’s been too long! Now since we haven’t seen Alex, Ellie, and Awesome in awhile, the excitement was already high. But watching these Ellie & Awesome role play on the one night that the CIA was chasing after the actual spy Bartowski couple… it was the best adventure yet! Forming a plan to dive out of the limo, the laughs were very easy to come by.

But Ellie got her head in the game in time to escape and save Chuck… well, the latter half with the team. Ellie’s relief when Sarah and Casey came to save the day was priceless! But the best part about this episode is that there was no time to get to the Buy More. As much as well all love the Buy More, sometimes what goes on there just creates a distraction from the real fun and action. This week, by not focusing on the Buy More, there was a much better flow to the story and that did not go unnoticed. The writers, cast, and crew delivered a mighty fantastic episode of Chuck, one of the most memorable of the series. That said, with the virus out, we’ve got to see how the nerd herd reacts to the virus. Hilarity is sure to ensue. Chaos as well. Show of comments as to who thought that the virus wouldn’t actually get released. It’s the final episode of the year next week and the action, the comedy, the heart in this episode was enthralling but it looks like we’ll go out with an even bigger bang then! Stay tuned!

Favorite Moment: Sarah acknowledged that Chuck’s family is her family too now and she would not stop until they were safe.

Side Note: While we did miss Gertrude Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss) in this week’s episode, it seems that she will be back so stay tuned for more Moss!

Watch Chuck The Final Season Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.

Sony Witnesses PS Vita Premiere Launch in Japan

On Dec 17, 2011, the Playstation Vita had its global launch in Tokyo, Japan.

‘Uncharted: Golden Abyss’ Positioned as Playstation Vita Killer Title

Japanese gamers are expected to ignite holiday sales for the system, only a week before Christmas Day. Sony set up a massive marketing effort in the streets and shopping centers of key Tokyo districts in order to draw the attention of consumers. The system retails for 25,000 yen to 30,000 yen ($320 to $380). The handheld system doesn’t hit North America or Europe until February 2012. In the US, prices on the PS Vita are set at $249 and $299, but that won’t stop crafty Ebay sellers from buying the console early for a significant markup.

DETAILS ON THE PS VITA

Japan is home to both Nintendo and Sony. The 3DS had its launch in Japan months before the US launch. Currently, the rate of 3DS sales in its launch year is exceeding that of sales of the Nintendo DS.

PS VITA TECH SPECS

Shopping centers in Japan are already reporting that the PS Vita has sold out in stores. By contrast, the 3DS had more of a lackluster launch.

Interview with Uncharted Director Neil Burger

(Image: AP Photo/Kyodo News)