Handheld Games for Santa's Naughty List
Lumps of coal are so 1920s. These days there are more than enough awful handheld games to give to bad little boys and girls...
When I was a kid, I was lucky if my parents bought me any sort of video game, even if it was edutainment. The highlight of my gaming life then when my mother finally agreeing to let me buy Megaman for the PC. Now, things have changed and parents see video games as a suitable choice for a holiday gift. But what kind of game to get little Jimmy and Betty Sue? Don't be one of those lame parents who buy their 5-12 year old kid educational software. They'll grow out of their LeapFrog toy before you even know it. Luckily, the DS has an extensive library with the perfect game for everyone, whether they deserve a gift this holiday or not. If your little Billy hasn't been the most behaved kid on the block, save that lump of coal for the furnace and get him a crappy game instead.
For the brat who won't finish his chores or homework: Bubble Bobble Revolution
Ah, those lovable dinosaurs and their bubble blowing antics. You may have remembered spending hours in your youth frantically blowing and popping bubbles to progress to the next level. While this game promises that, don't be fooled. Just look at the box art. Those are not the fun loving dinosaurs you remember from yesteryear, but evil incarnations of them. One of the best things about the original game was that you could see the whole screen at one time, but with this version, only a portion of the screen is seen and the rest must be scrolled to, which screws up the already lacking gameplay. Like chaining bubbles together? Well, the developers obviously didn't because that feature is gone. As if the sluggish controls aren't bad enough already, there's a game breaking bug that prevents the player from ever passing level 30. If you want little Billy to finish his homework instead of playing games, consider getting him this one. He'll be jumping at every opportunity to do long division and take out the trash as long as he doesn't have to keep playing this game.
For the kid who won't shut up about getting a pony: Horsez
So you can't afford five acres of land, a barn, and lots and lots of hay. You can still make little Mindy smile by bringing home Horsez. The 'z' at the end is for ZUPER! Young equestrians-to-be can get practice raising a pony, grooming him, and finding the perfect riding outfit. For those who want to take their horsez seriously, there are riding and jumping competitions to compete in. After your little darling tires of their horse, they can trade it to another friend over wifi. Playing this game is exactly like owning a horse, except you don't have to clean up any poop. As long as you convince your kid of that, it'll be the best present ever.
For the kid with cheap parents: Elf Bowling 1 & 2
You blew away your holiday bonus on a PS3 and now you can't afford anything for your kid. Don't worry, there's always the bargain bin and where there's a bargain bin, there's Elf Bowling. Not just Elf Bowling, but Elf Bowling 1 & 2. It's like having two games in one! Naughty Elves who have been complaining about the sweatshop like conditions in the North Pole have been turned into bowling pins by the evil tyrannical Santa. In the first game, you get to knock the elves down with a bowling ball. In the second game, you get to knock the elves around as a shuffleboard puck. The fun just never stops. Even a simpleton can understand the controls: tap the screen or press the A button when the moving arrow is pointed to where you want the ball/puck to be hit. Be warned, the elves do give you earful and may say naughty things, but it's ok, your kid isn't going to play this game anyway.
For the kid who thinks Pokemon games are too hard: Pokemon Ranger
Maybe your kid isn't the sharpest crayon in the box and regular collectathon Pokemon games are too complex for him. You don't want him to feel left out on the playground when all his friends are talking about the Mewtwo they caught, do you? This is where Pokemon Ranger fits in. While the game is set in the same Pokemon universe other kids are familiar with, it lacks the complex RPG element of the usual games. Catching a pokemon is as simple as drawing a circle around it. Already captured pokemon can be brought into battle to help out with their special skills, but the game is really as simple as just drawing circles around the target pokemon. After leaving an area, all the captured pokemon are returned to the wild, teaching your kids about wildlife conservation at the same time!
For your pride and joy who actually behaved this year: Kirby Squeak Squad
If the bright colors of Kirby Squeak Squad don't shout, "Hey kids! Play me!" then the marshmallow pink protagonist definitely will. The story is simple: someone stole a delicious strawberry shortcake and it's Kirby's job to retrieve it. The feature of using enemies' powers has remained in this iteration and the controls are unchanged. There are new enemy abilities like digging and turning things into ice as well as old favorites. The touchscreen comes into play when you start to collect more abilities. Up to five abilities can be stored into bubbles and new abilities can be created by combining the bubbles. Replayability comes from exploring areas using different abilities, since certain abilities are needed to gain access to treasure off the beaten path. If you're looking for something to shut Little Emily Sue up during the ride to grandma's house, stick this in her DS, hand her a pair of headphones, and enjoy the blissfully silent ride.
Yes, with this handy guide, picking gifts for your kids will be as easy as deciding how much you like them. Just remember: while you do have to give your offspring something during the holidays, who said it has to be something good?