Nintendo’s big idea this year is clearly to show that there’s something for everyone in the family when it comes to video games. Here’s a look at our picks to score big at your holiday party!
Board games are still huge hits when it comes to good, old fashioned family fun. They always make for super gifts and a super good time, so Nintendo took that concept and created “Wii Party,” a family-friendly game that brings the fun of video games and board games to the living room.
In Wii Party, up to four players can take part in 13 different party game modes with over 80 minigames, incorporating old favorites like “Hide and Go Seek,” and “Memory.” In between minigames, players will roll a pair of virtual dice and race to the finish line on “Board Game Island.” It’s an ideal game for to play with the kids if you’re looking for something other than Monopoly or Life.
David Tutera, party planner to the stars and host of the reality TV series, “My Fair Wedding,” played Wii Party and raved that the while the game is perfect for parties for kids, it’s especially a hit for parties for adults.
“It’s a great way to sort of just extend your party. You know, a lot people don’t know what to do, they don’t know what to do when they have people over and sometimes people don’t know what to do to socially add energy to the party,” he said. “Grab a glass of wine, come down here and put the television on, put Wii Party on and you can have fun with a bunch of adults. I think it’s brilliant.” Wii Party is rated E for Everyone and retails for $49.99.
Donkey Kong Country Returns
One of Nintendo’s oldest characters and most celebrated games makes a triumphant comeback on the Wii this holiday season after a 14 year hiatus. Donkey Kong, alongside his younger pal Diddy, are back in Donkey Kong Country Returns, the beautifully and elaborately architected, side-scrolling game that old-schoolers might remember from the days of Super Nintendo.
You don’t need to know much about DK’s past to play this game. The concept is easy: Donkey Kong’s island has been invaded by the evil Tik Tak Tikis, who stole his beloved bundle of bananas. Flip your Wii remote to the side to turn it into a controller and you can run, roll, jump, climb, and stomp your way to victory over the villains to help DK reclaim his island and his grub. Shake your controller up and down and DK will pound the ground to reveal secret treasures and hidden puzzles!
DKCR also features the first ever simultaneous cooperative game play mode for the series, allowing two players to go to battle together at the skill level that best suits one another.
The game boasts crisp, fine-detailed, eye-popping backgrounds that complement the smooth gameplay. Novice and advanced gamers should both appreciate this action packed adventure.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a must-buy for avid Wii fans this holiday season. It’s a fantastic game to throw on during family gatherings, when players young and old can team up and take on the Tik Tak Tikis together.
Donkey Kong Country Returns is rated E for Everyone and retails for $49.99.
Playing video games has never been more fashionable thanks to “Style Savvy” for Nintendo DS. The game caters to fashionistas young and old who have always dreamed of opening up a boutique or creating a designer label.
Celebrity style Lawrence Zarian, known to many as “The Fashion Guy,” played the game and said Style Savvy was a cost-effective way for those who love to buy clothes to get their fix and learn about owning a boutique all at the same time.
“This is a perfect game for those young fashionistas that love shows like Rachel Zoe, that love Project Runway, that love America’s Next Top Model. It’s bringing style and fashion to your fingertips,” he said. “It’s something that’s easy and fun and the best thing is it doesn’t cost a lot of money because you’re not out shopping.”
In Style Savvy, each players builds her own boutique, her own character, and her own style, and it’s up to her to sell as much of her clothing line as she can to potential models and customers.
“It’s a great way to teach young kids how to run a business because you’re basically the owner of your own boutique. It’s managing merchandise, it’s managing 16 different clothing designer labels, and it’s managing your employees,” said Zarian.
The game is about more than just interaction with customers. If two players have Style Savvy game cards, they can connect their Nintendo DS or Nintendo DSi systems locally to visit each other’s stores. Players who have broadband wireless Internet access can connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and walk around other players’ stores and shop.
Style Savvy is rated E for Everyone and retails in stores for $29.99.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem
Mario and Donkey Kong renew their decades-old rivalry in this action-packed puzzle adventure game for the Nintendo DS. Old school gamers and anyone who enjoys problem and puzzle solving will enjoy this handheld brain teaser.
In Mini-Land Mayhem, Donkey Kong captures Pauline from Mario’s new playland after he’s denied a wind-up Pauline toy to take home. It’s up to Mario and his cast of wind-up Mini-Marios to stump DK and his many traps to try and rescue Pauline. You’ll have to go survive DK’s vast array of dangerous pits, while building platform, setting springs, and warping through pipes to save his damsel in distress.
The game boasts more than 200 levels and even allows players to create their own puzzles in the “Construction Zone” with an easy-to-use level building tool. Players can then share their levels with friends over Wi-Fi or even post them online for others to take a stab at.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem is rated E for Everyone and retails for $29.99 at a store near you!
Serve, swing, and smash your way through more than 30 levels of the tropical Suthon Island as either Zip or Pip, the mystical, tennis ball-shaped heroes chosen to save the island from the barriers and bosses sent down by the evil Omminus, who has the island under his clutches.
FlingSmash tries to cater towards tennis players, but there’s not much skill required to beat the game. Using the Wii MotionPlus controller to track precise movements, players simply guide Zip or Pip through the side-scrolling levels by flinging him through barriers and bouncing him off the ground. Players use tennis-like motions to give Zip some extra oomph as he collects sacred pearls to unlock the levels where he can defeat Omminus and his slew of big bosses.
A second player can join in the fun using an addition controller to bring Zip’s female counterpart, Pip, into the game.
Though the game lacks the fine detail to its backgrounds that you can find in Donkey Kong Country Returns, the boards move so quickly and Zip causes so much destruction that there’s not much time to check out the scenery of the island. We also found that getting Zip into the little nooks and crannies of each level where secret treasures are hidden proved difficult at times, as nailing down the exact motion of your swing didn’t always work.
Nonetheless, FlingSmash is fun for all ages and will certainly be a party favorite this holiday season. After all, who doesn’t enjoy smashing objects left and right without making a mess?
FlingSmash is rated E for Everyone and retails for $49.99 at a store near you!
Art Academy is Nintendo’s latest effort to prove that video games are for more than just entertainment. There’s an artist in each of us, and if you don’t believe it, Art Academy is out to prove you wrong. This portable art school for the Nintendo DS teaches players, or students in this case, how to draw or paint with a slew of lessons from the in-game tutor, Vince.
As each lesson begins, players watch Vince as he demonstrates how to enhance his drawings or paintings. Then by using the stylus along the touch screen, they’re given the canvas and begin their own pieces of work with lifelike results. The stylus can turn into pencils and paintbrushes of various sizes, and can select and combine colors from the palette.
Art Academy also comes with Free Paint, a program that gives the student a blank canvas so that the budding artist can take a blank canvas and whip up whatever they please. If the Art Academy software is being used on a Nintendo DSi or Nintendo DSi XL system, artists can use the built-in camera to take pictures of objects and store them in the system to use later for reference.
Once finished, the masterpiece gets saved and framed in the game’s gallery!
Art Academy makes for a great gift for anyone looking to tap into their creative fortitude. This is one game that can certainly put a smile on the face of any aged student. And who knows, maybe it’ll lead to some works of art that will hang in one of New York’s many museums one day!
Rated E for Everyone, you can pick up a copy of Art Academy for $19.99 at a store near you!