With Christmas having just passed, gamers everywhere are surely clutching gift cards for Best Buy and GameStop, Circuit City and Game Crazy, dreaming of what to get.
But, having spent a good chunk of your budget buying gifts for other people, you don’t want to run out and burn $60 on a recently released fall blockbuster you’ll finish in 15 hours. You need to make that game card last. Fortunately for you, now that the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have all been on the market for at least two years, you can score plenty of decent, older games you may have missed when they came out last year, the year before or even early 2008.
Great buys on the Wii
This generation’s best-selling console is also probably the hardest machine to shop for with price drops in mind. Most of the best Wii games are developed by Nintendo itself, and the company is famously resistant to cutting prices on its own games. “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,” for example, carries a suggested retail price of $50, despite being 2 years old.
While Nintendo’s games are still stuck at $50, you can pick up the excellent, block-smashing puzzle game “Boom Blox” (rated E) for $40. Also at $40 is the ever-popular “Carnival Games,” which is basically a compilation of games you’d find at the state fair. It won’t appeal to die-hard gamers looking for adventure, but if you’re in the market for a pass-the-remote-style family game, you could do worse. Adventure title “Okami” (rated T), one of the PlayStation 2’s best games, was redone last year on the Wii. You can get it for $40. It features a beautiful, watercolor-painting world and lets you use the Wii remote as a celestial paint brush. Recommended for fans of the “Zelda” games.
Speaking of ports, the M-rated Wii-imagining of “Resident Evil 4” remains one of the Wii’s strongest titles. It’s $20. “Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga” (rated E10+) is a steal at $20. It’s available on the 360 and PS3 at the same price.
Over on the 360
If you missed it the first time around, you can pick up my 2007 favorite, “BioShock” (rated M), for $20 or $30 depending on the retailer. Similarly, the Game of the Year edition of “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” (rated M) is $30 and includes all the downloadable content, at least 100 hours of game play total. (The PC version is only $20.) “The Orange Box” from Valve (rated M), actually five great games on one disc, is down to $20.
If you’re a fan of racing games, you’ve got some choices. “Forza Motorsport 2” (rated E) is down to $20, while “Burnout Paradise,” a great online racer (E10+, also for PS3), is $30.
While I wouldn’t normally recommend a $60 game here, there’s so much to do in “Fallout 3” that if you think it might be your kind of game, it could keep you entertained longer than two or three lower-priced games. That said, “Mass Effect” (rated M, $30) and “Lost Odyssey” (rated T, $40) are great alternatives for role-playing fans.
Other than a few multiplatform titles listed in the 360 section, there aren’t a ton of bargains on Sony’s console yet, but “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots” has fallen from $60 to $50. The M-rated stealth-action title is on most publications’ short lists for Game of the Year awards. “Assassin’s Creed” (rated M), one of last year’s top titles, is $30 on both the PS3 and 360. Tactical military-style shooter “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2” (rated M, also on 360) is $40.
A few Sony games have started to trickle out as $30 greatest hits titles. If you haven’t played ’em yet, shooter “Resistance: Fall of Man” (rated M) and racer “MotorStorm” (rated T) are two of the best titles from the console’s launch window.
If you’re hoping to save money buying used, the GameStop stores (GameStop, EB Games, Babbage’s and Funcoland) are running a buy-two-get-one-free special on used games through Sunday only. Here’s a link to all of the chain’s weekend specials.