Although I did stick my head into the Petaluma GameStop long enough to pick up “Rock Band” last year, I’ve never been much of a day-after-Thanksgiving shopper. But sometimes it’s hard to resist the draw of the deal. Judging from Black Friday retail flyers posted at blackfriday.info, there aren’t any slam-dunk gaming deals that’ll get you to wait in line before stores open, but if you’re already out shopping, there’s money to be saved.

SOFTWARE

On the software side of things, don’t expect to find huge savings on big fall titles like “Gears of War II,” “Fallout 3,” “Resistance 2” or “Animal Crossing: City Folk.” Sure, those games will be advertised in flyers, but they’ll just be selling at the usual $50-$60 price point, or maybe for $10 less. There are, however, some great deals to be had on older titles.

Friday is shaping up to be a national “Guitar Hero” holiday, with the GameStop stores (EB Games, Funcoland, Babbage’s) offering the Wii version of “Guitar Hero III” plus two guitar controllers for $130, or $60 off the regular price. But you’ll have to get there between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. If you’re like me and more of a “Rock Band” guy, you can get “Rock Band Track Pack, Vol. 2” for $1 with the purchase of one of the two full games during those same hours.

If you roll into GameStop a little bit late, there are still some deals to be had. For the Wii, “Resident Evil 4” and maraca rattler “Samba de Amigo” will go for $20, while this year’s NCAA football title will cost $30. “Guitar Hero: On Tour” for the DS is $20 off this weekend only.

For some reason, there are fewer deals on PS3 software. For this weekend only, you can get “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” for $20 off at GameStop. They’re also selling “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots” bundled with a BlueTooth headset for $90, a savings of 25 percent. On the Xbox 360, you’ll find the same deal on “Call of Duty 4,” but you’ll also be able to score “Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” and the latest “Armored Core” mech-battling game for $40 off the sticker price.

As is pretty typical, the best deals can be found on PC titles. For Friday only, GameStop will offer the “World of Warcraft Battle Chest” for half off, or $20. It includes the core game, the “Burning Crusades” expansion pack and a couple of strategy guides. Or you can just pick up the core game for $10. Additionally, first-person shooter “Crysis” is on sale for $20.

Lastly, the GameStop stores will be offering a buy two, get one free deal on all used games through the weekend.

Over at Game Crazy, which has stores in Hollywood Video on Stony Point Road in Santa Rosa and on Washington Street in petaluma, you’ll be able to get “Dark Sector” on Friday only for the PS3 or 360 for $10. It’s not a top-notch title, but the reviews trended positive. It’s set up like a first-person shooter, but your main weapon is a boomerang-like blade called a glaive. Also on Friday only, the recently released “Far Cry 2” will go for $40. Other deals include “The Darkness” for the 360 for $5, “Soul Calibur IV” for 360 for $40 and “Trauma Center: Second Opinion” on the Wii for $20.

Game Crazy is offering the same buy-2, get-1 offer on used games that GameStop has.

Both Circuit City and Sears are selling a “Guitar Hero III” bundle including the game and a guitar controller for $55. Circuit City has PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions on sale Friday and Saturday, while Sears has the 360, PS3 and Wii bundles as a doorbuster deal, meaning they could sell out quickly. Bear in mind that if you own either of the two “Rock Band” games on Xbox 360 or any version of “Guitar Hero: World Tour,” the controller from “Guitar Hero III” can be used in your other music titles.

Another Sears doorbuster has the department store offering 20 percent off all value games, but given that it’ll save you, at most, $6 a title, it’s probably not worth a special trip unless you’re planning on buying a bunch. Ubisoft’s “Imagine: Master Chef” for the DS, normally $35, can be had for $10.

Circuit City has some deep discounts on older, well-reviewed titles.
You can nab “BioShock” or “The Orange Box” for Xbox 360 for $20,
“Cooking Mama” for the DS for $10, “Resident Evil 4” for PS2 for $10,
“Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories” for the PlayStation Portable
for $10 and “Dead Rising” for the Xbox 360 for $10, among others. On
the PC, “World of Warcraft” is going for $10, not including the
subscription fee.

You’ll find another “Guitar Hero III” game-plus-controller bundle over at Best Buy for $80, a little bit more than what it’s going for at other retailers. Also at Best Buy, “Rainbow Six Vegas 2” and “Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” will set you back just $20. “The Simpson’s Game” on the Xbox 360 is down to just $10. “Far Cry 2” and “Tom Clancy’s EndWar” on the 360 and “Soul Calibur IV” and “NBA 09: The Inside” on the PS3 will cost $38.

If you’re looking for newer games, Target will sell you the guitar bundle of “Guitar Hero: World Tour” for the Wii for $60, a savings of $40. You can pick up just a wireless guitar for the Wii for $40. They’ve also got this generation’s best-reviewed racing game, “Burnout Paradise” (Xbox 360 or PS3), for $20; “Dead Space” (Xbox 360 or PS3) for $30; Steven Spielberg-created puzzler “Boom Blox” (Wii) for $20; Xbox 360 exclusives “Halo 3” and “Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise” for $30; and “Mercenaries 2” (Xbox 360 or PS3) for $40.

Over at Wal-Mart, select EA Sports titles are selling for $30. One of them is “NBA Live,” but if you’re a big hoops fan, you’ll need to know that 2K’s “NBA 2K9” is a better title. Several Wii titles will be on sale for $16, but the ad doesn’t list them all, so there’s a good chance many of ’em aren’t worth getting excited about.

Kmart has a buy-one, get-one-free offer on various educational games for the LeapFrog and V.Smile systems.

HARDWARE

You’ll find a few sales on consoles or handhelds, but they’re more of the “extra stuff thrown in for free” variety rather than deep discounts off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. If you get to GameStop or any of its stores (EB Games, Babbage’s Funcoland) between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., you’ll get a free copy of “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2” (rated T, $40) if you buy an of the Xbox 360 holiday bundles. During the same hours, you’ll be able to score a bunch of stuff for the PlayStation Portable, with 4 gigabyte memory sticks selling for half off and select UMD format movies priced at $4.

The “Guitar Hero” deals continue over at Game Crazy.
That retailer, part of the Hollywood video empire, will toss in a free
“Guitar Hero II” game and controller if you buy the Xbox 360 Pro ($300)
or Elite ($400) packages. Bear in mind that the controller is
compatible with all “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” titles. You’ll also
get 12 free rentals at Hollywood video.

Wal-Mart is offering a similar deal, only with “Guitar Hero III” and a controller and no video rentals if you buy the Arcade version of the 360 for $200. Keep in mind that it doesn’t come with a hard drive, though. If you plan on playing online at all, you might want to go with the Game Crazy offer.

Dell.com is tossing in a free copy of “Rock Band 2” if you buy the Xbox 360 Arcade bundle at regular price ($200). Bear in mind, though, that the Arcade bundle comes with a low-capacity memory unit rather than the 60 gigabyte hard drive that comes with the Pro bundle. You’ll definitely be missing some functionality if you go that route, but it’s the only way you’ll get a current-generation game console for $200 this holiday season.

Target is giving away a $60 gift card if you buy the $300 Pro version of the Xbox 360. If you buy an Xbox 360 at Sears, they’ll throw in a free wireless controller, a $50 value.

A Best Buy doorbuster deal will give you “Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction” and a Blu-ray high-def DVD of “Casino Royale” if you buy a PlayStation 3 at the regular $400 price. Or you can pick up the $300 Xbox 360 Pro in a bundle that includes two extra free games, for a total of four (“Kung Fu Panda” and “Lego Indiana Jones” come standard these days, and Best Buy is throwing in “NBA 2K9” and “Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground.”

If you’re on a budget and don’t want to blow $200 or more on an Xbox 360, $250 on a Wii or $400 or $500 on a PS3, the PS2 is still a great deal at $129. What’s more, most of the games are dirt cheap, making it a great first system for destructive kids who maybe don’t take great care of their stuff. Pick one up at GameStop before Dec. 7 and you’ll get a free $30 gift card to use toward a game, controller or memory card. On Friday only, you’ll also get a free $20 game. I humbly recommend “Shadow of the Colossus,” “Final Fantasy XII,” “God of War” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.”