My $35 and under Holiday game guide

Sunday night I went with my fiancée Allicia and her parents to a big dinner featuring Indian food.

I think I'd rather play the worst Nintendo games ever made for three hours straight than eat that food again. Regardless, it was fun to meet new people, and one woman asked me if I had any recommendations for Wii games.

Oh hell yes I do. LOL she had no idea she was talking to the 16-bit Catholic! I definitely know my games. But instead of telling her five games to choose from (and possibly forgetting about them), I gave her my business card and directed her to this web site.

And since I LOVE to save money, I am going to give a list of three-to-five games for each video game system. They're all $35 or less, with some being hidden gems that might not get the same limelight that others do. It's not as if games that are 2-3 years old for the Wii lose their fun factor due to age: you can get great games if you look hard enough.

And since I specialize in retro, I'm going back into the vault for some of these ones. And Youtube video for your enjoyment as well.

Nintendo Wii

1. WarioWare: Smooth Moves

What's more fun than picking your nose or swatting flies? When you do them back to back at breakneck speed! Warioware: Smooth Moves is a collection of obsurd mini games, all lasting 3-5 seconds a piece. You'll use the wiimote to balance a person on a ball, smash an alarm clock, pluck nose hairs, etc., all with an extremely absurd sense of humor. For $30, this is a great, unique game to pull out at parties, or to plug in when you're feeling a bit silly, and want a break from the normal video game fare of rescuing princesses and killing Nazis.

2. Super Mario All-Stars (Wii edition)

OK, so I'm breaking my rule here by giving you a well-known franchise. Truth be told, you can save a few bucks by hunting down Super Mario Bros. 1-3 on eBay or downloading them from the Virtual Console. But if you don't want to do that and need a great stocking stuffer, I think this version will do just nicely. With it comes a CD soundtrack and a 32-page Mario history booklet, which are nice things to convince someone like me who still loves the original NES versions to buy this copy for the Wii. It's a great way to show your kids Mario's roots. Chances are, if they loved New Super Mario Bros., they'll probably really enjoy this one.

Still, I wish Nintendo would have added co-op to these games like they did in NSMB a few years ago. Playing two-player Super Mario Bros. 2 would have been amazing.

3. Big Brain Academy

This is the fun educational game that Sesame Street Hide and Speak (NES) never was. What a novel concept: a great multiplayer game that helps your math skills. Educational and eight years old might not always mix too well, but I think the kids will really enjoy this game once they see it in action. You use the Wiimote to do things like pop balloons from lowest number to highest, match up identical faces, etc. Your kid won't ace his ACT after a few hours with this game, but if you're trying to get your children to do things like flash cards or crossword puzzles, this game is for you.

4. Samba de Amigo

This one is cheap. Like, REALLY cheap. Less than $12 on Amazon. Basically, you use your wiimote and nunchuck like a maraca and time your shakes to cues on screen. If you or the kids love rhythm/music games, this one is too cheap to pass up...and too much fun.

5. de Blob

You should be able to find this one for about $20-$30. Basically, an army has taken control of a city, robbing it of all its color. As a colorful blob, you roll around the city and splash color all over the place. Perfect for anyone who loves creative art and making a mess...without you having to clean up the carpet. It's another fun, original title that gets lost in the shuffle of licensed shovelware.

One thing that I'm surprised that many Wii owners fail to realize is that their machine plays Gamecube titles. Pick up a Gamecube controller for $15, and you have an entire new catalogue of games opened up. Best part? Most of them are $5-10. Sure, you won't get to use motion controls on them, but most cube titles still hold up.

1. Super Monkey Ball. OK, this one is about $30 used, but it's darn good. You have a monkey inside of a ball! What more do you need to know? Basically, you tilt the floor with your analog stick and get the monkey from one end of the level to the other. Did I mention it's a monkey inside of a ball? Genius.

2. P.N.03. One of my favorite games that didn't get the love it deserved, P.N.03 is your standard aliens are out to get us plotline. You control a woman named Vanessa, who shoots lasers from her palms. The game is a test of reflexes, as you'll spend most of your time shooting robots, ducking to avoid their blasts, and popping back up to finish the job. My shoulder hurts from playing sometimes, that's how intense this one gets. And for $5-6, it's a great bargain.

3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Best Zelda game I've ever played. Nothing more to say. It's Zelda, and it's great. The cel-shaded look really threw some people off, and I guess that's understandable. But the game is just as much fun to watch as it is to play. If your kids are looking for an in-depth swash-buckling action title, you can't go wrong with this one.

Legacy platforms
Got one of these old systems in the closet somewhere? It can make a nice Christmas gift if you dust it off and breathe new life into it with a few games you might not have had the $50 to spend on when they were originally released. Plus, if you have a Wii, you can download many of these on the Virtual Console.

Atari 2600
1. River Raid - Best game on this system. Your jet blows up gas stations and helicopters.
2. Demon Attack - Different twist on killing aliens from above. You shoot them, they split into two and divebomb you.
3. Air Sea Battle - Obscure two-player game that provides a few more thrills than Pong.

Nintendo Entertainment System
1. Bionic Commando - Instead of jumping in this run and gun game, you have a grappling hook. Great innovation that made for a unique game.
2. Mike Tyson's Punchout - Might pay a little more for this NES game than most, but a used copy shouldn't set you back more than $20. Best Nintendo game ever made, and it still holds up just as well today.
3. Balloon Fight - Fun little game where you fly through the air trying to pop the enemies balloons without getting your balloons popped.

Sega Genesis
1. Pugsy - Challening platformer/puzzle game. Pugsy, an alien, is stranded on this planet and needs to get home. A great physics system will have you trying to escape each level by stacking objects, shooting bad guys, and jumping over pits, with a quirky little soundtrack too.
2. Wiz and Liz - My favorite Genesis game. A great example of how a game can be crazy fun without violence. Wiz and Liz have lost their rabbits! You run through the level collecting all the rabbits before time expires, also collecting fruit to brew into new spells. Best played with a friend.
3. Ms. Pacman - My favorite console version of this game simply because you can actually turn on the speed hack! Every other version I've played has the slow Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man. Yea I know that's how it's supposed to be played, but damnit it's too slow! Nice maze selection and co-op make it one of the best pac-man titles.


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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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