Fantastic video games for the whole family

There’s nothing worse than forking out for a video game for Christmas only to find it’s all over in a few hours, it has a weak storyline or poor graphics. So No 1 Son, Ben, Harriet and I have been road-testing some of this year’s biggest sellers. Here’s our top of the pops:

Epic Mickey (£29.99, Nintendo Wii, available from Disney Store): In this fantastic action-adventure game the player becomes Mickey Mouse, using the power of paint and thinner to change the world around them. The game features some of Disney’s long forgotten characters, including  Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney’s first cartoon star, and it includes quests and challenges and items to collect. But it’s also very creative, because it lets your child make choices – they can draw, erase, and decide how they want the game to progress. Genius.

FIFA 11 (£17.99 to £24.99, available for Nintendo Wii, DS, PS3 and Xbox 360): Now according to No 1 Son this is ‘the best football game ever made’. A ‘virtual pro’ can be created using the player’s face from a real life picture, who then grows throughout the game as he plays along from a reserve squad to the captain, and international superstar. Girls might not appreciate there being no women’s teams though!
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (£24.99 to £39.99, Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360):  Well as you know we loved the film so we couldn’t wait to start playing the game. Games based on movies are often a bit disappointing but this one is pretty good, with excellent graphics. You use your ‘wand’ to help you fight enemies including the Death Eaters, Snatchers and Dementors, and you can also use the Invisibility Cloak. 
      Penguins of Madagascar (£17.99, DS): This is such a cute game – the penguins have to use all their acrobatic abilities to solve puzzles, build contraptions and avoid super silly obstacles. You can play as part of ‘Team Penguin’ or use each Penguin one by one.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (£37.99, Xbox 360 and PS3): Set in Renaissance Italy and including real historical characters such as Leonardo da Vinci, this is a sequel which manages to better the original. Players can climb the Panthenon or the Colloseum, take a jump off St Peter’s Basilica, and even micromanage a whole economy.  The game also boasts a huge variety of missions, a fantastic plot and entertaining dialogue.
       Doctor Who: Return to Earth (£29.99, Nintendo Wii): We liked this alot – it’s a 3D version of the TV series and gives your kids (*ahem*) the chance to be the Doctor and Amy Pond, unravelling a sinister plot by the Cybermen and preventing the Daleks from retrieving a dangerous time axis. Very cleverly, you use the Wii remote as the Sonic Screwdriver.  Pictionary (£12.99, DS):  What I love about this is that it’s something the whole family can join in with, even Granny – you just take your turn and pass it on. You can do all the things you would do in the traditional game,  but there are a few surprises too. Great fun.

Wii Fit Plus (£14.99 or £74.99 with Balance Board, Nintendo Wii): If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get fit then this, I promise you, will be your new best friend. You can create your own personal trainer and then let him (or her) take you through various challenges to help you get a better body. It’s even better with the Balance Board – I  know a few mums who have toned up using the two. Absolutely brilliant.
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written by Liz Jarvis