Health Team

Video Gaming at The Holidays

The holidays have always been a time to gather around the dinner table, the Christmas tree, the hearth or some other inanimate object. This year, why not make it the warm glow of your television?

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MATT SLAGLE (AP Technology Writer)

The holidays have always been a time to gather around the dinner table, the Christmas tree, the hearth or some other inanimate object. This year, why not make it the warm glow of your television?

Led by last year's family-friendly - and still scarce - Wii from Nintendo Co., video games have become a (more) socially responsible way to pass time with friends and relatives.

From hard rock simulators to living room quiz shows, here are some of the more interactive ways to play together during the holidays.


"Rock Band Special Edition"

The originators of the "Guitar Hero" series have now conceived one of the most expensive video games in recent memory. For about half the price of a new Xbox 360 console, you get a faux Fender Stratocaster, a four-piece plastic drum set with foot pedal, wooden drum sticks and a microphone for belting our your ultimate rock anthem. Rock Band includes 58 play-along tracks - many of them original recordings. And, should you eventually tire of Radiohead's "Creep," you can always download more songs - for a price, of course. (For Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, MSRP $169.99, rated T).


"Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock"

It's not as robust or nearly as innovative as Rock Band, but Guitar Hero 3 has the same rhythm-based frenzy of its predecessors. New this time around are online guitar battles and original recordings. The likenesses of rockers such as Slash, who offer finger-flexing challenges, are another addition. Despite these upgrades and new downloadable packs from bands such as "Foo Fighters," Guitar Hero 3 feels like a struggling comeback tour. Newcomers might be better off buying last year's version at a discount. (For Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, MSRP $99.99, rated T).


Nintendo Wii Zapper

Buy this simple chunk of white plastic, snap in a Wii remote and a nunchuk, and viola! Now you've got something resembling a gun, and it works particularly well with first-person shooters like "Medal of Honor: Heroes 2." The Zapper ships with "Link's Crossbow Training" for target practice. Sadly, though, Nintendo still doesn't to give us a true remake of its Nintendo Entertainment System classic, "Duck Hunt." (For Wii, MSRP $24.99, rated T).


"Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action"

This pleasing movie-trivia game made the leap this season from DVD to Xbox 360. What's cool here are the four wireless buzzer controllers that you'll have to mash before anyone else to score the most points. There's a wide variety of question formats, from fill-in-the-blank film quotes to movie title anagrams. One quirk: Some of the video challenges, in which you watch a short movie clip and try to answer questions about minute details afterward, had nothing to do with the clip shown. (For Xbox 360, MSRP $59.99, rated T).


"Buzz!: The Mega Quiz"

If your trivia knowledge extends across the Atlantic, this British import for the aging PlayStation 2 with more than 5,000 questions on current events, music, sports and other topics is a great deal. The price includes four wired buzzers. The game achieves true TV-gameshow hilarity once you plug in another set of four buzzers (not included) for eight-person matches. (For PlayStation 2, MSRP $39.99, rated E-10).


"The Eye of Judgment"

So you've proven your worth as a trivia, music and shooting master. What's left for a real nerd to do? Deal plain old playing cards to fight opposing forces, obviously. Clear off the coffee table for this fantasy oddity: Players deal specially coded cards onto a fabric mat where an included USB camera scans them. It sends the information to the screen where your forces are pitted against your opponent's. Weird? Oh, yes. But it's surprisingly fun, as long as you play against a real person. (For PlayStation 3, MSRP $69.99, rated T).


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