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Text:AAA
Thursday, Dec 16, 2010
Deadly Premonition (Ignition, Xbox 360) [$19.99]

Deadly Premonition boasts dated graphics and some truly terrible combat, nevertheless, it is one of the best games of the year.  A survival horror title set in the quirkiest and most robust open worlds in recent memory, the game’s atmosphere and tone is an absolute delight. 


Reveling in the bizarre, the macabre, and the whimsical, Deadly Premonition is not for everyone, but gamers who also find themselves jonesing to explore a world reminiscent of Twin Peaks or something out of the Tim Burton catalog are likely going to “get” the appeal of this sleeper hit.  Oh, and in a recessionary Christmas season, the budget pricing sure doesn’t hurt.


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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City (Nintendo DS) [$29.99]

Gaming has an image problem. Gamers are typically portrayed as short of attention span, needing a constant fix of explosions or danger to maintain their interest in an activity. 


The truth is, for many gamers, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have a patient, meticulous, thinker of a gamer to buy for, Etrian Odyssey III could be just the thing. Exploration, map-making, and strategy are at a premium, and an extremely high difficulty curve will ensure an experience both frustrating and appealing. 


Not only that, but one could easily dump a solid 100 hours of time into this game. Prove to the recipient of your gift that you’re not swayed by marketing machines and familiar names. Never mind that it’s on a portable system—Etrian Odyssey III is as beautiful and absorbing as modern games get.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Dec 13, 2010
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (Sony) [$39.99]

Set between the first two God of War games, this PSP title might lack the epic wow factor of God of War 3, but this is still a well-executed entry in the same over-the-top style we’ve come to expect out of the third-person action series starring Kratos and a loose interpretation of the Greek pantheon.


Perfect for action-minded newcomers as well as established fans, Ghost of Sparta offers a compelling and tragic family tale that’s perfect for curling up on the couch with loved ones—if you and your family enjoy absurd levels of violence, that is.


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Text:AAA
Thursday, Dec 9, 2010
by Eric Kravick
Disney Guilty Party (Nintendo Wii) [$39.99]

Mr. Green did it, in the dining room, with the rope.  If you have mouthed or heard a similar accusation recently, chances are there’s a little inner sleuth in you, begging to come out.  Disney Guilty Party hopes to scratch that itch of the inner detective in us all. 


You, or a group of up to three friends, are tasked with cracking each case in a wide variety of locations while ultimately tracking down the arch villain, Mr. Valentine. But everyone knows crime never sleeps, so once you finish the Story Mode go back to previous levels in the Party Mode, where each time there is a different outcome. Searching for evidence and interrogating suspects is broken up by simple, outrageous mini games that help bridge the gap between young and old.


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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010
Art Academy (Nintendo DS) [$19.99]

Art Academy is an interactive tutorial focused on drawing and painting. On the surface, this might sound pretty bland, but in practice, it works pretty well. The game offers lessons that teach some basic concepts of both drawing and painting, culminating in tutorials in composing larger scale paintings themselves. 


The neat thing about this “classroom” is that it offers fundamental information (the differences in pencil weights, lessons about color, and the like) and then allows the player to apply them immediately, offering models and practice at the same time. The stylus is, of course, a useful tool in this regard, and the game does a surprisingly good job in simulating the “feel” of differing media as you change up the tools that you are using (using various the aforementioned differing weights of pencils for example). 


If you know a kid who has an interest in art (or a bigger kid who might have missed the chance to take an art class in high school), this toy and toolset is likely to be a big hit, as you get to play around with the media without getting your hands dirty and without the cost of all of those art supplies.


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