1. Xbox 360
Xbox’s most recent system is the Xbox 360 Elite, which is smaller than the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 is preceded by the Xbox. Many older Xbox games can be played on the Xbox 360. Although there is a wide variety of games for the Xbox 360 for many age groups, Xbox games seem to target more mature gamers, such as teens and adults. The typical Xbox games are “war-like” games such as the extremely popular Halo series. You can also make friends online and play games in groups, such as raids on each others bases or working as a team to help out on quests. You have to buy Xbox Live to use these features. Xbox live can be purchased monthly for about $9 a month or annually for a little more than $200 a year. You can use your card on the console or buy Xbox Points to pay for them. You can also watch Netflix Instant Watch movies (if you have a Netflix membership,) Zune new releases, connect it to your music on your pc (if you have the correct version of Windows), Facebook and many others. Accessories such as a headset and camera allow you to talk to and see your competitors. Newly released games for the Xbox 360 typically range from $50 to $60. New games, that are not new releases can often be found for $30 to $40. Used games can be found for as low as $10.
2. Nintendo Wii
Nintendo’s most recent system is the Nintendo Wii which is designed with a “Wii Remote” and a “Nunchuck.” Many games require only these two pieces. There are lots of add-ons to the Wii remote, such as a motion sensor which is required for some games, a balance board which is required for some games, and straps to attach the remote and nunchuck to you for games the monitor your movement. the new controllers are designed to be intuitive to use even for more mature gamers who typically disdain video games (‘…back when I was a kid…”) Recently, games have been aimed at getting kids up and moving with games like Wii Resorts, where player participate in sports like throwing a Frisbee , jousting (which my kids just loved), bow and arrow, jet ski, etc. Most newer consoles come with Wii Sports that include games such as bowling and tennis and monitors your progress each day. Many of the games are designed with a family theme, but there are just as many teen and adult games. Additionally, you can buy add-ons that attach to your controller. One of our favorite was the light saber controllers that glowed and had sound effects. There are tennis rackets for tennis, guns for shooting games, golf clubs, etc. I found some of these add-ons for a dollar at the Dollar Tree, and Big Lots sells a pack of controllers which are very inexpensive. One game we don’t have, but a saw some siblings playing, is boxing. You but the controller in boxing gloves and you punch at (but don’t actually hit it please) the screen to score points and knock out your opponent (your sibling.) There are a number of exercise “games” where you exercise with the controllers and the “game” monitors your progress and offers tips and support. It’s not all exercise. Many games, such as Raymon Raving Rabbids, has you sit on the Wii Balance Board and Skii. The balance board also turns into a Skate Board and is used for monitoring jogging, jumping, etc. The game price range is similar to that of the Xbox 360, but used games tends to cost a little more, and finding a used balance board, or camera is nearly impossible. Although we have had our Wii for only a very short time and have only a few games (and not balance board or other cool things) I rate this console the highest for families looking to enjoy time together without running all over town to various activities. You can find consoles for less on ebay.com and shopgoodwill.com (just read carefully about functionality and always check shipping). GameStop offers used consoles too, and they have been refurbished, checked, and come with a warranty with an optional extended warranty. The Wii also plays Netflix instant watch games, but you have to ask Netflix for a special disk (which is free.)
3. Playstation 2 or 3
Ok, I don’t know a lot about the Playstation 3, but we’ve had the Playstation 2 for a very long time and it’s games are great for the “almost a teen” age group. Our first games was Rachet and Clank, which we got when my son was 6. He really enjoyed it then and picked up the controls pretty quickly. The controls for the Playstation 2 are more similar to the “legacy” (legacy means old like Atari controllers and joysticks.) I believe the Playstation 3 features controllers that are very similar to the Xbox 360 controllers. You have to buy the upgraded Playstation 3 in order for it to be backwards compatible with Playstation 2 games. Playstation 3 is also trying to pick-up more of the mature market and offers more mature games. There are cameras for this game and you have the ability to interact with other players.
4. Handheld games: Nintendo DS/DSI vs. PSP (Playstation Portable)
If you travel a lot, then a handheld system is best for you. Both the PSP, and Nintendo DSI will connect to local Wireless networks and play games. The Nintendo DSI is the latest release of handhelds by Nintendo and preceded by the DS, Gameboy Advance, Gamboy Advance, and just Gameboy. Each of the systems used little “cartridge” type games that plug-into the the console and the DSI is backwards compatible with all of it’s predecessors. These cartridges are very sturdy which makes them excellent for children. We actually found one that had been dropeed by my cousin, rained on and driven on and it still worked! Also, the Nintendo DSI is much bigger than the Nintedo DS. The PSP uses tiny CD-like disks which require responsible care. I think both the PSP and Nintendo DSI have similar lines of games and movies available, and both will connect to a wireless network. The Nintendo DS/DSI can download games from stations at places like Walmart. I haven’t used this feature yet, and it is unclear as to whether you have to pay a fee. I will update you the first time I try it out!
A game system for family fun: Nintendo Wii
A game system for teen agers and more mature players: Xbox 360 or Playstation 3
A game system that encourages exercise: Nintendo Wii
A game system for older children, around 6 and older: Playstation 3
A game system for watching movies on the go: Nintendo DSI or PSP
A portable video game system: Nintendo DS/DSI or PSP
A game system for younger children: Nintendo Wii or Playstation 2 (or the upgraded Playstation 3). For young children, you may also want to consider less expensive options like Nintendo 64 and Playstation 1.
One more note, each of the systems have Band and Singing games, such as Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Sing it!, etc. and have accessories for them such as microphones, guitars, and drum sets. The accessories, although the same vary in price depending on the system.