The Holiday 2011 Power Ups List

Video Games and gamers have continued to take over the living room (versus being relegated to the basement) as the first generation of kids to grow up with video games in their homes are now introducing their own kids to what is still one of their favorite pastimes. Game developers and publishers are responding by creating more and more great games that are fun for parents and adults to play with the kids in their lives.

It is going to be a great holiday season for family-friendly video games and narrowing the list down to three was harder than ever. It was so hard that the Power Ups list was increased to four this year until the release date of the fourth game was moved to 2012. I’m really glad I stressed over that fourth game. Anyway, following are the three games selected as the Holiday 2011 Power Ups.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Rated: Everyone (ESRB)

System: Xbox 360 with Kinect
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1 - 2

SRP: $49.99
Launch Date: October 11, 2011

What It Is

Families can jump into a Sesame Street story book adventure in this game that is playable on Kinect for Xbox 360. Players join their favorite Sesame Street characters including Cookie Monster, Oscar, Grover and off course, Elmo, plus all new characters created exclusively for the game as they explore an interactive children’s book titled Once Upon a Monster. This living story book tells a tale and pulls players into the action through a series of active and fun games that rely on Kinect for a controller-free experience.

Why It Made The Power Ups List

Once Upon a Monster is the best Kinect game for preschool and prekindergarten ages that I have seen since the Kinect device was introduced last year. The game turns your TV into an interactive story book where kids follow an engaging story as it is told by the Sesame Street characters. Game levels are presented as chapters and each chapter continues the story with a series of entertaining and intuitive activities for kids.

Who’s Going To Love It

The story in Once Upon a Monster is told by the Sesame Street characters and there is no reading required in order to play. The target age group for the game is four to six but some kids as young as three will be able to play. Parents and caregivers will find this game to be just as entertaining and fun to play as the kids in their lives do.

Disney Universe
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Rated: Everyone 10+ (ESRB)

System: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1 - 4

SRP: $49.99
Launch Date: October 25, 2011

What It Is

Disney Universe is the first video game to bring together characters and worlds from both animated and live action films. This multiplayer, action/adventure game allows players to suit up in a costume based on characters from Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. There are more than 40 classic and contemporary character costumes including, Captain Jack Sparrow, Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Mike (Monsters Inc.), Wall-E, Tron and maybe even a princess or two.

Why It Made The Power Ups List

There is a good reason why kids love to dress up as Disney characters on Halloween — they love and identify with those characters. Disney Universe has created a game that doesn’t just allow someone to play as a familiar character but rather as a mini figure dressed in a beloved character’s trademark outfit. Once everyone is suited up, the game is a fast-paced and zany adventure that up to four people can play together making it the perfect video game for family game nights.

Who’s Going To Love It

Disney fans of all ages are going to have to check this game out. The game is rated E10+ because of comic mischief but is suitable and playable by kids as young as six years old. Parents and care givers will enjoy Disney Universe even after the kids have gone to bed.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure
Publisher: Activision
Rated: Everyone 10+ (ESRB)

System: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC, Mac
Genre: Adventure

SRP: $69.99 (Game, pad, 3 figures)
Launch Date: October 16, 2011

What It Is

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is an innovative new adventure game that lets kids bring collectible figures to life by introducing a real-world collectible figure into the video game as an animated character. The Skylanders Starter Pack, which is available for all game platforms, includes a game pad called the “Portal of Power” that instantly drops a playable avatar of that figure into the video game when the figure is placed on the pad. While playing the video game, the player’s progress and achievements are saved and stored as data on the figure. This adds a whole new dimension of versatility and portability to the Skylanders experience because kids can put their figure and all its saved data into any other Skylanders game simply by placing it on any connected “Portal of Power,” on any gaming platform.

Why It Made The Power Ups List

Like most people, I was blown away when I was introduced to this game and its collectible figure concept back at Toy Fair in February. However, without a killer game the figure concept would just be a novelty, and it never would have made the Power Ups list. In June, at E3, I had a chance to spend some quality time playing the game on multiple platforms and can say without a doubt that Activision has created a great Spyro The Dragon game that would be fun even without the figures. Players battle their way through a series of levels filled with obstacles that require the specific abilities of certain characters to defeat. When the obstacles are encountered the player removes his or her current figure from the Portal of Power, which removes the character’s digital representation from the game. The figure with the appropriate ability is then placed on the Portal and that figure’s game character will suddenly appear in the game at the obstacle.

If you are still having a difficult time picturing the figure as a data storage device just imagine it as a wireless thumb drive that automatically stores your game info (weapons, points, character upgrades, etc.).

Who’s Going To Love It

Skylanders has the ability to be one of the most talked about games of the holiday season and chances are good that everyone is going to want to check it out. The game-play is suitable for kids as young as six and up to 12.

Fun Scale

0 out of 5

It has to be fun or it wouldn’t be on Time to Play. But some games are more fun than others so here’s our scale: 1 is fun, 2 is a lot of fun, 3 is great, 4 is awesome and 5 is out-of-this-world!

Video Game Information

*Rating determined by the ESRB


What do you think about The Holiday 2011 Power Ups List?

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