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Must-have video games crowd holiday gift lists

'Angry Birds Star Wars'

"Angry Birds Star Wars"

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When it comes to gift giving, video games offer options for all age groups. Here are some must-haves — across all platforms and age groups — this holiday season:

Angry Birds Star Wars ($0.99-$4.99; PC, Mac, Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows Mobile; rated for all ages)

When the angry birds strike back in this enchanting mashup, they have new powers to unleash on the storm-trooper-transformed pigs. As Obi-wan, Han Solo and Luke, they can use The Force, fire a blaster or unleash a lightsaber before crashing. The action all plays out in environments inspired by the space saga, complete with appropriate music and sound effects.

New Super Mario Bros. U;($59.99; Wii U; all ages)

Nintendo icon Mario helps usher in the Wii U era with another charming chapter in the long-running franchise. Up to five can play simultaneously with current Wii remotes and the new GamePad (sold separately with system, $299.99). And solo sessions can be conducted completely on the GamePad using only its touchscreen, leaving the TV free for other family members. Mario &Co.’s first high-def venture provides breathtaking visuals.

Skylanders Giants;($59.99-$74.99; PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Wii, Nintendo 3DS; ages 10+up)

This sequel makes use of the “Portal of Power” pedestal from last year’s hit game to transport a new line of collectible characters including eight “giants” — and the original lineup — into this adventure title. A fun game for role-playing parents to experience with their kids, and for good or bad, there’s the inevitable store-hopping hunt for individually sold characters ($9.99-up) that can be added. And the toys can be used across various game systems and inserted into new iOS games.

Other recommended titles include:

LEGO The Lord of the Rings;($29.99-$49.99; for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, DS, PS Vita and PCs; ages 10+up)

The successful string of Lego-based renditions of films including the Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises continues with this fun frolic through the Tolkien trilogy. Voices and scenes replicate the Peter Jackson-directed movies with humorous twists. Two can play cooperatively on consoles -- for example, one controlling Frodo, the other Sam.

Madden NFL 13; ($39.99-$59.99; PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U; all ages)

A perennial performer, Madden NFL lets you manage a player’s or coach’s virtual career — or simply pit your favorite teams against each other. An updated physics engine delivers more realistic tackling. While Xbox 360 owners can make like Peyton Manning and verbally bark out plays with Kinect, Wii U players can call audibles with the touch screen.

Wonderbook: Book of Spells;($39.99 [book and game], $79.99 [book, game, Move controller and camera]; PS3; ages 10+up)

This augmented-reality game creates a virtual Hogwarts where players can learn spells conjured up by “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling. The PS3’s camera and Move controller transform a new interactive book into a 3-D pop-up adventure tome that tests your spell-casting progress.

Dance Central 3;($49.99; Xbox 360 with Kinect; ages 13+up)

Latest edition of the body-tracking dance game covers music from the ‘70s to Moves Like Jagger — yes, you’ll soon be able to add “Call Me Maybe” and “Gangnam Style,” too. A new party mode lets up to eight get their groove on. And another new mode lets two compete in a create-your-own-moves contest.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale;($39.99-$59.99; PS Vita, PS3; ages 13+up)

A fun brawler that gathers a gaggle of PlayStation characters, including “God of War’s” Kratos, “Uncharted’s” Nathan Drake, “Little Big Planet’s” Sackboy and Parappa the Rapper. One to four players can battle simultaneously at home or online. Advancements transfer between the PS3 and Vita versions.

Sound Shapes;($14.99; PS Vita; all ages)

A creative highlight for Sony’s latest handheld system, Sound Shapes plays as a left-to-right platform game with mesmerizing visuals and music from the likes of Beck and Deadmau5. Musical sounds are emitted as you jump, run and stick to surfaces. And after you finish the game, you can create your own levels.

Borderlands 2;($59.99; PS3, Xbox 360 and PC; ages 17+up)

An attractive futuristic first-person shooter with role-playing elements, Borderlands 2 boasts a memorable story that plays out in unique comic-book art style. As one of four characters, you can explore the world of Pandora solo or with up to three others, while keeping an eye out for new wacky weaponry.

Dishonored;($59.99; PS3, Xbox 360 and PC; ages 17+up)

A dark, gripping first-person stealth game that takes place in the steampunk world of the Empire of the Isles. Seeking revenge for an unfair murder rap, your character wields weapons and magic to clear his name and rescue a kidnapped royal. Players can choose to be brutal or benevolent — you can win the game without actually killing an enemy — and their method will have lasting repercussions in the game.

Gannett News Service

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