Page last updated at 01:32 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Games and toys for girls and boys

By Daniel Emery and Andrew Webb
BBC News


John and Zara run through their video game picks for 2008

With Christmas just around the corner and a veritable plethora of games on offer, you are almost spoilt for choice.

But that in itself creates a problem. Just what game should you buy? And even if it is a good game, will it have the same appeal to men and women (or boys and girls)?

With this in mind, we asked John Houlihan, from Computer and Video Games, and Zara Ravinowicz, technology writer for Shiny Shiny, for their gaming choices for 2008.


You need to get a game that lasts more than an hour. With the credit crunch, people are going out less, so you need to get a decent bang for your buck. Platform or fighting games are good; just make sure it's properly interactive.

Younger gamers might like Nintendogs - a real time pet simulation - or Wii Music. Although it must be said that good games in this category are rather limited.

Guitar Hero is, of course, a great choice for the boys of all ages.

If you don't want to buy a game, you could pick up an MP3 player - with the new Truphone software you can turn your iPod touch into a pseudo-iPhone.

Wii Music screen shot
Wii Music is suitable for ages 4+

If you're buying for someone very techy, the Tokyoflash watches are always highly desirable, they tell the time in binary; an unusual twist.

Or, at the other end of the scale, you could always pick up a remote-controlled helicopter, or a pair of good headphones to plug into your iPod or whatever, so the sound is far better than you'll get with the headphones that came with it.

If you're feeling the credit crunch pinch, you can go for geeky jewellery. Junkie Lovers do geeky necklaces from 12, for example a game controller necklace or space invader brooch.

And if you're still awash with cash, you could get a Phillips-Swarovski USB stick, a memory stick with people's faces embossed in crystal. Or you could pick up a OnTrend laptop bag, a rather stylish way of carrying round your kit.


If you're looking for some family fun, I would recommend you get the karaoke classic Lips or Microsoft's You're In The Movies, both of which are on the Xbox 360. They are also good value: Lips will let you convert your existing MP3s into karaoke classics and Movies comes with a free camera.

For PlayStation 3 owners, it has to be Little Big Planet. It's a great game in its own right, but the real value is the community added content - there are literally hundreds of free levels you can go out and grab. Or you can always design your own.

WoW screen shot
Games like World of Warcraft never actually have an end point

Sean White Snowboarding on a Wii is great fun - assuming you've got a balance board.

And for PC owners there's only one choice: World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. There are months, if not years, of play here and they have now made playing a low-level character much easier, so if you've never played WoW before, now's your chance.

For non-gamers, a really cool cheap alternative to an iPod is the Samsung YP-Q1. It's an all-in-one media player: it does music, pictures, and video; it also comes with a built-in FM radio. Easy to set up, beautiful to look at, and compatible with the BBC iPlayer.

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