CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's that time of year again. The holiday season is fast approaching, and you've got a gamer in your family who you don't know what to get. Or maybe you're a gamer unsure of which game to ask your family for. Regardless of your video game buying woes, here's a guide to help spark gift ideas.Xbox 360"Dust: An Elysian Tail" (Xbox Live Arcade)
Part "Devil May Cry" and part "Castlevania," this gorgeous 2D side-scroller tasks players with helping the titular Dust as he tries to overcome his amnesia. While the platforming harks back to the 16-bit era of classic gaming, the lightning-paced combat keeps the game rooted in this generation. (Rated E10 )
"Fez" (Xbox Live Arcade)
Absolutely brilliant and bursting with charm, "Fez" is a unique platform game that utilizes a 2D/3D shift mechanic, ala "Super Paper Mario." Players are tasked with collecting 64 cubes, and finding them requires some serious critical thinking. (E)"Halo 4"
This is the game almost all 360 owners have been waiting to get their hands on. The fourth of the numbered entries in the "Halo" franchise, this is set four years after the end of "Halo 3," with John-117 -- better known as Master Chief -- and his AI companion, Cortana, orbiting a Forerunner planet known as Requiem, which is being invaded by Covenant forces. Meanwhile, Cortana is slowly losing her sanity from her atypical lifespan for an AI program, and John promises to save her. Multiplayer returns and is bigger than ever. (M)"Dance Central 3" (Kinect required)
The third entry in the hit series, "Dance Central 3" has players enlisting in Dance Central Intelligence as they travel back in time to stop dance crimes. There's a huge list of songs spanning from the '70s to today's current hits, and new multiplayer mode ensures party fun. Songs from "Dance Central" and "Dance Central 2" can be imported. (T) PlayStation 3"Journey" (PlayStation Network)
This game by acclaimed developers thatgamecompany is video game poetry. "Journey" has players traveling across the land to reach a beacon of light, with no idea of what to do other than collect bits of fabric scattered across the land. There's multiplayer here, but no way to communicate with your partner besides a simple "blip" sound, and you'll never be able to see their PSN ID. It's a unique experiment in trust as strangers can either ignore each other or work together to complete their goal, with no idea who's playing on the other side of the controller. (E)"LittleBIGPlanet Karting"
"LittleBIGPlanet" meets "Mario Kart" in this spin-off of the "LBP" series. Much like "Modnation Racers" (created by the same developers of this game), "LBP Karting" has players building and creating their own track to upload for other players to race, all while customizing their karts and characters to their heart's desire. (E)"PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale"
This "Super Smash Bros." clone features wide variety of Sony characters from the company's past and present. Contenders range from Sir Daniel Fortesque (1998's "MediEvil") to Cole McGrath (2009''s "inFAMOUS"). Also included are third party characters, including Big Daddy (2007's "BioShock") and Dante (from the 2013 "Devil May Cry" reboot). (T) Nintendo 3DS"Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask"
The fifth game in the "Layton" franchise uses the same formula as the others: puzzle solving that puts your brain to the test, with the answer to the riddle usually right in front of your face. Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke, are asked to visit the town of Monte d'Or to meet an old friend of Layton's, but they quickly find themselves having to save the town from a man known as the Masked Gentleman who is terrorizing it. (E10 )"Paper Mario: Sticker Star"
All "Paper Mario" games feature a unique mechanic, and the fourth installment is no different. Players will have to collect stickers for their scrapbook, which they can then use in battle at the cost of a one-time use. Thankfully, through searching, players should never run out of stickers. The papercraft art style looks gorgeous, and the game utilizes 3D beautifully. (E) Multi-platform
(Available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC)"Borderlands 2"
When I reviewed
this game in the fall, I called it a memorable experience, and indeed it is. My bottom line summary from the review: "With 30-60 hours of content, two player split screen co-op, four player online co-op and four packs of downloadable content on the way, "Borderlands 2" is a game with great bang for your buck." (M)"Dishonored"
Players take on the role of supernatural assassin Corvo, who's been framed for the murder of an empress. Utilizing a wide variety of powers, including possession and teleportation, players will find interesting ways to take down their targets in this gorgeous, steampunk-esque world. In my recent review
of the game, I said, "The mechanics, the story, the setting, the art style -- they all work together smoothly and provide a gaming experience that nears perfection." (M)"XCOM: Enemy Unknown"
A remake of the 1994 cult classic "UFO: Enemy Unknown," this turn-based strategy game will get players easily addicted. Manage your funding and development of XCOM (a group formed by the world after an alien invasion) wisely, and be extra careful when entering battle as character deaths are permanent. Wii U"ZombiU"
Remember the days of the survival horror genre where survival was actually a gameplay mechanic? Ubisoft Montpellier remembers. "ZombiU" takes the gameplay mechanics of games like "Demon's Souls" and "Dark Souls" and places you in London after a zombie apocalypse. You've only got one life, and if you die, you lose all your items and restart with a new character. You'll have to backtrack and make your way to your previous, now zombie virus infected character and kill them in order to get your loot. Be warned that this game is extremely difficult, and most gamers (myself included) have died during the tutorial due to lack of attention. (M)"New Super Mario Bros. U"
Another Nintendo console, another excellent Mario platformer. As always, Peach sets the feminist rights movement back another 50 years and is kidnapped by Bowser, which means she needs to be saved once more by Mario (and up to four friends). Excellent platforming is found here, and the new power-ups, such as the flying squirrel suit, make this a must buy for your Wii U system. (E)