| "Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth" (Ubisoft; Xbox 360; T for teen; $49.99) - Step into the costume of your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains in this entertaining fighter. Acting out the signature moves of Hulk and Thor is fun, but screaming catchphrases at your television puts the game over the top.
| "Zumba Fitness: Core" (Majesco; Xbox 360; E for everyone; $39.99) - If it's one thing the Kinect excels at, it's providing a platform for excellent exercise games. And this latest Zumba title is one of the best available.
For the kids
These games may be geared toward young gamers, but they offer fun for all ages.
| "LEGO Lord of the Rings" (Warner Bros.; Xbox 360, PS3; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $49.99) - Get ready for "The Hobbit" by reliving the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy in this adorable adventure game, complete with audio ripped from the movies.
| "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes" (Warner Bros.; Xbox 360, PS3; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $49.99) - Whether soaring high above Gotham City as Superman or solving puzzles utilizing a variety of suits for Batman, this outstanding co-op experience has everything a DC Comics fan could hope for - and then some.
| "Disney Pixar's Brave: The Video Game" (Disney; Xbox 360, PS3; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $39.99) - Though it was released much earlier in the year, this remains one of the most enjoyable kid-friendly adventure games around.
| "Transformers Prime: The Game" (Activision; Nintendo 3DS; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $29.99) - Featuring characters from the wholly underrated television show of the same name, this handheld action game combines multiple gameplay styles to create a surprisingly entertaining take on the familiar Transformers universe.
| "Thundercats" (Namco Bandai; Nintendo DS; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $29.99) - Cartoon Network may have pulled the plug on the animated series, but Lion-O and the gang live on in this side-scrolling hack 'n' slash.
Fun for the whole family
Video games like these can be a great way for families to spend quality time together.
| "Jeopardy" (THQ; Xbox 360, PS3; E for everyone; $29.99) -- Challenge your brain -- and your loved ones -- with thousands of answers taken from the long-running quiz show.
| "Wheel of Fortune" (THQ; Xbox 360, PS3; E for everyone; $29.99) - There's no denying the appeal of this beloved game show, and playing this virtual edition is just as fun as playing along with the TV show.
| "Just Dance 4" (Ubisoft; Xbox 360, PS3, Wii; E for everyone; $59.99) - Nothing brings families together like the power of dance, and the latest in this popular franchise will have the whole house breaking out their best moves.
| "Epic Mickey 2" (Disney; Xbox 360, PS3; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $59.99) - This follow-up to the Wii-exclusive action game features great co-op and plenty of Disney nostalgia.
| "Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed" (Sega; all current platforms; E+10 for everyone 10-and-up; $39.99) - A fun kart racer that brings together classic Sega characters with NASCAR star Danica Patrick and Wreck-it Ralph from Disney's hit animated movie.
An exclusive club
Not all great games are available for all systems. Here are some of the best console exclusives for this holiday season.
| PlayStation 3 -- "PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale" (Sony; PS3; T for teen; $59.99) - Where else can you pit Nathan Drake against Kratos? This game may look like a "Super Smash Bros." clone, but the gameplay is deeper than you might think.
| Xbox 360 -- "Halo 4" (Microsoft; Xbox 360; M for mature; $59.99) - Master Chief returns to kick off a new trilogy in what is arguably the best "Halo" to date.
| Wii U -- "New Super Mario Bros. U" (Nintendo; Wii U; E for everyone; $59.99) - One of the must-have launch titles for Nintendo's new console, Mario and Co. have never looked better.
Thinking outside the box
So what do you get for the person who has everything? Here are some non-gaming ideas that should put a smile on the face of any gamer.
| The Walking Dead Compendiums (Two volumes, $39.99 each) -- Whether you're a fan of Telltale Games' outstanding episodic game or the AMC television series, these two collections compile Robert Kirkman's original "Walking Dead" comics in an easy-to-read format. Plus the size of the books make them perfect weapons should the zombie apocalypse break out.
| Gears of War Erector sets ($24.99-$59.99) - These high-quality construction sets allow you to build classic vehicles from the "Gears of War" franchise like the Armadillo APC, Centaur tank and King Raven helicopter. Sets come with two miniature figures and are easy to put together, plus the finished product looks great sitting on your desk or mantle. A fully functional Sonic & Knuckles racing set is also available for those who want to do more than just look at their toys.
| Sony Pulse Wireless Headset ($149.99) - Anyone looking for an affordable audio solution should check out these quality wireless headphones. Designed specifically for the PS3 but compatible with other devices, this headset is a great choice for those looking to break into the world of wireless audio.
| LEGO Marvel, DC sets ($14.99-$89.99) - If you're looking for a break from video games, create your own adventures with these LEGO sets featuring the likes of Batman and the Avengers. The small pieces make these a no-no for small children, but older kids and kids at heart can spend hours building and enjoying these colorful toys.
Reach Jeff Rider at 304-348-5122 or jri...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/gazette_gamer.