Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
Whether there's going to be a console under the tree this year, or you're looking for games for a pre-existing unit, here are some of our favourite games for the smaller humans in your life.
Finding a game for the smaller ones can be quite tough, but Once Upon a Monster nails it. Brightly coloured, and featuring Sesame Street favourites Cookie Monster and Elmo, it's an interactive Kinect adventure that kids adore.
The good: beloved, well-known Sesame Street characters • bright and cheerful • bite-sized mini-games cater to young attention spans • active gameplay via the Kinect
The bad: it's not very long
Console: Xbox 360 (Kinect)
Sonic Generations delivers the best of both worlds, combining 16-bit 2D Sonic with his newer 3D counterpart. The result is an alternating adventure with gameplay that always stays fresh and varied, and one of the best Sonic titles that we've seen in quite a while.
The good: blends old and new Sonic elements very well • dazzling stage designs • lots of unlockables • high-speed action
The bad: switching between Sonics can be confusing
Console: Nintendo 3DS, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure
This is gameplay with a difference, using collectible figurines that can be played on the screen by using the game's unique portal. It's a real-world feature that works brilliantly ... and the game is ace fun, too.
The good: toys with brains • role-playing-style progression • game expands with figure collection • Adventure Pack toys DLC works well
The bad: multiplayer is offline only • costly to complete everything (although realistically you only need eight figurines to complete the game, and three are included with it) • portal peripheral can be temperamental
Console: Mac, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Super Mario 3D Land
It's rare that the plumber in shining armour has a bad game, and Super Mario 3D Land is another highly polished, eminently playable title. Once again, Mario has to save his adored princess, but with a slew of brilliant items that create an atmosphere of variety and excitement.
The good: well-crafted stages for all skill levels • simple, responsive controls • player-assistance items are great in a pinch • invokes 2D Mario in a 3D world
The bad: limited StreetPass and gyrometer features
Console: Nintendo 3DS
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series, now in its 25th year, has managed to stay brilliant (deviating into the merely "good" only once or twice). Skyward Sword looks to be no exception; beautifully designed, tightly controlled and with the combined puzzles/action gameplay that is the series trademark. Oh, and you get to use the nunchuk like a sword.
Score: not yet scored (Release date 24 November)
Console: Nintendo Wii
Child of Eden
The premise of Child of Eden is a simple one: it's up to the player to cleanse a computer where the memories of the first child born in space are stored. You do this with shooting action, much like Space Invaders, but with some rhythm elements, too; and, via motion control, it's a nice little hand-eye rhythm coordination challenge. It's one of those games that just looks spectacular; you'll want to keep playing it just to keep it in your eyes.
The good: beautiful visuals • incredible soundtrack and audio effects • Kinect and standard controller offer different experiences
The bad: doesn't take long to reach the end credits • Kinect controls can be cumbersome
Console: PS3, Xbox 360
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
The cat and the robot are back — this time in a four-player cooperative game in a fun, lighthearted adventure that involves saving the world. It can be played solo, but its combat and puzzle solving really work best when you have a bunch of people cooperating — which makes it the perfect rainy-day activity for siblings and friends.
The good: a variety of enjoyable activities • teaming up with three friends is fun • smart puzzles require coordination • fast-moving vehicle sequences
The bad: shooting is usually dull • some tedious boss fights • fixed camera creates problems
Has there ever been a sillier video game protagonist than Kirby, the little pink puff ball that swallows things to get powers? This time, the powers are sillier than ever, and Kirby can be joined on his brightly coloured adventure by up to three other players. It's adorable and charming, without compromising on the gameplay.
The good: Fun, silly new super abilities • loads of charm • excellent multiplayer co-op
The bad: light on difficulty
Console: Nintendo Wii
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3d
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is routinely listed as one of the best games ever made — and for good reason. This port to the 3DS brings it up to current standards, and it's still every bit as engrossing as it was 13 years ago.
The good: gorgeous updated graphics — crisper and cleaner • new control system allows constant on-screen menu and more equip-able items • mind-bending puzzles • heaps of side quests and mini-games • combat feels fantastic on the 3DS
The bad: the 3D isn't implemented particularly well
Console: Nintendo 3DS
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7
The film and book series have come to an end, which means it's time for Lego Harry Potter series to wrap up, too. If the previous game, Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, and the other Lego titles are any indication, then Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 will be a lighthearted, inventive exploration of the Harry Potter universe. That said, Lego Voldemort does look a little on the creepy side ...
Score: not yet scored (Release date 11 November)
Console: Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii, PC, PS3, PS Vita, PSP, Xbox 360