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Nintendo World Report's 2012 Holiday Gaming Guide

by Phillip Stortzum - December 5, 2012, 6:19 pm EST
Total comments: 13

A list of gift-worthy games for the discerning Nintendo enthusiast.

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes millions upon millions of gamers wanting - what else - games from their loved ones. I am taking it upon myself to assist gamers and those who need to shop for those of us who eat, sleep, and breathe games by creating a Holiday Gaming Guide. Perhaps with the first ever NWR feature of this kind, we’ll have a yearly tradition… Hint, hint.

This 2012 Holiday Gaming Guide focuses on all current Nintendo platforms, from Nintendo’s newest, the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, to the old guard, the Wii and DS. If you haven’t already started your shopping and/or wish lists, there’s no better time to start than right now with this guide!

To get even more information about a given game, simply click on the game name to go directly to its profile, where you can view impressions, reviews, and screens!

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

Some are calling this a pleasurable mix of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. Where the game lies between the two in quality is a subject for a later debate, but when it is compared to those two titles in a favorable fashion by reviewers and players alike, you can bet it is enjoyable. With its interconnected world map, eye-popping HD visuals, and level design that makes Mario games so masterful, New Super Mario Bros. U should be every Wii U owner's first purchase... apart from the actual system.

Nintendo Land (Wii U)

A game with 12 attractions based off 12 Nintendo franchises? It's any Nintendo fan's dream! Well, their dream probably revolves around an actual theme park that they can walk through outside of virtual reality, but maybe it is best to take what you can get. Rather than simply being mini-games, these attractions hold enough depth in each to present many long playing sessions for game owners. The multiplayer madness that ensues is an important aspect, whether they're playing the marvelous Mario Chase, the magnificent Metroid Blast, or the tasty Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest. Deluxe Wii U buyers get Nintendo Land immediately, but even you Basic Wii U buyers out there should give Nintendo Land a chance. It's yet another game that showed that gamers shouldn't judge a book - er, game - by its cover.

ZombiU (Wii U)

To say Ubisoft's exclusive launch title, ZombiU, is getting polarizing opinions would be an understatement. However, if you are into a challenging game with plenty of scares and a survivor horror feel to it, then ZombiU might be lurching towards you like an ambling undead creature. The game is a next-gen take on Ubisoft's first-ever game, Zombi, but uses the GamePad in some remarkable ways, presenting the player with some spine-tingling scenarios. For the horror fan who owns or is getting a brand-new Wii U, ZombiU will get their pulse pounding.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Wii U)

Some people criticize the yearly renditions of the Call of Duty series (I am one of them). However, developer Treyarch managed to breath some new life and freshness into the franchise with Black Ops II. For one, the future warfare adds a new dynamic, and the branching paths in the storyline make playing through the campaign multiple times mandatory to see everything the game has to offer. Throw in the ever-popular multiplayer mayhem the series is known for, with the ability for one player to play on the GamePad and another to play on the TV, and you have a gift that will keep on giving long past the holiday season.

Assassin's Creed III (Wii U)

Venture back into American history - the American Revolution, to be exact - with your assassin Connor as he explores an open world full of dangers. Assassin's Creed III offers improved gameplay, specifically letting players move more freely, as if they were Cole MacGrath from the inFamous franchise. The Wii U version of the game offers the ability to switch between weapons effortlessly via the GamePad's touch screen. Moreover, Wii U owners can play the entire game on the GamePad itself, a feature that one needs to see to believe. Aside from the single-player experience, 12 multiplayer modes can be accessed online, too.

Darksiders II (Wii U)

One of the launch titles for the North American launch of the Wii U, Darksiders II is as close to The Legend of Zelda as Wii U owners are going to get for awhile. I can't think of any better substitute, though. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC versions released in August, and many owners of those systems became death incarnate. Slashing foes with Death's dual scythes, exploring dungeons, and battling brutal bosses are all tasks that await players in Darksiders II. If you have a 17-plus year-old who yearns for a Zelda/God of War-like experience but without the actual Zelda and God of War, Darksiders II is an appropriate gift.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U)

Two years after Sumo Digital's first foray into the kart-racing genre with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, the team returns with 16 brand-new tracks and loads of Sega fan service. Not only do the vehicles transform into karts, boats, and planes mid-race, but the tracks transform, too, making laps drastically change from start to finish. Featuring an all-star cast of Sega characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Amigo, Ulala, Aiai, Vyse, and NiGHTs, alongside racers like Disney's Wreck-It Ralph and NASCAR's Danica Patrick, this cartoon-style racing game is varied, frantic, and fun.

Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U, 3DS)

The first Scribblenauts game to reach a home console, Scribblenauts Unlimited is the most expansive entry of the franchise yet. The focus is on exploring a vast world where characters challenge you to complete quests and solve puzzles in exchange for Starite shards, the necessary items required to save the protagonist's sister from a permanent stone prison. Objects used to solve puzzles are created by inputting words, and you can even couple them with adjectives to make them even more potent (a zombie tank is terrifying). Scribblenauts Unlimited has nearly unlimited potential for the player to expand his or her imagination. It's a terrific gift for any gamer not put off by the whimsical exterior.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

Sorry to keep you waiting! Pit is back after a two decade hiatus with an all-new adventure. The game, directed by Super Smash Bros.' creator Masahiro Sakurai, takes Pit through a cadre of battles against Underworld and otherworldly forces in both sky and land battles. Though the controls definitely take some getting used to, once you do, the experience is positively incredible. The 3D effect definitely accentuates the already tremendous visuals, and the soundtrack and voice work is some of the year's best. Factor in a metric ton of unlockables to collect through completing certain tasks and online play, and Kid Icarus: Uprising is a must-buy for action-adventure fans this holiday season.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

New Super Mario Bros. 2 was a game that I liked to refer to as an appetizer to the main course that is New Super Mario Bros. U. Don't get me wrong, however, as New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a competent game all on its own, with its terrific level design that shows that once the veterans of the series are gone, the Mario franchise will be in good hands by the newer kids. 2D Mario is very much comfort food, and just like with Thanksgiving, you'll want to have seconds... and thirds! The gift of Mario is seldom a bad idea, so for the 3DS owner without this game in his or her collection, New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a worthwhile gift.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

One of the first games announced for the Nintendo 3DS back in 2010, Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the first portable entry in the series, and with it brings a change to the formula. The game breaks tradition and isn't as much of an RPG as past games. You don't even level up! The game uses stickers found around the various levels and dropped by enemies. Mario can utilize them to attack, heal, and defend himself. While this new style is definitely not for everyone, it is a fresh change that proves that Nintendo doesn't always stick to the tried and true.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (3DS)

Action RPGs aren’t really a dime a dozen on the 3DS. In fact, RPGs in general are in rare supply. However, the latest in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, isn’t worthy of being added to one’s library simply because there’s little else in the RPG department; it’s worthy because it is an incredibly fun game. The new Flowmotion makes combat all the swifter and speedier, and the new worlds and characters will send any Disney fan into a coma of nostalgia. To boot, the story is as convoluted and crazy as a Kingdom Hearts fan could ever want. It’s a great gift for the RPG and 3DS fan.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS)

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask took the franchise from the DS onto Nintendo's new portable with fantastic results. The game made searching areas less of a chore, introduced polygon models for all of the characters, and brought with it some perplexing puzzles. All of this was intertwined with a fascinating story that made for some tender moments. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is one game that not only gentlemen like Layton can enjoy, but also ladies like series regular Emmy.

Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone (3DS)

While Colors! 3D is a great toolkit for those who already know how to create brilliant works of art, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone is great for those who wish to learn how to create said brilliant works of art. The title introduces new concepts and techniques at a perfect pace as to not bore the player. Paint, pencils, and pastels are used to create lovely works of art that can be shared with other Art Academy 3DS owners, or even saved to an SD card and shared via the free and separate Swapnote application. For $30, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone is a stellar gift for the art lovers or artists (beginner or professional) in your life.

Style Savvy: Trendsetters (3DS)

The $40 price tag will put some people off, but once you see how much content Style Savvy: Trendsetters is packing, you might just want to take the plunge. Strut your outfit ensembles on the runway, manage your own store, and rule the fashion world! Style Savvy: Trendsetters has thousands of unique dresses, shirts, and other fashion items to display on your character and clients, so you'll have lots to do and see with this game. I'm a guy, and I still find the game enjoyable, so it just stands to reason that any person of the opposite sex would find something to love about this fashion world simulator. Couple the game with a 3DS or 3DS XL, and you have a one-two proverbial punch of gaming delight.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

One of the most ambitious games of the generation, Xenoblade Chronicles just so happens to be an excellent RPG too. It addresses many of the problems of the genre, and introduces neat new concepts. The ability to teleport to previously reached destinations is a time-saving feature. And you'll need all the time you can get to beat this RPG epic. To see everything the game has to offer, you'll most likely need more than 100 hours. For North Americans, you can pick up Xenoblade Chronicles at GameStop or from Nintendo's online store. It's a gift that will put a smile on any JRPG fan's face.

The Last Story (Wii)

When the creator of Final Fantasy and the former longtime composer of the series team up to create an all-new role-playing game project, the gaming world turns its attention to it. The end result was The Last Story, a game that is publisher XSEED's most successful game, despite being released very late in the Wii's lifespan. Battling bosses, exterminating enemies, and exploring dungeons is the name of The Last Story's game. There's even online for up to six players to either play cooperatively or competitively. While not as stellar as Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story is a marvelously capable game for the RPG lover on your shopping list.

Mario Party 9 (Wii)

Entering his ninth mainline party (not counting Mario Party DS or Mario Party Advance), Mario returns to rolling the dice, screwing over his pals, and participating in mini-games galore. This time, however, the rules have changed. All four competing players ride in the same vehicle across fairly linear boards. Halfway through and at the end of each board they battle bosses. Instead of just factoring in regular old Stars, the player with the most Mini Stars at the conclusion of the game is crowned the Superstar. The actual mini-games are quite enjoyable this go around, and the actual board game part of Mario Party 9 will have you cursing out the computer and your friends. If you'd like to subject your loved one to this cruel fate, then Mario Party 9 is the perfect gift to get them.

Pokémon Black Version 2 and White Version 2 (DS)

Return to the Unova region with all-new features including a story that continues where the original Black and White left off, the Pokémon World Tournament, and new locales across the Unova continent. The Pokémon “fad” still continues and remains popular to this day, and the release of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 just cements this fact. Speaking of cementing things, cement your adoration for that young or young-at-heart gamer on your list with a copy of either of these two titles.

Has a game been omitted that you think buyers and givers of gifts this holiday season shouldn't ignore? Fill the Talkback section below with your comments on such matters.


SorenDecember 05, 2012

Rhythm Heaven Fever!!!

Simple game that is very addictive and hard to master. A game that's probably just as fun to watch as it is to play. Perfect for the holidays as well. People may dismiss the simple graphics but once they get hooked by the gameplay they'll be playing it nonstop. And it's cheap!

JasonMaiviaDecember 05, 2012

Virtue's Last Reward
It's very unique, being different than what you normally would see on consoles and handhelds this time of year, AND it's said to be very good by many players and reviewers.  Fans of 999 should look for this game store shelves.  Better yet, it should have already been in your 3DS.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2
FINALLY, a proper Tekken game on a Nintendo home console.  It's every bit as good as the other console versions and more - not downgraded at all.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorDecember 05, 2012

Nintendo Points and eShop cards - never worry about getting a gamer a gift they've already got!

JasonMaiviaDecember 05, 2012

Quote from: UncleBob

Nintendo Points and eShop cards - never worry about getting a gamer a gift they've already got!

You're right, plus point cards will be great to give to someone who own a 3DS or Wii U (even after the holidays) and has never gone online with them.  With the point cards, they may want to actually use it, which means looking at the eShop, since they now have a reason to go there.
It's a good way to introduce them to Nintendo's online services, along with 1st and 3rd party offerings that may or may not be available in retail stores.

SPP25December 06, 2012

Are you serious?  Style Savy?  You guys did not even review the game and its on the list.  That to me does not make much sense.  However, ZombiU rocks!

ShyGuyDecember 06, 2012

Style Savvy sounds like a Kairon suggested game.

ejamerDecember 06, 2012

People should also consider Resident Evil Revelations for 3DS. It's a fantastic game, has online co-op multiplayer that is generally solid, and is frequently being sold at large discounts now. One of the best 3DS games released so far - and my vote for best 3DS experience in 2012.

Pixelated PixiesDecember 06, 2012

I probably sound like a broken record, but Nintendo really need to introduce a gifting feature for 3DS.

Quote from: JasonMaivia

Virtue's Last Reward
It's very unique, being different than what you normally would see on consoles and handhelds this time of year, AND it's said to be very good by many players and reviewers.  Fans of 999 should look for this game store shelves.  Better yet, it should have already been in your 3DS.

Oh god, this. But if you're going to do that, be sure to include Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for the DS. It's not that expensive on Amazon, it's faster paced, and a lot of the story elements of VLR will confuse the heck out of you without it. (Not to say that VLR won't confuse you WITH it, but still...)

OblivionDecember 06, 2012

Wait, the story in 999 is faster paced than Virtue's Last Reward? I thought 999 was already fairly slow. :(

I can get through 999 in 10-12 hours. My clock on Virtue's Last Reward is about 28 hours, since there's 3x the endings.

Pixelated PixiesDecember 06, 2012

Quote from: Shaymin

I can get through 999 in 10-12 hours. My clock on Virtue's Last Reward is about 28 hours, since there's 3x the endings.

Isn't the length of the game and it's pacing two different things though? I've always been interested to try 999 myself but I have heard that the pacing (in particular the text scrolls) can be interminable at times. That kind of put me off.

Mop it upDecember 06, 2012

Quote from: Soren

Rhythm Heaven Fever!!!

Simple game that is very addictive and hard to master. A game that's probably just as fun to watch as it is to play. Perfect for the holidays as well. People may dismiss the simple graphics but once they get hooked by the gameplay they'll be playing it nonstop. And it's cheap!

I agree with this one, Rhythm Haven Fever is really well done and lots of fun.

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