Welcome back to my Christmas Gaming Gift Guide for 2008. In part 3, I will be rounding up 10 games that can be picked up for under £20, if you are feeling the pinch this year and trying to save money (or maybe you want to give someone several cheaper games instead of one expensive purchase).
House of the Dead 2 and 3 Return - Wii
If zombies, light gun shooters or both are your cup of tea, then you can't really go wrong with House of the Dead 2 and 3 Return which collects the second and third entries in the series together in one tidy package together with some extra modes (Training, Boss and Original). House of the Dead 2 is often regarded as the best entry in the series with its branching paths. It's a shame that Sega didn't manage to cram in the original game or part 4 but for around £15 it's still worth a punt.
Ninja Gaiden 2 - Xbox 360
Maybe Ninjas do it for you instead? In that case, you can now pick up Ryu Hyabusa's second outing (not counting Black or Sigma) for less than £20 of your precious pounds. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into though, as the game is relentlessly difficult and won't hesitate to punish you for a poor performance. If you think you're up to the task and actually enjoy a challenge then you might actually enjoy this complete bastard of a game.
Odin Sphere - PS2
Odin Sphere is a gorgeous side scrolling, 2D action RPG. Like Ninja Gaiden 2, it is also pretty tough to battle your way through but it is worth putting the effort in. If features five different playable characters that each have their own storyline which is intertwined with the others, and huge bosses that go off the edges of the screen at times. If you know where to look (hint: Play.com) Odin Sphere can be picked up for the low low price of £7.99.
Patapon - PSP
The creators of Loco Roco followed it up with another game which has equally striking visuals - the tribal/music fusion that is Patapon. Using various drumbeat combinations, you give commands to the Patapon army (fight, retreat, etc) and take on over 30 different missions. It initially seems quite basic but there's a surprising amount of strategy involved the further you get into the game. As well as the main game there are also five mini games to play. Patapon is one of the finest games on the PSP!
Boom Blox - Wii
Boom Blox has apparently failed to sell very many copies, which is a great shame because a) it's very very good, and b) it's an original title from EA rather than yet another Need for Speed. There are a ton of single player levels to play through, but what really makes this game special are the multiplayer modes. There are quite a few different types, including throwing balls at a Jenga style tower in an attempt to knock it down, striking blocks so that they fly into a score multiplier, shooting galleries, and attempting to knock down the other persons castle. It's great, and deserves recognition!
Rogue Galaxy - PS2
I'm including this one because I'm playing my way through it right now, and it's great! The creators of Dragon Quest VIII return with an original sci-fi action RPG which uses the same style of cel shaded graphics, and contains 100 hours of gameplay (if you include all the optional things you can do). The game start out fairly linearly, but about 10 hours in things start to open up a bit and you get to journey from planet to planet at will, as well as being able to take part in the Insectron tournament and build your own items in the factory. The best part is, it only cost me £3.99! Now that's value for money!
Eternal Sonata - Xbox 360
The story of Eternal Sonata take place within the fevered dreams of the famed Polish composer Chopin as he lies on his deathbed. Within his dream, he meets a colourful range of characters including a young girl named Polka. Also in this world they are both able to wield magic, which he discovers is a side effect of having a terminal illness. This rather dreary and depressing sounding premise is juxtaposed against an extremely vivid anime world, full of brilliant blues and gorgeous greens. It can now be picked up for a tenner, and is well worth every penny.
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (Platinum) - PS3
The developers of Crash Bandicoot and the Jak & Daxter series return with a rather more mature style of game. Fans of the Tomb Raider games should definitely take a look as it features the same sort of globe trotting adventure gameplay that they love. You play the part of Nathan Drake, as he discovers a clue to the fabled treasure of El Dorado left behind by his ancestor, Sir Francis Drake. Exciting and cinematic, the game has recently been rereleased on the budget Platinum label and so can now be picked up for less than £20.
Space Invaders Extreme - DS, PSP
Let's face it, the original Space Invaders is rather boring nowadays, but Space Invaders Extreme is anything but. Taito have managed to keep the familiar gameplay of old but have added brand new elements such as powerups, huge end of level bosses and bonus rounds to enliven the experience. Then there are the sound and visuals, which have been brought bang up to date with funky dance tunes and bright neon colours. If you're after a top quality shooter for either the DS or PSP, then you should definitely consider this one.
R-Type Tactics - PSP
Irem led everyone to believe that R-Type Final would be, well, the final one. Yet the Bydo empire has struck back again and the series has made its return on the PSP. It's not actually a horizontal shooter like every previous entry in the series though - instead it's a strategy game where you can take control of the bad guys for the first time! Also, the R9 is not on its own, instead you can choose from a fleet of over 100 different units as you tactically plan out your next move in an attempt save or enslave the galaxy. R-Type Tactics hasn't been out all that long, but can already be found for less than £20.
That's it for part 3 - I have one more planned where I will feature 5 downloadable games from each of the major consoles that you can spend any points that you may receive over the Christmas period!