Ah, the holiday season. That special time of year when we give our loved ones the new hotness of the video game world, and then promptly exploit their over-excited reactions to propel them into unwanted YouTube fame. Even if your familial relations don't have the stuff to become this generation's "N64 kid," you can still kick a few rad toys their way just for the love of it. And if you're having trouble finding the perfect gift for the gamer in your life, we're here to help. Head past the break to take a peek at Engadget's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide for video games. Not finding what you're looking for? Skip on back to our 2011 Back to School Guide for bonus gift ideas.
On the cheap
The upcoming fall release of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is pushing the Nintendo Wii back to the front gamer consciousness, and the waggle-riffic wonder has never been cheaper. Watch your step though; despite a uniform $150 sticker price, not all bundles are equal -- some of Nintendo's newest sets cut out Gamecube support. Backwards compatibility might not matter to your little Hylian hero, but we can't think of a good reason not to have it. Make sure to read console packaging carefully -- if the pictured unit is lying on its side, you're probably looking at a Gamecube-free Wii. Consider your gameplay needs carefully before proceeding.
Price: $150+ on Amazon
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We don't care if its two screens only peer through two dimensions, the DS Lite is still one of the best little handhelds money can buy. Of course, being the best-selling portable console in history carries quite a bit of clout, but being followed by an army of fully functional fakes? That's a badge of honor. Nintendo's twin-screen toy may have been discontinued at dedicated game shops, but it can still be found at big box stores -- and for cheap, too.
Price: From $99 at Target
Not many games come with a gadgety twist, but Spyro's latest venture into the breach simply wouldn't be possible without this RFID "Portal of Power." Skylanders combines the concept of collectable figurines with downloadable content, giving you more in-game content for each figure you buy. Give the completionist gamer on your list something new to obsess over.
Price: $70 on Amazon
If you can only afford one home console this year, the PlayStation 3 isn't a bad choice. Sure, it lacks the edge of Xbox Live's multiplayer community, but it more than makes up for it with fantastic exclusives, native Blu-ray support and a welcome lack of mandatory fees. Want to play the odd online game or watch a film on Netflix? Go ahead, PlayStation Plus is optional -- basic services work just fine without it. The PS3 is a solid console, a solid Blu-ray player and a pretty solid gift... as long as your giftee isn't a die-hard soldier in the never-ending console wars.
Price: $250 and up on Amazon
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From high hopes, to low sales, to even lower prices -- it's been a rough year for Nintendo's latest handheld. The bright side? The stereoscopic star has never been more ripe for the picking. With games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Mario Kart 7, and Super Mario 3D Land on deck for the holidays, the Nintendo 3DS finally has a solid library to stand on.
Price: $170 on Amazon
If you're deadly serious about competitive console gaming, Microsoft's Xbox Live is the network you're looking for. With a killer online network, a stellar back-catalog of AAA titles and an ever-addicting achievement system, it's hard to go wrong when gifting a gamer an Xbox. The rig comes in an assortment of affordable flavors, from the 4GB base model, all the way up to 320GB limited edition Kinect bundles.
Price: $199 and up on Amazon
Money's no object
The PlayStation Vita's 2012 release makes it a little difficult to wrap up and stick under a tree, but like all good things in life, there's a loophole. Give the gift of early gaming late, with Sony's PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle. This set ships a week ahead of the handheld's official release date, replete with a copy of Little Deviants, a limited edition case, a 4GB PS Vita Memory Card and a PlayStation Vita rocking both 3G and WiFi connectivity. Your giftee still won't be able to get their hands on it until February 15th, 2012, but think of it as giving them a bonus gift: patience.
Price: $350 on Amazon
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Still on the fence about getting your gamer relative a tablet in lieu of an Xbox? If you're leaning slate-side but still want to tack on some gaming flair, check out GameStop's selection of gaming tablets. The outfit is offering an array of Honeycomb slabs pre-loaded with seven free games. An extra $40 snags you a dedicated gaming controller, just in case you wanted to hold on to that tactile feeling.
Price: $350-500 at GameStop
If you're going to get a TV for the game room, you may as well go all out. Sony's 24-inch PlayStation 3D display not only offers all the benefits of a regular 3D TV, but is also the exclusive bearer of Sony's SimulView technology. It even comes with a copy of MotoStorm: Apocalypse, so you can try out its fancy dual-full screen magic as soon as you open the box.
Price: $500 from Amazon
Nintendo Wii console
Sony PlayStation 3D Display
Sony PlayStation Vita PCH-2000
Sony PlayStation 3 (late 2012)
Microsoft Xbox One
Microsoft Xbox 360