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Engadget's Holiday Gift Guide: Gaming

Ross Miller

Welcome to the Engadget Holiday Gift Guide! The team here is well aware of the heartbreaking difficulties of the seasonal shopping experience, and we want to help you sort through the trash and come up with the treasures this year. Below is today's bevy of hand curated picks, and you can head back to the Gift Guide hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season.

Sit back, relax, grab a controller, and enjoy some obsessive-compulsive button mashing while you work in that body-sized groove into the couch... that's not the M.O. for the console makers this year. You don't have to embrace the jumping, hand-waving, and other methods of physical exertion, but it's definitely the "it" gaming hardware of this holiday season. Be sure to triple-check just what box your loved ones play on, and click on through for our gaming gift suggestions.

Stocking stuffers

Wii Remote Plus

Nintendo's Wii Sports Resort made a somewhat compelling case for the original Motion Plus attachment, but one year later and we're still waiting for other games to fully capitalize on the added motion sensitivity. That isn't to say it won't happen, so best to be prepared. The Remote Plus is the "hybrid Cylon" of the original controller and the dongle, and at $40 it's priced to move. Then again, if you're a Nintendo faithful, there's always the all-red 25th anniversary Wii bundle for $199. Or you could just gift an IOU for the 3DS.

Suggested MotionPlus games: Wii Sports Resort, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, Red Steel 2

Price: $39

Another option...
PS Move Shooting Attachment - $20

If you're going to give your PlayStation Move-wielding friend any gun accessory, it might as well be one capable of scaring off alien invaders stuck in a 1950s time loop. Just saying.

And another...

Xbox Live / PSN / Nintendo Points - various prices

Be it retro games of yesteryear, fresh bite-size titles, a movie rental / purchases, or additional content to your disc collection, game consoles today are all but begging you to indulge in some virtual content -- at a fee, of course. If digital is on his or her wishlist and you have to giftwrap something, this just might do the trick.

Oh, you shouldn't have

PlayStation Move

A slim PlayStation 3? That's so last year. Why not, then, pick up Sony's latest addition to the PlayStation family. The Move is more of an evolution than a revolution, but it's easy to pick up to use and it really does get the "wand" fluidity right. Don't worry about the navigation control (you can use a DualShock pad in its stead) but it might be worth picking up another controller from the get-go for two-player fun. No PS3? Look for the320GB slim bundle for $399.

Suggested Move games: Sports Champions, Heavy Rain, R.U.S.E.

Price: $100

Another option...

Pro gamers won't like that it's wireless, but for every other gamer, the low latency, customizable nature and industrial aesthetic makes for a very attractive package. Because not everyone wants, needs, or even has the option of motion controls this holiday season.

And another...

Rock Band 3 keyboard - $129 with game

Tales have been told of the very first time someone joked about a "keyboard hero" rhythm game? The original Guitar Hero developer have finally pulled it off in its own series, Rock Band 3. Pro guitars and bass interface is there, too, but if you ask us, the 100-plus-buttoned controller isn't worth the ticket price. The keyboard, however, is great, and simultaneous learning Bohemian Rhapsody / earning virtual achievements and trophies? Now that's efficiency we can get behind.

We can't afford the rent now, can we?

Xbox 360 4GB with Kinect

Microsoft's game console has grown up quite a bit in its fifth year. Let's run through the list: ESPN3, Zune music, Netflix search (finally!), and a new, sleeker model with integrated WiFi and a quieter chipset that doesn't seem to give up on life as easily as its predecessor. And then there's Kinect, its controller-free motion-control system that's best when you're either learning to dance or "hacking" it for computer trickery -- you can pick up the Kinect solo for $149, if you're so inclined.

Suggested Kinect games: Kinect Adventures, Dance Central, ESPN3 with voice control

Price: $299

Another option...

iPod touch - $230 and up

Like it or not, Apple's managed to make a compelling case for iOS as a gaming platform, and as time goes on, more and more quality titles seem to surface. You could tether yourself to a two-year AT&T contract and pick up an iPhone 4, but if you want the iOS experience without giving up your current dialer (or carrier), take solace in this much-thinner touch alternative. Keep Rage HD handy to impress your friends, look forward to Epic's Infinity Blade, and take our advice: play Angry Birds only after all other work is out of the way.

And another....

Alienware M11x with Core i5 - $949 and up

Even with a Core 2 Duo and without NVIDIA's Optimus automatic GPU switching, we still loved Alienware's gaming rig in a (heavy) netbook form factor. Since our initial review, the M11x lineup has expanded to include Core i5 / i7 as well as Optimus support. The C2D model is actually on sale right now for $599 base price, but if you're really looking for a gaming machine with some more staying power, keep your eyes on the newer chipsets.

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