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Holiday Buyer's Guide: PlayStation Network


Did someone get a PSN gift card for the holidays? What are you going to buy? Whether you've got a PS3 or PSP, $20 or $50 card, or whether you're a Trophy hunter or a "Move" buff, you've got plenty of options in the PlayStation Store. Here are our recommendations for the best of 2010!

To begin, click one of the links below to jump to a category or simply head on past the break to peruse the guide form top to bottom.

Click on a game title to view its Joystiq game page (where available) and see more news and information about it. Additionally, we've included links to our reviews.

Note: Some of our recommended titles are currently on sale (for a limited time), as noted in our listings below. Take advantage while you can!

PlayStation 3

The Best Friend
These co-op titles are the best games to play with a best friend. They might even bring you closer together -- if your friend doesn't totally make you lose.

Dead Nation - $14.99
The developers of Super Stardust HD have created a super-detailed game set in the zombie apocalypse that will keep you on your toes. Bring a friend if you want to live. [Review]

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - $14.99
Lara Croft usually raids tombs alone, but this top-down co-op adventure proves that spiked floors, trap doors and ravenous monsters are a lot more fun to tackle with a partner. [Review]

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (pictured) - $9.99
Apparently, the best fighters of the world can be found in Canada. This is no Michael Cera joint -- you and up to three other pals (in the same room) can tackle this modern beat-em-up with an 8-bit soul. [Review]

X-Men Arcade - $9.99
The 1992 arcade classic is revived on PSN, no quarters necessary. Although it's a no-frills port, this is one nostalgic trip worth taking with a friend -- or five!

Total = $49.96 (plus tax)

The Hipster
The PlayStation Store has opened up the market to all sorts of unique games from independent developers. With a $50 card, you'll be able to support four very different games, from four very different indies. That's hip.

Auditorium HD - $9.99
Following its standout entry in Zoo Games' "indiePub Games" contest, the original Auditorium was revamped for PSN. This stunning music-puzzle game is easy to understand, but challenging to master -- and it's all-around breathtaking. Really, it must be seen (and heard!) to be appreciated.

Deadliest Warrior: The Game - $9.99 $4.99 (sale price)
Sure, it may be a licensed Spike TV game, but Deadliest Warrior is the current generation's take on Bushido Blade. And we approve. [Review]

Hoard - $14.99
Any game that has you playing a dragon is good by us. (Okay, minus Lair.) This indie project has you burninating the countryside, kidnapping princesses and causing general mayhem along the way. While it may not be much of a looker, Hoard features addictive gameplay and extensive multiplayer offerings that make it oh-so-charming. [Review]

Joe Danger (pictured) - $14.99
Take one part Sonic, one part Excitebike and one part LittleBigPlanet, and you'll end up with a game not unlike Joe Danger. Hello Games' debut title is a sheer blast to play, and the endless stream of user-generated content means you can play this for months to come.

Total = $44.96 (plus tax)

The Move Buff
So you got your hands on a PlayStation Move motion controller, eh? Instead of falling for Kung-Fu Rider, why not check out these groovy, Move-compatible downloadable games?

echochrome ii (pictured) - $14.99
One of the final releases of the year, echochrome ii transforms your Move controller into a virtual flashlight as you control a mannequin-like character in a unique, mind-bending puzzle game.

Heavy Rain (PlayStation Move Update) - Free
If you already own Heavy Rain, stop by the PlayStation Store to get a free add-on that lets you replay the entire adventure using the Move. This time you might even let the killer get away.

Hustle Kings - $9.99
This eye-candy game of billiards has added Move support. With tons of features, Hustle Kings offers good value for the asking price.

Swords & Soldiers - $9.99
This indie RTS may not be the easiest game to understand, but once you figure it out, it's immensely satisfying. Cute, yet deep, this PSN offering recently added Move support for easier controls.

Tumble - $9.99
This tower-building game makes impressive use of the Move's 1:1 controls. It's a simple concept, but the puzzles will test both your mind and your nerves. [Review]

Total = $44.96 (plus tax)

The Retrobutionist
What's old is new again. Remakes, 'mixes and brand new "retro" games will have you partying like it's 1989 all over again.

Bomberman Ultra - $9.99 $4.99 (sale price)
It's Bomberman. On your PS3. What more do you need? How about: It's 50 percent off!

Marvel Pinball - $9.99
Zen Studios knows how to make a mean pinball game (or two), and this Marvel-themed version is sure to please comic book nerds and pinball fans alike.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - $9.99
Many fans consider this sequel the pinnacle of the comedic Monkey Island adventure games. This Special Edition features all-new visuals, music and voice-overs, bringing this classic back to life like never before. Bonus: You can switch between the updated and classic graphics on the fly.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (pictured) - $9.99
Who knew Pac-Man could be reinvented to be so ... sexy? Namco's sequel to the excellent Championship Edition is a brilliant makeover of the classic arcade game, adding a bevvy of new modes and visual effects that make it one of the most addictive arcade games on PSN.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time HD - $14.99
This Prince of Persia update isn't quite as impressive as the God of War and Sly collections, but that doesn't mean you should overlook one of the finest platforming games of the PS2 generation.

Total = $49.95 (plus tax)

The Trophy Hunter
Don't be ashamed to admit it: You're addicted to unlocking Trophies. You love it every time you hear that "ding" and see your gamer XP rise. Well, did you know you can add a huge collection of Trophies to your profile with $50? If you're a Trophy hunter, these are some essential games for boosting your cred.

After Burner Climax - $9.99 $4.99 (sale price)
You wouldn't expect a Sega arcade game to feature easy Trophies, but once you start unlocking EX mode cheats, you'll find yourself clearing this game ... and unlocking Trophies within minutes.

Blue Toad Murder Files - $29.99 $14.99 (sale price)
This quaint episodic murder mystery offers a treasure trove of easy Trophies across its six episodes. And, at only $15, this is one of the best Trophy values around.

Buzz! Junior: Dino Den - $4.99
While the Buzz! series is generally known as a trivia game, the Buzz! Junior games are a collection of simple minigames meant for kids. The Trophies are easy to unlock, and best of all: You don't need the series' trademark buzzer controller to get 100 percent of the Trophies in either Junior game.

My Aquarium - $4.99
Less "game" and more "app," this virtual aquarium features virtual fish you can watch and feed. You can also unlock all of its Trophies in less than an hour.

Tales of Monkey Island
(pictured) - $19.99
Telltale's followup adventure series has the charm and wit of the classic Monkey Island games. The five episode tales take the series into bold, new directions and feature some hilarious Trophies, to boot. ["Chapter 1" Review]

Total = $49.95 (plus tax)

PlayStation Portable

The New PSP Essentials
There's no shortage of great PSP games to download from the PlayStation Store. Whether you're looking for digitally archived UMD games or PSN exclusives, there are a lot of games to choose from.

Gravity Crash Portable
(pictured) - $9.99
The retro-inspired PS3 shooter comes to PSP and loses nothing in the process. Terrific graphics, amazing soundtrack and a level editor that will keep you coming back for more.

ModNation Racers PSP - $19.99
The handheld version of the "Play, Create, Share" racer is nearly as impressive as its PS3 counterpart. If the lengthy campaign isn't enough for you, why not try creating your own tracks?

Patapon 2 - $7.99
The sequel to Patapon expands upon the innovative music-strategy elements of the original. Invest in some new headphones because, for $8, this one's a bargain.

Rock Band Unplugged Lite - $4.99
Although Harmonix ended DLC support for Unplugged some time ago, this Lite version will give you the ability to play a few songs and buy the existing DLC a la carte from the PlayStation Store. Pick and choose your favorite songs, and you'll find Rock Band to be a permanent addition to your PSP collection.

Tetris - $4.99
The quintessential puzzle game is available to download as a PSP Mini. It may not be as feature-packed as versions on other platforms, but this is Tetris we're talking about!

Total = $47.95 (plus tax)

Valkyria Chronicles 2
Valkyria Chronicles 2 - $39.99 $15.99 (sale price)
The current sale is so incredible that we have no choice but to give this game its own category. For a limited time only, you can purchase Valkyria Chronicles 2 on the PlayStation Store for a mere $16. You're doing something wrong if you're not picking up this quintessential PSP game right now. [Review]

Total = $15.99 (plus tax)

Major Minis for PS3 & PSP
These little indie gems may not be loaded with features, but they're packed with fun. Most Minis work on both your PS3 and PSP, so you can play them on the big screen, and then take them on the go.

Coconut Dodge - $3.99
A game so simple, its title pretty much gives it away. Its clever scoring system and constant risk-reward gameplay make it very addictive.

The Flying Hamster - $5.99
It's a bit pricey for the amount of gameplay you get, but Game Atelier's shoot-em-up is too adorable to pass up. With a variety of wacky power-ups (beer, anyone?), The Flying Hamster is a perfect Mini for younger gamers.

JellyCar 2 - $2.99
This adorable follow-up to the popular iPhone and Xbox Live Indie Games title has you playing a car made of jelly. The sounds alone will keep you entertained.

Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess (pictured) - $4.99
Gorgeous animation, clever writing and a spot-on soundtrack make Mediatonic's Mini one of the best offerings on PSN. The addictive one-button gameplay has hidden depth. It won't be long before you'll be double-jumping, wall-jumping and slamming your way to gold medals in this terrific platformer.

A Space Shooter for Two Bucks - $1.99
It's hard to expect quality out of a game that displays its bargain price in its title, but developer Frima has managed to create a funny (and totally worthwhile) shoot-em-up for, yes, only two dollars.

Total = $19.95 (plus tax)

PlayStation Plus for PS3 & PSP
Sony's premium PSN membership, PlayStation Plus, has been written off by plenty of skeptics, but it's proven itself with access to a steady stream of high-profile titles and game betas. Think of it as a "Games of the Month" club that automatically delivers PSN content to your system that you may have otherwise overlooked. In fact, we most recommend Plus to gamers that don't frequently buy content on the Store. (It's always a bummer to receive free access to a game you already own.)

Games offered for no extra charge as part of Plus won't be playable after your subscription is canceled, but if Sony continues to provide Plus members with the kind of high-quality content that's been on tap lately, it's likely you'll resubscribe. A Plus membership can be activated online via a redemption card sold at retailers, or it can be purchased with PlayStation Store credit. With access to Minis and PSOne Classics, PlayStation Plus is especially worthwhile for the gamer that owns both a PS3 and PSP.

Total = $17.99 (3 months) / $49.99 (1 year)* (plus tax)

*1-year subscription currently includes limited-time, 3-month bonus.

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