With so many options to choose from, picking out the right gaming system for yourself or the gamer in your life can take a Christmas miracle. Do you want cutting-edge graphics? Portability? Kid-friendly fun? Whatever you need, there’s a console that can deliver it this holiday season.
2013 saw the launch of two powerful new consoles: Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, while Nintendo’s older and quirkier Wii U got lost in the shuffle. Each system offers its own unique experience, but which one is worth your time and money?
Perfect for: Gamers who want to game, with less focus on bells and whistles
How much: $399.99
The PS4 is more of a continuation of the good thing Sony had going with the PS3 than a bona fide evolution, but the system’s improved graphics and little things like speakers and a touchscreen on the controller add some spice to the mix. The PS4 slightly outperforms the Xbox One graphically, and it’s cheaper to boot, meaning this is the better choice for most gamers this time around.
Games to Get: “Infamous: Second Son,” “The Last Of Us (Remastered)”
Perfect for: Fans of shooters like “Halo,” folks multitaskers, and those who like motion and voice controls
How much: $499.99 with Kinect, $399.99 without it
The Xbox One lagged behind the PS4 in sales initially due to a higher price point. The Xbox’s extra $100 price tag came from its Kinect functionality, which is essentially a camera/mic that allows users to give motion and voice commands. Think of it as a Wii, but for the more hardcore gamer. Shoppers now have the option of skimping on Kinect, if spending money to talk to their TV is not their thing.
Games to get: “Titanfall,” “Killer Instinct,” “Sunset Overdrive”
Nintendo Wii U
Perfect for: family-friendly fun, those who want to play multiplayer games all in one room
How much: $299.99 for 32GB version
Is the sequel ever as good as the original? Nintendo’s follow-up to the Wii was a near-flop at release, but it has slowly worked its way back up from the bottom of the sales charts with the quality, all-ages games the company is famous for. If you want “Mario,” “Zelda,” “Donkey Kong” and the rest in HD and on the big screen, this is the system for you. Just don’t expect to play much of anything not made by Nintendo.
Games to get: “Super Smash Bros Wii U,” “Super Mario 3D World,” “Mario Kart 8”
Perfect for: Portable gaming with a wide library of exclusive titles
How much: $199.99 for XL size (recommended) and $129.99 for 2D version
It’s tough to improve on a classic like the Gameboy, but Nintendo has managed to do just that with the 3DS. The dual screens (one of which displays in 3D without the need for those funky glasses) and touchscreen are nice, but the real selling point is all the fantastic games you can’t play anywhere else. And if 3D gives you a headache don’t worry, you can turn it off completely or buy the even cheaper 2DS.
Games to get: “Pokemon X or Y,” “Fire Emblem: Awakening,” “Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds”
Perfect for: PS3 or PS4 owners who want to continue gaming on the go
How much: $329.99 for 3G version
The PS Vita is unbelievably powerful for a handheld…so why isn’t anyone buying it? The answer is that most of the games on the Vita are just hand-me-downs from other systems. Sure, it’s got the power to play games you’d normally need a PS4 or PS3 to play, but little to call its own. Still, it’s the Ferrari of handheld gaming, and what it does run it runs very well.
Games to get: “Gravity Rush,” “Persona 4: Golden, Spelunky”
In short, none of these systems are a lump of coal, but if you want the best bang for your yuletide buck, the PS4 and the 3DS are the consoles to go for.