Every year around December I get that excited buzz when I start to see the Christmas lights appearing along the roads I drive on, and I look forward to the holiday season that follows. People everywhere are starting to think about what is the "must have" gadget for them or their children.

For me personally, it is all about the release of new video games and consoles for us to compare, and debate over. Eventually the dust clears, and we'll settle on a game system to bring into our homes to entertain our children or to give us that cathartic release that many of us will need after elbowing our way through last minute holiday sale crowds.

It’ll all be worth it, though, if we get that new thing that is new to pretty much everyone else, too, and it turns out to be a great choice. Some years there are only upgrades to older consoles or systems. Other years we have Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft in a caged match media blitz to see who’s newest thing is the most profoundly awesome of them all. This year -we have advances in not only the consoles’ three-dimensional, high-definition, realer-than-life graphic capabilities -but in how the games are bought and played.

This year’s most unorthodox underdog is so closely cutting the edge of the console-gaming upper echelon, it’s made headlines just for it’s record-breaking Kickstarter page. Ouya is Android based, and undercuts all competition by coming out for a whopping $99.

For those who enjoy the more instant brand of gratification, the Nintendo Wii U is this year’s buzz already among geeks of almost every variety. This one’s a little more pricey, at $349 for the deluxe package (which includes a game, the “Digital Deluxe Plan” and an assortment of stands) and $299 for the basic set. Both come with the cherry on this year’s tech junkie sundae -the new GamePad controller that has a secondary display (touch screen) that rests between your thumbs as you hold the oversized (overpowered?) controller in your hands. At first glance, the deluxe package controller (which is black) resembles the old Sega GameGear from the early to mid 90’s.

This isn’t the first time Nintendo has stirred up anticipation for a “new thing” and most of the time we are not disappointed -watching Ouya and Wii U box it out this year might just be the best present ever, for gamers. Both offer online services, digital purchasing of titles and a brand new experience with console gaming. While Ouya’s online games are free to download and try out, the pricing appears to vary from paid additional content to items consumable items that can be purchased over and over (Android gold farming?). The Wii U has an online store with games for sale, much like the Wii, but rumor has it they’ve already integrated a universal remote control into the GamePad and with the more compact, streamlined Wii U hardware it’ll be a short step from Nintendo Land to whatever you were supposed to be watching on tv or Netflix with someone special.

If price is definitely an issue for you this season, the Ouya is definitely going pocketbook friendly and with hundreds of indie developers lined up, you probably won’t be disappointed with the selection of new, free (sort of) things to do. The Wii U Deluxe package, however, has a tantalizing 32GB of storage and a special limited time offer coming in the next month, the Deluxe Digital Promotion. This sweet offer gets you 10% back in points when you purchase games, content or retailer codes for downloaded purchases. It basically comes out to a little over $5 off of every $60 you spend until December of 2014! The promotion is only available for a limited time, however, so Wii fanboys and girls had better act fast if they want in on the virtual savings. 

I would go into the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii more, but honestly there isn't much of a price change from last year. They are bundling a few more games, or an accessory with them, but prices are staying steady around the $199-$250 mark. And while there are some great games for these aging console titans, keep in mind that both the Xbox 360, and the PS3 are rumored to be replaced next year (Xbox 720 & PS4). If you are looking for the latest and greatest, you might want to save your money for next year and look for the Xbox 720 vs. PS4 cage match.

Choose wisely -these systems are bound to dramatically change the way we watch tv, control our entertainment center gadgets, and spend whatever free time we used to have.

What Gavin Mannion from Lazygamer has to say about it all:

If you are out looking for a video game console this holiday I would strongly advise taking a look at the new Nintendo Wii-U which has some solid HD graphics, a second screen but most importantly the incredible first party Nintendo titles which according to early reviews are all fantastic. If Nintendo isn't your thing then you can't go wrong with some of the incredible specials you are sure to see on either the PS3 or Xbox 360. They are both exceptional consoles and I'd recommend buying whichever one your friends have. Neither is better than the other.

The next PlayStation and Xbox will likely be released in 12 months time so if you can wait you could save yourself a little money but you'll be doing yourself a disservice by not playing the current generation games


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