Video Game and Accessories Gift Ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools - After Hours]

Video games, video game accessories, robot toys and other fun diversions

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Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Xbox 360 USB Flash Drive, by SanDiskSanDisk Xbox 360 USB Flash DriveI recently upgraded my Xbox 360, from the original model to a new model that had 250GB of storage capacity. Years of game saves, Rock Band song downloads and game demos had cluttered up the original hard drive, and even though I never experienced the dreaded “Red Ring of Death”, I kept thinking that I was living on borrowed time.

The biggest issue of converting to the new model was getting the game saves, songs and other files (including profile/gamertag info) onto the new system, so thankfully SanDisk sent me one of their new Xbox 360 USB Flash Drives to try out. The drive is preconfigured with Xbox 360 software that lets users transfer data for just such a move (if you try to convert with a regular USB drive, the game console will reformat and erase data on that drive).

With the drive in place, I was able to transfer my content from the old console to the new one, although I did have more than 8GB of space that needed to be transferred, so if that’s the case with you, I’d suggest getting the 16GB drive.

The drive also comes with a one-month subscription to Xbox Live Gold, you can use it to extend an existing membership or get a new one if you want. After you transfer the data, you can use the drive as an additional storage option.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars

Price: $35 for 8GB; $70 for 16GB model

Product Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

ZWindUps toys, by California CreationsZ Windup - EddieThe wind-up toy has been around for at least 100 years, so why are we focusing on these in 2010? The wind-up toy has gone through some updating, thanks to California Creations and its ZWindups. The very cool windup toys do things you'd never think a wind-up could do - these don't just spin, they spin and flip and shake.

My favorite among the batch I received was an elephant balancing a ball on his nose - at first the ball would spin on the ground, but then the legs of the elephant stood up, and the ball would be balancing. But then the legs moved again and the elephant moved forward a bit before repeating the cycle. Stand-up man-shaped wind-ups also were cool, they should shake their hips during their wind-down.

These are great little stocking stuffers, and kids ages 4-8 will love having some fun winding them up and letting them go. Adults, too.

Cool Yule rating: 4.5 stars

Price: About $4-$6 each

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Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Zibits mini R/C robots, by SenarioZibits remote control robotsIf you don’t like winding up little toys, then grab a Zibit and a remote control to have some fun. Zibits offer 12 different collectable miniature robots, which can move via the included remote control (aka the Z-mote). The remotes can have the robots move forward, and then rotate in a circle in order to make a turn.

They’re fun for a while, and you can do things like set up tracks for them to race around – and they are certainly more tolerable than Zhu Zhu Pets. My kids loved playing with the robots, but they kept losing the remotes, so that can be an issue.

Cool Yule rating: 3 stars

Price: $10 each

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Rubik’s Slide electronic puzzle game, by Techno SourceRubik's Slide Electronic PuzzleIn 1980 I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the Rubik’s Cube, and eventually was able to figure out how to solve the cube (with the help of a “How to solve the Rubik’s Cube” booklet, of course). Since then, the Rubik brand of puzzle games has expanded, and this year’s entry is Rubik’s Slide, a handheld electronic game that looks like a flattened version of the cube.The game has nine squares in a tic-tac-toe pattern (think the Brady Bunch opening) – When you start, a “solution” pattern will light up, then the lights mix up and you have to get the lights to match the solution pattern (there are two colors). The lights move when you either slide, push or twist (a quarter rotation clockwise or counter-clockwise) the puzzle. You can quickly figure out what happens when you twist or push the buttons in a certain direction in order to solve each puzzle. The game has two modes: free play, which includes more than 10,000 patterns; and lightning round, in which you try to beat 10 puzzles before a timer runs out. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from as well.

While not as engaging as the original Rubik’s Cube (at least for my tastes), it was a fun game to try and figure out, and you can solve some of the puzzles without feeling like a complete moron. It reminded me of the electronic game “Lights Out!” that came out a few years ago, in which you pushed buttons to match a pattern.

For a child 8 or above who enjoys solving puzzles, this can be an entertaining distraction for a few hours, and then if they get really good you can get them a Rubik’s Cube (and the solution guide).

Cool Yule rating: 3 stars

Price: About $20

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Likewise board game, by Buffalo GamesLikewise! board gameLikewise comes down to this question: How well do you know your opponents? Each player is given a dry erase board in the shape of a paddle where they can provide an answer to a category. The object is to get the same answer as another player. You have to pull a card from two stacks – the orange cards provide a descriptive word (like ‘exotic’), while the red cards are subjects (like ‘flower’) When the two cards are picked, each player then writes down an answer, and points are given if the players’ answers match.

Some categories worked (such as “children sport” or “popular city”) while others not so much (such as “smelly bird”, random thing at a construction site or an odd exercise).

I played with my 16- and 8-year-old daughters, so trying to read their minds is sometimes next to impossible. However, it certainly is a fun party game, and the combination of the cards could make for some funny moments.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars

Price: $27.99

Game Web site

Reviewed by Ryan, Abi and Mackenzie Francis


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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