This season’s gamer must-haves


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Nintendo Switch Lite

(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Nintendo’s versatile console is now slightly more affordable, and its smaller size makes it more adorable. The trade-off is no television support, but you’ll probably be playing the latest “Pokémon” in bed anyway. The Switch library gets better by the week, so if you’re itching for a “Zelda” fix but also curious about today’s best indie games, flipping on the Switch is a must.

$199. Purchase here→



Sega Genesis Mini

(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

The 16-bit revolution was 30 years ago, but Sega is finally getting serious about its legacy — and the power of nostalgia. This teeny-tiny device packs 40 recognizable games, including the great hip-hop inspired adventure “ToeJam & Earl” and the ahead-of-its-time love letter to the environment and oceanography that is “Ecco the Dolphin.” And yes, “Sonic,” everyone’s favorite hedgehog, is there, too.

$79.99. Purchase here→


Cuphead vinyl soundtrack

Lovers of vintage cartoons have already discovered “Cuphead,” an excruciatingly difficult game inspired by the choppy, oval animation of the 1930s (Its animated star Cuphead — and fellow character Mugman — are the stars of an upcoming Netflix series). But jazz fans are more recently getting hip to the game’s double-LP big band soundtrack by Kristofer Maddigan (on vinyl no less), which topped Billboard’s jazz chart — the first video game soundtrack to ever do so. It’s a loving nod to the Duke Ellington era and a joyful celebration of a sound no longer in vogue.

$40. Purchase here→




(Dreamscape Immersive/Stewart Cook)

Treat a friend, a loved one or even the whole family (up to six at a time) to a virtual reality getaway — at the Westfield Century City shopping center. Dreamscape’s virtual reality experiences aren’t games as much as transportive adventures to imagined worlds, be it the deep sea, an inter-galactic zoo or an “Indiana Jones”-style expedition. It’s the slickest VR experience around, and one (relatively) safe for squeamish stomachs. Adventures vary in length, but plan on 35 minutes from check-in to your post-voyage gear-removal. — Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

$20 per person, per experience. Purchase here→


St. Noire

Video games
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Not quite a board game but not quite a video game either (but combining elements of both), “St. Noire,” developed in part by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, is an exclusive-to-Amazon AI-powered game that has fun with the company’s voice-activated Alexa devices. The light murder mystery can be played alone or as a party game with small groups. You’re the detective, and your role is to interrogate the characters Alexa brings to life.


$39.99. Purchase here→


Ring Fit Adventure

Ring fit adventure

Think of this Nintendo Switch game and accessory as the next generation Wii Fit, one built around a circular device that resembles a Pilates ring. While it promises to teach you plenty of exercises and yoga poses, the real joy comes in battling a body-building dragon in fantastical landscapes. We’re also excited to — and we’re directly quoting Nintendo here — “craft pottery using squats.” Face it, everyone looks ridiculous in the middle of a workout, so why not turn those sessions into a game?

$79.99. Purchase here→


Oculus Quest

Oculus quest
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)


Virtual reality has long been the “next big thing,” only to never really capture the general public’s imagination. That’s because it’s expensive, and small devices tend to lack the processing power needed for a fulfilling experience. The Oculus Quest is the beginning of the end of that narrative, as this simple, portable device is capable enough to run many of today’s most exciting VR experiences. It’s finally a device for those who have been curious but holding off on getting real about virtual reality.

$399-499. Purchase here→


Marvel Dimension of Heroes

Marvel video game
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

Bring the Marvel Universe into your family room with this augmented reality headset, compatible with many Apple and Android smartphones. With controls that fit your hands like mini-shields, this Lenovo device make it easy to wave and flail to simulate many a superpower, be it those of Captain America or Dr. Strange. Just make sure you’re not playing next to a lamp, as Dimension of Heroes doesn’t have the power to stitch together broken glass.

$249.99. Purchase here→



Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

Pokemon Sword

It’s been an especially good year to be a Pokémon fan, what with the film “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” and now with two new Nintendo Switch adventures in “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield.” Explore new regions and discover new creatures in what promises to be two of the year’s cutest role-playing games. Example: One new Pokémon is a purple ghost blob that lives in a broken teapot ensuring that high tea will never be the same.

$59.99 each. Purchase here or here


Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Lion King Classics

Classic Disney films never really go away, as each generation gets a combination a re-releases and remakes. But classic Disney video games were once thought to be forever locked in the vault. Yet this loving package combines the SNES, Sega Genesis and Game Boy versions of games inspired by “Aladdin” (1992) and “The Lion King,” (1994) and also loads them with extras. Play the games as they existed back in the day, or play with some blessedly modern tweaks such as in-game rewind and save features.


$29.99. Purchase here→


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