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Age range: Although the puzzles get a bit repetitive, it should be a real treat for less-experienced 8- to 12-year-old gamers, especially if parents explain the lore behind Sherlock Holmes. Adults will appreciate the later, more difficult levels.

Final advice:The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes is priced right, difficult enough for amateur sleuths and worthy of investigation.


Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:

Backyard Baseball ‘09 (for Wii, Humongous Entertainment, $39.99) — The youngest of sports fans can appreciate America’s pastime with the seventh edition of this perennial peewee- friendly baseball game.

Equipped for Nintendo’s interactive console, the cartoony arcade-style simulation for one or two players mixes kiddie versions of stars from Major League teams, including the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter and the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz, with the familiar Backyard Kids gang.

Modes include pickup and all-star games, season (16 or 32 games), an eight-bracket tournament and even a home-run derby. By the way, a Babe Ruth character can be unlocked.

The game offers options found in older siblings’ games, including changing the batting order, trading players, plenty of statistics and pitcher stamina, but they will not overwhelm the new player.

A simple flick of the Wiimote swings the bat or pitches the ball and the Nunchuk moves players around and enacts crazy powerups (of the disappearing or slimy ball variety) for the batter and pitcher.

Additionally, large fields allow for plenty of high-scoring games and parks near an active volcano or infested with UFOs add to Backyard Baseball’s charm.

Top Spin 3 (for Wii, 2K Sports $49.99) — Serious tennis fans using Nintendo’s magical motion-sensing console are in for a treat with the latest release devoted to the Top Spin franchise.

Up to four players become part of the professional tennis circuit as they wield a Wiimote as a racquet and smash, slice and volley their way to wins.

Sixteen current stars led by Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova are available and can meet in 10 real venues with varied surfaces for traditional singles and doubles matches.

In addition to the Wiimote, the Nunchuk is used to move the player around the court, initiate serves and steer the direction of the ball. It can be a tricky proposition: My hands often became tangled in the cord tethering the controllers when trying to execute a game-winning backhand.

Although there is no real career or create-a-player options or online support, eight types of events are available in the Road to Glory mode, culminating with a 16-player tournament.

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