- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Here’s a look at a few items from the vast selection of controllers, peripherals and tech helpers for entertainment systems that could be perfect gifts for the game-addicted member of the family.

GameCube

• Wireless Rechargeable Controller, Intec ($29.99). Serious gamers who are breaking the bank by feeding batteries to wireless controllers can rejoice with this why-didn’t-they-think-of-it-sooner product. Intec’s wireless line (also available for Xbox and PlayStation 2) offers a pair of AA batteries that can be recharged up to 500 times using the included link cable to plug the controller into the receiver while still playing a game.

Game worthy of the gadget: Mario Party 7 (Nintendo, $49.99) fits the bill as up to eight players take a cruise around the world using exotic game boards as ports to play more than 86 minigames using the husky plumber and his pals. Eleven of the games can use an included microphone to give the title an extra level of interactivity.

Xbox



• Karaoke Revolution Party Microphone bundle, Konami and Logitech, $54.99. A simple microphone that plugs into the Xbox controller port turns ordinary players into celebrity crooners thanks to a generous 6-foot cord and Konami’s latest interactive singing game.

Game worthy of the gadget: The microphone is packaged with the awesome vocal-exercising title, which offers more than 50 songs, such as “Sweet Caroline,” “American Woman” and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” Players customize an on-screen avatar to mimic their performances.

Voice recognition technology judges and scores singers on their ability to match pitch and rhythm, so having some musical talent counts.

• Wireless Multiplayer Kit, Nyko ($34.99). A pair of players use ergonomically designed game pads that wirelessly connect to a single receiver plugged into two Xbox controller ports. Each unit requires two AA batteries and features 2.4 GHz technology, dual vibration motor feedback, multiple channel selection for fast, secure and uninterrupted play, and a power-save feature to conserve battery life.

Game worthy of the gadget: The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (THQ, $39.99) gives fans of the Pixar superhero family flick a cooperative lesson in teamwork as two players control either Mr. Incredible or Frozone as they try to stop archenemy Underminer and his minions in a plot to pollute major cities of the world.

Nintendo DS

• Wi-Fi USB Connector, Nintendo ($89.99). This device the size of a disposable lighter plugs directly into a USB port on a PC using a broadband Internet connection and Windows XP operating system to create a dedicated wireless access point for up to five of Nintendo’s dual-screen, hand-held gaming systems. The package also includes a USB extension cable and driver software.

Game worthy of the gadget: The latest Wi-Fi-ready DS game, Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo, $34.99), gives four players a chance to live a virtual life as they control a character, buy a house, explore, purchase items and travel to other players’ towns in this open-ended, addictive, role-playing community simulation.

PlayStation 2

• Two Player Arcade Dual Joystick, Xgaming ($129.99). The ultimate controller, which looks as if it was ripped from mall arcade machines, delivers a fantastic home-gaming experience. Slightly longer than 2 feet, the heavy-duty unit features a nearly indestructible joystick for each player and a bank of eight buttons to unleash nonstop action. The peripheral, which is easy to hook up to the PS2 via an included add-on adapter ($19.95 for each additional adapter; also compatible with Mac, Dreamcast, Xbox, GameCube and PC systems), also comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Game worthy of the gadget: The legendary 3-D fighting game returns in Soul Calibur III (Namco, $49.99) not only adding new characters to a roster of more than 25 warriors, but also enabling players to construct their own fighters, choosing from an astonishingly deep selection of clothing, accessories and, of course, weapons.

• Guitar Hero, Red Octane, $59.99. This scaled-down version of a legendary Gibson SG guitar uses five buttons, an easy-to-strum plastic piece replacing the strings and a whammy bar to turn even the most average of players into monsters of rock ‘n’ roll.

Game worthy of the gadget: The faux instrument comes with an incredibly immersive game that requires a player to rhythmically match streams of colored notes flying across the screen by pressing buttons on the neck of the guitar to perform more than 30 ear-crunching songs, including Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Coming,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon” and ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.”

A customizable on-screen avatar mimics the player’s proficiency and, with his band, performs his way from basement parties to arena concerts, depending on how well the player matches the notes.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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