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Intersection of Life and Faith

The Frugal Gamer

  • Bryan Fischer theFish.com Contributing Writer
  • 2009 20 Oct
The Frugal Gamer

When you walk into a video game store or surf one on the web you're immediately inundated with thousands of titles, most of which you're not familiar with.  You're not rich.  You know money doesn't grow on trees.  You can only spend but so much on video games and the last thing you want to do is buy something that gets old two hours in or lacks any real replay value.

I feel your pain as I have been the victim of many a bad video game purchase.  Thankfully I have learned from my mistakes and present to you the below list of five titles that are worth every penny.  Some of these games are cheap, some are not, but what they all have in common is high quality and excellent replay value.  Let's get started…

Little Big Planet | Playstation 3 | $45-$60

I had to start with this game because it sits upon the highest of pedestals in my personal book of games worth owning.  In fact, now and then a game comes out that sell game consoles all by themselves.  Little Big Planet (pictured above) is one of those games.

Retailing between $45 and $60 online, Little Big Planet isn't one of the cheapest games out there, but it's definitely one of the best.  Hailed by just about every gaming publication in existence as one of the most innovative games to hit the shelves, Little Big Planet excels at being different and making different, fun.

The general plot revolves around an imaginary world where sack people (little people made of burlap and buttons) run around, climb giant wooden blocks and drive boxcars.  The best part is, you can play with three of your friends in the same room or online.  In fact, it's better played with friends because you can help each other, complete two-player challenges, and wreak cartoony havoc on each other.

But it doesn't stop there.  The value is in the innovative fun Little Big Planet introduces from the very start of the game.  Not only can you run around and complete levels, but you can also alter the levels you're currently playing, create new levels, and explore hundreds of gamer-created levels online.  This means  the replay value here is nearly endless.  While some games claim the same, few deliver the quality of Little Big Planet.

Rated E for Everyone.

New Super Mario Bros. | Nintendo DS |  $32-$40

Some Mario fans had been waiting their entire teen and adult lives for this game.  Others discovered that while they thought their lives were complete, there was in fact a huge hole that could only be filled by the New Super Mario Bros. game.  Nintendo returned to its roots with this brand new 2D Mario side-scroller that felt simultaneously old school and new school.

If you loved the old Super Mario Bros. games, you'll love New Super Mario Bros. for the DS.  The classic cast of Mario, Luigi, Princess, Toad and Bowser are back and better than ever.  Everything is better… the graphics, music, sound effects, controls, everything!  With the classic mushrooms that make you big to new tiny mushrooms that make you gigantic, New Super Mario Bros. packs the old with the new into an instant classic.

Why is this game worth thirty-some bucks?  Because it's probably the highest quality Nintendo DS game to date, not to mention one of the best Mario games of all time.  If part of you misses the old Mario, buy this game. If you could care less about Mario but want a high quality side-scrolling adventure game, buy this one.

Rated E for Everyone.

Gears of War | Xbox 360 | $15-$20

If you're a fan of first-person shooters, you've probably already played this game.  If you haven't, but you own an Xbox 360, the price point alone is a reason to pick it up.  A stellar title from Microsoft, Gears of War is a down and dirty, gritty FPS (first-person shooter).  Are you looking for clean carpet and pretty laser beams?  This isn't the game for you.

Gears of War features ugly aliens invading Earth and brave soldiers making them regret that decision.  As bullets fly, aliens come out of holes in the ground throwing grenades and helicopters fly over head dropping in troops, etc.  It's beautiful chaos thanks to the wonderful controls and smooth graphics.  Oh, and don't forget one of the most unique aspects of the combat in Gears of War… your machine gun has a chainsaw attached to it.  Yes, a chainsaw.

The replay value of Gears of War is also phenomenal, as friends will no doubt want to play against you in split screen action or online against several people at the same time.  And while the second installment of the Gears of War franchise is already out, there are still plenty of people playing the first title online.  Who knows?  By the time you finish the first one, maybe Gears of War 3 will be come out and you can pick up Gears of War 2 (also awesome) for cheap.

Rated M for Mature.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare | Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac | $40

This is the last first-person shooter on the list, but easily one of the best of all time.  The Call of Duty series has been a fan favorite since the first title, but none of received the emphatic applause that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was awarded.  In fact, after Call of Duty 5: World at War failed to be everything its predecessor was and more, Infinity Ward chose to make a second Modern Warfare game launching in November.

What does this mean for you?  It means you can pick up a high quality game for cheaper and cheaper the closer it gets to the release date for the second installment.  Even well after the new title comes out, tens of thousands of players will still be playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare online across various modes of gameplay.  This is where the game truly shines.  The online multiplayer experience of Call of Duty 4 is some of the best ever.  The maps are strategic and detailed, the explosions loud, and the field populated with all levels of player aptitude.  The online play is both addictive and endless.

Rated M for Mature

Boom Blox | Wii | $25-$30

Party games are always in demand.  People come over and you pull out a bowl of chips, some dip and hopefully your Wii.  Throw in a copy of Boom Blox and the party might go a little longer than expected.

Steven Spielberg made this game.  Yes, the same guy who made E.T. made this game.  Is it anything like his movies?  No.  But is it good?  Yes.  Boom Blox is a puzzle game where you throw, grab, yank and pull things using the Wii mote to rack up more points than your friends (or reach a goal in first player mode).  The main gameplay involves you throwing baseballs and bowling balls at stacks of blocks, knocking them off pedestals for points.  You also pull blocks out of structures while being careful to not make them fall.  In this mode, it benefits you to be a tad reckless, causing your friends to have to pull blocks out of a structure a million times more wobbly than it was for you.  It's a lot like the block-stacking game, Jenga, with added craziness for good measure.

Boom Blox features over 300 challenges (levels), so the chances of you getting bored with repetition is just about impossible.  In addition to the plethora of blocks to throw about, you can even create your own levels for even more replay value.  Buy this game and throw a Wii party, it'll be worth every cent.

Rated E for Everyone