Holiday Gift Guide ’07



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Without two consoles coming out this holiday season, this year might seem lax compared to the wait-in-line, Xbox-360-will-be-owned!, eh-no-it-won’t festivities of last year. But that doesn’t mean your wallet is going to like you anymore than it did before. Being Santa requires money, because hey, you don’t have elven slavery to help you out.

We know the turkey has just finally passed through your digestive system, so you’ve probably forgotten about Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa shopping or chose to forget about it. Going to the mall, checking your budget, gift-wrapping, putting the bow on, hoping your friends are giving you gifts that actually have some effort and are worth as much as you spent on their gifts – yeah, that’s too much of a hassle.

So in our 11th annual Holiday Gift Guide, we make your life a little easier. Less time spent shopping means more time eating, sleeping, and more eating. No problems there, right?

As before, you can purchase most of our recommendations by clicking on the links: Videogamecentral.com, Ebay.com, and Pricegrabber.com. We’re giving those sites the gift of "more traffic", just for you. We have also provided links to reviews that show you why your gaming friends and family are insane if they hate their presents. And you’re saving on gasoline.

GR takes care of our readers!

The games and tchotchkes that made it into the gift guide are affordable, have been released within the last year, and are availaible at retail. All of our highest-rated titles, as well as a few others we felt were cool enough to include, are on the list. This guide will be continually updated until December 22nd, so be sure to check back often as new games are added. So you won’t have to go into a bath and body store and pick up some random bottle of ooze. Organic raspberry lavender mint lubricant… perfect!

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We like new things. It makes us feel not old. So unlike last year, most of our PC picks this year are spankin’-new IPs… or it just happened that way. We swear, we didn’t open our presents. We’re as surprised as you are…

Crysis

Publisher: EA
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $49.99
If not the first title to deliver on the promises of DirectX10, Crysis will stun you with its graphics before you even fire a shot in its vibrant jungles. Solid, fast-paced gameplay doesn’t hurt, either.
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BioShock

Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $49.99
Explore the watery depths of Rapture. Survive the horrors of humanity – of morals, Eden, and Big Daddies. Take a dive and get ready to get wet. ‘Cus you’re about to be BioShock-ed.
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Supreme Commander

Publisher: THQ
Genre: Strategy
MSRP: $29.99
 Got a high-end rig? Good. If you like things bigbig maps, big robots, big guns – then upgrade to Supreme Commander. It’s a natural enhancement.
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Half-Life 2: The Orange Box 

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $49.99
Okay, so the review link goes to the Xbox 360 version, but hey, The Orange Box still rocks on the PC. If you haven’t picked up Half-Life 2 before, then it just may have the best bang for your buck this year.
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Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Real-time Strategy
MSRP: $49.99
What kind of war fronts aren’t opposing? And what’s up with heroes plural? I’m the hero, dammit! Okay, so if can let your ego go… you can do it… you’re a little engine… just try, you will find that Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts lives up to its amazing predecessor. New franchises, new modes, generous amounts of profanity – what’s not to like? 
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Before you bid the PS2 farewell, take one last gander at the black box. Oh, how you have served us well. There are yet a few gems left on the console, as the new releases taper off into the "last-gen" era. So savor the moment, while it lasts.

God of War II

Publisher: Sony
Genre: Action
MSRP: $39.99
Aww… is that my axe in your pretty face? Let me get that out for you. Oh, oops, it’s up your waist now. Hmmm… you know, the second time bleeds just as much as the first. Especially if I pull down. – Kratos
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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3

Publisher: Atlus U.S.A.
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $49.99
High school is usually boring, even in Japan. But gain the ability to summon your persona by shooting yourself in the head, and school gets interesting. Quirky and hideously wondrous, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 is for the occult Japanophile – or anyone that likes something different.
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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock 

Publisher: RedOctane
Genre: Rhythm
MSRP: $89.99
Really, is there a problem with more Guitar Hero? I think not. And this installment has more master tracks and a strong online mode. Oh, and it has Through The Fire And Flames.
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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 

Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: Fighting
MSRP: $39.99
For a ninja in an orange track suit, which would blend well in a run-of-the-mill forest of other orange track suits, Naruto sure gets around. Naruto: Ultimate Ninja 2 is an action-filled brawler that’s sure to please kids, especially those who wear "Leaf Village" headbands.
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Grim Grimoire 

Publisher: NIS
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $39.99
Whimsical and cute in all the right ways, Grim Grimoire is a light but lengthy adventure rooted in real-time strategy. Pick this up if you’re into magical schools and fanciful flights.
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So you own a PS3. Wait, you have one? (ohhhh, snap) Despite the lack of exclusives, the big, black box has some decent entries in its library this year, and if you don’t have a 360, there’s plenty to make your inner gift-grabber happy.

Assassin’s Creed

Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
You don’t mess with people in white cloaks, especially those that need just half a reason to kill you. Nope, you definitely don’t want to meet Altaïr on a rooftop anytime soon. Seems very ninja-friendly, though… hmm….
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Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Publisher: Sony
Genre: Adventure
MSRP: $59.99
Sometimes we are so busy complaining about the lack of innovation in games that we forget about how some gameplay is just plain solid. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune does everything with spectacular precision and detail, all wrapped up in a classic adventure tale.
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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Publisher: Activision
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $59.99
Don’t let the short campaign mode deter you. FPS fans should put Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in their arsenal. If not just for the cinematic graphics, its white-knuckled action is the crux of blistering multiplayer shoot-outs.
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Rock Band

Publisher: MTV Games
Genre: Rhythm
MSRP: $169.99
As one of the best co-operative multiplayer games ever, coupled with a spiffy tracklist and a variety of peripherals, Rock Band is without a doubt the party game of the year, if not of this generation.
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Heavenly Sword

Publisher: SCEA
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
For a girl with a red ponytail longer than most extremities, Nariko kicks quite a lot of ass. Heavenly Sword is a short and sweet adventure with uncanny voice acting and motion capturing that are sure to impress.
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skate.

Publisher: EA
Genre: Sports
MSRP: $59.99

Dude, that session was sick! No skateboarding title is as real as skate. No video tapes twirling in the corner, no grinding a fifty-feet rail at a forty-five degree incline, no Christ Air into a revert-manual-360 kickflip-noseblunt combo. Just skating, pure and simple.

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Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction  

Publisher: Sony
Genre: Adventure
MSRP: $59.99
Got kids? Duo Ratchet & Clank fires off another quick-fire installment with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction without all that next-gen blood. Let’s groove!
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DiRT: Colin McRae Off-Road 

Publisher: Codemasters
Genre: Racing
MSRP: $59.99
Rally racing is the preverbial dark horse of the sport, at least in the US. Not many people here care for it, outside of the X Games… and even then. But take DiRT for a spin and you will find it as polished and sophisticated as any racing title.
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Xbox 360 owners will have the merriest holidays this year with an almost unparalleled season of high-profile, high-quality titles. The games on this list have garnered four B+’s, five A-‘s, and one A. I must be hallucinating. This is supposed to be GR, right?

BioShock

Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $59.99
Underwater cities are usually paradises. But the city of Rapture is far from there. Streets are rampant with genetically altered splicers and debris, with blood running off 1940s neon signs. What an eden for the freedom of capitalism! Surely, I bid you welcome to BioShock. Have a nice day.
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Mass Effect

Publisher: BioWare
Genre: Adventure / Strategy
MSRP: $59.99
Amidst the dying trend of console exclusives, Mass Effect proves just how alive and important they can be. As Commander Shepard, you will embark on an intergalactic adventure that will test your mettle, your ethics, and the naïve belief that games can’t be serious and fun.
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Assassin’s Creed 

Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
MSRP: $59.99
From among the daily crowd – the woman carrying a pot on her head, the robed man preaching Allah, the vigilante standing in the street with his arms crossed – you are hidden. You have no name. And if anyone should discover it, your blade will speak for you and swiftly return, hidden among the crowd. 
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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Publisher: Activision
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $59.99
One of the most anticipated titles at E3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare does not disappoint. It masters the first-person genre like nobody’s business – and it loves to take names.
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Half-Life 2: The Orange Box

Publisher: EA
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $59.99
 With Half-Life 2, Episodes 1 and 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2, you must have a hatred for first-person shooters to not like at least something that The Orange Box has to offer.
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Rock Band

Publisher: MTV Games
Genre: Rhythm
MSRP: $169.99
Rock Band pizza parties are always awesome. Even if you can’t (won’t) sing and have the coordination of a drunk, you will still have a great time. And if you’re a party pooper – hey, free food.
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Beautiful Katamari

Publisher: Namco Bandai
Genre: Puzzle
MSRP: $34.99
One of the few excellent ‘E’-rated titles on the 360, Beautiful Katamari lives up to its quirky name with all things sticky and bizarre. The King of All Cosmos demands you to roll up the junk on Earth – and, boy, do we have lots of that!
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skate.

Publisher: EA
Genre: Sports
MSRP: $59.99
Admire Tony Hawk all you want, but his arcady franchise has gotten stale lately, especially when compared to skate. Ollieing around San Vanelona is a gnarly trip, a sensation that can only be matched by, you know, real skating.
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Madden NFL 08

Publisher: EA
Genre: Sports
MSRP: $59.99
EA may have a monopoly with their exclusive NFL license, but can we really care when they tackle football so well? Upgraded from last year’s installment, Madden NFL 08 is just what a fan of the pigskin needs.
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Halo 3 

Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: First-Person Shooter
MSRP: $59.99

(Somewhere on Xbox Live)

Say it!

– Okay, okay, just don’t shoo…

Now!!!

– You-Did-Not-Think-We-Would-For-Get-

A-Bout-Mas-Ter-Cheap-Did-You???

What’d’ya call me?!

… … …

*bang*

– … … … … …

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Many of us have had our hands on the Wii for a while now. We’ve been baffled whenever the pointer doesn’t appear on the screen. We’ve flung our Wii-motes into unfortunately fixed objects. We’ve heard a fair share of awful Wii puns. And most of all, if our picks for the Wii reveal anything, we know the motion-sensing controls can work and has revolutionized how we interact with video games.

Super Mario Galaxy

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure
MSRP: $49.99
 When Mario appears in a full-on platformer, you know he means business. Just as Super Mario 64 did for Nintendo 64, Super Mario Galaxy exemplifies the potential of the Wii’s controls and what fun is all about. If that doesn’t convince you, it’s battling The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on GameRankings as the best video game of all time.
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Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure

Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Puzzle
MSRP: $39.99
 Like Psychonauts before it, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure is a sleeper hit that hopefully won’t fall off your radar. For people who clamor for innovation and for making developers like Capcom to take a risk once a while, this is right up your alley.
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Resident Evil 4

Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Action
MSRP: $29.99
It may be strange to see Resident Evil 4 on the Wii – as is Manhunt 2 – but having a sophisticated M-rated title on the next-gen Nintendo scene is a good move. The Wii-mote controls bring a fresh take to this extraordinary survival-horror title, and besides, shooting zombies in the face never gets old. A budget price also helps.
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Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action
MSRP: $49.99
 Samus is at it again, now fighting off a Phazon (yeast) infection. But we don’t really mind. With well-designed controls and level design, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.
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Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Strategy
MSRP: $49.99
 Soldiers die. They don’t come back. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn makes that painfully clear, but in doing so, offers one of the deepest and most intense grid-based strategy titles.
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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

Publisher: RedOctane
Genre: Rhythm
MSRP: $89.99
Why Guitar Hero III for the Wii? Because Wii owners who have been disappointed with all the ‘kiddy’ games need a riffin’ title like this in their library. And did I mention this was Guitar Hero?
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When the Playstation Portable first arrived on the scene, its library was full of titles that were just ports from PS2 titles, ports that were solid but weren’t original. That scene has changed this year, and with the arrival of the PSP Slim, there has been no better time to celebrate the tiny black box.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Publisher: D3
Genre: Puzzle
MSRP: $19.99
When Bejeweled became a success on the interwebs, no one thought it would entice hardcore players. Then Puzzle Quest proved them wrong.
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Silent Hill: Origins

Publisher: Konami
Genre: Adventure
MSRP: $29.99
I don’t know where Silent Hill comes from. I just know I don’t want to be there. But then I would pass up one of the scariest and most detailed titles on the handheld. *grumble, grumble* Woe is me.
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Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions

Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $39.99
Many point at Final Fantasy Tactics on the original Playstation as a landmark in game history. But whether you hold that opinion or not, The War of the Lions is a fantastic, pint-sized re-imagination of the series we have grown to love.
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Jeanne D’Arc

Publisher: SCEA
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $29.99
Bladestorm. The Shins’ "Phantom Limb". Jeanne D’Arc. There has been a fascination with Joan of Arc recently, and we’re not sure why. But hey, we’re all for girls who follow the voice of God and kill people.
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Worms: Open Warfare 2

Publisher: THQ
Genre: Strategy
MSRP: $29.99

If the Worms series teaches us anything, violence is okay when cute creepy crawlies are doing it. So let Open Warfare 2 remind you of this very important  lesson with itsy-bitsy dynamite.

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Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness

Publisher: NIS America
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $39.99

One of the few great, enhanced ports this year from the PS2, Afternoon of Darkness expands on the kookiness and deep strategy of the original. The new Etna mode, where one of the main characters dies right at the beginning, adds a new dimension to the already nerd-tastic title. And how can you say no to more killer penguin "Prinnies"?

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The Nintendo DS still dominates the handheld market after a year, and many developers have finally figured how to make the stylus work without having players poke through the screen. Like the Wii, the DS is associated with kid-friendly titles, some that sell eye-rollingly well: High School Musical: Makin’ The Cut, anyone? Though every recommendation here has an E-rating slapped on it, they fortunately don’t slack on sophisticated gamepaly and, above all, fun.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure
MSRP: $39.99

Link almost always reinvents classic themes, and Phantom Hourglass follows through. It’s clever, well-produced, and smooth. Using only the stylus, it cements the interface for the Nintendo DS as much, much more than a gimmick.

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Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings

Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $39.99

Like Final Fantasy XII but don’t like gambits? You know, automated functions for computer bots in a franchise that’s always been about turn-based strategy. Wah? Well, you’re in luck. Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings follows the adventures of Vaan, now a full-time sky pirate, in full real-time strategy. Make Revenant Wings part of your fantasy soon.

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Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Publisher: D3
Genre: RPG
MSRP: $29.99

Who knew putting skulls in a line could kill a three-hundred-pound minotaur? Puzzle Quest turns the usual gem-swapping mechanic into a full-fledged adventure that will please both casual and hardcore audiences. 

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Brain Age 2

Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Edutainment
MSRP: $19.99

You know your brain needs more training. Where are your keys? Where did you park your car? What’s your girlfriend’s name? These things are important, right? RIght? But really, come on, even your mom likes Brain Age.

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Worms: Open Warfare 2

Publisher: THQ
Genre: Strategy
MSRP: $29.99

*squiggle, squiggle*

*look around*

*squiggle, squiggle*

*locate enemy worm*

*squiggle, squiggle*

*take out bazooka*

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Lunar Knights

Publisher: Konami
Genre: Action
MSRP: $29.99

Intergalactic vampires are a threat. Even David Boreanaz agrees. Using the power of the sun and moon, you shall cleanse the Earth of its infectious demons – and for once, the anime cut-scenes are actually good!

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Something old, something new, these knick-knacks are perfect to hang over the fireplace. Much better than hand-me-down sweaters and meltable candy canes.

Gamefly Subscription

MSRP: Varies
Let us expand on the wisdom of not paying the MSRP for a video game, ever. This can be done with a little help from Gamefly. Functioning just like Netflix, this service lets you play all the games you want, without pawning your girlfriend’s jewelry or donating blood until you shrivel up and die. You have nothing to lose, except the games themselves.

Hook me up, GR!

 

Xbox Live Marketplace Points

MSRP: 1600 for $19.99

Xbox Live isn’t just how you play online anymore. While the service isn’t as robust as On Demand cable, it’s been active for over a year, and remember, Microsoft has more money than God. Not to mention all the demos, arcade games and other random things a person can buy on Xbox Live. Horse armor! And hey, the new Street Fighter HD Remix will soon be out.

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Wii Points Card

MSRP: 2000 Pts. for $19.99

Same basic idea as the Live Marketplace Points, except their conversion actually makes sense (100 Wii points = 1 dollar), and instead of spending them on episodes of Jericho, you can buy classic NES, SNES, N64, Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 games through Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, including the original Legend of Zelda, Altered Beast, Bonk’s Adventure, Gunstar Heroes, F-Zero and Mario 64, for between 500 to 1200 points. Clap if you like VC!

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Blow Me Old School Cartridge T-Shirt

MSRP: $12.95

Fashionable and direct… what’s not to like? This T-shirt screams with personality and manliness, and only the women who understand the joke will be those you want to date. I mean, It filters the dating pool for you!

Just make sure that you’ve got lots of dust in there. You know, leave a lot of repair work. It might need to be fixed twice… or more if you insert your cartridges right.

Dress me up!

 

Chocobo Plush

MSRP: $19.99

We’re not Square Enix fanatics, though they usually come out with great titles every now and then. Still, nothing says "Christmas gift for a girlfriend" but an oversized chicken in a Santa’s Helper outfit.

Why? Because even she doesn’t understand why you’re such a geek, she’ll say "awwwww…. cute". And on the off-chance that she does know what a Chocobo is, the awww-OMG-sooo-coooot-*hug plush*-*snuggle* reaction is worth it.

Where can I get that?

 

Pac-Man Plush Cap

MSRP: $29.99

*wakka, wakka, wakka*

It may not be the most sensible gift, but come on!

*wakka, wakka, wakka*

Where to gobble?!

 

Nyko Charging Station

MSRP: $39.99

Hate having to replace those darn coppertops? Of course, GR has ninja gerbils who continually generate power for our batteries. But in case they ever die, we have a Nyko Charging Station as a backup. With hardly any set-up, the station will charge up to two Wii-motes while you’re snoozin’. You may even want to buy two of them just for parties.

Charge me.

 

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