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Top-rated video games for kids

Video systems like Nintendo’s GameCube, Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, and the games that are played on them, are in high demand during the holiday season. Consumer specialist and “Today” contributor Herb Weisbaum shares a look at the video titles that were favored by gamers in “Today’s Toy Test 2003.”
/ Source: TODAY


There’s no doubt about it — this year’s crop of video games is better than ever — but that doesn’t mean every new title is a winner. We’ve found that video game players are pretty tough critics. We conducted our video game test back in August, at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. We set up a one-of-a-kind arcade and filled it with the latest games for the Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation. There were 89 new games in all; some so new, they weren’t on the market yet.

For two weeks, kids (young and old) and their parents got to test drive sports games, racing games, and fighting games. Some were a bit violent, but we didn’t allow anything rated higher than teen.

After two full weeks of testing, when all the kids were gone and all the machines were turned off, we had collected nearly 12,000 ratings. We took all those numbers and ran them through a computer to find out which games had scored the highest.



This year’s runaway favorite, the Xbox version of Soulcalibur II, is an action-packed fighting game. Basically, they took a number of familiar characters from a bunch of different games and have them fight each other. You choose the fighters, you find the weapons; 200 different weapons in all.

We also tested Soulcalibur II on the GameCube where it rated almost as well, coming in at number three overall. It’s a hot title, with a Teen rating for violence and suggestive themes.



At number two is Sonic Heroes. Remember Sonic the Hedgehog? SEGA’s legendary mascot is back and better than ever. Just like before, Sonic and his friends battle the forces of evil. But now you control three characters — Sonic, Knuckles and Tails — all at the same time!

We tested Sonic Heroes on the Xbox, but it’s also available for the other platforms. It’s rated E for everyone.



Tied at number two is the top-rated GameCube title, Nintendo’s Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Once again Mario and friends are making a mad dash to the finish line. This time the action is faster, the competition is more frantic. It’s pure chaos! The great thing about this game is it appeals to all ages. Teenagers and parents loved it just as much as the younger kids. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is a GameCube exclusive, rated E for everyone.



Coming in at number four are a bunch of new games for the Sony EyeToy, a new accessory that takes game play to the next level. The Eye Toy uses a special digital camera, with motion-tracking technology to make the player the star of the game. For instance, there’s a game called “Wishy Washy” where you score points by cleaning as many dirty windows as you can before the time runs out. You do it by just waving your hands. The EyeToy camera sells for around $50 and it plugs into any PS2 machine. It comes with 12 mini games — all rated E for everyone.

Consumer expert and “Today” contributor Herb Weisbaum has been helping people across the country for over 25 years. His award-winning reports have exposed everything from quack medications to bogus investments. Since 1990, his Toy Test has helped millions of parents and grandparents select the bets toys for their kids. To learn more about Herb Weisbaum and his latest consumer reports, you can visit his Web site at: The ConsumerMan Show: