Good news for those tight on cash or with aging PCs: Many video game retailers still devote a section of their store to "bargain bin" games, those slightly older, undersold or overstocked titles.
"RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe" is fun, accessible and ideal for the whole family.
While some of these games are in the discounted bin because they were commercial or critical failures, every now and again you can find a real gem when poking through the pile. What's more, those games work well on a wide range of computers because they don't require the latest video cards, processors or other hardware.
Here's a look at some recommended titles from game stores, such as Electronics Boutique and Game Stop, as well as Walmart.com. Prices might vary slightly, depending on the retailer.
Also, be sure to download and install software updates ("patches") from the games' Web sites, because some of the games might be a few years old and probably have been updated to take advantage of newer systems' capabilities:
'RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe'
Perfect for kids and kids at heart, this amusement park simulation and roller coaster construction set includes the original hit game, "RollerCoaster Tycoon," and its expansion packs, "Corkscrew Follies" and "Loopy Landscapes." The game challenges you to design, build and maintain the ultimate theme park with hundreds of rides, other attractions and concession stands, and many selectable themes that range from medieval to Martian.
The goal is to keep your guests and employees happy, and of course, turn a handsome profit. Unfortunately, you can't ride your creations from a first-person perspective but it's still fun, accessible and ideal for the whole family.
'The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth'
Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's celebrated fantasy universe, this intense real-time strategy game lets you take control over all the major battles. You can control each of the four sides to the conflict -- Isengard, Mordor, Rohan and Gondor -- all inspired by the epic scenes in the three blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Game play involves building a base camp, gathering resources, amassing huge armies and setting out on the map to face off against enemies. This gorgeous 3-D game features 25 missions, free online multiplayer play and familiar music and actor voices from the award-winning films.
'Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure'
In this urban adventure, you play as Trane, an up-and-coming graffiti artist in a New York City-like metropolis. Gain respect and recognition by spray-painting ("tagging") skyscrapers and billboards while evading the authorities, rival crews and street thugs; the more vertical you can climb to wield your aerosol can, the greater your reputation grows.
Conceived by fashion mogul Marc Ecko, this entertaining "sandbox"-style game (do anything, go anywhere) features multiple mission types and minichallenges, a fresh soundtrack and celebrity voice talent from the likes of Sean Combs and Adam West.
'Desperate Housewives: The Game'
Become the newest "desperate housewife" on Wisteria Lane in this interactive version of the hit ABC television show. "Desperate Housewives: The Game" lets you interact with many of the naughty neighbors you've grown to love (or loathe) -- such as Gabrielle, Bree, Lynette, Susan and Edie -- but you're also challenged to solve a dark mystery.
Sure you can customize your appearance, decorate your house (a la The Sims) and play minigames that range from cooking to poker, but as fans of the show would expect, this computer game is also loaded with gossip, betrayal, murder and sex. E-mail to a friend
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