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The buys of summer

Batman: Arkham Knight (screen shot). Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Batman: Arkham Knight (screen shot). Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Pac-Man T-shirts line the shelves of Target and Wal-Mart, retro gaming conventions are popping up all over the country and the latest Adam Sandler vehicle, Pixels (July 24), is about aliens invading Earth in the form of classic video games.

Despite the increasing interest in early electronic entertainment, the video game industry is still driven by the hot new releases for the current consoles, including the PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U and Xbox One.

Here are 10 such titles. Some you can play now, others are scheduled to hit stores this summer.

Available now

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition

Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo, $39.99

ESRB rating: Everyone

If you enjoy match-three puzzlers like Candy Crush and Bejeweled but crave something with more depth, this combo pack is for you. In both Puzzle & Dragons Z, which is a battle against the evil group Paragon, and the Super Mario Bros. Edition, where you must rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, players use the 3DS stylus to drag and match orbs on the bottom screen to battle enemies depicted on the top screen. By chaining together combos, you can dish out more damage.

Unlike most games of this type, these twin titles are infused with role-playing game (RPG) elements, such as world building, team customization and characters that gain powerful new skills and evolve into more advanced forms.

Splatoon

Nintendo Wii U

Publisher: Nintendo, $59.99

ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

In this colorful, cartoonish and inventive third-person shooter, you control an Inkling who shoots colored ink all over the game’s various environments. The objective is to cover more territory with your color of ink than your opponent does with his or her color. Up to eight gamers can compete online in four-on-four, squad-based matches, but there’s also a single-player campaign mode in which you solve puzzles, jump on platforms and battle enemies (called “Octarians”) while trying to reach the end of each level.

Weapons your Inkling wields include a gun, a sniper rifle, a giant paintbrush, a giant paint roller and an ink tornado launcher, among others. By transforming into a squid, the Inkling can hide from enemies, swim through your color of ink and go through grates and up walls.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: WB Games, $59.99

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

The third game in the series after The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an action-oriented role-playing game with lots of magical spells. The disc adds a number of new features to the formula, including a revamped fighting system, combat on horseback and at sea, and the ability for the protagonist — a monster hunter called Geralt of Rivia — to wield a crossbow, jump and climb, and use an intuitive ability called “witcher-sense.”

Wild Hunt is 30 times larger than the previous games and takes approximately 100 hours to complete, a perfect indoor remedy to those lazy summer afternoons when it’s simply too hot to do anything outside.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

New Nintendo 3DS

Publisher: Nintendo, $39.99

ESRB rating: Teen

If you own a Nintendo 3DS but have yet to upgrade to a shiny New Nintendo 3DS, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, the first game that is exclusive to the system, may just push you over the edge. It’s a near-perfect port of the spectacular Nintendo Wii JRPG (Japanese role-playing game), enhanced with 3-D graphics and portability (but lacking the Japanese language option).

Since the game lets you save virtually anywhere, and since the item-fetching, creature-battling, command-giving action is fun in short (the bus to work) or long (the car to grandma’s house) stretches, it’s perfect for gaming on the go.

Coming soon

Lego Jurassic World

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, $29.99-$59.99

ESRB rating: Everyone 10+

Release date: June 12

If you played through Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, you might remember the Tyrannosaurus during the end credits scene. That was a teaser for Lego Jurassic World, which lets players relive key moments from all four “Jurassic Park” movies, including, of course, the highly anticipated Jurassic World.

Gameplay is similar to previous Lego titles (piece together various items, solve comical puzzles, engage in lighthearted battles), with the added attraction of rampaging through the various environments as a dinosaur. There are more than 20 dinosaurs from which to choose, and you can create original designs by collecting Lego amber and experimenting with DNA.

Batman: Arkham Knight

PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, $59.99

ESRB rating: Mature 17+

Release date: June 23

The acclaimed “Arkham” series continues with Batman: Arkham Knight, in which the Scarecrow has gathered a group of super-villains, including the Penguin, Two-Face and Harley Quinn, to destroy the Caped Crusader. In addition to the trademark combat, puzzle, stealth and gadget-using action, the game introduces a welcome new element to the franchise: the Batmobile.

The high octane vehicle, which features a unique design specific to the game, is drivable throughout Gotham City, letting the Dark Knight Detective engage in high-speed chases as well as military grade battles.

The game also introduces Harley Quinn (via DLC story pack) as a playable character. Wielding a baseball bat, she bashes her way through Blüdhaven to rescue her pal Poison Ivy.

Ride

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher: Bandai Namco, $49.99-$59.99

ESRB rating: Everyone

Release date: June 23

Despite its boring, nondescript title, Ride is a slick, photorealistic, feature-rich racer. Gamers travel around the world on a wide variety of tracks perched atop a wide variety of motorcycles, including models from such manufacturers as Triumph, Ducati, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Bimota.

Selecting from an abundance of parts, components and accessories, you can customize your sweet ride and take on bikers across the nation and beyond in an assortment of online multi-player modes.

Riding is much more than simply pushing buttons to steer and go faster — you control many of the elements of real motorcycle racing, such as tucking in on high speeds, pressing each brake individually and leaning forward and backward. F1 2014 fans should enjoy Ride.

Legend of Kay Anniversary

PlayStation 4, Wii U

Publisher: Nordic Games, $24.99-$29.99

ESRB rating: Everything 10+

Release date: June 30

Want a budget title that’s entertaining and safe for kids (and adults) to play? Look no further than Legend of Kay Anniversary, a cute and cartoonlike, but action-packed platformer. Released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Legend of Kay for the PlayStation 2, the game has better graphics and sounds, and you can compare your scores with those of gamers around the world via online rankings.

Players control an anthropomorphized, attitudinal cat who uses his claws, a hammer, a sword and ancient ninja skills to battle such sentient beasts as gorillas, lizards and rats. Pop-culture references and allusions to classic martial arts films add to the fun, as do such mini-games as wild boar racing, dragon flying and wolf riding.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

PlayStation 4, Xbox 360

Publisher: EA Sports, $59.99

ESRB rating: Everyone

Release date: July 14

The first game in EA Sports’ “PGA Tour” series since 1998 to not feature Tiger Woods in the name, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour features the current No. 1 golfer in the world, fresh off his wins at the 2014 Open Championship and the 2014 PGA Championship. The Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo replace Jim Nantz and David Feherty as commentators.

More important is golfing itself, which utilizes the Frostbite 3 engine allowing courses to be rendered all at once instead of on a hole-by-hole basis. This means virtually no load times between holes. According to the publisher, the Frostbite 3 engine also gives the game “complex, lifelike environments” and spectacular re-creations of some of the world’s most beautiful courses, along with unique fantasy environments.

Three different swing mechanics and fully customizable gameplay styles add to the fun and strategy.

Madden NFL 16

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Publisher: EA Sports, $59.99

ESRB rating: Everyone

Release date: Aug. 25

In the waning days of August, what better way to prepare for the fall football season than to grab a copy of the latest “Madden” game? The series, which made its debut in 1988, is more detailed than ever, promising players such new features as touch and roll out passes, receiver/defender controls and a risk/reward catch and pass defend system.

You’ll have to wait a couple of months to see exactly what all this does to affect the nuts-and-bolts, gridiron gameplay, but in the meantime you’ve probably got at least one of the other “Maddens” lying around somewhere to keep you busy.

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