Mario’s back

Nintendo 3DS, Mario Kart

But he’s up against an army of competitors

Like a video game’s Easter egg, Gamerama requires a little extra effort to find.

But once inside the midtown shop, the sights and sounds of gamers’ banter is an invitation to join in the debate.

The holidays are coming, and general manager Jeff Eidelman is fielding requests and orders for what’s hot for the season.

Amid his tasks, customers ask for his opinion on what platform is better — Playstation 3 or Xbox 360?

Eidelman shoots from the hip, expressing an outdated DVD system from Microsoft pales to Sony’s Blue Ray.

The kids guffaw.

Eidelman shoots down another teen’s retort, “What about hacking?”

“Please, Microsoft invented the computer virus,” he says, with a smirk.

As the crowd ebbs, he notes the big thing this year is games, not consoles. Those would include first person shooters.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is coming off the best console-selling game ever,” he says. “But Battlefield 3 has them in their sights.“EA is certainly wanting to encroach on Modern Warfare’s turf, so you’ve got a miniscule competition going on with them.

”The previous release was Call of Duty: Black Ops and was available across all platforms. Eidelman is reticent to say he likes the game, only because it almost broke the bank for video game retailers, programmers and producers.

Call of Duty: Black Ops was bought by every single kid last year and it was so bad, and such a good selling game that they didn’t buy anything else for almost eight months,” he says. “That actually brought our industry to its knees because all these kids were sitting at home playing this one game and not buying anything else.”

Beyond no man’s land, there is plenty of action for gamers who seek a little more adventure.

Naughty Dog’s release, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception has scored some of the highest ratings among game critics, including perfect 10s.

“Drake’s Uncharted 3 is coming off one of the best trilogy of any game, ratings wise, of all time,” Eidelman says, adding it’s a Playstation exclusive.The series is about treasure hunter Nathan Drake, who along with his friend Victor (Sully) Sullivan and love interest Elena Fisher, bring down nefarious grave robbers.

BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY, Playstation 3

When it comes to sequels, DC Comics’ Dark Knight, Batman, returns for another round in Arkham City by Rocksteady Studios. This time he takes his fight to the streets of Gotham now annexed as part of Arkham Asylum.

Picking up right from the first story, Batman has to fight an unethical psychologist, Hugo Strange, in an effort to save Arkham inmates. Yes, you have to save criminals. Enter the menagerie of Penguin, Ra’s al Ghul, Two-Face, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Joker, Solomon Grundy and Harley Quinn.

Chalk full of side missions and more cameos than a Ben Stiller film, the game will have players busy long after they finish story mode.

It also features plenty of downloadable content, allowing playability as Catwoman, Robin and Nightwing.

For roleplayers, the big title is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Bethesda Softworks. The story is set 200 years after the previous release Oblivion. Players create their own protagonist and work their way to defeat the Nordic dragon god Alduin.

It’s available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.

With all this talk of swordplay, batarangs and thievery, one would think kid-friendly titles were missing. Not so.

Nintendo’s bringing back two of their biggest characters into the Christmas shopping rush: Link and Mario.

Wii will see The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and 3DS, which has lowered its console price by $100 since August, hopes to hop on the holiday wave with Super Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land.

For those not sure of what to grab the gamer in your life, there’s always money, as second-hand deals are a good way to pick up the game you want for $15-20 cheaper.

“Some people don’t like that because they find it offensive that we’re giving them only $30 for a game they’ve bought for $67,” Eidelman says. “But I am also giving it to you less than when it came out a few days ago.”

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