Guide to video game rentals
Video games are expensive. Even the most basic older games retail for $19.99, and if you're lucky enough to track down a popular title on the used market, you will pay at least the same price, with no guarantee that you will like or use the game in the future. The best option is to look into video game rentals. With rental titles, you can try out a game for a specified period of time at an inexpensive price and see if the game is worth purchasing.
Start by looking at local rental shops in your area instead of the big-name chain stores. They have a smaller selection, but they are usually cheaper, and you may even find rentals for the older consoles. There is a small independently owned video rental store in my neighborhood that still rents out games for the original Xbox and PlayStation, which the big stores stopped carrying years ago.
You can also try renting video games at the big-name companies like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. The stores charge $3.99 to $4.99 per title and allow you to keep the games anywhere from 2 days to 5 days. Most stores allow older titles to be rented for an extended period of time, while the newer games usually have a shorter rental period. The big disadvantage is that newer games tend to rent quickly and rent often, meaning you may have a difficult time finding them. The other disadvantage is that the stores can't carry every title, so they have to guess at what titles will be popular. You may find different video game rentals at different stores, depending on where you live.
The newest way to rent video games is through online companies, and this is gaining in popularity every day. Gamefly is one such option and is currently the biggest company around for renting video games. Gamefly works like the popular Netflix - by sending titles directly to your house. It offers a free 10-day trial and charges a $21.95 monthly fee after the free trial expires. You are allowed to rent two video games at any one time. After you are finished with the game, you return it in the mail, and Gamefly sends you another title from your list. It's an easy way to try out as many games as you want for as long as you want.
RentZero is another online rental company; after a two-week free trial, its plan costs $9.95 a month. Game Lender is a great option for people looking for older games for the Sega Genesis, Dreamcast or Nintendo 64 platforms. These are a few of the more popular online lenders that rent video games, but a quick search of the Internet will reveal dozens of choices.
Video games rentals are a great alternative to spending a lot of money on a game that you or your child will play a few times and then stick back on the shelf. Renting is becoming a lot rarer with companies going out of business, so going to YouTube and checking out Let's Play videos can help decide if you find a game engaging enough to buy or download from the console's marketplace.
Top Video Game Picks
Although trends change, especially among kids and teens, and the most popular video game this week may be all but forgotten next week, there are a few video games that seem to be continuous favorites:
- Pokemon: These "pocket monsters" were created by Nintendo in the mid to late '90s and soon became all the rage, with trading cards, toys, a TV show and many other media. True to its roots, though, the franchise has remained popular as a series of video games.
- Guitar Hero: Much newer to the scene, Guitar Hero was released in North America in 2005. It's designed for the PlayStation 2 video game console, and while it doesn't have quite the media franchise behind it that Pokemon does, it does have a popular group variation called Rock Band.
- Animal Crossing: Another Nintendo release, Animal Crossing (and the Nintendo DS follow-up Animal Crossing: Wild World) is a real-time-observing simulation game in which players, as characters, take up residence in the town and complete tasks in order to increase the size of their house. They also interact with other players via their characters.
- Harvest Moon: Originally released for the Super Nintendo game console, Harvest Moon was released for the Wii Virtual Console in early 2008. A simulation game similar to Animal Crossing, players complete daily farming-related tasks, using their time strategically for the best possible outcome. The idea is to keep the farm operational and its crops and animals healthy.