The "Rock Band 2" bundle ($190) is available now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PS2, but the Wii version won't be available until after Christmas (Dec. 30). The good news is that if your gift recipients already have the original "Rock Band" bundle, you can give just the game ($50-$60; PS2 and Wii versions coming Dec. 16) and they can use the old instruments to play.
Nintendo's flagship console also has a new exclusive title in the genre: "Wii Music" ($50). By manipulating the Wii's motion-activated controllers in different ways, users can "play" more than 60 musical instruments and even record and mix their results. Is it really a game? Not so much, but it can quickly enliven a roomful of spectators.
Another flagship series -- this one in the singing-only subgenre -- has returned with "Karaoke Revolution Presents American Idol Encore 2" ($50 for 360, PS3 and Wii), with many songs made popular by the hit TV show. But PlayStation owners have many more karaoke choices thanks to several new releases in Sony's engaging rival series: "SingStar, Vol. 2" ($60 for PS3), "SingStar Legends" and "SingStar Country" ($30 each for PS2) and, capitalizing on the "Mamma Mia" craze, "SingStar Abba," coming Dec. 2 ($30-$40 for PS2 and PS3).
For tweens, the most popular karaoke choice might be "Disney Sing It" ($40-$60 for all home consoles), which features songs from Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, "Camp Rock" and "High School Musical." Disney also has a casual version of the rock-band games for the Wii that uses virtual instruments, "Ultimate Band" ($50), with a companion DS version ($30) that can join in wirelessly.