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Scarecrow presents VIDEO GAME RENTALS

Hello all, Madamecrow here. Yes, it's true: After years of consideration, the gamers on our staff have their wish. Alongside our over 110,000 movies, we also now have a select inventory of video games for rent. For a look at some of titles we now have available, we turn to special games correspondent Samurai Crow: From now on, when Scarecrow staffers recommend rentals like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros., they'll finally be sincere. No longer will video game fans be limited to questionable tie-in movies starring Bob Hoskins, because this week, we're debuting our long-requested game rental section. We're starting with over 70 games for the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. Lucky you, we didn't pile up 70 copies of some junk like "Family Party 30 Great Games Winter Fun" (and yes, that's a real title). We've hand-picked our debut selection so that families and U District diehards alike will find something cool this week. Unfortunately, as the resident nerd-in-hiding, Scarecrow has asked me to pause the staff's Atari 2600, poke my head out of the back room, and help with the launch by typing a blog post. I suppose the high score in E.T. The Videogame will have to wait, but on the bright side, I get to finally babble here about cool video games. Here are a few personal picks out of the many titles hitting our shelves this week. LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 (Wii, 360): Whenever Madamecrow returns her long-awaited copy, * you'll be able to romp around in yet another cute, fun, and simple game in the recent LEGO series. We have other LEGO games on hand, including their takes on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and they share a snarky, oddball sense of humor, along with the ability to have friends jump into the action with ease. Surely, a wave of the Wii remote will cast a spell that combines LEGO pieces into a broom or something. *Madamecrow's Editor's Note: I went ahead and bought it. And if you haven't played LEGO Star Wars yet, get on it. 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (Wii, 360, PS3): Sadly, the game doesn't come with vuvuzela functionality. In better news, EA Sports has spent the past few years refining its take on the virtual pitch, and the result is a smarter, prettier, and more fluid game of footie than anything else in video games. Highly recommended. Also, we thi—BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Alan Wake (360): Horror fans, both in movies and gaming, should be doubly sure not to pass this sleeper game up. Its blatant use of the Pacific Northwest is perhaps too cheeky—yes, we know, Twin Peaks, weird diners, got it—and its campy dialogue and acting aren't self-aware enough to pay off humorously. But the action through eerily lit forests shows off some of the Xbox 360's best wizardry this year, and the plot, pieced together by lost pages of a novel written in the future, has a mighty sweet payoff. As a short game, Alan Wake is an ideal rental. Super Street Fighter IV (360, PS3): Joining the game's cast of legendary fighters in this recent—and stellar—update is an oil wrestler. He douses himself in baby oil and tackles his foes. Only in Japan, I guess. Split/Second (360, PS3), Blur (360, PS3), ModNation Racers (PS3): This summer has been run over by arcade-style racing games. Which is the best? Hrm. ModNation Racers is Sony's customizable take on the classic Mario Kart formula, allowing players to not only race and battle on zany courses but to also design their own characters, karts, and tracks (and share them online for free). Split/Second is the closest gaming may ever get to a Bruckheimer film, as suped-up cars race through cities that, quite literally, fall apart around the track. (For example, you can take out the competition by making a bridge collapse on an opponent's car. Wow.) Blur falls somewhere between those two games, using grown-up cars and Mario Kart-style attacks for a fun, four-player race-a-rama. Picking a favorite would be like singling out a favorite child. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3): Sega used to make classic quest/RPG games like Phantasy Star and Shining Force. Boy, did I love those. After years of sword-and-battle silence, Sega snuck Valkyria Chronicles under gamers' noses last year, and its lack of popularity is a shame—especially since its strategic battle system is one of the coolest things Japanese RPGs have seen in years. Boom Blox Bash Party (Wii): I hate Steven Spielberg, but I love this party game that he helped produce. I suppose that's one way to mend a rift... but if they ever release a version where the "blox" are replaced with walkie talkies, I'm giving up on you, Steve. Demon's Souls (PS3): Do you hate fun? Do you hate yourself? Then rent this. This dungeon crawler, which forces you to kill other real-life players via online play whenever you die, is probably the hardest video game of the past decade. Hundreds of thousands of masochist nerds have made this one of the PS3's most successful games of all time. Weird, huh? Other fun games, which we may or may not mention next week: the new Transformers game (which we've just started tearing through), Just Cause 2 (think Grand Theft Auto with a grappling hook), Red Dead Redemption (think Grand Theft Auto with a lasso), Battlefield Bad Company 2, Punch-Out!!, Monster Hunter Tri, Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Splinter Cell Conviction, 3D Dot Game Heroes, and a ton more. And I'll keep everyone posted about that E.T. The Videogame high score. Thank you, Samurai Crow. You'll find the video game rental shelves just on the other side of the New Release Blu-ray section--just look for the cool sign designed by Marc "Swellzombie" Palm. Rentals are $7 for 4 days and $9.50 for 7 days (prices include tax). See us at the store for details.