Under $20: 5 Family-Friendly Bargain Video Games

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Remember when the most violent game of the year was Mortal Kombat? Yeah, it's practically a hug-fest compared to today's biggest video game titles. For parents looking for an affordable gaming night, the place to check is the bargain bin where titles can be found cheaper than the price of a new board game or even a Blu-Ray movie, but still deliver the fun for kids and parents alike...

Here's five games currently priced at $20 or less that still offer high entertainment value:

1. LEGO Batman ($12.95 - $14.50)

If playing with LEGO is awesome, playing as a LEGO character is freaking awesome! And it's not just the brick building nostalgia that wins big points for most gamers. The LEGO video game's mechanics are solid, with top-notch narrative, and some fun cross-licensed characters like the superheroes above.

2. Kirby's Epic Yarn ($15.04)

Remember Kirby? That cute little puffy pink inhalation machine from the 90's? Well, Kirby returned to the Nintendo Wii in 2010 with a spool of yarn and a blue buddy. This two player game is honestly my favorite game for the Nintendo Wii, because the play is addictive, the mechanics are easy to learn, and the story is charming.

3. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box ($13.99)

Professor Layton is great for kids, grandparents, parents and teenagers. The puzzle adventures are only available on Nintendo DS, but there's no better way to spend a long road trip than with Layton and his clues.

4. Plants vs. Zombies ($9.99 - $15.25)

I personally think zombie games, movies, TV shows, comic books and really the whole zombie thing is totally overdone. But if there's room left for even an ounce of zombie anything, then Plants vs. Zombies is probably it. There are five game modes, which all revolve around different types of puzzles or mini-games where players place plants try to stop a zombie invasion. It's all very simple, yet undeniably fun.

5. Last Year's Big Sports Game 

Don't want to spend $60+ for NBA 2K13, but still want to play a little 2-on-2 with the kids? The major sports titles are always at least 40% to 50% cheaper when it's one year out, but most of the players will be the same (perhaps with a few trades being made between one year to the next), and the changes in play from the previous year are usually minimal...more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. For example, NBA 2K12 for Playstation 3 costs an extremely budget-friendly $23.15, and $21.99 for the Nintendo Wii.

(Photo Credits: Titles listed above)

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Liz is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen, a documentary short about the physics in the comic book movie. She’s a tech obsessive, verified nerd and total Anglophile.