LOS ANGELES - Parents looking to stuff their kids' stockings with video games this year can look to a time-warping cat, a famous boy wizard and a kleptomaniac raccoon for wholesome digital game play.
"Blinx: The Time Sweeper," is billed as the Microsoft's Xbox console's first "4-D action game" because the feline hero can warp forward and backward through the fourth dimension - time - and assist his past-self in saving the universe from disaster.
Electronic Arts has created a spin-off adventure game from the upcoming film "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," featuring J.K. Rowling's boy hero as he battles gnomes and monsters while searching the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for an evil entity.
"Chamber of Secrets" is available on Nintendo's GameCube and handheld GameBoy Advance, Sony's PlayStation2 and PC formats.
Another popular movie spin-off, Activision's "Spider-Man," features the costumes, scenes and characters from the hit summer film and is available on PlayStation2, Xbox, PC systems and GameBoy Advance.
Squaresoft's Playstation2 exclusive "Kingdom Hearts" combines "Final Fantasy"-style heroes teaming with Donald Duck and Goofy on adventures through various animated Disney movies such as "Peter Pan" and "Aladdin."
Cartoon graphics fill the PlayStation2 exclusive "Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus," in which a racoon burglar gathers precious coins and attempts to retrieve an ancient document that gives his family the power to sneak, snatch and flee.
For PC systems, Infogrames has the theme-park simulator "Rollercoaster Tycoon 2," which combines business, engineering, physics and entertainment in a "SimCity" format as players design amusement parks.
For the preschool set, Infogrames also has the "Backyard Football" sports game, with simple play selection and cartoony, little-boy versions of pro sports figures Brett Favre, Terrell Davis and Jeff Garcia.
Also for little ones is EA's "Ty the Tasmanian Tiger," in which a Bermuda shorts-wearing critter frees captive animals by wielding a mean boomerang and consulting a bespectacled koala bear. The title is available on GameCube, PlayStation2 and Xbox.