I've been saving $1 and $5 bills since January and now have enough of a kitty (around $500) to treat my kids to new gaming stuff for Christmas. I've narrowed it down to either

  • Xbox 360 250gb with Kinect, plus a game or two
  • 3DS's (probably XL) for each of them, plus a game or two

Any advice or input on which might be better for two boys ages 9 and 7?

We already have a Wii and they each already have their own DSi consoles, one of which is having serious system-wide issues. I'm looking into sending it in to Nintendo for repair, but I'm not sure yet. They've been begging me for 3DS's since the 3DS's came out (the exclusive Mario stuff is a big draw for them), and they're also asking for a Wii U but I'm not interested in that. (I mean, wouldn't having a second screen split your focus rather than enhance a game experience? Anyway.)

They haven't asked for the Xbox at all but I'm considering it partly because my oldest really wants Minecraft and my youngest played something called Castle Crashers on an Xbox at his buddy's house and loved it.

But I don't quite know what the deal is with this Xbox Live thing I've read about. Is that a monthly subscription? Do you play online with others or is it something you can keep private? Is it required for some games (looks like it might be for Castle Crashers)?

I can't afford to get both systems, and even if I could I wouldn't. I really want to decide on just one. Any advice and/or input would be most welcome since I'm really out of my element here (I knew more about the Atari and ColecoVision than I currently do about game systems today)!

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for anything you can offer.