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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids on the Nintendo Switch.

Minecraft

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One

Minecraft is one of the best selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kid’s hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Super Mario Odyssey

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Odyssey is a great Mario game that just about anyone can play and enjoy. In this edition, you can throw your hat at enemies to take control of them and you take over their bodies to use their powers. There is plenty of content here and collecting all 999 power moons is a challenge that does not get old. This is a must-buy for all Nintendo Switch owners

Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Racing
  • Exclusive

The Mario Kart series has slowly grown to be the biggest game in their stable of exclusives. Ever iteration is met with thunderous excitement and delivers fun that the entire family can enjoy! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of the very best that the franchise has to offer.

Every track is masterfully created (or recreated) and the music is jazzy and fun in all the right ways! Not only that, but the deluxe version includes the DLC that introduced Link and Isabelle to Mario Kart and made the case for the next game to just be called, “Nintendo Kart.”

This is the first game I recommend to families who buy the Nintendo Switch. It is an absolute must own.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Exclusive

Long time EFG fans will know that this is one of my favorite games of all time and that means that the games above it have to be pretty significant in order to leave Breath of the Wild in the 4th spot. That isn’t to say that this isn’t one of, if not THE, best video games Nintendo has ever made though.

Breath of the Wild was our game of the year in 2017 and it faced stiff competition from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

It earned its place because it took the Legend of Zelda franchise in a bold new direction by eschewing the linear path of item collection and temple dungeon completion in favor of an open world that could be tackled in any order. Open world games are by no means new, but this was a welcome addition to Zelda and I can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Captain toad Treasure tracker is a simple puzzle game that can be challenging but is very accessible. This was originally a minigame in Super Mario 3D World that was so in-depth they made it into a full game. We love spending time solving these puzzles.

It’s a top-down puzzle platformer without a jump button. Your goal is to get to the star usually at the top of the level, so you have to figure out how to get to the top. Definitely a fun time for all Puzzle game fans.

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Fighting Game
  • Exclusive

The phrase, “Let’s settle it in Smash!” is very common in our house, and I can’t imagine that it is uncommon elsewhere.

The Super Smash Bros. series has been around since the Nintendo 64 era and it continually grows in scope and in popularity. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to his name and its fan base is huge as it is the best selling fighting game of all time. There are obviously members of the Super Smash Bros. community that prefer earlier games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. But, as far as we’re concerned it is the best game in the series.

It’s often difficult to recommend fighting games to anything other than fighting game fans. Smash is the exception I can recommend this game to anyone that owns a Nintendo switch and feels comfortable that they will enjoy it.

Super Mario Maker 2

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platformer +
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario levels using art styles and mechanics from across the history of Nintendo. It has a well-made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player-made content by individual creators or select an endless mode that selects levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Role-Playing
  • Exclusive

Pokemon Sword and Shield are great Pokemon games and are great RPGs. With a team of six Pokemon, you will travel the Galar Region on your quest to become the champion. Though the campaign is short the post-game content is enough to last hundreds of hours. You can catch all the Pokemon, make a competitive team, and participate in online tournaments, or you can battle your friends. 

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is one of the best 2d platformers available on the Nintendo Switch. This is actually a rerelease of the original game that was available on the Wii U. It has been polished, and a new gameplay mode featuring Funky Kong has been added to help make the game more accessible to newer/younger players. Funky Kong moves through levels on his surfboard so he doesn’t take damage from spikes and can hover while he comes down from jumps. 

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

The 2.5D side-scrolling port of the Wii U original has been updated for HD and includes all the original maps and the New Super Luigi U DLC.  Nintendo has also included a new playable character, Toadette, for the Switch version. This is a hidden gem because so few people bought a Wii U that the original game went unnoticed to all but the most hardcore of fans. It is definitely worth a look.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Simulation
  • Exclusive

Animal Crossing New Horizons is a life sim game where you move to a deserted island with a group of animals. The goal is to spend time on your island making it beautiful, befriending other animals on the island, and earning money (bells). The available tasks change with the seasons, but there is always something to do. This is a must-have for Switch owners looking a relaxing game.

Adventure Pals

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Adventure Pals from Armor Games is an absurd jaunt through a bizarre world where almost nothing makes sense. Turtles can do backflips. Whales complain about “hashtag body shaming.” The hero’s best friend, Sparkles the giraffe, can use his tongue like a propeller to slow their collective fall. The villain wants to turn everyone into hot dog monsters. Every single one of those sentences is true. And here’s one more: This game is just as fun as it is ridiculous.

Shovel Knight Treasure Trove

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Wii U, 3DS

This wily Kickstarter from 2013 is still alive and kicking. Shovel Knight does an amazing job of taking all of the things that we love about old school platformers like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and even Castlevania and smashing them together into a wonderful, cohesive whole.

Shovel Knight is a fun protagonist whose adventures are silly more often than not, but packs some serious challenge. The other games in the treasure trove are all wonderful and feature different knights from the first game in their own wild adventures; each with their own mechanics and stories.

It’s hard to find a better value than Shovel Knight Treasure Trove and it is easy to recommend it to anyone, especially folks looking for an old school challenge!

Super Mario Party

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Party Game
  • Exclusive

The most recent update to the Mario Party franchise brings back to 4-player board game mode that has been so beloved as well as introducing a 2 vs 2 mode with grid based maps.  You can test your skills against the others in your living room as well as see how you stack up against others across the globe in the new Online Marathon feature.  Nintendo has also leveraged the ability to link two Nintendo Switch systems side by side on a table to play arena games or mini baseball.  This is going to be the party game that you want for game night.

Snipperclips

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Snipperclips is a two-player puzzle game where players each take on the role of different shapes. The goal is to overlap parts of each other’s “bodies” and “snip” off the overlapping pieces. This will let you complete challenges like creating a bowl-like shape to carry a ball across a playing field. This is a fully cooperative experience that is unlike anything else that you’ve seen before. 

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating:E
  • Sports game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a track and crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Farming Simulator / RPG
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mobile
Click the picture to purchase on the online Switch Store.

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits a relative’s run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Tetris 99

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Tetris is an all time classic, but Tetris 99 surprised us by adding in a HECTIC battle royale mode. You play Tetris against 99 other players in a frantic race for survival. 

I have spent hours playing this game and building my Tetris skills. Everything moves at a desperate pace so the games move very quickly as well. Its definitely worth a look. 

Dragon Quest Builders 2

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Dragon Quest Builders series paints itself in a much lighter tone than the Dragon Quest series.  Specifically, Dragon Quest Builders 2 integrates co-op multiplayer that shows promise for both epic exploration, combat, and construction to put it in league with Minecraft in terms of its possibilities. Unlike Minecraft though, the story of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is meant to also serve as a tutorial and narrative focus for its block based construction.  This is in contrast to the much more open world that is traditional Minecraft. The play dynamic will give some structure to keep the sprawling options presented in a meaningful way and keep the more casual fan engaged in the gameplay.

Kirby Star Allies

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Kirby Star allies is a simple platformer that anyone can enjoy. The game is fun to play, and if you want to 100% the game then you will have plenty of things to do, with many hours of play. Plus with the ease of access to local play and with controls that work well with all control schemes, it makes a great multiplayer game for all ages. A must-have for all switch owners.

Sonic Mania Plus

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Sonic Mania is a fast paced action/platformer that brings modern polish to a nostalgic classic. Sonic Mania is features Sega’s iconic Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails (with additional characters in its most recent rerelease) battling their oldest foe Dr. Eggman. 

This game features levels that are blend of remixed classic Sonic from the Sega Genesis Era, and original locations built to make the 12 zones as a whole feel like breaking new ground while keeping it harmonious with the classics. Sound track and Art style are deeply inspired by the 16 bit era, but benefit from complex remixes and smooth flashy animation thanks in part to modern processing power. Controls differ depending on which character you play, everyone has ‘gotta go fast’, but each features different movement options to make each character’s traversal through the levels a distinct experience. 

Sonic Mania has a very robust local multiplayer experience, with available game modes that allow for cooperation and competition. It’s multiplayer only lacks in its ability to be bring all of its fully online. 

Sonic Mania Plus, Sonic Mania’s most recent release, solves some of the imbalances during gameplay by rebalancing boss difficulty and turning Bonus Stage content from a counterintuitive 3D experience to a send up of Sonic Pinball.  The Plus Edition also introduces “Encore Mode”, a new game plus style experience where both art and item placement have been remixed to provide a newer experience. 

Sonic Mania Plus is an EFG Essential for anyone looking for the perfect modern Sonic Experience.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

After Yoshi’s Wooly World, Nintendo has done it again and added a cute aesthetic to a Yoshi’s Island game. This time around the levels look like a child made them out of craft supplies including cardboard, paperclips, paper cups, and tape. While you traverse the levels, there are the typical Yoshi collectibles, hearts, flowers, and red coins. The collectibles are what really make this game a challenge. You can go through the levels, or you can try and collect everything. At certain points during the game, you will need to replay levels to search for certain items in the background and foreground. Each level also has an opposite view where you much search for a Poochy puppy. While the game can be tedious with replaying levels, sometimes multiple times with different objectives, this is a great stepping off point for your young children to play a platformer.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition S

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, PC

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball.  Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essentials is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980’s. That following was earned by creating a game as much storybook as turn/quest based game.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Action Adventure
  • Exclusive

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 and includes a lot more variety in the environments than previous editions because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since it there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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It is no surprise that Nintendo has been very successful with its handheld and console hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. In 3 years, the Nintendo Switch has sold almost sixty million units. That puts it as Nintendo’s 7th best-selling console and 3rd best-selling home console when handhelds are taken out of the equation. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X come out at the end of this year, people are wondering where that leaves the Nintendo Switch. Will it be left in the dust of these better performing, higher operating systems? Or, will it continue to be the juggernaut that it is. Even though we are quite a few years away from the next Nintendo console being released, here are some ideas I want Nintendo to consider for the Switch or whatever the next console will be.

1. It Still Needs to be a Hybrid Between Handheld and Console

            One of the biggest selling points of the Nintendo Switch is that it can be played on a television like any other console, or you can play it as a handheld system. I believe that whatever system Nintendo comes up with in the future must still have this feature. Nintendo’s next console will not be as successful without this feature. I also do not think it will be called the Switch 2. Nintendo has a habit of giving their consoles unique names. The one time they tried to keep the same naming convention for a console (Wii U) it was a complete failure and is the lowest selling Nintendo console of all time.  If Nintendo’s next console does not “switch” between handheld and television play, it will be a huge step back for Nintendo.

2. Better Online Infrastructure

            It is no surprise that Nintendo’s online infrastructure is severely lacking. In even some of the simplest games that do not require a lot of extensive action, Nintendo games will still stutter along and dip in framerates. It does not bode well when EVO, one of the largest game tournaments in the world, cancelled the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournament because it could not reliably run on Nintendo’s online system. If Nintendo wants to compete against these more powerful systems, it needs to be able to take its games online with better quality and not have all of these hurdles that need to be jumped over. The next Nintendo console needs to allow headset to be used through the controller so that you can talk to your friends while you are playing. It should not require the use of a separate app as a means to talk to each other while playing a game.

            Nintendo also needs to not have as many restrictions on their online play. Allow more than one island in Animal Crossing or allow my friends to be able to send more than 3 gifts to me during a day. Also, if my friends and I want to play some Super Smash Brothers online, allow us to put in a couple of computers so we can have a full four-person game going. It was really surprising when Super Mario Maker 2 came out and Nintendo’s original plan involved not being able to play online with your friends. I also do not understand why we still cannot play games like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe online and can only play them locally.

3. Bring Back the Virtual Console

            When the virtual console debuted with the Nintendo Wii, it was a gamechanger for Nintendo consoles at the time. Finally, we would get the chance to play these legacy titles without having to hook up an older system. They were also fairly inexpensive to buy through the Wii’s online store. Most first party games were released through this system and even involved other systems such as the Sega Genesis, Turbografx 16, and Commodore 64. They then proceeded to release the virtual console on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. For some reason, this all stopped with the Nintendo Switch. They do have the NES and SNES Online, but you must have Nintendo Switch Online in order to play these games. You must also be able to connect to an internet connection every 7 days to continue to use them. The virtual console would give Nintendo the chance to sell the games separately without an online subscription. This would be hard to implement on the Switch currently because a lot of companies went and made their own collections of their games.

4. Achievement/Trophy System

Credit: www.playstationlifestyle.net

            It still amazes me that Nintendo has not implemented an achievement or trophy system into any of their consoles. Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam all of trophies or achievements built into their games and I believe that adds a lot of replay value. Most first party Nintendo games will have some sort of achievements already inserted into the game, so why not just add the format into the system as the whole. If a game is a multiplatform game, they already have to come up with trophies and achievements for the other systems and Nintendo already implements them into most of their games, it would not take a lot of work to add them in to whatever Nintendo is planning to do next. I am a huge fan of achievements in games. Whenever the sound or graphic goes across the screen, it gives me the feeling that I accomplished something, and I have to immediately go and check what I achieved.

5. More Perks for Their Online Service

This reasoning coincides perfectly with a better online infrastructure. Currently, you pay $20 to be able to utilize the Nintendo Switch online and their library of NES and SNES games, but it could be so much more. I would love for Nintendo to allow a free game every month like PS Plus or Xbox Games with Gold. The NES and SNES games are great, but I think it overwhelms people when they see how many games there are. If they could tie this in with a possible virtual console so that the developers and publishers get some amount of compensation, it could be a huge success. I doubt that we would ever see Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI on their library of NES and SNES online games. Square Enix may find it more enticing to allow people who join for that month to be able to play the game that is being given away. If Nintendo took the same approach as PlayStation and Xbox, they could easily charge $60 like their competitors. The only problem would be improving their online and adding these perks.

These are just a few of the perks I would like to see added to Nintendo’s next system or even implemented into the Switch’s future. I do not think the Nintendo Switch will struggle with the competition coming out with their more powerful machines. It will continue to be successful due to its portability and unique characters that only Nintendo can bring.


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On the EFG Show (our weekly family gaming talk show on Facebook), Stephen and Jeff are ranking every NES and SNES game available on the Nintendo Switch Online service. They will play a new game each week, talk about it during the show, and determine its place in the overall ranking live!. Join us at 9:00 EST on Engaged Family Gaming’s Facebook page every week to see where your favorite game will end up!

1. Ninja Gaiden

In Ninja Gaiden, you are playing as Ryu Hayabusa through 6 stages and 20 levels as he seeks revenge for the death of his father. At the end of each of stage you will also fight a boss which has a life bar. This game is hard and very unforgiving! You are constantly dodging enemies on the ground and in the air and have to look out for projectiles as well. Ryu can jump and cling to walls to jump to a higher level. When an enemy hits you, there is knockback, which can be frustrating. Ninja Gaiden falls into the realm of NES Hard games, but is beatable if you take the time to practice.

2. Wild Guns

You choose either Clint or Annie to go on a shooting spree against cowboys and robots. Traverse through six different levels with bosses after every pair of levels. Wild Guns plays a lot like an arcade shooter. The controls can be a bit confusing because you cannot control where your gun is shooting and move at the same time. Like any arcade shooter, the point is to try and get as high of a score as possible.

3. City Connection

City Connection is based off of an arcade game by Jaleco that came out in 1985. In the game you control Clarice in a Honda City Hatchback as she travels the world to look for a boyfriend. Your job is to drive over sections of the road from the 12 stages and change the color of the road. While you are driving, you need to avoid the police cars and cats that show up in the road. There are 12 stages, but I could not get past stage 1! This game is difficult! You can make your car jump over gaps in the road, but I could not determine if you could jump from a lower part of the stage to a higher part.

4. Eliminator Boat Duel

In Eliminator Boat Duel, you are controlling the red boat as you race against the green boat. It’s that simple. When you first start the game up you can choose from three different difficulty levels. Each difficulty level pits you against a different racer. Easy mode puts you against Seasick Sidney, normal against Aquarius Rex, and hard against Surfer Bob. Between each set of races you win money that you can use to upgrade your boat. There are supposedly other racers past the original three, but I could not get that far! It’s pretty tough. If you lose three times it is game over so you have to learn quickly! Eliminator boat Duel had the honor of being the first game that Stephen and Jeff played so it will forever be the first number 1 game on the list even though it will likely fall down in the rankings.

5. Pro Wrestling


In Pro Wrestling you choose one of six different professional wrestlers (Fighter Hayabusa, Giant Panther, Kin Corn Karn, King Slender, Starman, and The Amazon). Pro Wrestling was part of the black box group of games as part of the sports series. It does not age well! The moves were hard to pull off and winning a match seemed to be more luck than skill. Both Stephen and Jeff remember playing this game when they were younger and both agreed that it did not age well.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Nintendo released an Indie Showcase video today. It lasted around 20 minutes, but was FULL of great game announcements. I had a lot of fun watching it, but I grew more and more excited with each passing announcement as the number of family friendly games that were announced grew. Take a look below for a list of the highlights (and buckle in, because there were a BUNCH of them).

Baldo – Summer 2020

If you had told me a year ago that I would see a game get announced that combines Legend of Zelda and Studio Ghibli-esque animation I would have told you that you were crazy. Baldo (not to be confused with Balto. That one is about a dog) is an open world action adventure RPG that looks like it will be a wonder to behold. The colors are bright. The action looks sharp. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

B.ARK Bio-Interstellar Ark – Late 2020

B.Ark is pretty much made for us. It is an adorable couch co-op game where you play as adorable animals piloting cute spacecraft while battling aliens.

Play as Barker, a loveable and friendly pug who heals his friends and turns his enemies into frenemies! Or Felicity, a fierce leader who’s cat rage can really boost her firepower. There’s also Walker, the Bear with a protective spirit and Marv, the speedy rabbit that can zip around in his enemies with ease! Choose your fighter’s wisely, as different tactics can help your odds against the evils that await!

https://www.tictocgames.com/

Look at me with a straight face and tell me that doesn’t sound awesome?

Summer in Mara – Spring 2020

I love farming games and Summer in Mara looks like its going to be a great one! It features all of the farming, crafting, and ranching that we have come to expect. But, it also includes underwater exploration, light seafaring, and the ability to explore a large city nearby.

I had seen this game before in Facebook advertisements, but this was the first time I was able to see some of the colorful characters (many of whom are anthropomorphic animals). This one is coming soon and I cannot WAIT to give it a try.

The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire is a 3d adventure game being designed by a small team within Hello Games, the people beyond No Man’s Sky. We don’t know all the details, but after watching this trailer I desperately want to help these little pillow people.

Wingspan

Wingspan, from Stonemaier Games, has been a massive hit in the board game world. Each of its print runs has quickly sold out as soon as it hit North American shores. And now? A digital version of the bird watching engine builder is on the way to the Nintendo Switch. They didn’t give us a release date (or a release window for that matter), but the fact that it was announced is good enough for me. I love that game so I can’t wait to get my hands on it for my Switch!


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Nintendo has done it again. They have iterated on one of their devices and created confusion among parents. We’re going to break down the differences and similarities between the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite. 

The Games

We’ll start with the most significant point. There are no games that are exclusive to either the original Switch or the Switch Lite. You don’t have to scrutinize labels on this one. They all work. 

The Dock

The biggest selling feature for the Nintendo Switch at launch was the docking technology. Each Switch that was sold included a dock that you could use to have the Switch… well… switch from handheld console (like the 3DS) to a home console (like the PS4).

The Nintendo Switch Lite does not include a dock, and, in fact, it can’t be connected to a television at all. It is a handheld only console. That does mean that it is less flexible that the original Switch. 

The Controllers

The original Switch came with a pair of Joy-Con controllers. They can be removed from the sides of the Switch and used as a pair of controllers or combined with a Joy-Con grip into a single controller. 

The Switch Lite is an all in one device. There are no detachable controllers. Instead, they are permanently built into the side of the machine. The Lite is compatible with devices like the Switch Pro controller in the event that you wanted to use them. This is key for games like 1, 2, Switch (a party game). 

Size

The original Switch is a larger device than the Switch Lite. It measures in at 4 inches tall and 9.4 inches long. It also has a 6.2-inch screen. The Lite, on the other hand, is 3.6 inches tall and 8.2 inches long. 

The numbers don’t paint the full picture regarding the size comparison though. The Switch Lite is also significantly lighter.

The Cost

The original Nintendo Switch costs $299.99 and includes a dock, 2 Joy-Cons, and a Joy-Con Grip. 

The Nintendo Switch Life, on the other hand, will set you back $199.99.

Which one should I buy?

This is a tough decision, but it is ultimately going to come down to how you imagine your family using it.

If you don’t think that there will ever be a circumstance where you will want to put the Switch in a dock and play the games on the TV, then the original Switch is likely overkill. There is no reason to spend an additional $100 for a fancy charging dock for your Switch.

However, if you think that the opposite is true, even to a relatively small degree, then you will need to determine if it is worth that additional $100 charge for the ability to use it on the TV.

What do you think? Which would you want to buy? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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So. You have a Nintendo Switch. You’ve got all the important games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart Deluxe, etc. Here are some suggestions for more games to play that won’t break the bank!

Fortnite

(FYI Fortnite is a free to play game which is why I’m including it for  under $20. The above bundle is actually $30 and includes a bunch of different stuff.)

It’s really impossible to talk about inexpensive games on the Nintendo Switch without addressing the fortress sized elephant in the room. Fortnite is free. And it is everywhere. Chances are very good that your kid has been bugging you to play Fortnite for a while if they aren’t playing it already. The Switch is a great place to play it.

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is a farming simulator with a LOT of extras.  There is a dungeon with randomly generated floors full of loot and an abandoned community center that you rebuild through offerings to tiny beings that live there. Fishing is just about the best part of the game with a simple yet challenging minigame. Like many other games in the genre, you can court citizens in town and spend whole seasons looking for a specific item. This is a great game to get lost in and is a steal at $19.99 on the Switch.

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is a side-scrolling action platformer, with many items to find and powers to unlock. This game easily can take 40-50 hours to complete with the expansive map and numerous bosses. You take on the role of a mask-wearing beetle (I’m not entirely sure what he is) wielding a nail to take out the foes that are encroaching your town.

This is a very difficult game, but there is a lot of content here to keep you coming back. Completing challenges is a big part of the draw here and there is a LOT of content to explore.

The Messenger

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with the time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Wizard of Legend

Wizard of Legend is an amazing cooperative combat game. It is also the best Avatar: The Last Airbender game ever made. You play as a wizard who use various elemental spells to travel through mazes and battle monsters. This is a challenging game for sure, but dying is part of the fun!

Might Gunvolt Burst

Mighty Number 9 was a pretty big disappointment. I know our house had high expectations that it would help fill in the gaps that Mega Man’s absence left behind. All was not lost though. Mighty Gunvolt Burst is a crossover game that includes Both Beck from Mighty Number 9, but also the hero from Azure Striker Gunvolt. This is a simple,  inexpensive game that delivers on all of the promises that Mighty Number 9 made.

Picross S / Picross S2

Picross S Link

Picross S2 Link

Picross is a great puzzle game for people who are on the go. It is easy to pick up and learn, but hard to master. Picross S1 is a steal for the price and you can get both S1 and S2 for under $20. If you are a fan of puzzle games I would recommend that you get this game!

Yoku’s Island Express

Link

In Yoku’s Island Express, you play Yoku, a dung beetle and the new postmaster to the island Mokumana. During your platforming journey, you will meet many colorful settings and characters. But there is a catch, unlike most platformers, your main character can’t jump. Instead, you traverse the world using pinball-like paddles to get around. Yoku has a fairly short campaign, clocking in around 6 hours.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Nintendo Switch is wildly popular, and Nintendo is pairing it with an online subscription service similar to both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. Their service, called Nintendo Switch Online, launched in the fall of 2018 and is a great value for families looking to get more out of their Switch experience. 

The Pitch

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

How Does it Work? 

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription based service that can be purchased annually, or in smaller increments. The service needs to be maintained in order to continue the benefits and maintain access to the features. 

The service includes: 

Online Play – Online multiplayer gaming using the Nintendo Switch Online platform

NES and SNES – Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo Switch Online members have access to curated library of more than 60 NES and Super NES classic games. The collection initially only includes NES games, but was updated a year later to include SNES titles. The curated library of games will grow over time. These games also include online competitive/cooperative play with friends. Certain games (like Super Mario Bros.) even include the ability to virtually pass the controller back and forth.

Save Data Cloud – Subscribers can back up their save game data to the cloud. This makes it easier to retrieve their save data if they lose their Switch or start to use a new one. It is worth mentioning that some games aren’t compatible with cloud saving. The most noteworthy examples are Pokemon Sword and Shield and the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Smartphone App – Nintendo has released a smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). It syncs with the subscriber’s Nintendo account and includes some minor enhancements for different Switch games. You can also use it to use voice chat with your Nintendo friends as you play. (Certain games, like Fortnite, circumvent Nintendo’s app and allow voice chat through the game software itself. This isn’t universal though.)

Special Offers – Subscribers will have access to exclusive sales and product offerings. They have included controllers, discount game vouchers, and even an exclusive game (Tetris 99). 

How Much Does it Cost?

Nintendo Switch Online can be purchased annually, quarterly, or monthly. The service also has a 7 day free trial. 

Annual Subscription: $19.99

3 Month Subscription: $7.99

1 Month Subscription: $3.99

Nintendo Switch Online also has a Family Membership option where up to 8 Nintendo Accounts can share an online subscription for $34.99 annually. 

Advice

This service is a great value for families. The cost is relatively low at $20 a year and it includes a wide array of free games to play.

If your kids aren’t interested in the NES/SNES games and only play Fortnite, then this is a service you can likely avoid. Fortnite doesn’t require an active subscription to play.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origins Access

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our Nintendo recommendations for the kids in your life!

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield

The 8th generation of Pokemon is upon us! Pokemon Sword and Shield will be the perfect gifts for the Pokemon fans in your family. These games can easily provide a hundred or more hours of entertainment, and these newer games will likely include even more! Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games released on a home Nintendo console so they look great, but, as always, they are right at home on the go.

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario Levels from across the history of Nintendo, with a well made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player made content by individual creator or in an endless mode that select levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a shot for shot remake of a game (by the same name) that was released on the Game Boy Color in 1993. This version released in September with an adorable new art style and an orchestral soundtrack. This is a perfect gift for Zelda fans that are too young to have played the original AND for those of us looking for a chance to relive our glory days. 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

If your child spent hours arranging all of their Imaginext toys in massive battles, then Fire Emblem is worth a look. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game set in a sword and sorcery themed academy for heroes. (It’s not exactly Hogwarts for Dungeons and Dragons characters, but it’s pretty close.) Battles play out on massive fields where you move your different characters around strategically to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. This is a challenging game, and the characters are teenagers (so they come with the appropriate thematic baggage), but it ends up as a T-rated game. 

Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech

All of the Steamworld games are amazing, but this is easily one of my favorites. Steamworld Quest is a friendly RPG where you control a team of robots during a fantasy/steampunk era.  The combat is card-based. You build a 24 card deck using a card pool determined by which robots are in your party. Every fight turns into a puzzle that is very satisfying to solve. The story is also relatively short so this will be a great game for Holiday break!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

It’s tough to find a kid that doesn’t love Marvel super heroes and Ultimate Alliance 3 has a TON of them. Ultimate Alliance 3 is a celebration of recent Marvel history that has a character just about every kid will enjoy. MUA3 is a paint by numbers action RPG for up to four players. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to in order to be a great gift. 

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Every year I get asked about video game gifts for younger gamers. Yoshi’s Crafted World is this year’s answer to that question. It’s adorable. It’s simple to control. And it’s engaging. This will be a great game to share with the younger siblings/cousins who might not be ready for bigger challenges just yet. 

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo has made fitness games before. Wii Fit (and the Wii Fit Balance board) where huge hits back when they came out. Ring Fit Adventure is their latest attempt to break into that scene on the Nintendo Switch. Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG adventure where you move around the world by running in place, and attack monsters by completing exercises using a specially designed pilates band. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but its good enough to help motivate players to complete a short workout every day. 

Untitled Goose Game

(Honk)… A PC game that charmed the Internet with its simplicity, Untitled Goose Game is best described (without spoilers) as an environmental puzzle game. You are a goose, with the mind of mischief and the talents of a… goose. You have a list of things to do, and no idea how to do them. Our advice is to pick it up on Steam as a gift for the holidays and enjoy the mayhem. 


Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2. This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out now for the Switch and includes a lot more variety in the environments because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Nintendo’s E3 2019 Nintendo Direct was full of fun announcements and surprises! Take a look below for five things that parents need to know!

Animal Crossing: New Horizon Delay

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was unfortunately delayed at the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct.  And while all of us were saddened by this news, we’ve already been waiting 7 years for a new Animal Crossing game, we can wait a few months more.  With its charming design, relaxing atmosphere, and neverending hours of fun, we’ll have plenty to enjoy when it hits the shelves in March 2019.

Two New Smash DLC Characters

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still rolling out the characters in its fighter pass. The first character was Joker, from Persona 5, which made just about any character to ever be a part of a video game possible. Nintendo revealed two characters during their direct: The Hero from Dragon Quest XI, and Banjo-Kazooie!

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Zelda: Breath of the Wild is without a doubt, one of the greatest games ever to come out of Nintendo.  It’s got action, puzzles, story, amazing visuals, and so much more. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t enjoy their time in this version of Hyrule.  So when Nintendo announced that the sequel is in development, jaws around the EFG war room dropped. We all suspected, but now we know its coming. Whenever its ready, we’re bracing for what might be a very different look at Hyrule, and we are 100% OK with that.

Secret of Mana Collection

Let’s see… we’re getting Final Fantasy Adventure (actually part of the “Mana” Series), Secret of Mana, and Trials of Mana, which is actually hitting the US for the first time in history.  Trials was previously known as Seiken Densetsu 3 in Japan, and fans of the “Mana” series have been wanting a US port for a very long time. This collection is available today on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $40.  Additionally, a full 3D remake of Trials of Mana will be coming to Nintendo Switch in 2020. All aboard the Mana Hype Train!

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion 3 was announced for later this year. Nintendo revealed a ton of gameplay details during their Direct. This looks like it is going to be a great game for families to enjoy when it comes out later this year.

Honorable Mention: Dark Crystal Tactics

On the same day that Netflix is releasing “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” prequel TV series, they’re dropping “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics”.  Yep. It’s a Dark Crystal turn-based tactics game, borne out of a partnership between Nintendo, Netflix, and Bonus XP (The developer behind the Stranger Things games).  You’ll be controlling squads of soldiers from the Dark Crystal universe, on a grid based map, and fight using a combination of swords and sorcery. The aesthetic, while simplistic, looks stylized and appropriate for the game.  The animations also look a bit simple, but this was never going to be a graphics powerhouse. If it delivers a sound strategy game, dripping with personality from the world of The Dark Crystal, I think we will all be very happy.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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This week’s episode comes in two parts!

First, Stephen and Teala (She’s back!) talk Nintendo!

Next, Stephen is joined by Chris and Sarah Chipman from the Creating Geeks (show them some love at Patreon.com/TheChippa)

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

This podcast was produced in partnership with SuperParent.com!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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