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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

Nintendo has had an awesome year. The Nintendo Switch is selling like crazy, and they haven’t really released a bad game yet. Take a look below for our recommendations for Nintendo Switch games that will make great gifts!

 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


You can read my review to see exactly what I think about this one at length. I feel, strongly, that Breath of the Wild is the best game that Nintendo has ever made. This is an game that will give your family hundreds of hours of enjoyment. I can’t recommend this game enough.

 

Super Mario Odyssey



New Super Mario games are rare. It isn’t out yet, but I played Super Mario Odyssey at E3 for ten minutes and I was sold afterwards.

The biggest new feature in this 3D Mario adventure is Mario’s hat. Its been possessed by an ghost named Cappy. Cappy gives Mario the ability to capture enemies (and other characters) in the various levels and use their powers to help complete puzzles and locate Power Moons.

Splatoon 2


Splatoon was one of our favorite games last generation. We had our doubts initially, but there was no way that we were letting an shooter that’s appropriate for kids slip past us. I wasn’t sold initially, but I played for an single hour long demo and was sold.

The sequel takes every part of the original formula and improves on it. Its a great gift for kids who are asking for an shooter to play, but just aren’t old enough for other games in the genre.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe


Mario Kart is one of the biggest, and best, franchises in Nintendo history. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is also one of the best games available on the Switch. This game will be a ton of fun for your family so buy with confidence.

Nintendo even added more benefits for families by adding both auto-steering and auto-acceleration options. These two accessibility options make it much easier for younger players (or players with disabilties) to play the game.

Arms



Arms is a super-cool fighting game experience where players battle it out using spring-armed warriors. Most fighting games released to date feature a camera set to the side. Arms is different because the camera sits behind the character like it’s a shooter. It is also a little bit slower since fighters tend to be farther apart. This slower and more methodical pace makes it more accessible for less experienced gamers while still leaving room for players to master it.

Minecraft


I know I sound like a broken record, but Minecraft should be on top of everyone’s shopping list. It may be one of the best selling games of all time, but there are plenty of kids who don’t have it.


Be sure to check out all of our other 2017 Holiday Gift Guides!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The Holidays are a great time for families to get new home consoles. They make great gifts for the whole family and can be responsible for a lot of great memories. Take a look below for our recommendations for home consoles this year.

Nintendo Switch


The Nintendo Switch launched in March of this year and has been a wild success for Nintendo. It is, without question, the best console for families on the market right now and it isn’t close. The console/tablet hybrid has just passed its 6 month anniversary and it is already home a better lineup of family games that either of its main competitors.

The main attraction for the Nintendo Switch is that it serves two purposes. It is both a home console that you can play on the family TV and a handheld console that you can take on the go. This can be a godsend for families that have multiple siblings because you can use it in “tabletop mode” to play multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Edition anywhere!

Looking for some Switch games to give? Heres our list of Switch Games!

Sony PlayStation 4



The PlayStation 4 is another great console option. It doesn’t have the strongest lineup of exclusive games, but it is home to all of the major third party games like Destiny 2. You shouldn’t have any problems finding games to play with your family here. The catalog is already full of great games already and the future is bright since Spider Man will come out next year.

The biggest decision that new PlayStation owners will have to make when shopping for a PS4 is whether to purchase a base model or to spend a little bit extra for a PS4 Pro. The main difference between those two systems is going to be the graphics performance. Both of them will play the same games, but the PS4 Pro will make them look better if your family owns a 4k television.

Looking for some PS4 games to give? Here’s our list of PS4 games for this holiday!

Microsoft Xbox One


2017 has been a challenging year for Xbox fans. The exclusives have been in short supply and several high profile games have been delayed or cancelled.

There is a ray of hope though. The Xbox One X has been announced and it looks like a great console for families looking for a powerful console to help show off their new 4k television.

Looking for some Xbox One games to give? Here’s our list of Xbox One games for this holiday!

Last Generation Consoles



Families that aren’t interested in standing on the bleeding edge of console gaming technology still have plenty of reasons to pick up older consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, and, to a lesser extent, the Wii U. These consoles should be relatively easy to find used from places like GameStop and have huge catalogs of games just waiting to be plucked from bargain bins.

In the worst case scenario a uses Xbox 360 will be a serviceable Minecraft machine for families that want to let their children play, but don’t want them using the family PC or laptop.

3DS Family of Hardware


The Nintendo Switch is the most exciting thing that Nintendo has on the market right now, but the 3DS handheld systems are still useful. They will be great purchases for families that want to introduce gaming to their children, but want something sturdier. The handheld may be entering the sunset of its life, but it has a library with hundreds of games that your children will love.

The only real problem with the 3DS family of systems is that there are so many versions that it can be hard to keep track of them. Fortunately, EFG published a handy guide to help sort all those details! You can read it here.

SNES Classic

The SNES Classic isn’t a traditional console, but it is such a big deal that I had to include it somewhere. It is a bite-sized console that includes twenty of the best games ever made. Its going to be in high demand though, so keep that in mind if you are adding it to your shopping lists.


Thats it for the consoles, but make sure to check out the rest of our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!

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Black Friday 2015 is almost upon us and now is the time to into our war rooms and devise our shopping plans.

I have delved into the flyers for the major video game retailers and highlighted the juiciest deals of the bunch. Take a look below!

Walmart

Sales start Thursday 6pm

NBA2k16, FIFA 16, Madden 16 – $27.00

Uncharted Collection PS4 Bundle – $299.00

3 month Xbox Live Gold – $12.50

3 month PS Plus – $10

PS4 and Xbox One Controller – $39.99

$35 Games – NHL 16,  Forza Motorsports 6, Destiny: The Taken King

$25 Games – Splatoon, Just Dance Disney Party 2016, Just Dance 2016, LEGO Jurassic World, Mario Party 10, Splatoon

$15 Games – MLB: The Show 2015, Minecraft Xbox 360, Rare Replay, Little Big Planet 3

$8 Games – Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers -$37

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers figures and vehicles – $9

LEGO Dimensions  -$79.00

Nintendo Wii U bundle including Splatoon and Smash Wii U – $249

30th Anniversary Mario Color Mario Amiibo – $12.96

 

Target

Sales Start Thursday 6pm

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack -$34.99

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders SuperChargers figures – $11

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack – $79.99

New Nintendo 3DS XL – $179.99

Video Games at $15, $20, $25, and $35

Guitar Hero Live – $59

Rock Band 4 – $199

Best Buy

Sales Start Thursday 5pm

Video Games at $19.99

Sports titles at $29.99

Action Games at $34.99

PS4 and Xbox One bundles $299.99

Guitar Hero Live $69.99 includes a free USB Microphone with purchase

 

Toys “R” Us

Sales start Thursday 5pm

Skylanders Superchargers figures buy 1 get one 80% off

All “R” Super buy games 2 for $25

Anki Overdrive Free Expansion car with Anki Overdrive Starter Kit

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One bundles – $299.99

Nintendo Wii U bundle including Splatoon and Smash Wii U  – $279.99

New Nintendo 3DS XL – $179.99

Xbox Live Gold 3 month Subscription – $14.99

Angry Birds Star Wars for 3DS – $1

Deep discounts on video games of all varieties

GameStop

Closed on Thanksgiving

Sales start Friday at 5am

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Bundles – $299.99

$50 off all new Xbox One bundles

$50 off all new PlayStation 4 bundles

LEGO Jurassic World $29.99

WWE 2K 16 – $49.99 with a free Stone Cold Steve Austin Funk Pop Figure

Rare Replay – $19.99

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare – $14.99

Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack – $34.99

Guitar Hero Live – $69.99

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack – $79.99

Skylanders Superchargers characters and vehicles – $9.99

Buy two get one free pre-owned products

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The holidays are almost upon us and it is time to start looking for gifts. Thankfully EFG is here to help! Take a look below for some great ideas for video game gifts!

Premium Gaming Service Memberships

PS Plus

Xbox Live Gold

EA Access

These services started as novelties for anyone who didn’t play games online, but they are huge value propositions now. This is mainly because Sony, Microsoft, and EA all distribute games through them at no additional cost.

PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are on largely equal footing. They both distribute a slate of free games each month that members can “buy” and play for as long as they are members.

EA Access is a bit different though because the free games included in the serve come in two forms. One being timed demos of their upcoming games. The other being access to the EA Vault which includes older games they have released. This service is getting better and better as time passes and more games are added to it. If you have an Xbox One owner on your list that doesn’t buy a lot of games, but has eclectic taste then this should be something to think about.

Independent Games

Some of the best games released this year didn’t come in a box and you won’t find them on store shelves. These games also tend to be cheaper than full retail releases as well. If you are looking for a smaller gift for the little gamer in your life these can be a great option.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)

This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful games I played all year. You play as, essentially, a tree spirit as you travel around a magic forest helping protect it from evil. The plot sounds as “blah” as you can get, but it was gorgeous, challenging, and memorable.

Rocket League (PS4)

We’re talking about soccer as played by jet powered cars that can fly. What more do I need to sell this one for you?

Runbow (Wii U)

Runbow_Logo_MultiColour_RGB

If you know someone who owns a Wii U and they regularly have friends over to play this is a must own. Runbow is a 9 player platforming game that will challenge every friendship they have in hilarious ways.

Sports titles

Madden 16, FIFA 16, NHL 16

There really isn’t much to say about these games other than the fact that the Madden, FIFA, and NHL games are the premier game experiences for fans of those sports.

NBA 2k16

Unlike the previously mentioned sports games NBA2K16 includes a cinematic story mode that was directed by Spike Lee. This might seem minor, but it adds a lot to the game. The single player mode is a compelling story about the importance of family and friendship in the face of stardom in the NBA. I enjoyed it a lot.

Transformers because…. Transformers

Transformers: Devastation

I said just about everything I could in my review. But, suffice it to say that this is one of the best Transformers games ever and is will be a guaranteed hit for anyone who loves Transformers (past or present).

You Can’t Stop the Music!

Guitar Hero: Live vs Rock Band 4

A lot of people are going to be looking at the music games this year and will be forced to make a choice between Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4 (click the links for reviews of each). Both of them are great games, but Rock Band 4 likely holds the edge if you are buying for someone who regularly plays with friends.

Toys to Life

Skylanders: Superchargers

Unless you have been under a rock, it’s likely that you have heard of Skylanders, the awesome game that brings “toys to life”. The newest installment, Superchargers, brings your favorite skylanders (and some new friends) back with a fleet of drivable vehicles that take to the land, air and sea and bring new life to the franchise. With new levels, new puzzles, new powers and the same old Kaos, Superchargers doesn’t disappoint!

Disney Infinity 3.0

Disney seems to own everything these days and all of that stuff is appearing in their flagship video game: Disney Infinity 3.0. The big focus this year is Star Wars (shocker. I know.) and there are a lot of really cool figures to go along with an interesting game. If your kids LOVE Star Wars then this is a great option.

LEGO Dimensions


What kid doesn’t like to play with LEGOS? I certainly can’t think of one and LEGO Dimensions give these kids the chance to play with their LEGOS inside of a video game. The gameplay is reminiscent of other LEGO games so families who have been playing them will be right at home.

The Nintendo Corner

Splatoon

Splatoon is Nintendo’s family friendly answer to the relentless request for a first person shooter on one of their consoles.  It is an amazingly fun game where you play a squid kid or inkling whose goal is to defeat other players while covering the most turf with ink.   There are many modes of play in this game and it is one of Nintendo’s few games that really integrates usage of the gamepad. This is a family favorite in our house and the variety of play choices have made it so the game does not get old. This may even be EFG’s game of the year.

Super Mario Maker

Have you ever wanted to play infinite levels of a Mario game?  Did you ever want to create your own levels by adding enemies and blocks wherever you choose? Mario Maker allows you to do just that. You use the gamepad to create your own levels and you can play levels that have been shared around the world. This game is very intuitive and easy to use. Even our youngest players can make their own levels.  This was a surprise hit in our family considering how poorly other level building games went over.  This game also has DLC that is continuously keeping it fresh. Another must have on a holiday wish list.


Mario Kart 8

What can we say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Kart racing, our favorite Nintendo characters, and amazing graphics make this a given on any holiday wish list.  There are plenty of new tracks in this game, along with lots of reimagined favorites. This is a great game to play as a family and if you don’t have it already, you should definitely purchase this one!  DLC and updates keep this game fresh. Did we mention that you can race as Link?  On a triforce motorbikes?

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The holidays are almost upon us and it is time to start looking for gifts. Thankfully EFG is here to help! Take a look below for some great ideas for board game gifts!

Gubs

GUBS is a quirky and clever card game where your objective is to build the mightiest Gub colony. This is a terrific beginner intro to card game mechanics (think Magic the Gathering and Pokemon) because you can boost or protect your colony with myriad cards consisting of traps, lures, and other surprising events.  The artwork is cute, the tin to hold the cards is well designed, and the MSRP of $11.99 makes this a great little gift for a 7-12 year old.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is considered the new family classic board game.  It is often heralded as the game that started the board game renaissance that we are living in. This game is very accessible to all players, especially those who don’t consider themselves gamers. The mechanics are easy to learn understand and gameplay is exciting and fun.  This game also plays quickly, and gets players being downright competitive.  Replay value is high, and while the MSRP of $50.00 is high, this game can usually be found on sale for significantly less. Also, this WILL become a go to game for your family, so we feel that the added bonus of tons of family time makes it well worth the price.

Colt Express


Colt Express is a “programmed movement” game where players take on the role of a train robber in the quest to get the most loot by the end of the game. The biggest highlight to the game is that the board is an actual 3 dimensional train made of cardboard that adds a true sense of verticality to a type of game that is usually pretty flat. This game is great for people who enjoyed Robot Turtles as kids and are looking for a bigger challenge.

Tenzi


Tenzi is a super simple dice game that is very fast-paced. This is a great icebreaker, boredom buster, or introduction to kick off a bigger game night. The game is noisy, quick, and simple. While at an MSRP of $14.95 it is a bit pricey for what it contains, the the packaging and the variations within the rules make it something that has a high replay value. It’s also nice the game does a tiny bit of teaching while still being fun. We found that it’s been playable by children as young as five while still being entertaining to adults.

Sleeping Queens


All of the Queens have fallen under a magical sleeping spell and you must find the Kings to wake them! Beware, sleeping spells and dragons and wayward knights will make the journey difficult! Fun fantasy in an easy to learn (and pack) card game that even the youngest players will enjoy.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

The Multiverse is riddled with villains with their own agendas, the only ones who can stop them are your team of 2-5 heroes working together to defeat them. Combine tons of teams of heroes against villains and fight them in places that both help and hinder you in this cooperative pre-constructed deck-based game.

Hanabi

Have you ever been on a quest for perfection? Love to watch elaborate firework displays but have no idea how to construct them? Then Hanabi is the game for you! A cooperative card game (with variations included in the box) where your team of pyrotechnic experts must put on the best firework display the world has ever witnessed — without ever seeing your own hand. Cryptic communication, decisions based on incomplete information – all this and more for just $10!

Sushi Go!

Wasabi, tempura, dumplings, oh my! Sushi Go is a introductory drafting card game that packs a lot into a small tin!
Players collect cards as they are passed to try to score the most points for their tasty meals of Japanese cuisine. With little to read even smaller gamers can get into the groove of being a master sushi chef, without that pesky fishy smell!

Splendor

Blending a  balance of easy to learn rules and deeper strategy, Splendor is a fantastic game for older children and grown-ups alike. Players acquire gems in order to buy mines, which in turn provide more gems (and ultimately points). While the gem-dealer theme may feel thin at times, the card drafting mechanic and  “engine-building” feel to the gameplay will quickly make this a family game night staple.

 

Labyrinth

Experience an aMAZEing treasure hunt through an ever shifting board with Ravensburger’s Labyrinth. Players attempt to acquire each of the treasures in their hand of cards by moving around the board. Each turn, players will alter the board by sliding in a new Labyrinth tile, shifting an entire row or column of the board, and changing the available pathways. Labyrinth has rules for play for younger children as well as more advanced players, and it’s simple yet tactical gameplay make it a favorite for all ages.

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By: Jesse Stanley

Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat Dinner. Watch T.V. Go to bed. Repeat.

This is the picture of many people’s lives. Each day is a boring repeat of the last as if we were stuck in an unexciting version of Groundhog’s Day. Games, however serve to break of the monotony of the day to day and engage a couple in cooperative and competitive play that brings them closer together. It may sound cliché to say a couple that plays together stays together, but more research is proving this is true.

According to research by psychologist Arthur Aron in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sharing new and exciting activities is associated with better relationships.

Those new and exciting activities are not watching a new movie or burying your face in your smart phone. They are escaping a Forbidden Island with your treasures or getting the Love Letter to the princess.

Further studies done by Drs. Scott Stanley, Howard Markman and Susan Blumberg, of the University of Denver’s Center for Marital and Family Studies, supports Aron’s research. Markman found the correlation between fun and marital happiness is high and that it was the strongest factor in overall marital happiness.

The stereotype of the boyfriend playing video games all night while the girlfriend becomes a game widow is being shattered and replaced with couples sharing the controller or passing each other the dice. These positive and playful interactions build intimacy and communications skills between couples.

The National Institute for Play says, “Play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship; some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling , the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies, … These playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship – true intimacy.”

In short, playful relationships are happier relationships. While “play” can find it’s way into all aspects of a relationship, clearly a lighthearted game can feed those interactions.

They go on to also say that removing play from a relationship is like taking oxygen away from someone. It’s not a luxury it’s a necessity. “The relationship becomes a survival endurance contest. Without play skills, the repertoire to deal with inevitable stresses is narrowed. Even if loyalty, responsibility, duty, and steadfastness remain, without playfulness there will be insufficient vitality left over to keep the relationship buoyant and satisfying.”

Change the picture of your life and build intimacy with those you love. Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, save a princess, escape from a sinking island and go to bed happier and closer than when you woke up this morning.

 

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Target released their Holiday Shopping Catalog recently. It features all sorts of great toys and all of the expected video games (Skylanders, Disney Infinity, etc), but it also featured a whole page of family friendly board games. The layout of the page was a little intense and didn’t give much of an explanation for any of the games listed. I did some homework. The following are some additional details to help you choose the best games for your family.

Disclaimer: Engaged Family Gaming has only reviewed one of these games so far (Robot Turtles). This is simply intended to give you more information than a name and an age range.

Jenga (6+):Jenga is a classic game at this point. You both know it and own a copy, or you aren’t interested.

Bounce-Off (7+): Bounce-Off is a challenge based game where players are tasked with bouncing ping pong style balls onto a playing field. The trick is that you have to try and line them up in patterns based on challenge cards that are drawn from a deck.

Tapple (7+): Tapple is a time-based word game. Players choose a category card and have 10 (SHORT!) seconds to come up with a word from that category. They then press down the first letter of the word they named. Play continues around the table. The catch? Letters that have already been pressed down cannot be used!

Robot Turtles (4+):Robot Turtles is amazing. You can read our review here!

NFL Rush Zone (7+): NFL Rush Zone is a dice rolling, math-centric game based on the NFL Rush Zone license. It features the helmet characters for all 32 NFL teams. We’ll be playing this one soon, but it at least appears to be ideal for families who don’t share a common team. There aren’t many games that include all 32 teams.

Family Challenge (6+): Family Challenge includes twenty-seven mini-games that line up in four categories: Vision, Agility, Smarts, Luck. Families compete in teams to see who can win the most challenges.

My Monopoly (6+): This is classic monopoly with blank spaces and stickers that allow players to customize their game.

Moustache Smash(7+): This looks like a hilarious reflex game. Players hold a fake mustache under their nose and watch as cards are flipped over in front of them. They then race to slap their mustache swatter onto the card that matches the shape and/or color.

Disney Jr. Super Stretchy (3+): This is, for all intents and purposes, Twister featuring Disney Junior characters as opposed to colors.

Bananagrams Wild Tiles (7+): This is the base Bananagram game, but it features wild card tiles.

Disney Frozen 6-in-1 Game Box (3+): There is nothing particularly fancy here, but it include Frozen themed family friendly classics like Bingo, Go Fish, Crazy 8s, Four in a Row, Dominoes and a matching game.

Pictopia-Family Trivia Game: Disney Edition(5+): Disney Pictopia is a trivia game that features a broad range of Disney topics including theme park attractions, movies, and TV shows.

Disney Frozen Surprise Slides! (3+): Chutes and Ladders gets the frozen treatment here. There are, however, a few interesting twists that make the game board a bit different each time you play.

Telestrations (8+): Telestrations kicks the telephone game up a notch by forcing players to draw the phrase they hear and interpret other people’s drawings. I don’t even know how this game is possible!

Shark Mania (6+): Shark Mania is a dice rolling game that takes place while a shark rampages through the game board. This game is worth keeping an eye on for the quality construction alone.

The Settlers of Catan (12+): What is there to say about Settlers that hasn’t already been said? This is a complex strategy game that involves trading with other players and making difficult decisions. We are working on a review here at Engaged Family Gaming, but a YouTube search should give curious parents a look at what the game play experience looks like.

The Settlers of Catan 5 and 6 Player Extension (12+): See Above. If your family is bigger than four people and you think you would all like strategy gaming, then this is a great add.

Catan Dice Game (10+): The Catan Dice Game is intended to condense the grand experience of Settlers of Catan into a bite sized experience. This is a great way to see if that type of game will be good for you or your family.

Full disclosure: purchasing games using the Amazon links above will result in revenue for Engaged Family Gaming to help keep the lights on. 

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2014 has been a GREAT year for family friendly video games. We have seen new editions of Minecraft. The Toys to Life category is exploding thanks to new editions of Skylanders and Disney Infinity and more competition in the form of Angry Birds Transformers and Nintendo’s amiibo line. Most importantly we have spent the year bearing witness to the phoenix-like resurgence of Nintendo who have slowly started to right the ship with the once maligned WiiU console.

Below is a list of five games for the Nintendo 3DS handheld that are great for families and will be great gifts even if they aren’t number one of your child’s list. (And you know what… YOU might even enjoy them too!)

1. Super Smash Brothers for 3DS – (Read our review here!)

This is the best experience currently available on the system. I definitely recommend

2. Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire

It is hard to imagine owning a Nintendo handheld without owning a Pokemon game for it. What makes these titles particularly interesting is that they are re-imagined version of Game Boy games released over a decade ago.

3. Yoshi’s New Island

Yoshi is a fan favorite and this entire game is built around him. It is adorably drawn, but most importantly it is accessible to younger players. Our review is scheduled to go up soon so keep your eyes on EFG for more info.

4. Bravely Default – (Read our review here!)

If you have an older child who has shown any interest in RPGs then this is one of the best around. It is unfortunate that some of the language rules it out for younger players (Several of the main characters are serious pervs) because it really is very accessible

5. Animal Crossing: New Leaf – (Read our review here!)

Animal Crossing is over a year old, but it is still one of the most entertaining child friendly experiences on the device. What kid doesn’t want to run around and do simple yet fun tasks in a town they get to design and develop?

If they own this one and are looking for similar experiences you can also look to Disney’s Magical World or Tomodachi Life

Honorable Mention: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is just plain amazing. If you, or your child, have any interest in classic Nintendo games then this is a great buy for the 3DS. Shovel Knight is great on the home console, but being able to take it on the road is a great experience. The fact that it is a downloadable title that is available on the Nintendo eShop and its low price (under $20) doesn’t hurt!

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2014 has been a GREAT year for family friendly video games. We have seen new editions of Minecraft. The Toys to Life category is exploding thanks to new editions of Skylanders and Disney Infinity and more competition in the form of Angry Birds Transformers and Nintendo’s amiibo line. Most importantly we have spent the year bearing witness to the phoenix-like resurgence of Nintendo who have slowly started to right the ship with the once maligned WiiU console.

Below is a list of five games for the Microsoft Xbox One  that are great for families and will be great gifts even if they aren’t number one of your child’s list. (And you know what… YOU might even enjoy them too!)

1. Forza Horizons 2

The Forza Motorsports series is a simulation racer. This makes it very difficult for younger players to play. Fortunately Forza Horizons 2 is designed to be more of an arcade racer. Players don’t have to pay as much attention to driving mechanics and can, instead, focus on driving fast cars through beautiful scenery.

2. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

PopCap knew they had a hit on their hands when Plants Vs Zombies started dominating the PC gaming world several years ago. We knew that more was coming, but no one would have ever guessed that it would have morphed into a team based online shooter.

The best part is that said online team-based shooter is also really good!

3. Minecraft

OK. So I’ll keep it simple here. If you have a child old enough to play video games then you have probably heard more about Minecraft than you will ever want to know. The good news is that Minecraft is budget priced so if you are a bit strapped after shelling out for a new console this is a great addition that won’t break the bank.

4. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

It’s LEGO Batman. ‘Nuff said.

Seriously though, Traveler’s Tales has been doing an amazing job with their LEGO titles recently. Last year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was amazing and this looks like it will be a similar experience with a DC comics spin.

5. Fantasia: Music Evolved

Fantasia: Music Evolved is difficult to describe. Suffice it to say that it is a fascinating Kinect enabled, musical experience. The Fantasia license should say it all. This game is buolt around bringing music to life in wonderful ways.

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2014 has been a GREAT year for family friendly video games. We have seen new editions of Minecraft. The Toys to Life category is exploding thanks to new editions of Skylanders and Disney Infinity and more competition in the form of Angry Birds Transformers and Nintendo’s amiibo line. Most importantly we have spent the year bearing witness to the phoenix-like resurgence of Nintendo who have slowly started to right the ship with the once maligned WiiU console.

Below is a list of five games for the Sony PlayStation 3 that are great for families and will be great gifts even if they aren’t number one of your child’s list. (And you know what… YOU might even enjoy them too!)

1. LittleBigPlanet 3

Sack Boy has been a major part of the Playstation lineup for years. He’s adorable so it makes sense. LittleBigPlanet 3 is the third installment in the franchise (duh) but this time they mix things up by giving players three additional characters to play.

2. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

This is LEGO Batman. ‘Nuff Said.

Seriously though, Traveler’s Tales has been doing an amazing job with their LEGO titles recently. Last year’s LEGO Marvel Super Heroes was amazing and this looks like it will be a similar experience with a DC comics spin.

3. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

PopCap knew they had a hit on their hands when Plants Vs Zombies started dominating the PC gaming world several years ago. We knew that more was coming, but no one would have ever guessed that it would have morphed into a team based online shooter.

The best part is that said online team-based shooter is also really good!

4. Minecraft

OK. So I’ll keep it simple here. If you have a child old enough to play video games then you have probably heard more about Minecraft than you will ever want to know. The good news is that Minecraft is budget priced so if you are a bit strapped after shelling out for a new console this is a great addition that won’t break the bank.

5. Tales of Symphonia Chronicles

Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is, quite possibly, the most beautiful RPG on the market. Never mind the fact that this is an HD remake of a GameCube game. This is great game play and it is available for a budget price of $20 on Amazon. If you or anyone in your family enjoys RPGs then this is a must own.

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