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Final Fantasy 7 is, inarguably, one of the most important video games ever made. It helped to propel the nascent Sony PlayStation into the wild success that it was, and helped bring the Final Fantasy name to millions of people. Fans have been clamoring for a remake ever since Sony showed an HD reimagining of the opening sequence during the lead up to the launch of the PS3. The excitement level stayed at such a high level for so long that I never thought that a game could live up to those wild expectations. I was convinced that people would be very disappointed. I can’t speak for everyone of course, but I came away more than just satisfied with Final Fantasy 7 Remake – I came away astonished. The experience wasn’t perfect, but I came away very impressed and hungry for more.

The original Final Fantasy 7 (boy does it feel weird to type it that way) was a turn based RPG. The heroes lined up on one side of the screen and the enemies line up on the other. That style of game still exists (Dragon Quest XI is a great example), but Square Enix doesn’t think that is the direction for Final Fantasy anymore.

As a result they gave FF7 Remake a much more active combat system. Players move characters around the battlefield and use basic attacks while building a meter. You then use the completed bars to activate spells, special moves, and use items. It took a moment for me to get used to it (and I would assume that just about everyone would have a similar experience). But, once I was able to get a handle on it I felt like I was playing a fighting game.

It’s not all about combat though. One of the reasons people wanted to see this game remade was to see the world as fleshed out and rendered as beautifully as modern hardware allows. Final Fantasy 7 Remake both lives up to those expectations and fails miserably at the same time. It was almost funny in a few scenes where I was watching two of the most gorgeously rendered characters I have ever seen stand in front of a door with textures that would have looked bad on the PlayStation 3.

I was never lacking for something beautiful to look at though. It’s easy to forgive a weird texture on a door when the character models were among the most detailed I had ever seen. Some fo the backdrops (especially when you are at high elevations looking below).

The Story

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is not a simple remaster. It is an expansion and reimagining of the first major segment of the original. I spent nearly 50 hours playing as I prepared for this review and all of it was spent in the massive Diesel-punk city of Midgar. This would have made up 3 or 4 hours of play in the original game.

I met fully realized characters that were previously just a few lines of throwaway dialogue. I spent hours completing side quests in locations that had previously only been a single screen (or didn’t exist at all).

I experienced a story that dissected the original in interesting ways. I never had much of an attachment to the original (in fact, I’ve gone on record as saying that I didn’t like it at all), but playing the remake actually gave me a strong drive to play it again.

The “ending” felt very weirds to me because I knew as I was playing it that this wasn’t the end. I knew that their adventure was going to continue. As a result, the ending was robbed of its weight. It felt like just any other bombastic boss fight with a cutscene afterwards. t

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an action RPG that is very systems heavy. This means that in order to really appreciate the game you will need to spend a lot of time in menus tweaking your equipment, skill point expenditures, and strategies. FF7R is also fairly challenging on all but the easiest difficulty setting. Players who are easily frustrated should tread carefully if they don’t have a lot of experience with RPGs.

Should a kid play this game?

The ESRB has rated Final Fantasy VII Remake T for Teen with the rating descriptors Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, and Violence.

The ESRB rating summary is listed below:

This is an action role-playing game in which players follow the story of a mercenary (Cloud Strife) on a quest to save the planet from evil. Players explore the city of Midgar, perform various quests, and battle monsters and soldiers in frenetic melee combat. Characters use swords, staffs, guns, and magic spells to battle fantastical monsters and human soldiers; combat is highlighted by cries of pain, impact sounds, and explosions. Cutscenes also depict instances of violence: characters impaled by swords (off-camera); a man shot repeatedly while on a stairwell. Some female characters wear revealing outfits (e.g., deep cleavage); one scene depicts a man ogling women’s bodies while making suggestive hand gestures and hip movements. The game contains some alcohol content: ordering “something hard and bitter” and watching a character drink; searching for a person at the “Drunkards’ Den”; watching characters drunk and slurring their speech. One cutscene depicts a character smoking a cigar. The words “sh*t,” “a*shole,” and “pr*ck” appear in the dialogue.


In my opinion, I don’t think the ESRB got it right. The T rating doesn’t accurately represent what is going in this game from a content perspective. For one, the curse words don’t just “appear in the dialogue.” They are constant, distracting and unnecessary. I’m not being puritanical about this either. I have been known to use foul language at times, but the language in this game made me question how I talk.

Further, there is a major plot point in the game built around sexual violence. This is problematic for a lot of people and would likely be included in a trigger warning in some contexts. Again, I understand why it happened and where its place was in the story. But, these scenes were uncomfortable for me and I’m a grown man.

We discussed this on the Engaged Family Gaming podcast and we mutually agreed that the PEGI rating system more accurately conveys the content in FFVII Remake with a PEGI 16 rating (meaning that they don’t recommend it for anyone below the age of 16).


Final Fantasy VII Remake is a wonderful game. I enjoyed the combat. I (mostly) enjoyed the story. I didn’t want it to end when it did. I think this is a must play for Final Fantasy fans, especially if you enjoyed the original.

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between June 28th  and July 4th.

Monday, June 29th

  • Blaster Master Zero- PS4
  • Blaster Master Zero 2- PS4
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate: Min Min DLC- Switch

Tuesday, June 30th

  • Hunting Simulator 2- PS4, Xbox One
  • The Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III- Switch
  • The StoryTale- Switch

Wednesday, July 1st

  • Minecraft Dungeons: Jungle Awakens- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • My Bewitching Perfume- Switch

Thursday, July 2nd

  • Biped- Switch
  • Caretaker- Switch
  • Ghost Grab 3000- Switch
  • Pool Slide Story- Switch
  • Singled Out- Switch
  • The Otterman Empire- Xbox One, Switch

Friday, July 3rd

  • Alphadia Genesis- Xbox One
  • Infini- Switch
  • Marvel’s Iron Man VR- PSVR

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to Trails of Cold Steel III for the Nintendo Switch. This game has already been released on PS4, but I believe that Nintendo Switch is the best system to play these long RPGs on. If you want to play the first two parts of the story, you will have to play them on PlayStation 4 because they have not been ported to the Switch yet. This is a continuous story, so it would be a good suggestion to at least look up a story synopsis from these 2 games on the internet.

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between May 24th and May 30th.

Tuesday, May 26th

  • Minecraft Dungeons- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, May 27th

  • Ailment- Switch
  • Missile Command: Recharged- Switch
  • Ninjala- Switch

Thursday, May 28th

  • Atomicrops- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Fly Punch Boom!- Switch
  • Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special- Switch
  • Hill Climbing Mania- Switch
  • Resolutiion- Switch
  • Sega Ages: Thunder Force AC- Switch
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Synaptic Drive- Switch
  • Turmoil- Switch

Friday, May 29th

  • Adam’s Venture: Origins- Switch
  • Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Flux8- Switch
  • Genetic Disaster- Xbox One, Switch
  • Georifters- Xbox One
  • WildTrax Racing- Switch
  • XCOM 2 Collection- Switch
  • Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition- Switch

Saturday, May 30th

  • #womenUp, Super Puzzles Dream- Switch

For the Grown-Ups

  • Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Kollection- PS4, Xbox One, Switch (Tuesday, May 26th)
  • Bioshock: The Collection- Switch (Friday, May 29th)
  • Borderlands Legendary Collection- Switch (Friday, May 29th)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

This week is the week of remasters and remakes with Borderlands and Bioshock coming to the Switch for adults. You also have the T rated XCOM 2 collection coming to the Switch. My most anticipated remake coming out this week is Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition. I never played the original release on the Wii and have only played the New 3DS version for the first few hours. I am super excited to give this game another chance. The upgraded visual look and the additional story elements will make this a great RPG to spend playing during the month of June.

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between May 3rd and May 9th.

Tuesday, May 5th:

  • Pushy and Pully in Blockland- Xbox One
  • Tonight We Riot- Switch

Wednesday, May 6th:

  • Zombies Ruined My Day- Xbox One

Thursday, May 7th:

  • 80’s Overdrive- Switch
  • Cloudbase Prime- Switch
  • Fledgling Heroes- Switch
  • Gerritory- Switch
  • Ghost Files: Memory of a Crime- Switch
  • Infinite: Beyond the Mind- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl- Switch
  • Lonely Mountains: Downhill- Switch
  • Monochrome World- Switch
  • Relic Hunters Zero: Remix- Switch
  • Slayin 2- Switch
  • Spirit of the North- Switch
  • Tennis Club Story- Switch

Friday, May 8th:

  • Dark Burial- Switch
  • Feathery Ears- Switch
  • Fury Unleashed- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Mecho Wars: Desert Ashes- Xbox One
  • Megabyte Punch- Switch
  • Sin Slayers: Enhanced Edition- Xbox One
  • SuperMash- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Saturday, May 9th:

  • Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to SuperMash. This game was announced back in December during a Nindies World Showcase by Nintendo and I have been waiting patiently for it to be released. In SuperMash, you take two genres of games and combine them into a game that is generated by SuperMash. There are countless options of games to play. You can play a stealth JRPG, an action-adventure metroidvainia (called metrovania in the game). Or maybe you just want a simple platformer shooter. All of these can be created through the algorithms of the game. I cannot wait to see what games will be created! You can even share your game codes with a friend to try and beat!

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 Stephen, Amanda, and Linda are here to talk about Board Games!

This podcast is sponsored by:

ReadyPlayerMom – mixer.com/readyplayermom

The Virtual Economy Podcast

Around the Horn

Stephen – Game of Phones by Breaking Games

Linda – Fire Tower by Runaway Parade Games

Amanda – Everdell by Starling Games

Kickstarter Corner



Games that make you Laugh!

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More From Jonathan on Facebook

Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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What better way to start a 2-week self-quarantine than with a bit of nostalgia? Growing up I was a HUGE fan of River City Ransom for the NES. I’ve missed a few American localizations of other titles in the series, but River City Girls was one that I really didn’t want to pass by.

Series mainstays, Kunio and Ricky (Alex and Jack in US titles), have been kidnapped and this time it’s up to their girlfriends, Misako and Kyoko, to rescue them. It’s a classic beat’em up with RPG elements such as purchasable items, tons of awesome unlockable moves, and leveling. RCG also has a killer soundtrack and plenty of easter eggs and nods to other old games in the genre tossed in for good measure.

I often found myself grinning at the girls’ antics as they pummel their way through several districts of River City in hopes of finding clues about what happened to their beloved boys. Along the way, they meet all sorts of quirky characters, bosses, and shop keepers. Misako and Kyoko both play a bit differently but are balanced, so playing one or the other purely comes down to preference.

The only downside of the game is the ending. It’s a bit unsatisfying and confusing to anyone who’s not SUPER into the series as a whole (including games not brought over to the US, something that’s only discovered by finding and defeating the game’s secret boss.) What IS nice is that you can play a New Game+, adding Kunio and Riki as playable characters.

If you’re a fan of old-school beat’em ups, River City Girls is certainly worth your attention. It looks great, plays great, and has plenty of nostalgia to keep you coming back for more.

Can Kid’s Play This Game?

The game is rated E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes, and Mild Blood. Use your best judgment here when it comes to the kids. The core of the game is centered around violence, though the blood only comes into play with some of the animated character portraits after a boss has been beaten to a pulp. The language is very mild, and the suggestive themes are pretty non-existent except for one or two obscure lines of dialogue. 

The Conclusion

River City Girls is available digitally from the Nintendo eShop, PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, Steam, GOG, and Humble Bundle for $29.99.

This review was written by Rob Kalajian, the founder of A Pawn’s Perspective.

A Steam key for River City Girls was provided free for review by WayForward

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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!


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, 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!

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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Dungeons and Dragons has never been more popular! And I know that so many of you dream of running a wonderful campaign for your family, but are intimidated by the perceived cost. I’m here to tell you that you and yours could be roaming the countryside and venturing into dangerous dungeons without spending a dime.

The internet and a little ingenuity go pretty far nowadays, and, frankly, if the internet can teach me how to fix my furnace, then it can help you play D&D with your kids.

We wrote an article with tips for playing D&D with your kids. You can check it out here.


At its core, Dungeons and Dragons is a shared storytelling game. There are tactical combat rules, but you can eschew or improvise away so many of them that they aren’t all that important. What *IS* important though is a sense of imagination. You’ve been telling your kids stories since they were born. This is an opportunity for them to tell the story with you.

I know some folks might think that’s cheesy, but it’s not. More than half of the fun of running a D&D game is watching what the players do and seeing how they react to your characters and actions. That is even more interesting when you are watching your kids. You’ll be amazed at the wild things they do and the stories they come up with!

Dice Rolling Apps

The internet and meme culture will tell you that you absolutely MUST have 15-20 sets of multicolored dice made from different materials. I’ll admit that they are fun, but they aren’t necessary to play. You have a bunch of different options such as:

  • SIRI (Go ahead. Right now. Ask SIRI to roll a D20.)
  • Free iOS Apps like Dice Ex Machina, Dungeon Dice, or Tabletop RPG Dice.
  • Free Android Apps like RPG Simple Dice, Dice Roller, and Dice – A free dice roller.
  • When in doubt Google it.


You do have the option to purchase the Players Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual from Amazon or your local book store.

However, both the basic rules for Dungeons and Dragons and the SRD or “System Reference Document” are both available on the Dungeons and Dragons Website.

The Basic Rules


The System Reference Document


Note: A System Reference Document(SRD) is a reference for a role-playing game’s mechanics licensed under the Open Game License (OGL). This document is published to allow third party publishers to create content using those rules.

Character Sheets

Another barrier that some people see to being able to play D&D are character sheets. They are important to the game, but they aren’t costly. Firstly, you could just make your own character sheets, but there are plenty of character sheets that you can print (or fill out digitally). Two examples from DMSguild.com are listed below. They are both great free resources that you can use.




All of the tools don’t help much if you need an adventure to run! The first option would be to make up your own. Draw up some maps, write up some NPCs and make the adventure yourself. But, not everyone likes that (or has the time). Fortunately, there are plenty of free adventures you can download from websites like DMSguild.com. I’ve listed four well-rated adventures below, but there are TONS more available.

Follow The Lights


On Her Majesty’s Pest Control Service


A Trilogy of Shorter Adventures





When you see pictures of people playing D&D on Instagram or Facebook they also ways involved gorgeously painted miniatures on beautifully detailed maps. This is NOT a requirement. I played for YEARS using miniatures that I pulled from old board games and chess sets. Bottle caps, Shopkins, and coins are all reasonable.

Maps can be a little tricky, but I guarantee that anyone reason this has a checkerboard or two lying around. You can form your dungeon rooms by placing index cards or construction paper over different parts of the board.

Another alternative is to eschew the tactical part of combat entirely and stick to descriptions.

No More Excuses

So. There we go. I just eliminated all of the objections. You don’t need to spend a dime to play Dungeons and Dragons with your kids. Now get out there and tell some stories (and make wonderful memories while you’re at it)!

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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Wizards of the Coast has announced that they are, once again, crossing the streams and releasing a Magic: The Gathering themed sourcebook for Dungeons and Dragons.

The Mythic Odysseys of Theros is a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition supplement that will be available on June 2, 2020.

Theros is a world in the MtG universe that is heavily influenced by Greek Mythology. It is a world where the gods literally walk among mortals and their stories become intertwined. It’s a perfect place for heroes to find adventure!

“Legends walk the lands of Theros, a realm shaped by deities and the deeds of heroes. From the temples of omen-speaking oracles to the five realms of the Underworld, the champions of the gods vie for immortal favor and a place among the world’s living myths.

Choose a supernatural gift that sets you on the path of destiny, align yourself with one of Theros’s fifteen gods, then carve a tale of odysseys and ordeals across the domains of mortals, gods, and the dead.”

Wizards of the Coast

Sourcebooks are a great source for new character-building options and Theros doesn’t look like it will disappoint. It will include:

  • Supernatural gifts are mechanically similar to character races. They give your character a set of unique traits. (It seems like these will also be
  • They will add new playable races like the Leonin and Satyr.
  • New subclasses include the Bard’s College of Eloquence and the Paladin’s Oath of Heroism.
  • The Theros campaign setting will feature mythic monsters like Palukranos the hydra that will provide a challenge for even the most brave adventurers.
  • Wizards will also introduce “God Weapons” that will have awesome powers. I can’t imagine that these weapons will be easy to balance, but they will make for great stories!

It wasn’t detailed in the press release, but these sourcebooks (The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica for example) also typically include detailed information about the lands, nations, and history of the world. Many of them even include an adventure set in the new world to help get players and dungeon masters alike interested and invested in the new setting.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. What about you? Are you going to pick this one up to play with your family?

Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Square Enix dropped the demo for the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 1 with no warning on Monday. Several members of the EFG staff dove in right away (because we couldn’t help ourselves).

Our impressions are below:

Stephen Duetzmann

Michael Melkonian – CardboardConsole.com

“It keeps everything that worked in Final Fantasy XV, and dumps everything that didn’t. This may be the best hybrid of action and menu-based combat I’ve seen in an RPG.”

Jeffrey Walker – Community Manager

The Final Fantasy VII Remake Demo pulled right at my nostalgia heartstrings as the title screen plays the Final Fantasy Theme.

The opening cinematic is beautiful. I have not played Final Fantasy VII all the way through, but I have played the opening of the game. The combat is nice and fluid. Going from battle to exploration took no time away and everything you need to know about character upgrades, items, and gil are posted on the side of the screen without a pause in playing. Switching from attacks to spells freezes the combat so that you can think about your selection.

One thing I really enjoyed is that you have to watch your surroundings. For example, I used a fire spell, but there was a pillar between the enemy and me. The fire ended up hitting the pillar instead of the enemy. The game is a bit difficult. It took all of my resources (phoenix downs, potions, and cure) to defeat the first boss and I only beat him with a lucky limit break at the right time. Overall, this game looks like it will be amazing and I cannot wait until it is released on April 10th.

Michael Duetzmann – Contributor

Star Wars, Lord of The Rings, The Album Rumors by Fleetwood Mac…

Final Fantasy 7

There are some things that just resonate when the opening beats play or the opening lines are spoken.

Final Fantasy 7 was a hand me down experience for me, I played a copy with the green [Playstation Hits] stripe along the cover. Somehow Square Enix has taken that experience I first felt in 1998 and made it better.

The demo expands the story of Final Fantasy 7’s opening scene: The bombing of Mako Reactor One. In both perspective, as the game is presented in real time and a full 3-d environment, and narratively as it features new dialogue, events, and a dynamic score.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 1’s nostalgic power comes from filling in the gaps from the original game. The PS1 featured beautiful backgrounds locked in place and loading times between battle and exploration that reset the pace at every switch. The remake is full of gorgeous 3d backgrounds and smoothly animated characters.

The best way I could describe the game flow was they replaced the start and stop flow of turn based game play with a tidal flow: real time action builds up a gauge that can be spent for powerful actions.

The game offers a “Classic Mode” that features a more turn based feel, and it puts the real time action under AI control. This is intended to cater to players could turn out to be a very powerful accessibility tool

The music shifts in and out of combat and creates a single continuous score instead of separate tracks. Every expected track is accounted for a supporting character Barret hums the tune of Fanfare after a well fought battle. Do yourself a favor and Listen to the opening theme before starting the demo before starting it up.

I could talk about this game for hours, but the best thing YOU can do is play it yourself. It was a 45 minute experience after a quick 15 minute download. What are you waiting for? GO!

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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