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The Pokémon Company has finally revealed the details for Pokémon Home. It will launch in February 2020 on iOS, Android, and on Nintendo Switch.

 The Pitch

Pokémon Home is a subscription service that acts as a replacement to Pokémon Bank. The service is both a mobile and switch app. The core purpose of the service is to allow players to start the Pokémon they have captured or bred in various Pokémon games in the cloud and upload them into compatible games.

How Does it Work? 

Subscribers can connect their Pokémon Home account to a Nintendo account. Once that is complete then they will be able to connect to compatible games and services to transfer Pokémon into their “home.” They can then transfer those Pokémon from their “home” into compatible games.

The games that Pokémon Home can currently connect to are:

            Pokémon Sword

            Pokémon Shield

            Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu

            Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee

Pokémon Home cannot currently connect to Pokémon Go, but that functionality will be added in the future.

Pokémon Home can also connect to Pokémon Bank. This is the only way for players to bring their Pokémon from Pokémon games on the 3DS and earlier into Home.

Features

Trading

Pokémon Home serves another purpose aside from acting as cloud storage for your Pokémon collection. It allows you to trade your Pokémon to help fill out your Pokedex through a bunch of different methods.

Wonder Box

Wondertrading in Pokémon is the act of offering up a Pokémon from your collection in exchange for a random Pokémon that someone else has offered up using the same feature. This is one of my favorite features in Pokémon games because I am always surprised at the interesting things that people are willing to give away. A lot of times I will end up receiving Pokémon that competitive players have been bred that don’t have perfect stats. This is great for casual fans who aren’t concerned with stats and just want to build a collection.

The free version of Pokémon Home allows you to Wondertrade one Pokémon at a time. The premium version bumps that number up to three.

GTS

The Global Trade System (GTS) allows you to offer up one of your Pokémon and list it online requesting to trade it for another specific Pokémon. This is a good way to build your collection if you are looking to catch ‘em all, because you can put up duplicates of rare Pokémon you own to trade specific Pokémon that you need to complete your collection.

The free version of Pokémon Home allows you to put one Pokémon at a time into the GTS. The premium version bumps that number up to three.

Room Trade

Another of Pokémon Home’s great features is Room Trading. You can use the apps to create rooms that nearby friends can join to trade their Pokémon. Anyone can join a Room, but only Premium Subscribers can create one.

Friend Trade

Friend Trade is a feature that allows you to trade Pokémon with players who you have become friends with on the service.

Other Features

Trading isn’t all though. There are several other useful features in Pokémon  Home to consider.

National Pokédex

Any Pokémon  you bring into Pokémon  Home will be registered to your National Pokedex. This will bring you one step closer to catching them all!

Mystery Gifts

Mystery gifts are a big part of the Pokémon experience. The Pokémon Company regularly distributes them as part of events and sometimes just for fun. The Pokémon home service lets you redeem the gift codes you find without having to get out your Switch. There will even be Mystery Gifts that exclusive to Pokémon  Home.

Judge Pokémon

Premium subscribers have access to the Judge function. This is a tool that lets you carefully examine your Pokémon  to determine how strong they are. This is a must for competitive players who are looking to build the perfect team.

How Much Does it Cost?

There are three purchase options for the Premium Subscription.

  • 1 month (30 days) – $2.99
  • 3 months (90 days) – $4.99
  • 12 months (365 days) – $15.99

Advice

The free version of Pokémon  Home is a no brainer for anyone with more than one Pokémon  game. It adds limited functionality to your games for no charge.

The premium version of the service is a tougher nut to crack. You need to evaluate your activity level and your enthusiasm for Pokémon to determine if it is worth it. I think the biggest question is if you have Pokémon in the Pokémon bank. If you do, then the premium service is the only way to access them and bring them forward.


Do you have a question we didn’t address here? Leave your question in the comments and we will reply and add to the guide!

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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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

A Parent’s Guide to Nintendo Switch Online

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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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Subscribe to our Podcast!h

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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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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Choosing your starter Pokémon is one of the biggest decisions your child will make while playing Pokémon Sword and Shield. They get to choose one of three Pokémon that each have two evolutions: Scorbunny, Grooky, and Sobble. 

At the end of the day, any of the three starter Pokémon will be viable choices to help finish the game. If you fully evolve your starter then they will most likely be the most powerful Pokémon of the appropriate type in your party. 

However, their different types do lend some advantages in the way you handle the first few gyms. In order, the first three gyms are Grass, Water, and then Fire. 

Scorbunny

If they choose Scorbunny, then it means that they elected a fire type Pokémon.

Scorbunny!

This means it will be super effective against the Grass type gym that comes first. But, it will be weak against the the next gym which is water type, so there will be a sharp spike in difficulty. It’s a good idea to make sure you catch a Yamper (a yellow and brown Pokémon that looks like a corgi) because he is electric type or any of the grass type Pokémon on the routes leading up the the Second gym. Electric type and grass type Pokémon are both super effective against water type Pokémon. The third gym you encounter is a fire type gym. Obviously, Scorbunny, being fire type, is not very effective against its own type. Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch water type Pokémon on the way up to and leading away from the second gym. Water type Pokémon are super effective against fire so you’ll want to make sure to catch and use one.

Sobble

If they choose Sobble, then it means that they selected a water type Pokémon.

Sobble!

This means that the first gym will be particularly difficult because the grass type Pokémon there will be super effective against your starter. This makes it very important that you collect a flying type or bug type Pokémon in the very early game. One good flying type Pokémon the capture is Rookidy. This is a flying type Pokémon that will remain strong throughout your time with the game. Sobble is also not very effective against its own type, so you will have another difficult time against the second gym. Just like if you chose Scorbunny, It’s a good idea to make sure you catch a Yamper (a yellow and brown Pokémon that looks like a corgi) because he is electric type or any of the grass type Pokémon on the routes leading up the the Second gym. Electric type and grass type Pokémon are both super effective against water type Pokémon. Sobble, gets its chance to shine in the third gym where it is super effective against the fire type Pokémon there. 

Grooky

If they choose Grooky, then it means they selected a grass type Pokémon.

Grooky!

This means it will not be very effective against the grass type Pokémon in the first gym you come across. This makes it very important that you collect a flying type or bug type Pokémon in the very early game as they are both super effective against grass types. One good flying type Pokémon the capture is Rookidy. This is a flying type Pokémon that will remain strong throughout your time with the game. Grooky is super effective against the water type Pokémon in the second gym. The third gym will be particularly difficult because the fire type Pokémon there are super effective against your starter. Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch water type Pokémon on the way up to and leading away from the second gym. Water type Pokémon are super effective against fire so you’ll want to make sure to catch and use one.

This choice is ultimately a matter of taste. There are players who will swear by one type or another and others that will choose a different type every game based on which Pokémon is the cutest.

What do you think? What Pokemon are you choosing?

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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Pokémon Sword and Shield are finally available to the public and they are incredibly popular. Lots of kids will be asking for them, and we suspect a lot of parents will need help. If you happen to be one of those parents, then this is our guide for you. Bookmark this page and refer to it if you need help with your kids’ newest favorite game.

What is the ESRB Rating?

Pokemon Sword and Shield are rated E for everyone by the ESRB.

The content descriptors are Comic Mischief and Mild Cartoon Violence.

The rating summary reads, “This is a role-playing game in which players assume the role of a Pokémon trainer trying to become champion. Players explore the fictional Galar Region and engage in turn-based combat with other trainers. Players select various attacks (e.g., fire, lightning/electricity) from a menu to defeat Pokémon. Melee-style attacks (e.g., rolling, scratching, bouncing) are also used, as impact sounds, light effects, and diminishing health bars indicate damage. One creature is seen with a large drop of mucous hanging from its nose.”

What are the differences between the two games?

The Pokémon Company and Game Freak always release two different versions of their Pokémon games. The biggest differences  between the two versions has always been in the available Pokemon, but this time around there are version exclusive gyms to battle in as well.

Pokémon Sword Exclusive Pokémon

Pokémon Shield Exclusive Pokémon

Version Exclusive Gyms

The fourth and sixth gym that you battle in during the game are different based on which version you play.

In Pokémon Sword the fourth gym features Bea and her party of fighting-type Pokémon. The sixth gym is run by Gordie and his squad of rock-type Pokémon.

In Pokémon Shield the fourth gym is run by Allister  who uses ghost-type Pokémon and the sixth gym is led by Melony and her ice-type Pokémon.

All of the other gyms are identical in both versions.

The differences in the gym lineups means that you’ll need different Pokémon in your party to help overcome the gym challenges and, ultimately, the gym leader.

Legendary Pokemon

Each game features a different legendary Pokémon that is pictured on the front cover of the game. You are able to capture them after you complete the main story arc of the game. 

Pokémon Sword has Zacian who is fairy type. When you find the rusted sword and give it to him he becomes fairy/steel type.

Pokémon Shield has Zamazenta who is fighting type. When you find the rusted shield and give it to him he becomes fighting/steel type.

Do you need Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online isn’t mandatory, but it does a lot to enrich the experience. Nintendo Switch Online is required for online battling and trading. You also need it in order to participate in Max Raid Battles with other players. (The game will provide you with AI controlled teammates, but it just isn’t the same.)

How do you reset the game?

Sometimes you will just get stuck and feel the need to start over. The Pokémon Company, knowing that its target audience is largely made up of children, makes it relatively difficult to delete a save game so you can start over. They don’t want it to be something that can be done by accident.

In the case of Sword and Shield, you use the data management settings in the Switch menu. 

  • Turn on your Nintendo Switch
  • From the Nintendo Switch Home Screen, select System Settings
  • Find Data Management on the next screen
  • Navigate down to the Delete Save Data option
  • Choose Pokémon Sword & Shield to delete your file for your current profile.
    • Note: Make SURE that you are deleting the save file for the correct profile. 

You can then restart your Pokémon Sword or Shield game. 

What starter Pokémon should they pick?

Choosing your starter Pokémon is one of the biggest decisions your child will make while playing Pokémon Sword and Shield. They get to choose one of three Pokémon that each have two evolutions: Scorbunny, Grooky, and Sobble. Check out our guide to help you choose between them!


What is the difference between Dynamax and Gigantamax?

One of the key new features in Sword and Shield is the Dynamax mechanic. Pokémon have the ability, in specific situations, to grow to a massive size and power up each of their attacks. This is similar to the mega-evolution that was introduced in Pokémon X and Y (Generation 6), except that the dynamax has a maximum duration of three turns. The attacks your Pokémon uses while in dynamax form are called Max Movs and are very similar to Z-moves that were introduced during  Pokémon Sun and Moon (Generation 7). 

You might hear your kids using the term Gigantimax in relation to these battles. These terms are NOT interchangable. Any Pokémon can Dynamax, but there are only certain Pokémon that has a Gigantimax form. This means that they have a special form and access to super powerful G-Max Moves that are unique and powerful. 

The only way to find Gigantimax Pokémon is in Max Raid battles. These are special battles that you enter by finding circular rock formations in the wild area. 

Tips for catching Pokémon

  1. Make sure you are using the right Pokeballs. You start with access to regular Pokeballs. But, as you defeat gyms you’ll have access to Great Balls and Ultra balls in the PokeCenter shops. You’ll get the best results from using the higher levels Pokeballs. You get a single Master Ball After defeating all of the gyms and completing the story. That should be reserved for catching the game’s legendary Pokémon Zacian or Zamazenta.
  2. Reduce the opposing Pokémon’s HP as low as you can without making it feint. This can be tricky, but you can buy a move called False Swipe at the PokeCenter on the way to Route 3. (False Swipe will never reduce a Pokémon to 1 HP.)
  3. Use status effects! Pokémon who are under status effects are easier to catch. Ideally, you would use one of your Pokémon to put them to Sleep, but poison, paralysis, and frozen work as well.

Was this guide helpful? Leave your comments and questions below! We can add more to this document as time goes on!

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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People buy a lot of games. That can make it incredibly challenging for those of us that want to buy cool games for the gamers in our lives. Fortunately, every console (including PC) has a subscription subscription service. These make “practical” gifts that will always be appreciated.

These services  can all be purchased for various lengths of time to accommodate your budget. You don’t even need to worry about whether they are subscribed or not. `You can purchase a subscription card for them and the time will be added to the end of their existing subscription!

Take a look at the options below to see what you might need!

PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a suite of free PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, PlayStation  Vita, and PlayStation VR games that are available for free each month.

(We wrote a parent’s guide for PlayStation Plus. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is a Netflix-esque streaming service for PlayStation 4 and PC. Subscribers have unlimited access to stream a collection of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games over the internet on their PlayStation 4 console or PC.

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is a service that allows unlimited downloads of a wide range of games on the Xbox One for a relatively low monthly fee.

We wrote a parent’s guide to Xbox Game Pass. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service for Xbox that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over Xbox Live. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the Xbox Marketplace. It also includes a suite of free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that are available for free each month.

(We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

EA Access

EA Access is an Xbox One exclusive subscription service run by Electronic Arts that gives subscribers early access to EA games, discounts on digital purchases, and access to the “EA Vault.”

(We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

EA Origins Access

Origins Access is a PC subscription service run by Electronic Arts that gives subscribers early access to EA games, discounts on digital purchases, and access to the “Origins Vault.”

(We wrote a parent’s guide to this service. Take a look here for a full explanation!)

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch online is a service that allows online multiplayer for Nintendo Switch games as well as cloud saves, and a suite of NES games.

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 Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for PlayStation 4 owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Spider Man – PlayStation 4

Spider-Man may well be our game of the year this year. It is a fantastic game that features a character that kids love. It is rated T for teen and earns that rating thanks to frequent combat with gun toting enemies, but it is a great story that features interesting takes on long time villains and heroes. I can’t understate how wonderful the movement feels though. Web swinging through Insomniac Games’ s interpretation of Manhattan is invigorating. This is a must own for PS4 owners this year.

Dragon Ball FighterZ – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the bestDragon Ball of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners ofDragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat.Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

Ni No Kuni 2 Revenant Kingdom – PlayStation 4, PC

Ni No Kuni 2 is an adventure role playing games set in a world with both anime and western fantasy appeal. The art style and thematic soul of this epic comes from Level 5 studios working with the same studio headed by Hiyo Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle). The story of a fallen leader’s return to power after a sudden betrayal features a supporting cast that would be just as home in Redwall or [The board game about mouse soliders?] The story and game play is more approachable to younger adult gamer than its original title, replacing an in game strategy guide and Pokémon style monster collection with a more organic tutorial and explanations centered around a steady cast of playable characters. This game was loads of fun to play and has themes and stories for both parents and children alike, if you can get through all of the puns that show up in the supporting cast and side missions. Definite Recommend for this holiday season.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2 – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Purchase these games on the PSN here!

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

You can also purchase just the first collection digitally here!

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion – Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Adventure Time may have come to an end on September 3rd, but there are still adventures to be had. Pirates of the Enchiridion is a great way to keep the fun going. It is an open world RPG where you explore the land of Ooo one last time with a party of classic Adventure Time characters. The animation is of particular note here as it captures the irreverent nature of the show perfectly.

Sonic Mania Plus – Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

Dragon Quest 11 -PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sometimes you just want to play an epic-length, gorgeous, JRPG. Dragon Quest XI is just that. DQXI is a simple game that rewards exploration and experimentation. The cast of characters is interesting and different enough that everyone will have their favorites. This will be a great game to help spend some of the cold winter days that will come after the Holidays.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM 2 and Mario + Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle. It also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

Mega Man 11 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Price: $16.00
Was: $29.99

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

Just Dance 2019 -Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy – Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Spyro is more than just a Skylander. He was the mascot for a whole bunch of 3d platformers. His games where some of the first in the genre though so they are both well loved and in need of a fresh coat of paint. Vicarious Visions has rebuild the first three Spyro games with loving detail. I went hands on with the Spyro collection while I was at E3 and I loved what I saw so far. This is going to be a great gift for your family. This is especially true if you are a parent who loved the Spyro games in the past and want to share them with your kids.


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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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The Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for Nintendo Switch owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo Switch

Fans of our podcast will know that this is one of our most hyped games of the year. We haven’t been able to play this game a great deal so far, but everything that we have seen points to Ultimate being a great Smash experience. If your family has enjoyed Smash Bros on other platforms and owns a Switch, then this should be under your tree.

 

 

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

Nintendo Switch

The next Generation of Pokemon games won’t be out until next year. But, younger players and players who have come to the Pokemon fandom will have their own game this year. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee! Are coming out just in time for the holidays. They are different versions of the same story, but they each feature a different partner Pokemon for your trainer. 

 

 

Dragon Ball  FighterZ

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the best Dragon Ball game of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners of Dragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

 

 

Kirby Star Allies

Nintendo Switch

Kirby games have always been great for kids, but Kirby Star Allies is just as great for families to play together. It features up to four player co-op so whole family can get in on the action (most of the time). My favorite part of Star Allies is the theme. It’s all about love, cooperation, and friendship. Your family is in for a lot of fun together if you pick this one up.

 

 

Nintendo LABO

Nintendo Switch

Who doesn’t want a cool activity to do with your family on a Holiday morning? The advantage to Nintendo LABO kits is that they are both a game AND a STEM construction activity. There are three kits available right now. The Variety Kit includes several smaller kits including a fishing rod, a piano, and a house. The Robot Kit includes a massive backpack powered device that lets you control a giant transforming robot. The Vehicle Kit includes materials for three steering devices; one for a car, one for a plane, and one for a submarine.

 

 

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

 

 

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

 

 

 

Mario Tennis Aces

Nintendo Switch

Mario Tennis was a huge disappointment on the Wii U. I was super nervous about whether or not Mario Tennis Aces on the Switch would be a repeat. Fortunately, it wasn’t. Aces is gorgeous, mechanically sound, and full of multiplayer fun. This one should definitely be on your radar if your family has (or will have) a Switch.

 

 

 

Sonic Mania Plus

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

 

 

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM (and XCOM 2) and [Mario and Rabbid’s Tactics battle?] and also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

 

 

Mega Man 11

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

 

 

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

 

 

Just Dance 2019

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.


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 Holiday season is fast approaching! Games are coming out so fast that it can be very difficult to keep track. We take  time every year to list the very best family games of the year that came out on every console.

Take a look below for our list of the best video game gifts for Xbox One owners!

(Full disclosure: These Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchases made using these links will help us earn revenue.)

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best fighting games and the bestDragon Ball of the year. It is a three on three tag team brawl with a character roster than pulls from the deepest corners ofDragon Ball lore. It was developed by Arc System Works, a company known for high quality animation and flashy combat.Dragon Ball FighterZ is a beautiful game to watch thanks to its tag and assist system, but the real fun starts when you take the controls yourself. This is a very accessible fighting game that is great for tweens.

 

 

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

You can purchase a combo pack of these two games on the Microsoft Store!

Mega Man is a well loved character and Mega Man 1 through 10 are the reason why. These two collections include 10 devilishly challenging platformers that have inspired a generation of gamers. This is a must own for families that have an interest in gaming history.

 

 

Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Mega Man X is one of the best platformers on the Super Nintendo and it spawned a series of sequels that kept ramping up the action. Capcom released two Mega Man X collections this year. The second collection falls flat, but collection 1 included Mega Man X through X4 and is a great value.

 

 

 

Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion

Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Adventure Time may have come to an end on September 3rd, but there are still adventures to be had. Pirates of the Enchiridion is a great way to keep the fun going. It is an open world RPG where you explore the land of Ooo one last time with a party of classic Adventure Time characters. The animation is of particular note here as it captures the irreverent nature of the show perfectly.

 

 

 

Sonic Mania Plus

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

Sonic Mania was a big deal when it came out initially. Many critics lauded it as the best Sonic the Hedgehog game in decades. (Some went so far as to say it was the best Sonic game of all time). Sonic Mania Plus is a re-release that also includes two new characters: Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel. They both move differently from Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and have different powers.

 

 

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the spiritual successor to the popular PS3 title after two offshoot titles launched for the PS Vita. The game is a tactical strategy game set in an alternate, and more fantastical, version of Europe during the Second World War. The game unfolds in a series of journal entries placing the battles in context of a series of well told cut scenes and storyboards. Game play alternates between battles where you control each character in a unit as you advance and fight your way to an objective, and coordinating and upgrading your ever increasing squad in an offstage headquarters. This is a family friendly title that bridges the gap between the popular title XCOM 2 and Mario + Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle. It also has a playable demo with a save that can be rolled over to the full title. A strong title for strategy or warfare fans.

 

 

Mega Man 11

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

It’s been eight years since the release of a new official Mega Man game and we have been long overdue. Mega Man is one of the essential franchises that gave birth to the platforming genre, and this newcomer to the Mega Man family is a most welcome addition. It promises new mechanics and challenges that will push the series to new heights. If you are a fan of the series or a fan of retro platforming games, then Mega Man 11 is a no brainer.

 

 

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch

Starlink: Battle for Atlas was my game of the show at E3 this year. I was stunned to see a toys to life game (not called Skylanders) in 2018 and I loved it.

This is releasing this holiday season on all three major consoles and on PC, but the best place to play Starlink is going to be on Switch where it will feature exclusive content based on the legendary Star Fox franchise.

 

 

Forza Horizon 4

Xbox One

The Forza Horizon series has always been a hit and they keep getting better. The fourth entry in the series takes players to the countryside of England. It also adds seasons to the game that will pass every real world week. Xbox One families should definitely look at this one

(This game is also available for download if you are an Xbox Game Pass Member!)

 

 

Just Dance 2019

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

What is there to say about Just Dance that hasn’t been said before? This is becoming one of the most venerable franchises in gaming. Just Dance is released every year with new dance routines and new songs to very little coverage from gaming sites. Just Dance 2019 has a large audience and you’ll know if your family falls into it. Do you love music? Do you love dancing? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then this should be on your radar.

 

 

Spyro Remastered Trilogy

Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Spyro is more than just a Skylander. He was the mascot for a whole bunch of 3d platformers. His games where some of the first in the genre though so they are both well loved and in need of a fresh coat of paint. Vicarious Visions has rebuild the first three Spyro games with loving detail. I went hands on with the Spyro collection while I was at E3 and I loved what I saw so far. This is going to be a great gift for your family. This is especially true if you are a parent who loved the Spyro games in the past and want to share them with your kids.


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 “8 and up” game category opens up a whole new realm of gaming options. Game become less “kid games” and more “kid-friendly”.  At this age, reading cards is no longer a concern and the kids can handle more strategy and steps per turn.  The number of games at this age level absolutely explodes and there is no way to include everything.  This list includes some of our favorites, but there is so much more to play! 

Asmodee

Timeline 

Timeline is a competitive game for two to eight players that takes about 15 minutes to play. Player begin with at least four cards to start, and a single card is revealed. Each card is two-sided, with a matching picture on each side, however; one side has a caption describing the picture like “The invention of the Electric Iron” and the other has the year “1882”.  In order to play the game players must find the correct place on the timeline for their card without seeing the year printed on the back.

If you place your card correctly, it is revealed and becomes part of the timeline. If not, it is discarded and you draw a new card.  A round ends when a player places their final card correctly.  If any other players also place their final cards correctly that same round, a new round is played.  Rounds are continued until only one player finishes a round with no cards.

See our review here.

Dixit 

Dixit, a storytelling game for three to six players.  It requires that you come up with a description of your own surreal card that also leaves your opponents guessing. First, each player is dealt six incredibly beautiful cards. The storyteller (active player) chooses a card and describes it with a word or phrase. Your opponents then select one of their cards that matches your description, trying to trick the other players into voting for their card. The Storytellers and the other player cards are shuffled and displayed face up.

Players secretly vote for the card they think is the Storytellers using color-coded chips. If everyone guesses your card, all your opponents gain 2 points and you gain none. However, if no one chooses yours, your opponents all gain 2 points and you still get 0!  Should one or more person guesses my image I get 3 points and they get 3 points, plus a bonus for anyone choosing their card.

See our review here.

Blue Orange Games

Kingdomino

Kingdomino , the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. It is a tile drafting and placement game for two to four players.  The game is played in short rounds. First, tiles are laid out in a field and players take turns drafting tiles based on the order of the previous round.

Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. only one side of their domino needs to match the land the connect to, but it can gain them more points if both sides match. The goal is to sort their kingdom so that they have large contiguous terrain (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. Points are calculated by taking the number of continuous terrain times the number of crown icons found on any domino in that terrain. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

See our Spiel Des Jahres 2017 article here.

Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a beautiful science-themed game that features the tree life cycle and a rotating sun to collect light points. The game plays two to four players and takes 45 minutes to an hour to play. In Photosynthesis the sun moves around the board three times and players plant and progress trees through their life cycle to collect points.  The trees are three dimensional and provide a beautiful visual as the forest “grows”.

Photosynthesis plays in rounds. Standard play is three rounds. Each round consists of two phases: the Photosynthesis Phase and the Life Cycle Phase.   Each tree that is not in the shadow of another tree earns Light Point  You then earn a scoring token based upon their location on the board, which represents the richness of the soil.

The game ends after the sun makes three complete revolutions around the board.  Points are then calculated based on scoring tokens and unused light points.

See our review here.

Breaking games

4 the Birds

4 The Birds is a family board game for two to six player that is a wonderfully designed classic lineup game (think Connect4 but allowing squares as well). This game is easy to learn and fun to play and has unique elements like a ‘pecking order’ among birds, non-player crows and hawks that scatter the flock, and 6 action cards that allow players to manipulate gameplay.

Each player rolls two dice on their turn to determine where they will place their bird on the tree.  If a player rolls a 4 and a 2, they get to choose if they place their bird on the 24 spot or the 42 spot.

When placing birds, territorial disputes are resolved via a mechanic called a “Pecking Order” and there is slide mechanic that goes into effect when birds vie for the same spot on the board.  If a player chooses not to place a bird they can play one of their 6 action cards instead.

See our review here.

Calliope Games

Tsuro

Tsuro is a tile laying game for two to eight players with a beautiful Asian aesthetic. In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player.

Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board while trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.

See our review here.

Roll For It!

Roll for It! is a simple and quick dice and card game. The object of the game is to be the first player to collect 40 points by managing dice and matching the appropriate dice to the cards in play. The game players two to four, however by purchasing both the red and purple sets, you can increase the number of players to eight.

Game play is quite easy and takes mere minutes to explain to new players. On their turn the player completes three actions.

  1. Roll for it! The player rolls dice once per turn
  2. Match it! The player then matches the results of their roll with the dice images shown on the three face-up Roll For It! cards, ignoring results that don’t match any images.
  3. Score it! Players score a Roll For It! card as soon as they’ve matched all of its die images with dice of their own color. A card is worth points equal to the number printed at the bottom.

See our review here.

Days Of Wonder

Ticket to Ride

Ticket To Ride is a two to five player game with a nicely designed heavy cardboard map of North American train routes. During gameplay, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the United States. Each player is working on completing their own secret routes. If another player claims a path they need, the player needs to try and find another path to complete their route, if possible. This also adds a potential “take that” element to the game.

On each turn you can only take one of 3 actions: draw Train Car Cards, claim a Route between two cities on the board, draw additional Destination Tickets. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points. Points are earned from completing routes, and lost for incomplete route cards. Each round allows for players to plan, think strategically, and make tactical decisions.

See our review here.

Gamewright

Dragonwood

In Dragonwood players take on the roll of adventures traveling and defeating creatures, collecting items to help on your adventure.  This all occurs while players deal with events cards as they come up and ultimately earning the most victory points.  Dragonwood incorporates set collection and hand management and is for two to four players.

At the beginning of the game five cards from the Dragonwood deck are laid out in a landscape.  These cards include the magical creatures, enhancements, and events.  On their turn players may draw an adventurer card or  try to capture a card from the landscape by striking, stomping, or screaming.  Players collect sets of adventurer cards and can play them to earn the number of dice equal to the number of adventurer cards they use. Players then roll to see if they can roll a total number equal or greater to the number on the card for the attack they selected.The game ends once the adventure deck has been played through twice or the two dragons in the deck are captured.  The player with the most victory points wins.

Go Nuts For Donuts 

Go Nuts For Donuts is a card drafting and set collection game for two to six players where players are trying to collect the best donuts to eat.  Since there is no sharing in this game, player are bidding on the different donuts available in the donut row. Players bid in secret and at the end of the bidding only those donuts with a single bidder are collected.  This brings in an element of  strategy with bidding.  The most desired cards often receive multiple bids and can not be collected.

Each kind of the 21 kinds donut ( and two beverages) has either points it gains you, an action you can take immediately upon retrieving the card, or both. The kinds of donut cards available to players increases with the player count. The game ends when there are not enough cards to complete another round of bidding and the player with the most points wins.

Sushi Go

 Sushi-Go takes place in the fast-paced world of a sushi chef, you must be the most creative and the fastest of all to be the best! The game comes in a cute tin and plays two to five players.

Players start with cards in their hand based on the number of players, and select one card to play before passing the rest of their cards to the next player to choose from!  The game plays in 3 hands, where all but dessert cards are cleared from the table and scored at the end.  The strategy of the game lies in making the most of the cards passed to you, while trying to stop opponents from making the combinations they need to maximize points.

The most interesting dynamic of this game is the chopsticks.  They are played in one round, and used on a subsequent turn to play two cards at once from the current hand.  The chopsticks get passed on to be used by someone else.

As is, Sushi Go! is a fun game to play with your children or even with your adult friends, even if you don’t like sushi!

See our review here.

Sushi Go Party

Sushi Go Party takes the best of  Sushi Go and adds more. It plays two to eight players,and comes in a bigger tin that shows off more cute sushi rolls. The main gameplay difference is that players spend the first bit of the game choosing which cards to include in the deck that everyone drafts. There is no established rule in the book for determining which cards are selected either. The rule book includes eight deck suggestions, and players can come up with their own interesting combinations.

Hasbro

Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly Gamer is a must see for any Nintendo fan.  Nintendo elements infuse through the game, and the gameplay is vastly different.  Power-ups give players the ability to collect coins, force opponents to drop coins, and move forward. Coins replace the paper dollars, and are used for everything. Passing Go now has player activating Boss Battles, and these Boss Battles will reward the victor with additional coins for the end of the game, as well as some fun treats like a free property, or stolen goods from an opponent.

With all of these added features and a significantly faster pace, Monopoly Gamer feels like a game Nintendo and Parker Brothers can be proud to have their names on. The ability to add additional player characters is also a great way to add replayability to this one.

See our review here.

Horrible Games

Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion is a game that will fit right into any household dominated by Harry Potter fans. Two to four players take on the role of wizards who are trying to make potions. They take turns pulling marbles out of an (ingenious) game board to collect resources. If marbles of the same color are touching when they pull out their first marble, then they get those as well. Both the look of game board and the matching color component is very reminiscent of mobile matching games.  The concept is straight forward and the puzzle-like mechanics will keep everyone engaged.

Players work to complete two potions at a time on their “work station” , and earn points for each complete token. Once players complete the potion components they have the option  to “drink” them potion.  Drinking the potion give the player a single use ability. Using up all the skill tokens or the potion cards ends the game. Points earned from completing potions determines the winner.

Iello

King of Tokyo

Attacking Aliens, Rampaging Lizards, Giant Robots, Mutant Bugs, and Ferocious Gorillas: this game has them all! King of Tokyo is a game for two to six players that combines a board game, a dice game and a card game. You play as one monster whose main goals are to destroy Tokyo and battle other monsters in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo!

At the beginning of the turn, each player rolls six dice. The dice show the following symbols: numbers 1, 2, or 3 (representing Victory Points that can be earned), a lightning bolt (representing Energy that can be earned), a heart (representing Healing), and a claw (representing Attack). The player with the most Attack dice goes first (the fiercest). Each turn consists of 4 steps: rolling and re-rolling the dice, resolving the dice, buying cards and using their effects, and the end of turn decision.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! When you add in cards that can have a permanent or temporary effect, like growing a second head, body armor, nova death ray, etc., you get a VERY exciting game. In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.

See our review here

Kids Table Board Gaming

Food Fighters

Food Fighters is a 2 player game. This game is a player elimination style of game with some fun dice rolling mechanics as well as a bit of card drafting and component collecting opportunities. The rule booklet is fun and well laid out. The game mechanics are clear and well balanced(though the power cards initially felt uneven, further game play changed our opinion).

On their turn, each player completes three actions- a) Roll for Beans or Swap fighter tiles or Attack b) Spend Beans to buy a tool from the pantry c) Allow opponent to repair their formation. After these actions are complete, play passes to the opponent. The ultimate goal is to be the first player to knock out three matching enemy fighters. This is great strategy battle game that plays quickly and is easy to learn and explain to other players.

See our review here.

Plan B Games

Azul

Azul is an abstract game for two to four players, and won the 2018 Speil De Jahar. Players are working to replicate the design on their board.

At the beginning of each round players select tiles from a factory display represented by  circles with four tiles on each or the center discard pile. Players each take one design and discards the rest to the center pile. The selected tiles are placed in pattern lines. There are one to five spaces for tiles in each pattern line. Extra tiles are placed on the floor line and score negative points at the end of that round.  Players score points as  they place their tiles.  Adjacent tile or completing a column or row on their “wall” earn additional points.  The game ends when one or  more players have completed a row by the scoring phase of a round.

Privateer Press

Zombies Keep Out

Zombies Keep Out is a cooperative games for one to six players. Like all cooperative games there are MANY ways to lose and only one way to win. Players must collect parts and build 3 contraptions while facing nearly insurmountable odds as each player’s turn increases the urgency of the situation! The interesting dynamic that Zombies Keep Out has that sets it apart, is that the player who draws the aptly named “Terrible Things” card must choose between 3 options of many possible occurrences that do their title justice.  As the game progresses. “Terrible Things” become “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” Things.

The pool of zombies (it is actually a literal swimming pool full of zombies) depletes, and the option of being bitten becomes more and more probable.  Biting adds a very kid-friendly scale of terribleness. The bitten player looses the ability to speak normally and their decision making is increasingly hindered with additional bites. Any bite past the third will turn you into a full fledged Zombie, groaning continuously.

This game is immensely enjoyable and the cartoonish characters will be a quick favorite of most children. Zombies Keep Out is basically the answer to the question on all of our minds: what happens after Pandemic?

See our review here.

R&R Games

Hanabi

The game is simple.  Hanabi is the Japanese word for Fireworks, and you are pyrotechnicians who have accidentally mixed up all of the parts of your fireworks display and now — THE SHOW MUST GO ON!  You have to work together to create the best display you possibly can despite your myriad of mistakes! The kicker is, you can’t look at your own hand!

Your teammates can give you limited information about your hand as their turn, but if you misunderstand and play the wrong firework, it can be disastrous!

The game is immensely challenging, and really makes you consider every move!  While the recommended age is 8+, this game mechanic seems to lend itself to older players.  It requires patience, reading your team-mates and figuring out how best to convey half (or less) of the picture to your fellow “fireworkers”.  Hanabi teaches simple strategy and teamwork in a somewhat high pressure environment where you don’t have access to all of the variables at play.

See our review here

 

Spin Master Games

Santorini

In Santorini players take on  the roll of builders to create beautiful towers with two to four players.  On each turn, players move one of their two builders to an adjacent space. Players are then required to build on a neighboring space. Players are trying to complete a three level building and have a worker standing on top of it.  The first player to accomplish this wins the game.  Buildings may be complete it with a dome, and that blocks players from placing their worker on it.  

Santorini also incorporates god and hero powers into the game in the form of Greek gods and heros.  These god card allow for special actions or a change in win conditions. The god cards add a unique variability to the game.

Z-Man Games

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a medieval France themed tile laying and area control game for two to five players. Players are trying to build features and have their followers (meeples) on features to score points.

Players take turns taking a tile and placing it against a matching feature, such as city, road, and fields. There are also monasteries, which sit in the middle of fields. Players score points for: completed roads, completed cities, surrounded monasteries, and completed fields.  When players run out of tiles the game ends and players get partial points for incomplete features.

Carcassonne is well know for its many expansions and versions.  The current base game now include two mini expansions: the River and the Abbott. At the time of this writing the Z-Man Games website had 8 expansions for sale.  There also is a big box versions which contains the base game and 11 expansions. Additionally, there are three stand alone games with different settings and themes.

Pandemic

In Pandemic, two to four players take on one of several roles, such as Medic, Dispatcher, or Researcher, in their quest to cure 4 diseases before time runs out and humanity is wiped out.

Game play follows a standard turn-based approach. Each player starts their turn by drawing from an event deck to determine where the newest infections are.  Then, they use location cards to move around the globe, treating diseases to prevent outbreaks.  Finally, they draw more location cards to restock their hand.  If a player can get three location cards of a single color and can get to a lab, they can create a cure.  The cure that won’t immediately eradicate the disease. Rather, it will make the disease easier to treat.

There is one way to win (working together to cure all 4 diseases), and multiple ways to lose (running out of time, being overwhelmed by diseases, etc.)  Players can change the difficult by increasing the starting number of infections.

See our review here.

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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We’re sharing tips for saving money as a gaming family in our newest guide! We will help you choose a gaming console, where and how to buy games, and we’ll even talk about accessories. Last time we talked about where to buy your games and how to save money buying them. 

This time it’s all about the hardware!

Windows PC

Maintaining multiple gaming PCs can be time consuming and expensive. This may work for families with a Windows computer technician in house. When planning your gaming budget keep in mind the cost of hardware upgrades.

There are solutions to play your office computer in the family room. The Steam Link and Nvidia Shield both support this feature. There are limitations and network requirements however so investigate further if this sounds useful.

Mac

Both Steam and GOG support Mac computers. Maintaining multiple Mac computers is easier than Windows PCs for most people. Many games are not available on Mac though. Available games often run slower or with fewer graphical features.

Nintendo Switch

The Switch costs US$300 and has a strong selection of games. Many games on the Switch allow you to share its standard “Joy-Con” controllers for couch co-op multiplayer sessions. This can be awkward for large hands because the Joy-Con is physically small. The Switch Joy-Con controllers are the most expensive at US$80 MSRP. Nintendo also offers a “Pro” controller similar in design to the Xbox and PlayStation controllers. The Pro controller retails for US$70.

The Switch uses microSD cards for data storage. Smaller size microSD cards are inexpensive at 64GB for less than US$20. Prices rise significantly for the cards with the most storage. Switch physical cartridges also require microSD storage for patches. Families planning large Switch game libraries should consider the cost of digital game storage versus the convenience.

PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 costs US$300 and has the biggest installed base of modern consoles. It is often the best choice for multiplayer gaming outside the family. There is a limited selection of couch multiplayer games and each player must have their own US$60 MSRP controller. PlayStation 4 owners cannot play online games with players on Xbox One or Switch.

The PlayStation allows you to use a single external USB 3 hard drive to expand the internal storage. This drive can be up to 8TB in size. You cannot use a USB hub to connect the external drive. Once formatted it is only readable by the PlayStation. Moving the drive requires ejecting it from the PlayStation settings menu first. PlayStation supports copying games between the internal console and external hard drive storage.

PlayStation uploads saved games only from the primary console. This is a problem for families using multiple consoles! Accessing saved games requires multiple steps on both consoles. PlayStation limits online storage to 10GB of saved data per user.

The PlayStation 4 supports “remote play” – where a PC, Mac, Vita, or PlayStation TV can access the PlayStation in the same house or over the Internet. The feature requires a PlayStation 4 controller and free software download for PC and Mac. Local and remote players can only play the same game together. Remote Play prevents the PlayStation from playing another game.

Microsoft Xbox

Xbox One S consoles are US$300. There are limited couch multiplayer games on Xbox – similar in quantity to the PlayStation 4. The Xbox One is less popular than the PlayStation 4. This can be a problem when trying to play older multiplayer games online since there are fewer potential players. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gamers cannot play online games together. Some specific titles do support playing with Switch, Windows PC, and mobile.

Controllers are US$60 MSRP. Microsoft offers a custom controller design option as well for US$70 where you can choose various color options to create a unique controller. This can make a fantastic gift!

Xbox also supports two unique controller options. Copilot allows two controllers to both fully control a single game. This is a great option for a younger player who needs a little help. It is also popular with gamers with disabilities. Even more exciting is the Xbox Adaptive Controller. This uses industry standard assistive devices to connect to a controller base, enabling a range of new options for gamers with disabilities.

Xbox supports attaching two external USB 3 hard drives. Each drive can be up to 8TB in size. Attaching two smaller drives is a cost effective choice as well since they are often inexpensive. Once formatted a drive is only readable by Xboxes. You can move the drive between Xboxes by unplugging the drive.

The Xbox supports moving games between drives on the same system and between Xboxes on the same network. This can save money on metered Internet connections. One Xbox can copy games to other consoles.

The Xbox synchronizes saved games to the cloud so switching between Xbox consoles is painless. Launching a game first time on a new console and it downloads the saved game. Updating saved games occurs in the background while playing. Storage for this saved game syncing is unlimited.

A free Windows 10 Xbox app allows remote play with an Xbox console at home. The Xbox can only play one game at a time however.

Mixed Platforms and Cross Play

Playing together using multiple video game platforms has limitations. Most games rely on the video game console or Steam multiplayer services. Only games with “cross play” features can play together across different systems. A “party” – a group of people like a family – playing together is often a separate consideration; not all cross play games support cross parties.

Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft are the most popular games with crossplay. Rocket League plans to add cross-party play in late 2018. These games support Xbox, Switch, PC, and – excepting Rocket League – even mobile devices. Absent from any cross play is PlayStation. Sony has so far not made cross play possible according to developers.

A more limited version of cross play is Microsoft’s “Xbox Play Anywhere” and “cross platform” programs. Xbox Play Anywhere provides a license for both the Xbox and Windows 10 version of the game with a digital purchase. A single account shares the game with all users on the computer. With an Xbox and Windows 10 PC this can save money! However, the small game selection limits the usefulness of Xbox Play Anywhere.

Not all Xbox Play Anywhere titles support cross platform multiplayer. Look for these features on the game’s store page. Some examples of games with Xbox Play Anywhere and cross-play are: Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizons 3, and Ark: Survival Evolved.


That was a whole lot of info right? And we aren’t even close to done! Come check back for part three soon!!


About the Author

Adrian Luff is a lifelong video gamer with three video game obsessed boys and a very understanding wife. He is fortunate enough to have worked in the video game industry for over 20 years building online services for multiplayer gaming. He worked on servers for Battle.net used by the Starcraft, Diablo, and Warcraft games. He also designed the launch infrastructure for World of Warcraft. Adrian leads a team of engineers building robust systems, infrastructure, and developer tools for Twitch.tv (a division of Amazon).

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