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The video game marketplace is very different now than it was when many of us where kids. We remember things like strolling through Blockbuster to rent a game for the weekend or wandering around Toys’R’Us looking to purchase a new game with birthday money. That world is all over now. Blockbuster was all but dismantled by Netflix. Toys’R’Us is closing its doors. And you don’t even have to leave your house to buy games anymore thanks to digital storefronts.

The rise of digital marketplaces has brought with it a great debate between gamers who will only purchase “physical” games on discs and cartridges and those who will only buy them digitally. Both sides of the battle have their merits, but it can lead some parents very confused. This is especially true for those of us who remember when buying games was simple.

This article is intended to lift the curtain on the debate between buying physical and digital games to help you make the best decisions for your family. I know that sounds dramatic… after all we are still buying games whether they come in a box or come through the internet. I don’t mean to make it sound serious, but I do believe that this is a topic that is worth thoughtful consideration. Making the right decision for your family can save you a lot of frustration and money. (And who doesn’t love that?)

Definitions

“Physical Games” are games that are purchases in a retail store or purchased through on online retailer. The game itself is stored on either a disc or a cartridge. You might be able to download additional content for the game online, but the bulk of the game is available on the physical media.

“Digital Games” are games purchases entirely online. There is no disc or cartridge at all. Instead, you simply buy them game from a digital marketplace and download it to your device. Most of us are used to this model on our phones and there are some games that are only released digitally for consoles and for PC. But, the truth is that just about every major video game is available for digital purchase.

Physical Games – Pros and Cons

Pro

  • Used Games – The strongest case for physical games is that you can purchase those games used at a lower price. This is a fundamental part of the games industry. Buying and selling used games is keeping Game Stop afloat and has been for years.
  • Sharing – Physical games aren’t locked to a specific console so they can easily be shared with friends and family.
  • Trading/Selling – Physically purchased games can be traded in to game stores like Game Stop or sold second hand.

Con

  • Space – Physical games and their boxes take up space and can create a lot of clutter. This might not not matter to everyone, but parents who cringe when they see a stack of game cases
  • Durability – Physical game cartridges and discs can be damaged, lost, or stolen.

Digital Games – Pros and Cons

Pro

  • Cheap Games – The games can be deeply discounted because they don’t need to be sold at a price that includes the cost of the disc or cartridge it is stored on.
  • Cleanliness – There are no discs or cartridges which leads to less clutter
  • Availability – Digital purchases allow you to have access to a game  at all times. This is a pretty big deal for handheld systems like the Nintendo 3DS or the Nintendo Switch. You’ll have those games in your library everywhere you go.

Con

  • Ownership vs Licensing – You don’t actually own the games you buy digitally. Instead, you are purchasing a license to download it and play. This means that the developer or publisher can alter or remove the game from the market at any time.
  • Non-shareable – You don’t have a disc or cartridge to loan, trade, or give away.
  • Download Size – Many modern games take up a LOT of space because of their large file sizes. Hard drives that come built in on modern consoles don’t have unlimited space.

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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An Educator’s Perspective: Nintendo Labo

One of the largest and latest crazes for kids is STEM, which is the incorporation and integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (all high demand subjects).  STEM also furthers the develop of innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving. Nintendo appears to be dipping its toe into the STEM realm with their newly announced Nintendo Labo kits.  They have two kits available for pre-order right now; the Variety Kit which includes: fishing pole, toy house, motorbike handlebars, two RC cars, and a 13 key piano.  The second kit is the Robot Kit which allows you to build a backpack harness that controls a robot.  The variety of these kits allow for a diverse range of exploration, discovery, and connecting to technology.

Make Play Discover Verses STEM

The Labo kits announced from Nintendo are the latest foray into STEM with an intriguing technology component. These kits are not advertised as STEM on the Nintendo website, which is a wise move on their part.  These Labo kits are not STEM in the ideal educational model. They don’t meet the definition because they don’t provide an opportunity for the child to design and problem solve. Ideally in a STEM activity, materials are provided and the child has to determine how to build the item.  With that said, the Labo tagline is “ Make, Play, Discover.” This cuts right to the core intention of STEM. First, the kits allow the children to construct items which turn their joy-cons into “toy-cons”. Then they can learn about the engineering and technology involved.

Educational Assets

Nintendo Switch Labo Variety Kit

They may not be STEM kits in their purest form. But they have great potential. They let kids see how these cardboard objects are interacting with the different technological components in the Switch.  This is a great fit for children who enjoy building.  Labo provides kids with the opportunity to explore the mechanics of how each toy-con works.  Then using the software, they delve deeper into how each item utilizes the Switch technology. Nintendo states that there also is the ability to create beyond what is in the kit, and that creation is at the heart of STEM.

Durability

With the Nintendo Labo, building is a one shot experience.  Additionally, sharing among siblings may provide difficulty, especially for the robot.   I have reservations about the durability of the cardboard, however, being cardboard a resourceful parent to child potentially could remake the creation.

Conclusion

The  kits incorporate another level of play into the Switch that is far beyond solely interacting with the software.  We may be seeing the next stage of technology integrating into kits for children. There have been kits to build robots for years.  To incorporate the interactive technology that the Switch provides takes these STEM kits to a whole other level.  While the complexity of the software of the Switch is undenied, I wonder if this will be the beginning of more interactive DIY kits.  Ones that incorporate the technology we already own, such as our phones.

Overall, I am cautiously optimistic that Labo will be a great STEM experience for children to compete and enjoy with their families.  We will have to wait until April 20th when it launches and then can see for ourselves once it is in the hands of our kids.  

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Incredibles_2_logo

We have been waiting for a sequel to the Pixar Mega-hit The Incredibles for far too long. Fortunately that wait is nearly over. The sequel, simply named Incredibles 2, hits theaters this year on June 15th and we now have a plot synopsis and a cast list!

If you’re OK with some spoilers, then read on! Otherwise, I’ll see you at the movies on June 15th, 2018!

Plot Synopsis

“Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transition for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.”

Helen Parr/Elastigirl

Holly Hunter

HELEN PARR (voice of Holly Hunter), known in the Superworld as Elastigirl, hung up her Supersuit to raise the family with husband Bob, leaving their crime-fighting days behind them. But when she’s tapped to lead a campaign to bring the Supers back into the spotlight, she finds she can still bend, stretch and twist herself into any shape needed to solve the trickiest of mysteries. In short, she’s still got it. That’s good news, too, because a new villain is emerging—unlike any they’ve ever seen before.

Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible

Craig T. Nelson

BOB PARR (voice of Craig T. Nelson) cherishes his days as Mr. Incredible—a popular Super with mega-strength and the power to singlehandedly take out the bad guys. Ever since Supers were outlawed, Bob’s been mostly lying low, raising the family alongside his wife Helen. But when she’s called on to stretch her Super skills and hopefully change the public perception of Supers for the better, Bob must manage the household on his own, which calls for a completely different set of super powers.

Violet Parr

Sarah Vowell

VIOLET PARR (voice of Sarah Vowell), the firstborn of the Parr clan, is an introverted and intelligent 14-year-old teen that doesn’t quite fit in with the normal crowd. Socially awkward, outspoken and sarcastic, Violet plays her teenager role to perfection—all while secretly mastering her superpowers of invisibility and creating force fields. A Super at heart, Violet can’t help her urge to fight crime alongside her family.

Dashiell “Dash” Parr

Huckleberry “Huck” Milner

DASHIELL PARR (voice of Huckleberry “Huck” Milner) is a 10-year-old boy—restless, relentless, curious—though his remarkable power of Super speed certainly sets him apart. Dash sports a hearty sense of adventure and a boundless supply of energy. He’d love nothing more than to show off his special skills and fight a few bad guys along the way—and doesn’t understand why he has to keep his powers a secret.

Lucius Best/Frozone

Samuel L. Jackson

LUCIUS BEST (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) is not only Bob’s best friend, he’s a fellow-former Super who’s so chill, he can make ice with the point of a finger. But even when he’s not fighting crime as Frozone, Lucius is all about style. He has a quick wit and a cool, can-do attitude—and he wouldn’t think twice about breaking out his Supersuit if it could help bring Supers out of hiding.

Edna “E” Mode

Brad Bird

EDNA “E” MODE (voice of Brad Bird) possesses impeccable design sense, a keen understanding of cutting-edge technology and an unmatched skillset. A creative visionary, she longs for the return of Supers so she can once again create functional yet edgy Supersuits. The petite and powerful fashionista treats her clients like family, dahling, but sticks firmly to her long-held assertion: No capes!

Winston Deaver

Bob Odenkirk

WINSTON DEAVOR (voice of Bob Odenkirk) leads a world-class telecommunications company alongside his genius sister, Evelyn. Ultra-wealthy, savvy and suave, Winston goes big in everything he does—including his infatuation with Supers. He has been a supporter of Supers returning—all he needs is a hero (or three) to help him change public perception and bring them back into the sunlight.

Evelyn Deaver

Catherine Keener

EVELYN DEAVOR (voice of Catherine Keener), the brilliant brainchild behind her brother Winston’s telecommunications company, knows her way around tech. She loves tinkering with tech, and has never met a problem she can’t solve.

Rick Dicker

Jonathan Banks

RICK DICKER (voice of Jonathan Banks) heads up the official Super Relocation Program, helping the Parr family keep their Super identities secret—that’s no easy feat with this family. But Rick takes his job very seriously—at least until his division is shuttered, leaving the Parrs all on their own.

Voyd

Sophia Bush

VOYD (voice of Sophia Bush) is a young, overeager “wannabe” Super and a mega-fan of Elastigirl. Her superpower is the ability to divert and manipulate objects around her by creating voids that allow the objects to appear and disappear, and shift in space.

Ambassador

Isabella Rossellini

The Supers find an advocate in a dignified foreign AMBASSADOR (voice of Isabella Rossellini) who is committed to the support and legalization of Superheroes.


What do you think? Are you excited? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!

Source: Oh My Disney!

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5 Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Done With LEGO

Everyone loves LEGO. They’re fun, colorful and offer a world of possibility. It isn’t all about cool toy buildings and LEGO spaceships, either. Here are five things you didn’t know could be done with LEGOs!

LEGOs are a great way to exercise creative and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s no surprise that we have many cool and interesting creations both from the LEGO company itself and from fans. Some people, however, managed to make incredible things with these plastic interlocking bricks. In no particular order, here are five of them to show you, courtesy of BrickPals.com!

A LEGO Harpsichord

The LEGO Harpsichord is a full-sized, fully-functional musical instrument made by Henry Lim. The harpsichord is an older version of the piano, smaller and simpler, which makes it a perfect candidate for LEGO bricks. This build is entirely made of LEGOs, the only non-brick pieces being the strings themselves. You can check the build in Henry Lim’s official website, which includes a sound sample. This isn’t the only musical instrument made of LEGO: there are others out there, including a ukulele.

Other than the harpsichord, Henry creates full-sized sculptures of various things, such as dinosaurs and people, out of LEGO.

The LEGO Car

This creation isn’t just a life-sized LEGO car. It actually works! Made entirely of LEGO bricks (including the engine) except for some structural parts such as wheels and tires, this car moves on compressed air and can reach speeds of around 15 to 20mph. Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida, with the help of 40 patrons and over 500,000 LEGO bricks, designed and built the car themselves. Raul Oiada, a teenager from Romania, built it and then shipped it to Melbourne, Australia, to an undisclosed location. Once there (and after some repairs due to damage to the pieces), the car took to the streets, a full-sized success.

A Starbucks Coffee Machine

Yes, it makes real coffee. Yes, it’s made of LEGOs. This amazing design does use some extras, mainly SAM Labs’ motors for some of the mechanisms, and it includes a heating coil for the water and coffee. It uses powdered instant coffee, so it’s not exactly the same a just-ground coffee, but for a LEGO creation, it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.

A Full-Sized House

This LEGO house was a full-sized, fully functional home. Located in Denbies, Surrey, over a thousand volunteers put the house together with over 3 million LEGOs. From chairs to goblets, from a bed to a hot shower and working sink and toilet, the full thing was perfectly livable! It even included a little LEGO cat and decorations. Unfortunately, this fantastic feat of LEGO creativity came to an end in 2009. Attempts to sell it to Legoland failed due to shipping costs, and conflicts over building permits caused the house’s demolition.
James May, who initiated the project to build the house, later hosted the James May’s Toy Stories where he talked about favourite toys of the past and how they came to the modern world.

A Functional 3D Printer

Yes, you read that right. This isn’t 3D printing LEGO bricks; it’s making a printer out of the bricks themselves. Surprisingly, there are several LEGO 3D printers out there, and some designs are available for anyone to build for themselves, but we found this one particularly interesting. In this design, developed by Arthur Sacek, the printer carves any 3D design out of floral foam. The only part of it that isn’t LEGO is the drill.

So there are some remarkable things that can be done with LEGOs. Did you know of them? Do you know more? Let us know!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

The board game market has been growing at a rapid pace for a while now and the last few years have been especially good. Take a look below for our recommendations for board games to share as gifts this year!

Hoagie


Hoagie is a fun, quick paced, and lighthearted card game great for anyone ages 5 and Up. In this game you are building a 5-piece sandwich and trying to spoil the components of your opponent’s sandwich.  The pictures on the spoiled food and special action cards are gross in a silly cartoon way, and are not excessively disgusting or scary, rather Hoagie has a level of gross that kids and adults will find entertaining. The first complete sandwich unspoiled wins. This game is great for the whole family and can be taught in minutes.  There is some strategy to Hoagie, but there is enough random chance it really is anybody’s game.    

Tak


Tak is an abstract strategy game similar in play to Chess, Go, and Mancala, recommended for ages 12 and up. It has simple rules, looks beautiful and is easy to play, yet has complex layers of strategy.  Players use beautiful wooden pieces to build a road from one side of the board to the other. The concept of Tak originated in the second book in The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. For any fan of the series or of fantasy in general to connection to literature is an intriguing extra layer to the game.  Pairing the game with the novels is a great gift set!

Imhotep


Imhotep is a beautiful Egyptian themed game. Players use wooden blocks as stones to “build” different ancient Egyptian structures. The game is designed for 2-4 players ages 10 and takes about 40 minutes to play. Imhotep has an alluring aesthetic to draw in younger gamers, and the Ancient Egyptian theme has a great deal of appeal to a wide range of ages.  This is a game that is easy to learn, but has a deeper strategy that is much more challenging.  Imhotep was also a 2016 Spiel des Jahres nominee.

Lanterns the Harvest Festival


Lanterns is a tile laying game which also incorporates color matching and set collecting.  Players are decorating the lake for the Harvest Festival in Imperial China.  Players collect cards based on the color lanterns that are oriented towards them on the lake cards.  Players then cash in sets of the lantern cards to make a dedication.  These dedication cards each have a number, and the player with the highest number of dedication points at the end wins.  The game is beautiful as you expand the lake covered in lanterns as tiles are added.  Gameplay is very easy to learn, and the easy steps on each turn make this game great for the whole family.

Seikatsu


Seikatsu is a visually beautiful and serene competitive token laying game. Players lay tokens with birds on them and the token is bordered by flowers.  The objective is to gather flocks of matching birds, and to line up rows of matching flowers from the perspective of their pagoda. A significant amount of strategy is needed to balance these two objectives.  The components of the game as well as the the board are gorgeous. The game is for 1-4 players and is recommended for ages 10 and up, though it ages down well.  The game is very easy to learn and has a good combination of luck and strategy infused into the gameplay.

Monopoly Gamer




Monopoly Gamer is a must see for any Nintendo fan.  Not only is the Nintendo elements infused through the game, but the gameplay is vastly different.  Power-ups have been added to the game and give players the ability to collect coins, force opponents to drop coins, and move forward. Instead of paper dollars, coins have replaced them, 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. Finally, Mario, Peach, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi come with the base game. Other characters can be purchased through a $3.99 character pack, which comes with the board figure, a sticker, and the player card with the character’s abilities.  This game is vastly different from versions of Monopoly in the past, and is worth a look.

Kingdomino


Kingdomino , the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. The goal is to sort their kingdom to that they have large contiguous biomes (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

DropMix by Harmonix


Harmonix is well known for being the company behind the music game genre in video games. They are bringing their expertise to play in a video game/board game hybrid called Drop mix now.

Dropmix is built around a series of cards that each represent the different pieces of a song that are mixed together. One card might represent the drum line to Cary Rae Jepson,’s “Call Me Maybe” while another card might represent the rhythm track from a song by The Roots.

There are multiple game modes available. One of them is a free play mode that turns players into a DJ. Another is a battle mode when players place cards down of various colors to try to be the first to play fifteen cards. All of the game modes are interesting, and all of them allow for some very interesting card combinations that result in sweet music.

Googly Eyes


Googly Eyes is a Pictionary style game with a twist. The artist during each turn has to put on a pair of whacky glasses that distort their vision while they draw. Families that find games like Telestrations , but have been craving a different experience will want to check this one out.

 

Square up by Mindware



Square Up is a fast paced puzzle games where players slide tiles around the game board to be the first to match the color pattern in a special cube shaker. This is a great puzzle toy that will be perfect in competitive families. It comes at a relatively low price point too!


Be sure to take a look at our other Holiday Gift Guides for 2017!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

Microsoft had a rough year this year with the Xbox One. They had to delay and/or cancel a bunch of games. Fortunately, families have several great options for games to play. Take a look below for our recommendations.

Star Wars Battlefront II


Star Wars is on everyone’s mind right now. How can it not be with Episode 8 looming this holiday season?

Star Wars fans will want to take a look at Star Wars Battlefront II this holiday. It isn’t available for purchase yet as of the time that I published our gift guide, but most early indications from a public beta have been positive. There have been some concerns raised by critics about the micro-transactions that are available in the game, but we don’t have all of the details from the final version of the game yet. We’ll need to wait and see if they end up being a true problem.

Forza Motorsport 7


Another year passes; another Forza game is released for the Xbox One. Last year we were able to race around the Australian Outback in Forza Horizons 3 (which is still a great gift idea in its own right if you have a racing fan in the house). This year we have Forza Motorsports 7. The biggest difference between these two games is where they place their focus on the driving.

Forza Motorsports 7 is a simulation racer so the developer’s attention is focused on crafting as realistic of a racing experience as possible. Forza 7 is also one of a handful of games that is being optimized for play on the Xbox One X so it will be a great way to showcase that new 4K TV Santa brought you!

 

Destiny 2


Destiny 2 is an amazing multiplayer shooter experience set in a cool sci-fi universe. It is also a great compromise for parents looking to find a shooter for their kids to play that isn’t as grim as Call of Duty: WW2 or Battlefield 1.

Cuphead



Ok. This one might be divisive. Cuphead is one of the coolest looking games to be released in years. With that said, it is also incredibly difficult so it will be difficult for inexperienced gamers to fully enjoy.

 

I am putting this game on the list because it is inexpensive, gorgeous, and will definitely appeal to families with kids who LOVE a challenge. Cuphead will push them to the limit, but you’ll love watching it while it happens!

Minecraft


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

Rocket League



If I told you a few years ago that millions of players would be playing digital soccer using rocket powered cars you’d has told me I was crazy. But, here we are! Rocket League is a game that you will LOVE to watch your kids play. The colors are bright. The action is wild. And the game is just absurd enough that you’ll be laughing the whole time. Don’t sleep on this one. Its great.


Make sure to look at all of our other Holiday Gift Guides for 2017!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

There were a lot of awesome games that came to the PlayStation 4 this year. Take a look at the games we recommend for Holiday gifts this year!

Horizon: Zero Dawn



Arguably the best game of 2017 for young adult gamers. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a story of life and struggle over the remnants of a future civilization. Robotic animal creatures roam a landscape filled with the remnants of a fallen civilization.  Players experience the story of Aloy, a young woman trying to survive and understand the great tragedy of her land.

I linked the Complete Edition above. It will be coming out on December 5th and will include the DLC pack that is launching in November.

 

Star Wars Battlefront II



Star Wars is on everyone’s mind right now. How can it not be with Episode 8 looming this holiday season?

Star Wars fans will want to take a look at Star Wars Battlefront II this holiday. It isn’t available for purchase yet as of the time that I published our gift guide, but most early indications from a public beta have been positive. There have been some concerns raised by critics about the micro-transactions that are available in the game, but we don’t have all of the details from the final version of the game yet. We’ll need to wait and see if they end up being a true problem.

 

Everybody’s Golf



Everybody’s Golf is a casual golf game that the whole family can play. You create goofy characters and play on relatively wild courses. The action is simple enough that just about anyone can play with a little practice. The $40 price tag doesn’t hurt either.

 

Destiny 2


Destiny 2 is an amazing multiplayer shooter experience set in a cool sci-fi universe. It is also a great compromise for parents looking to find a shooter for their kids to play that isn’t as grim as Call of Duty: WW2 or Battlefield 1.

 

Crash Bandicoot Collection


Crash Bandicoot was Sony’s attempt to compete with Super Mario. He never quite succeeded in supplanting him, but there are a lot of people who look back on his games fondly. The N-Sane Trilogy is a collection of the first three Crash Bandicoot games that have each been lovingly remade from the ground up and made available in a $40 collection.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX



Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming soon. (They say its coming next year, but I’ll believe that when I see it.) Players need to get ready for it and this is a collection of every meaningful game in the series so far.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age


A sprawling tale about the never ending cycle of war and intrigue. FF12 is the last game in the series from the PS2 era and was recently re-released for PS4 with an HD upgrade. Zodiac Age is the smooth update and rebalancing of an already great game. It even includes some features that never made it to the States on its initial debut.

Minecraft



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


Be sure to check out the rest of our holiday gift guides for 2017!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

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

 

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


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

 

Super Mario Odyssey



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

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

Splatoon 2


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

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

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe


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

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

Arms



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

Minecraft


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


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

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D & D Beyond – Taking Your Game to the Next Level

D&D Beyond at first glance is a collection of online gaming tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5.0, but the ease of use and friendly interface makes it more than the sum of its parts. D&D Beyond is an evolution of previous tools released by Wizards of the Coast for D&D 4.0 and improves on its subscription model, and improved stability by running everything in the browser instead of separate programs. All D&D Beyond’s best services are free with the creation of an account connected to Twitch.tv. Paid services include expansion of storage in the character creator and Dungeon Master related tools.

Why is it Awesome?

This is hands down the friendliest and most flexible set of tools for Dungeons and Dragons I have ever used.

The biggest features of D&D Beyond is its searchable databases and character creator. The D&D Beyond Website features not only an all-purpose search bar but a set of icons that lets you narrow your search through specific content, including content made by yourself.

It is important to note how much D&D Beyond supports user made, or “homebrew”, content. Every listing to search for a spell, magic item, or race, also give you the option to create or change an existing one in the same menu. While storage of homebrew content can get cramped with only the free subscription, the ability to play around with the tools was a creative opportunity all on its own.

Before I talk about the character creator, I wanted to point out the “Compendium”: Online access to purchase digital copies of every rulebook and adventure module for D&D 5.0. The Compendium, besides to the news updates posted to D&D Beyond, further supports a one-stop location for all things Dungeons and Dragons.

The character creator on D&D Beyond is not only the best character creator for Dungeons and Dragons by far, it is accessible tool for all levels of family gamers, from child to young adult to parent. The character creator has a “Show Help Text” option that starts turned on, so younger or less experienced gamers get additional information, while those with experience building characters can turn it off for a less cluttered experience. With the help text guiding you through the character creator, you will get detailed descriptions of every part of a character in Dungeons and Dragons as you make your choices.

Selecting the option for race, for example, starts with a simple list, but each selection expands into a full section with scroll-able text and full detailed description of your possible choice. Everything in the creator has collapsible text, which can help deal with the flood of information that can often come with character creation.

When you complete the character creator, which includes detailed sections for race, class, ability scores, background, and equipment, you have the option to either view and store the character sheet on your internet browser or download the sheet onto your computer.

Should you use this?

As a free service, D&D Beyond is the best set of Dungeon and Dragons online tools I have ever used. The Hero and Master subscriptions expand D&D Beyond with family-friendly services.

Hero subscriptions, which averages about three dollars a month, allow for unlimited character storage. This is useful for easy access and updating of a family’s worth of character sheets, as well an ad-free experience. Easy access to published homebrew content from other players is part of the subscription.

Master Subscriptions, which average about six dollars a month, while more expensive, allow you to share any purchased digital product with other players in the same campaign. This option would be best for many families of gamers to share access to one collection of digital books.

D&D Beyond is definitely worth every family gamer’s time to explore and use if they are fans of Dungeons and Dragons.

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