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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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 Millions of dollars will be spent this year to market AAA video game titles like Madden 15, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Grand Theft Auto V. These franchises are pillars of the video game world (for better or for worse), but there is FAR more out there than what you can see on store shelves or in TV advertisements.

Hundreds of games by independent developers are released on PC as well as on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Marketplace and Nintendo eShop. These games are often smaller, simpler in scope, and much less costly than the standard $60. Even better? Many of these games are better than the juggernauts.

There are a lot of parents buying new consoles for their kids this holiday now that the next generation of consoles is in full swing. Make sure that you take a look at the online store for whatever console you buy and take a look at the smaller games available. Some of them are amazing.

Some highlights include: Resogun (PlayStation 4), Chariot (All home consoles), Shovel Knight (WiiU), and Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions (PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One). I cant show trailers or game play in print, but there are videos galore for all of these games available on YouTube.

Remembering the smaller games will guarantee that there will always be something to play (and you won’t break the bank keeping it that way)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire

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

3. Yoshi’s New Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mention: Shovel Knight

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

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

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

1. Forza Horizons 2

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

2. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

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

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

3. Minecraft

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

4. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

It’s LEGO Batman. ‘Nuff said.

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

5. Fantasia: Music Evolved

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

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

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

1. LittleBigPlanet 3

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

2. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

This is LEGO Batman. ‘Nuff Said.

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

3. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

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

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

4. Minecraft

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

5. Tales of Symphonia Chronicles

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

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

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

 

1. Mario Kart 8 – (Read our review here!)

Mario Kart 8 is on the short list for Game of the Year here at EFG. It was a must own for anyone with a WiiU at launch, but the promise of new racers and tracks coming down the line makes it a no brainer.

2. Super Smash Brothers for WiiU

You only get one Smash Bros. game per Nintendo console generation and this is it. It has not released yet as of the time of this writing, but it launches on November 21, 2014 and will likely be one of the hottest games of the holiday season.

3. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze

Nintendo makes really good platformers. DK Tropical Freeze released earlier this year in the Spring of 2014 so it was missed by a lot of families. This holiday is a great opportunity to pick up a very strong game.

4. Hyrule Warriors – (Read our review here!)

Hyrule Warriors was announced this Spring to mixed opinions. Many people were disappointed that is was not a traditional Zelda game. But, it has been released to some stellar reviews.

5. Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad releases on December 6th, 2014 and looks like it might be the most charming game Nintendo has released in a long time. It is based on the Captain Toad puzzle levels in Super Mario 3D World but expands them to an entire game.

Honorable Mention: Shovel Knight – (Read our review here!)

Shovel Knight is just plain amazing. If you, or your child, have any interest in classic Nintendo games then this is a great buy for the WiiU. This is a downloadable title that is available on the Nintendo eShop and its low price (under $20) doesn’t hurt!

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that Disney’s Frozen is one of the biggest properties on the planet right now. There is an endless mountain of Frozen merchandise for parents to buy right now and I suspect that will continue well beyond this Holiday season.

We’re a gaming site, so we took some time to locate some of the Frozen themed games that will be available.

Video Games

Frozen Olaf’s Quest – Nintendo DS/3DS: Olaf’s Quest is interesting in that it is one of the last licensed games that Disney will make. Olaf’s Quest is a mascot platforming game featuring the lovable character Olaf from Frozen. It is budget priced and available for both the DS and 3DS handhelds.

DISNEY INFINITY – Frozen Toy Box Set– Nintendo WiiU, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One: Disney Infinity is, put simply, a very big deal. This year’s edition is focused very heavily on the Marvel Super Heroes, but the Anna and Elsa figures still work with the new game.

If your children have shown interest, but aren’t into superheroes then Disney is releasing a toy box version of Disney Infinity 2.0 later this year that includes the lovable Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch) and the frees-spirited Merida (from Brave).

Mobile Games

Frozen Free Fall – This is a free to play Match-3 style game that is available on Android and iOS. Downloading this on any new Phone or Tablet being given as a gift doesn’t add to the cost, but it does help tie the gift into a Frozen theme if that is

Board Games

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

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

Disney Frozen Memory Match Game: Memory is often the first game that children can actually play that isn’t completely random (here’s looking at you Candy Land). This version of Memory includes a pastel aesthetic and includes many of the characters from the movie.

Spot it! Disney Frozen – Alphabet (3+) – Spot It! is an amazing game. It stands apart from many other children’s games because it is equally challenging for both adults and children alike. Spot It! is all about observational skills as opposed to prior knowledge. You will lose to your children in this game (and you will love it when it happens). Trust me. This version of the game, like others we have listed previously, features the same mechanics as the standard edition of the game with the Disney Frozen skin.

Those are the Frozen themed games we have found. Do you have any others that you have found?

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Holiday shopping is getting more and more difficult every year. Parents used to have to worry about “the hot toy,” but now there are so many video games released each year that it can be very confusing for parents.

The following is a list of some of our recommendations for parents who need a little bit of help to make sure they make the most of their holiday dollars.

“The Games”

Below will be what we consider to be the most important family friendly games available.

Multiplatform

  • Minecraft (If you are buying your child a new Non-Nintendo console this should probably be the first game you buy to go with it.)
  • Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
  • Skylanders: Trap Team
  • Disney Infinity 2.0
  • Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

Nintendo WiiU

Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros. For WiiU

Nintendo 3DS

Pokemon Alpha Sapphire or Pokemon Omega Ruby

Microsoft Xbox 360

Forza Horizons 2

Microsoft Xbox One

Forza Horizons 2

Sony PlayStation 3

LittleBigPlanet 3

Sony PlayStation 4

LittleBigPlanet 3

Sony PS Vita

Tearaway

Board Games

Squashed Family Board Game 

Full Disclosure: We have no reviewed this game yet, but a full review is on the way!

This is an interesting strategy game that involves moving pawns around the outside of a cube. The goal is to outmaneuver your opponents as the cube rotates. You want to be the last player with a pawn on the board. This one looks interesting just for the unique game board itself.

Robot Turtles

We reviewed this one earlier this year and it is still one of the coolest learning experiences you can play with your kids. It actually manages to teach some of the basics of coding while playing a simple board game. We highly recommend it!

Qwirkle

This strategy game intended for players six and older is simple to learn and will remain fun for a very long time. In it players place wooden tiles on a flat play area and match them up in rows by either color or shape.

There is even a travel version that is great for parents on the go (and is great for teaching colors to even younger players)!

Spot It!

This game is simple, inexpensive, and portable. Oh! And your Preschooler has a decent shot at beating you in it.

Ticket to Ride

This was one of the first board games we reviewed. It is among the best family games on the market. If your family has been entertaining the idea of starting a family game night, then this is, bar none, the best game to start with.

Forbidden Island

Most board games that families are used to playing are competitive. Forbidden Island bucks that trend by being a perfect entry point into the realm of cooperative gaming.

Minecraft Stuff

LEGO Minecraft

Minecraft is a phenomenon. It has been described as “digital LEGOs” since it arrived on the scene. It actually stunned me that it took so long for LEGO to actually get in on the action. There are tons of different sets out there.

Minecraft Hoodie

I know the stereotype is that kids hate to be given clothes for presents, but this hoodie from ThinkGeek might just fix that.

Minecraft Sheet Magnets

There is a ton of Minecraft merch out there and I dug through a lot of it to make this list. I don’t know why but something about these really sung to me. Nothing screams “perfect gift” than something that will result in lots of little magnet squares attached to the fridge. This is probably most Mom’s personal nightmare right? Aunts and Uncles looking for vengeance gifts take note. (Full disclosure: My wife made me add that last bit since she basically hates these things.)

Minecraft: The Complete Handbook Collection

The various Minecraft handbooks are a great way to encourage kids to get excited about reading by engaging with Minecraft while they aren’t at the keyboard. The information in these books is very useful. Some of the details will likely be out of date relatively quickly as the game is patched, but the theory will be useful.

Miscellaneous Gaming Gifts

LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Gaming System – $149.99

No one should call this a knockoff. The LeapTV won’t be able to unseat any of the big name consoles, but its games are guaranteed to be child appropriate.

This may be a great option for households with a significant separation between older and younger siblings. This would be one way to keep the younger sibling away from a teenagers games.

The Bag of Holding (ThinkGeek.com) – $59.99

If you get this reference… you will want to buy this thing.

Parents: It’s ok if you don’t get this reference. This will be hysterical to your son or daughter if they play Dungeons and Dragons. Trust me.

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Each year Toys “R” Us releases their “Hot Toys List” to help parents identify what some of the best new toys are for each holiday shopping season. The following are the highlights of the list that are relevant to us here at Engaged Family Gaming. The rest of the list (including a pretty awesome NERF Bow and a very cool new ImagiNext play set) can be found here.

Kurio Xtreme

The Kurio Xtreme is a Toys“R”Us exclusive 7” Android tablet that comes with a suite of motion based children’s apps. It is built with children’s web safety in mind. This is straight from the product description: “Parents can rest assured their kids are web surfing safely with the Kurio Genius technology, which includes time controls, app management and allows for up to 8 individual user profiles.”

Kid friendly tablets aren’t all about web services though. The Kurio Xtreme comes with a rubber bumper that is designed to help protect it from the inevitable drops.

LeapFrog LeapTV Educational Active Video Game System

The LeapTV is a new video gaming system built to teach through motion. “With a library of 100+ LeapFrog educator-approved game cartridges, game downloads and videos, kids never run out of fun!”

The LeapFrog system is built around educational programing. It features over a hundred educator approved cartridges designed to teach reading, writing, and mathematics. Game types include:

Body Motion: No controller required – the Microsoft Kinect-ish camera captures kids’ moves as they explore Disney Sofia the First’s world or dance in LeapFrog Dance Party.

Pointer Play: Swivel one end of the controller out to transform it into a wand controller to let your children play as Jake from Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates, or bowl a strike in LeapFrog Sports.

This system does its best to capture some of the magic other other gaming systems at a fraction of the cost. I am hard pressed to believe that it will be as high quality as the other systems, but it’s collection of purely educational games is hard to match.

Lego Fusion Town Master

Ok. Real talk. This sounds real cool. Lego Fusion Town Master is a Toys”R”Us exclusive playset that lets kids build a town and then scan it building by building into an iOS or Android app. This takes all of the random free to play city building games on the market and turns then on their head. I am a very big fan.

Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack

Of course Skylanders are on the list. This year’s release isSkylanders Trap Team. This iteration of the title gives players the ability to capture villains and fight with them alongside their (likely massive) collection of figures.

The new release will come with a set of new figures that your children will want to add to their collection including new Skylanders Minis.

If your family hasn’t taken the Skylanders plunge for lack of a home console there is even atablet edition.

Disney INFINITY: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Edition

Disney Infinity was new to the toys-to-life model last year, but it was a massive success. We knew from the outset that this was intended to be a platform for all of Disney’s properties and it only took a year for them to unleash Marvel superheroes on the world.

Disney INFINITY: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Edition  features the Avengers as well as Spider-Man, the Guardian’s of the Galaxy, and multiple villains. More will certainly be released throughout the year, but the starting lineup is excellent. If your children are Marvel fans than this will likely be a must-own.

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