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Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our recommendations for the grown-up gamers in your life!

Control

Price: Check on Amazon

Control is the X-Files game we always wanted, but never got. You play as a woman named Jessie as she explores The Federal Bureau of Control in search of answers about her past. In short order, she becomes the director of the Bureau and acquires psychic powers and a transforming gun. Every twist and turn in the story (and the building itself) is interesting and you’ll be kept guessing until the very end. This is definitely a great gift for the grown up gamers on your list.

Resident Evil 2 Remake

A high definition remake made by game designers who grew up as fans of the original. This game is not only a visual upgrade, but an expansion of the original story that brought the zombie apocalypse of Raccoon City to the PS1 Era. Resident Evil 1 and 2 favored fixed camera angles and prerendered backgrounds as a solution for hardware limitations of the PS1. The RE2 Remake uses the power of modern gaming hardware to present an over the shoulder view made famous by more recent editions of the series with both visual and quality of life improvements. This game is a nostaglic horror experience, with the familiar suspense found in classic horror movies.

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro is the most recent title from From Software Director Hidetaka Miyazaki.

The game brings the complex storytelling and difficult, yet triumphant, combat of the Dark Souls series and sets the stage in a mythical feudal Japan. Produced in conjunction with Activision, this game is whirlwind of beautiful sound, visuals and actions and is well worth a holiday pick up.

Devil May Cry 5

Devil May Cry 5 is the most recent edition of an action/brawler series that is known bombastic action, sound and visuals.

The series refuses to take itself, or its apocalyptic stakes, very seriously. Game play focuses on performing stylish combat as one of three devil hunters. DMC 5 is a AAA title with B Movie sensibilities and is an inexpensive holiday pick up. 

Code Vein

Price: $37.18
Was: $59.99

Code Vein is the complex combat and cryptic stories known for in the Dark Souls series combined with beauty and bombast of an Anime art style and sensibility. The game’s story focuses on the remnants of civilization after a post apocalyptic encounter against an inhuman foe. Like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Code Vein adds a fully voiced cast of characters and allies. Action is the same brutality as Dark Souls, but supports a system that allows you to bring an NPC ally.

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat is a legendary franchise that is, somehow, growing in popularity with every iteration. Netherrealm Studios has managed to create a game with an incredible competitive scene AND an interesting story mode that should be the gold standard in the fighting game genre. The story mode plays out like a movie. You jump from character to character in a fantastically over the top adventure. You’re forced to play as most of the characters by the end. This has the hidden advantage of both making the experience more interesting, and giving you a chance to learn characters you might never have imagined playing.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our Xbox One recommendations for the kids in your life!

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

Price: $29.99
Was: $49.99

You might have heard people talk about No Man’s Sky being a disappointment. You might have heard about it’s hideous pre-release marketing. Forget about all of that. No Man’s Sky is a completely new experience that takes the bones of the original release and builds on it so much that they could have just called it a sequel. 

No Man’s Sky is all about exploring the unknown. You fly spacecraft from planet to planet gathering resources, building bases, and discovering interesting alien creatures as you travel towards the center of the Galaxy. It even has a creative mode for spacefarers that want to build without restrictions. 

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 is the culmination of a story that has been being told since the PS2 era. The story doesn’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t played all of the games, but that doesn’t really matter too much. The real draw is the opportunity to explore Disney worlds and battle evil alongside characters like Buzz Lightyear and Elsa. This is a complex game, and has its share of flaws, but the spectacle is worth the price of entry alone. 

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2.

This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

FIFA 20

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience that they can. This year’s biggest addition is the Volta football mode which celebrates the street soccer. Its wild, and exciting… everything a true fan would want to see. 

Madden 20

Time marches on. Years pass. Seasons come and go. New Madden games come out. This might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. Madden releases every year like clockwork to the delight of video game loving football fans. Madden 20 includes a new Face of the Franchise mode where you play a high school quarterback who is recruited into college, plays through the NCAA Football playoffs, and is drafted into the NFL. This replaced the Longshot mode from the last few years, but is a welcome addition. 

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Playtonic is a studio made up of former Rare developers who worked on the legendary Banjo Kazooie franchise. They reunited a few years back to release Yooka Laylee thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The game itself was not very well received. But, the success of the crowdfunding campaign sent the message that people were hungry enough that they should try again. Fortunately, they did! Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair is wonderful new game that embraces the joy of the first game, but plays in 2D like a Donkey Kong Country game. This is a budget title so it is a wonderful gift idea for families looking so save some money (or get an extra game without paying for a full priced game).

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

EA has held the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games for years, but their efforts have been lackluster so far. This is especially true for fans who want to play single-player, story-focused games. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is just the panacea that those fans need. It features exciting lightsaber combat, a cute droid, multiple planets to explore, and a canonical story. This is definitely one to keep your eye on for the Star Wars fan in your house!

NBA 2K20

Price: $39.99
Was: $59.99

The NBA2k series may be part RPG and part basketball simulation, but it is all one big celebration of basketball culture. Every kilobyte of data built into this game is there to help basketball fans party together while experiencing their favorite sport. The music, the style, the storylines – they are all here. And they come included with a technical marvel of a basketball game that lets you take on the role of your favorite star, or beat them to the hoop with your own. 

Just Dance 2020

The Just Dance series is one of the most joyous games I have ever played.

Each year Ubisoft releases a new entry in the series with new songs and access to old hits. Every time they do that they entrance a new wave of fans. This year will grab a whole bunch of younger fans thanks to its inclusion of Pinkfong’s smash hit Baby Shark (Don’t lie. You started singing it, too.)

Plants Vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare has been a hit with kids for years. The two games in the series have given countless kids a chance to cut their chops in the competitive shooter space without having to play some of the more violence games out there. 

Fortnite Battle Royale may be an ever present threat to PvZ’s place in your living room. But, Battle for Neighborville fights back with a great sense of humor. It features goofy characters like a ninja mushroom and a football player zombie.


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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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our Nintendo recommendations for the kids in your life!

Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield

The 8th generation of Pokemon is upon us! Pokemon Sword and Shield will be the perfect gifts for the Pokemon fans in your family. These games can easily provide a hundred or more hours of entertainment, and these newer games will likely include even more! Sword and Shield are the first Pokemon games released on a home Nintendo console so they look great, but, as always, they are right at home on the go.

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario Levels from across the history of Nintendo, with a well made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player made content by individual creator or in an endless mode that select levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a shot for shot remake of a game (by the same name) that was released on the Game Boy Color in 1993. This version released in September with an adorable new art style and an orchestral soundtrack. This is a perfect gift for Zelda fans that are too young to have played the original AND for those of us looking for a chance to relive our glory days. 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

If your child spent hours arranging all of their Imaginext toys in massive battles, then Fire Emblem is worth a look. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game set in a sword and sorcery themed academy for heroes. (It’s not exactly Hogwarts for Dungeons and Dragons characters, but it’s pretty close.) Battles play out on massive fields where you move your different characters around strategically to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. This is a challenging game, and the characters are teenagers (so they come with the appropriate thematic baggage), but it ends up as a T-rated game. 

Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech

All of the Steamworld games are amazing, but this is easily one of my favorites. Steamworld Quest is a friendly RPG where you control a team of robots during a fantasy/steampunk era.  The combat is card-based. You build a 24 card deck using a card pool determined by which robots are in your party. Every fight turns into a puzzle that is very satisfying to solve. The story is also relatively short so this will be a great game for Holiday break!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

It’s tough to find a kid that doesn’t love Marvel super heroes and Ultimate Alliance 3 has a TON of them. Ultimate Alliance 3 is a celebration of recent Marvel history that has a character just about every kid will enjoy. MUA3 is a paint by numbers action RPG for up to four players. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to in order to be a great gift. 

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Every year I get asked about video game gifts for younger gamers. Yoshi’s Crafted World is this year’s answer to that question. It’s adorable. It’s simple to control. And it’s engaging. This will be a great game to share with the younger siblings/cousins who might not be ready for bigger challenges just yet. 

Ring Fit Adventure

Nintendo has made fitness games before. Wii Fit (and the Wii Fit Balance board) where huge hits back when they came out. Ring Fit Adventure is their latest attempt to break into that scene on the Nintendo Switch. Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG adventure where you move around the world by running in place, and attack monsters by completing exercises using a specially designed pilates band. The story isn’t anything to write home about, but its good enough to help motivate players to complete a short workout every day. 

Untitled Goose Game

(Honk)… A PC game that charmed the Internet with its simplicity, Untitled Goose Game is best described (without spoilers) as an environmental puzzle game. You are a goose, with the mind of mischief and the talents of a… goose. You have a list of things to do, and no idea how to do them. Our advice is to pick it up on Steam as a gift for the holidays and enjoy the mayhem. 


Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2. This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is out now for the Switch and includes a lot more variety in the environments because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)


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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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

It’s that time of year again. Finding great gifts for people can be tough. Here are some of our PlayStation 4 recommendations for the kids in your life!

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 is the culmination of a story that has been being told since the PS2 era. The story doesn’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t played all of the games, but that doesn’t really matter too much. The real draw is the opportunity to explore Disney worlds and battle evil alongside characters like Buzz Lightyear and Elsa. This is a complex game, and has its share of flaws, but the spectacle is worth the price of entry alone. 

MLB The Show 19

Baseball fans have only one place to go when it comes to playing as their favorite players and teams on their home consoles. MLB The Show is a long-running series that is always a hit with fans. This year included several significant upgrades on the defensive end. Skilled players are more likely to make great plays on D than ever before. The Road to the Show is still here and it is, essentially, a baseball RPG. 

Madden 20

Time marches on. Years pass. Seasons come and go. New Madden games come out. This might sound like a complaint, but it’s not. Madden releases every year like clockwork to the delight of video game loving football fans. Madden 20 includes a new Face of the Franchise mode where you play a high school quarterback who is recruited into college, plays through the NCAA Football playoffs, and is drafted into the NFL. This replaced the Longshot mode from the last few years, but is a welcome addition. 

FIFA 20

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience that they can. This year’s biggest addition is the Volta football mode which celebrates the street soccer. Its wild, and exciting… everything a true fan would want to see. 

NBA2K20

The NBA2k series may be part RPG and part basketball simulation, but it is all one big celebration of basketball culture. Every kilobyte of data built into this game is there to help basketball fans party together while experiencing their favorite sport. The music, the style, the storylines – they are all here. And they come included with a technical marvel of a basketball game that lets you take on the role of your favorite star, or beat them to the hoop with your own. 

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled is a painstakingly crafted remaster of several Crash Team Racing games that were released on PS1 and PS2. This is a challenging cart racer that will be a big hit with fans of Mario Kart 8 that are looking for more challenge. This a feature rich remaster with 31 tracks, numerous cosmetic items, and a full-fledged story mode. It’s definitely worth looking into for your family. 

Yooka Laylee and The Impossible Lair

Playtonic is a studio made up of former Rare developers who worked on the legendary Banjo Kazooie franchise. They reunited a few years back to release Yooka Laylee thanks to a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The game itself was not very well received. But, the success of the crowdfunding campaign sent the message that people were hungry enough that they should try again. Fortunately, they did! Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair is wonderful new game that embraces the joy of the first game, but plays in 2D like a Donkey Kong Country game. This is a budget title so it is a wonderful gift idea for families looking so save some money (or get an extra game without paying for a full priced game).

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

EA has held the exclusive rights to make Star Wars games for years, but their efforts have been lackluster so far. This is especially true for fans who want to play single-player, story-focused games. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is just the panacea that those fans need. It features exciting lightsaber combat, a cute droid, multiple planets to explore, and a canonical story. This is definitely one to keep your eye on for the Star Wars fan in your house!

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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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

So many great board games releases in 2019! It was a challenge to limit the list into a comprehensive collection of games for all types of games. To help your family find the best game we have broken the games into categories so you can see what may best suit your gift giving.

For the Youngest Gamers

Topper Takes a Trip

Topper Takes a Trip is a cooperative game for players ages two and up by Peaceable Kingdom. For the youngest players this is a great game to encourage discussion and vocabulary development. Players select a destination card and match the packing list for each destination as well. Players then gather the items on the packing list, and place them in the suitcase. Once all pieces are gathered players can pretend they are enjoying the activities of that destination. Topper travels to three places to complete the game. There are also suggestions for extending the play and enriching the experience to develop early skills. The skills include: gross motor, problem solving, color matching, spatial reasoning, and visual discrimination.

Guess It Get It Gumballs

Guess It Get It Gumballs is a cooperative memory game for two to four players ages four and up from Peaceable Kingdom. Players take turns picking up gumballs of the matching color from a spinner. They then guess the face on the reverse side by making that face into the mirror. The gumball is grabbed by using the suction cup on the reverse of the mirror. Players are trying to get a rainbow of gumballs before getting the stinkface. With the current awareness of Emotional Intelligence this game is great for helping young children recognize and identify feelings.

Small Games

Punto

Punto is a tiny tin box card laying game for two to four players ages eight and up from Gamewright. Players each have a pile of dot cards in one color. The cards are randomly shuffled within their pile. Cards are placed once player at a time either diagonally or orthogonally. The objective is to get five cards in a row at two player game or four cards in a three or four player game. Players need to keep the cards within a six by six grid. The game ends when one player has won two rounds. While the game is recommended for age eight and up, since there is no reading and the rules are not complicated this can scale down in age.

Tic Tac Surprise

Tic Tac Surprise is a two player game for ages five and up. This game by Peaceable Kingdom takes the classic game of Tic Tac Toe and adds a twist. The cards instead of X’s and O’s have two pictures. There are multiple versions of the game, so you can have dogs/cats, chocolate/vanilla donuts/ or fairies/unicorns. Within each picture type there are some special cards with an additional feature. For example on the donuts some of the donuts have sprinkles. These special cards allow players to place that card on top of an opponent’s card. Now a space is never truly unavailable.

Snowman Dice

Snowman Dice is a fun fast rolling, stacking, flicking, and pushing dice game for two to four players ages six and up from Brain Games. The photo above is of a prototype we previewed at New York Toyfair, and the finalize version in a snowball shaped bag. Additionally, the playtime and age recommendations have been changed since we saw the prototype. In Snowman Dice players are trying to roll the three pieces of their snowman and push the stack to the center marker, which is the North Pole. The dice also have an arrow, snowflake, which is a wild, and a snowball icon. The arrow is needed to push your snowman. With the snowball the player can flick the dice at an opponent’s snowman to try and knock it down and thwart their progress. Then winner is the first player to the North Pole.

Dirty Pig


Dirty Pig is a simple light card game from Happy Planet, a subdivision of North Star Games. In this game players are trying to be the first to make all of their pigs dirty. The game is for two to six players and is recommend for ages six and up. To play, all players begin with clean pigs. The number of pigs varies depending on the number of players. Each player draws three cards and can play one per turn, drawing a new card at their end of their turn. Cards include: Dirty Your Pig, Rain, Barn, Locked Barn Door, Lightning, Lightning Rod, and Clean That Pig. This is a light silly game good for multi-ages and can even scale younger since there is no reading involved.

Games for the Whole Family

Pyramid of Pengqueen

Pyramid of Pengqueen is a spin off theme from the Ice Cool games from Brain Games. The penguins have ventured in search of the mummy’s magical treasure. One playing takes on the roll of the mummy and the rests of the players are the adventures searching for the treasures. In the game there is a two sided vertical board with magnets. The players know were the mummy is but the mummy do not know where the penguins are. If the mummy finds a penguin it is sent to the mummy’s tomb. Players are trying to collect enough treasures before the mummy catches them too many times.

This Game Goes to Eleven

Gamewright has taken this simple counting game for two to five players, which given it a light heavy metal theme. This Game Goes to Eleven is for players ages eight and up. Players discard cards in their hand and add the numbers as they go. If the pile of cards is exactly eleven after you play your card, you give the whole pile to another player. On your turn, if your card bring the total over eleven you get the pile too. The player with the least cards at the end wins. There are two special cards. The eleven card instantly brings the pile to eleven regardless of the cards below.

Bloom

Roll and write games a very popular right now, and Bloom is a great one in that genre. In Bloom by Gamewright you are trying to gather flowers of the same color and quantity as on your sheet. On your turn you roll the dice and choose which color and number best matches the flowers in your garden. To end the game, a player must have three colors of flowers where they circled all the flowers of those colors, or completed four garden beds. Bloom is for players age eight and up and supports two to five players.

Adventure book

Quirky Circuits



Price: $38.54
Was: $49.95

Quirky circuit is the next adventure book from Plaid Hat Games. This one features a automatic vacuum cleaner, similar to a Roomba, and you need to direct it to achieve certain goals. The challenge is that players please down their movement cars in secret from the other players to there are many challenges with getting the correct path to complete the objective. This game is for two to four players ages seven and up. The game contains 21 different scenarios within the adventure book.

Legacy

Zombie Kidz Evolution

Zombie Kidz Evolution is a perfect first legacy game for children. The game is for 2 to 4 players ages 7 and up and episodes take 5 to 15 minutes each approximately. The game takes place in the school and the player’s objective is to secure all the doors to keep the zombies out. As players move through the challenges they can open envelopes which adds new characters and makes changes to the board and to the rules.

If You Like. ..

Imhotep Duel


Imhotep Dual is a 2 player game that takes the strategy and gameplay of the original Imhotep and makes it a 2 player only game. The game is for ages ten and up and plays in about 30 minutes. Since it is only 2 players the premise is you are Nefertiti and Akhenaten, the famous Egyptian couple. Fans of the original will enjoy this 2 player version.

Sushi Roll

For any fans of Sushi Go,Gamewright has re-imagined it into a brand new game Sushi Roll! In Sushi Roll each player rolls a set of dice and chooses which to add to their plate. The remaining sushi pass to the next player on a conveyor belt. Then each player rolls their new dice before choosing which to add to their plate. The player board lists the point values for each kind of sushi. The game includes scoring tokens as well, so players who enjoy Sushi Go, have the option to use them there as well.

Forbidden Sky

Forbidden sky is the next adventure in the forbidden series from Gamewright. In this adventure players are now in the sky exploring a platform inside of a storm trying to launch a rocket. Game right for the very 1st time incorporates an electronic element and you need to complete the circuit and have the rocket light up and make sound to complete the game in succeed. One false move and you could be blown off the platform. The game is for ages 10 and up and plays 2 to 5 players.

Dragonrealms

Dragonrealm takes place in the same world as Dragonwood and moves it to the next adventure. This time instead of defeating creatures you are trying to look for treasure in different locations. As in Dragonwood you collect sets of cards that allow you to complete different actions. Adventure cards in a numerical row allow you to sneak. Cards all the same color allow you to search. Cards that are all the same color allow you to storm. The number of cards being played allows the player to have that many dice to roll to try to reach the required number on a location to complete the action. The total rolled by the days becomes their score and players discover if they have succeeded or failed. Once the dragon location is complete the game ends and players Pat up their coins. The player with the most coins wins

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know if you’re picking any of these games up!

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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