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Toys to life games are everywhere and they are intimidating. We’re taking some time today to break everything down and explain the differences between the “big three” toys to life games that will be competing for your hard earned holiday dollars this year. (We also have an article all about how to save money no matter what game you choose!)

Skylanders Superchargers

ESRB Rating – E 10+

What is it about exactly?

Skylanders Superchargers (along with all the other games in the series) is a story based game where players take on the role of a Portal Master and command mighty heroes called Skylanders as they protect the skylands from the forces of evil.

If that sounds somewhat cheesy to you… that’s actually pretty fair. The plotline isn’t exactly a paragon of originality, but this is a game designed for children. It executes the standard fantasy adventure tropes well enough and the writing is good enough to earn a few chuckles.

The gameplay hook is straightforward and frankly that is one of the strengths of the series. The different characters are each aligned with a different element and you use them to battle your way through a series of different levels. You are encouraged to switch things up when the different levels present you with zones that give bonuses to characters of a specific type (Fire type characters might be stronger near a lava flow for example). There are also some secret areas that cannot be accessed without a character of a specific type.

As I said before the true strength of Skylanders comes from its simplicity. It is accessible to new players without a lot of effort because the game itself is relatively simple and there are very few buttons to have to deal with

Can my kid play it?

There is no doubt about it. Skylanders may still be a pretty simple game to play, but it has gotten more complicated as the years have gone by. In the original game (Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures) you couldn’t even jump. The newest game gives you vehicles to drive, fly, and navigate.

All of that said, the controls are the only part of the game that is tough to follow and that will come with practice.

What exactly do I need to buy to make this game work?

The Skylanders Superchargers starter pack comes with all of the figures that you need to complete the game, but in order to fully experience the game you need to have a figure of each element, a plane type vehicle, and a boat type vehicle.

The best way to ensure that you are buying things that your kids need is to actually play the game with them. This way you’ll see it first hand and won’t make any costly mistakes.

Take a look at the buying guide for Skylanders Superchargers that we have published right here.

Disney Infinity 3.0

ESRB Rating – E 10+

What is it about exactly?

Disney Infinity 3.0 is, at its heart, a game about creation and play. The main feature of the game is the toy box. This is a game mode that gives players a blank slate within which to create their own play spaces. There are several tools and templates available to let players create all kinds of worlds in which to play. This is going to be either a blessing or a curse for each family depending on whether your family wants a direct story driven experience or, essentially, a toy.

Parents who were gamers in their youth will remember how awesome some of the licensed Disney games were back in the day. Games like Aladdin for the Sega Genesis and Ducktales for the NES. Those days are long gone for a number of reasons, but the Disney Infinity series is part of Disney’s plan to deal with it. The strategy moving forward it to take advantage of the games platform and art style to let their development teams work efficiently and create playsets for all of their different licenses. Each playset consists of a unique game experience based on the license. This helps your family cusomize the experience. Not interested in the Inside Out game? Skip it. Obsessed with Star Wars? There are three playsets announced so far.

This is the 3.0 version of the game so it does iterate on the previous versions. In the past it suffered from trying to be too many games at once. That is less of a problem now that Avalanche, the company behind Disney Infinity, has contracted other developers that specialize in things like melee combat and driving.

Can my kid play it?

The Toy Box mode is incredibly complex at a high level. Creating things using the game tools can take a lot of practice to get used to. As a result a lot of younger kids might just use it like a sand box and mess around. My kids once spent a good hour and a half spawning as many enemies as they could fit on the screen and then battling them with different characters. I know another family whose kids spent half an hour just repeatedly jumping off the edge of their world into the abyss beyond only to respawn a second later and do it again.

The play sets are much more direct and feature gameplay themed after their licenses. The Star Wars sets specifically are story driven experiences. They are challenging, but there is nothing in them that will make them unplayable.

What do I need to buy?

Disney Infinity is a standout in this category because you don’t really need to buy anything in order to play the game. You obviously need to make sure that your kids have a character that they like to use. That will help them complete and earn everything in the base game. After that it is all about the playsets. Each playset and character that you purchase unlocks more assets for the toy box as well.

If you want to know all of the details take a look at the buying guide that we published here.

LEGO Dimensions

ESRB Rating – E 10 +

What is it all about?

This is the newest entry to the Toys to Life category and it has been pretty successful so far. The LEGO series by Traveller’s Tales has been very successful over the years and LEGO Dimensions is an extension of that success.  This a story driven game similar to Skylanders that follows the standard formula in most LEGO games. The difference is that instead of focusing on one property like Harry Potter or Star Wars it includes just about everything that Warner Brothers managed to license. You can play as a Ghostbuster alongside Homer Simpson in a level built based on Dr. Who. These absurd crossovers define the entire game and help deliver some hilarious jokes.

The main hook for the game is the LEGO mini sets that come along with the various level sets and figures. I have seen a lot of parents express concern that their kids will lose the mini figures or incorporate them into their regular collections. The good news for those parents is that each figure or vehicle includes a small round base that carries all the relevant data so they don’t have to worry.

Can my kid play it?

In short: Yes. LEGO Dimensions is built on the same framework as previous LEGO games. There may be some puzzles where they might struggle if they haven’t played a lot of games before, but there is nothing that is insurmountable.

What do I have to buy?

We have a buyers guide that we have previously published, but at the end of the day this is another game where the Starter Pack is enough to be able to experience the main story of the core game. There are a HUGE number of extra characters and level packs that either have been or will be released that will either unlock additional content inside the main game or will actually add additional stages to the game.

 

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Exciting things happen in the world of video games every single day. Everything happens so quickly that it can be tough for a parent to keep track of. Between work, carting the kids to everywhere under the sun, cooking, cleaning, and maybe (just maybe) getting a chance to sleep for a few hours parents just don’t have the time to keep up with everything happening in their child’s hobby.

If the above paragraph describes you, then we have an answer for you. Every Friday morning EFG will be publishing a digest of all of the video game news that is relevant for families. So kick back with your morning coffee and enjoy!

 

Mighty No. 9 gets a new release date

Mighty No 9 logo

Mighty No. 9 will be released on Feb. 9, 2016 in North America according to an announcement by Deep Silver (the game’s publisher). It was a huge Kickstarter success, but the momentum has dulled in recent months as the development as sputtered.

Mighty No. 9 will be available both digital and on disc for PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One. It will be released digitally on the same day for Linux, Mac, PlayStation 3, Windows PC and Xbox 360.

I can’t wait to play this game, but I am sad to admit I am not very optimistic that it will be released on this newly announced date either. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 


Nintendo 3DS selects announced in UK

Nintendo UK announced a set of 3DS games being reprinted and discounted called the 3DS selects. Historically, games in this lineup (for the Wii and Wii U) have been sold at a reduced price.

The games listed in the announcement are: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Star Fox 64 3D, Nintendogs +Cats, Mario Tennis Open, Yoshi’s New Island, and Mario Party Island Tour.

We don’t know if this program will continue in the US, but it is very possible as we approach the Holiday season.

 


Project Spark for Xbox One goes completely free on Oct 5!

Project Spark

Microsoft has announced that Project Spark, the free-to-start game creation program will be transitioning to fully free starting on October 5th. The means that DLC that was previously behind a paywall will be available to everyone.

The update includes HUGE boosts in the maximum terrain and maximum prop limit, more than 200 new assets, as well as an increase to 100 total upload slots for each creator.

Anyone who spent money on the game before it transitions to free will release a credit on their account between thirty to sixty days from October 5th.

Project Spark is a very robust game creation program that presents its users with a change to make some pretty in depth experiences. If anyone in  your family is interested in game design then this is worth a look. Just be ready for a steep learning curve.

 


Mario Tennis Ultra Smash Gets a Release Date!

 

Mario Tennis Ultra Smash will serve up another set of Mario Tennis action on November 20. It supports up to four players and will retail for $49.99.   We don’t know much else about the gameplay but here’s hoping it’s an ace!  


  Super Mario Maker sales figures

Super-Mario-Maker

It was revealed this week that more than 1 million units of Super Mario Maker have been sold around the world since its launch on Sept. 11. The addition of 1 million new “fan” developers has resulted in the more than 2.2 million new Super Mario courses. Those courses have been played 75 million times. 


 

Rare Amiibo Back in Stock Soon!

 

Nintendo tweeted out an interesting picture the other day revealing that several rare amiibo will be back on store shelves soon! They include Little Mac, Greninja, Shulk, Lucario, Fox, and Captain Falcon!

 


Zangief announced for Street Fighter V!


Minecraft Story Mode Trailer Released!

 


Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival Release Date

WiiU_AnimalCrossingamiiboFestival_scrn01_TV_E3_bmp_jpgcopy

Nintendo updated the product page for Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival with a release date, a bundle and a price point!

 

Release Date: November 13, 2015

Bundle: Includes the game, 2 Animal Crossing Amiibo, and 4 amiibo cards.

Price: $59.99

 

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Nintendo held an event called Nindies@Night at the EMP Museum in Seattle ahead of PAX Prime. They made several high profile announcements regarding independent games being brought to the Wii U and 3DS consoles. None of the announcements made at the event were quite as big as the announcement of a Shovel Knight amiibo figure.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I called that a major announcement. It makes sense to question me here. Amiibo aren’t a huge part of the actual GAMES on the Wii U or 3DS. They are mostly a collectable side project with some interesting cosmetic effects in games. It is entirely possible to skip them entirely and not suffer for it at all.

BUT, even when we set that aside for a moment, this is still a pretty big deal because it shows Nintendo continuing their strong commitment to independently developed games.

The Shovel Knight amiibo is also a very interesting business arrangement. Yacht Club games is responsible for manufacturing and distribution, but Nintendo has stated that it will be displayed in stores alongside the first party amiibo. (That is all assuming you’ll ever be able to find one).

The figure will work with the Wii U and 3DS versions of Shovel Knight.  In the 3DS version the figure will unlock special challenge stages. Those same stages will be unlocked on the Wii U version as well, but will also unlock a Wii U version exclusive coop mode. Yacht club has also promised that the amiibo will have some effect in all of their future amiibo enabled games.

Pretty neat stuff if you ask me. Ask you going to be getting one? Let me know in the comments!

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Note: This is a guest post from over on ParentsGamingGuide.com.

The game itself is a bit dated, but parents on a budget should be keeping their yes out because Skylanders Trap Team starter sets and figures should be PLUMMETING in price soon since Skylanders Superchargers will be out in a little more than a month!

What makes this review even more interesting is that the Parents Gaming Guide website is being run by a teenager! This is some great writing for someone at their beginning of their career and it will only get better.

Lets all show some love over at the site! Read some reviews! Comment! Share them on social media! The reviewer deserves a boost!


Skylanders have kickstarted the toys to life genre of gaming. The basis of this genre is that a physical toy plays a role in a virtual game. No other game captures this better than Skylanders. Skylanders games normally have you place Skylanders characters on the Portal of Power to play with them in the game, however, Trap Team builds on this idea by including villains too!

GAMEPLAY

Activision did not disappoint with this year’s cast of figures. There are 16 new Trap Masters, which are larger, more powerful Skylanders that have the power to open special gates and destroy Traptanium. There are also 16 new core characters, 5 returning characters and 9 mini figures that are smaller versions of fan favorites. Lastly, there are 4 new Skylanders that fall into the two new elements. Each Skylander has its own upgrade path which powers them up and supplies them with new moves. My only problem with the Skylanders is that specify elements of Trap Masters are required to open gates, making it feel like they are forcing you to buy more characters to get the full experience.

The story mode behind Trap Team follows you, a Skylander, as you try to trap and return escaped villians back to Cloud Cracker Prison. You do this by exploring different levels, fighting enemies, solving puzzles and capturing villians. Each villain you find challenges you to a boss fight. The fights feel different enough from the basic enemy fights that you do not get tired of them. Once you beat the villian you can capture it by putting of trap of the villian’s element into the Portal of Power. Once trapped, you can switch between that villian and you Skylander through the press of a button. Each feels very different from the rest and applies some extra comedic relief through their banter. The best feature about the villians is that you do not need to spend tons of money to play as a lot of characters. Normally, Skylanders range from $10 to $17 each. However, each trap ($6 each) offers you 3-6 villians to play as. Additionally, each villian has a quest that powers them up.

The Arena Battle Mode in Trap Team offers you challenges to complete during fighting sequences like defending a stash of food, lasting for a certain amount of time or surviving with one point of health. Each battle requires that you stick with one Skylander and one villian the whole time, which is a bit disappointing. However, these battles are a great way to earn money and experience to upgrade your Skylanders.

The Kaos Doom Challenges were probably the worst part the game. They require that you fight off hordes of enemies one after another while defending an ancient coffin type thing. These battles were very repetitive and boring and I do not see myself going back to them.

PROS

-Playable villians

-Arena Battles

-Great boss fights

-Fun humor

CONS

-Kaos Doom Challenges

-Lack of 1 on 1 battle mode

-Price for figures

AGE GROUP

I would recommend this for children 7 and up. I think it would be a bit too hard for younger children.

OVERALL SCORE

8/10

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Skylanders Superchargers has some impressive visuals. They are so impressive, in fact, that the Nintendo Wii and the 3DS are just plain out of the question as far as ports of the main game. This year the 3DS and Wii versions will be a completely different game experience than the main game. Activision has gone so far as to call them “complimentary experiences.”

Skylanders Superchargers Racing will release for the Wii and the 3DS and is a “dedicated racing combat game.” Gameplay video is available online and it appears to be VERY similar to games like Sonic and Sega All -Stars Racing Transformed. It includes a large number of race tracks that all have power-ups, hazards, boosts, etc.

It will be interesting to see how well these games sell considering how different they are from the standard Skylanders experience. I could see it going one of two ways.

  1. They might sell BETTER since some families will buy both just to get the racing game. (Keep in mind that the Wii U is backwards compatible and will play the Wii version.)
  2. The games might tank because parents won’t want to take a chance on a different type of Skylanders experience.

Where do you fall? Sound off in the comments!

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The release date for Skylanders Superchargers is racing towards us. We just received another batch of information regarding the newest entry in the Skylanders series and we can’t be more excited about it.

 Online Multiplayer

All of the Skylanders games have been multiplayer games at heart. Two people could sit on the couch together and romp through the colorful levels using exciting characters. But that multiplayer experience has been limited to offline play.

That is all changing with Superchargers. This release, and we can safely assume all subsequent releases, will allow for online play. This will be a great change for friends from school or cousins to jump into the action together without having to be in the same place.

This is a feature that has been requested by fans for a while now and it is good to see Activision make it work.

Race Mode!

Skylanders Superchargers includes vehicles for the first time in the franchise so it stands to reason that they will let us race them. The base game will come with six different courses (two each for land, sea, and air) and more will be able in expansion packs in stores.

The press release makes it sound like these will be full on race tracks a la Mario Kart with secret shortcuts, power ups, and weapons. Even better? The races can either be between two players locally or up to four players online. This competitive element has the opportunity to extend the life of the Skylanders experience for kids once they have exhausted the main story.

Take a look at the video below from our friends over at FamilyGamerTV to see a race in action!

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Nintendo made a big splash at E3 this year when they announced that they would be lending two of their most iconic characters to Activision for the upcoming (all but guaranteed smash hit) Skylanders Superchargers. Knowing that Donkey Kong and Bowser will be in the upcoming game got us to thinking. “What other Nintendo characters would make a great fit for the Skylanders universe?”

First off, it is pretty clear that they avoided including any of the human characters from the Nintendo universe. They chose a giant ape and a dragon-turtle-thing so I am going to assume that Mario, Luigi, and the gang are out.

Here are some of my suggestions. I would love to hear yours in the comments!

 

Kirby

The biggest challenge to be found in making Kirby a Skylander would be implementing his skillset where he eats his enemies to take on their powers. But, that is a design issue that could be overcome. They’ve got a bunch of smart people over there. They could manage.

Kirby has the advantage of being both easily recognizable AND adorable. He also had a wide array of abilities that could be him a lot of fun to play.They have had characters before that used air to move enemies around the battlefield (Jet-Vac), but he also has added mobility in that he can fly.

 

Yoshi

Yoshi has been a mainstay in Mario games for a long time and has even gotten a few of his own. He would be a great fit as a Skylanders character as well. The ability to use his tongue to capture enemies and convert them to ammunition for other abilities would be a great mechanic to fuel some very cool powers. It would also give players some potentially cool powers for interacting with the environment.

 

The Ice Climbers

Ok this might be cheating a little bit since they are technically people like Mario and Princess Peach, but a pair of chubby, hooded mountain climbers could be an exception. They two of them appeared most recently in Smash Bros. Melee on the GameCube and were fan favorites for a long time there. I can easily imagine a whole move-set built around spinning around the different levels swinging their hammers.

The challenge would obviously be that the younger player base of Skylanders might not recognize them since they are not frequently in games. This might even be a real deal breaker, but man would it be fun!

 

Pikachu

This right here. This is the real deal. Putting the alpha pokemon into Skylanders could very well cause a black hole to form on Earth. I am hard pressed to imagine a character that could guest star in Skylanders that would draw any more buzz.

Pikachu even fits into the Skylanders lore as there are plenty of Pokemon toys lying around. I could imagine a whole host of cool powers for him to use that would fit in quite well with the Skylanders Universe too.

 

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Skylanders SuperChargers was already one of the most anticipated games of the year for a lot of the kids out there. Nintendo went and kicked everything up a notch by announced two Nintendo characters that will be playable exclusively on the Nintendo versions of this years Skylanders game.

Turbo Charge Donkey Kong and Hammer Slam Bowser will be playable this year and they look AMAZING.

Skylanders Bowser

Yeah… this guy looks intense. 

Skylanders Donkey Kong

Who’d have thought we’d ever see THIS!

These guest stars will function just like any other SuperCharger character. Donkey Kong and Bowser will each be able to drive all of the other vehicles in the game, but both of them have their own special vehicle as well: The Barrel Blaster and theClown Cruiser

respectively.

These aren’t just half-hearted characters either. These are full on additions to the Skylanders roster with beautiful characters models, intense animations, and unique skill trees to upgrade them.

As an added bonus, the two figures will have special rotatable bases that can be used to switch them to amiibo mode for use with certain Nintendo products. This presents an added value for Nintendo Wii U owners.

You’ll be able to pick these characters up as part of exclusive SuperChargers bundles for the Wii U, Wii, and 3DS.

Skylanders Superchargers Wii U Bundle

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more information as it comes out!

 

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Activision and Toys for Bob are bringing yet another innovation to the hit kids franchise Skylanders with the launch of Skylanders SuperChargers on September 20, 2015. Skylanders has been bringing toys to life for years, but this year’s entry to the franchise will feature an all new “vehicles-to-life” feature that will let our kids pilot awesome vehicles using their favorite Skylanders characters!

“At the helm of powerful, tricked-out land, sea and sky vehicles, Portal Masters can engage in a high-octane action-adventure videogame like never before. Kids can speed across Skylands’ roads in vehicular combat, race down roaring rapids and engage in aerial dogfights as they barrel-roll through enemy swarms for the first time.”

Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, Inc said, “We love making these games because in order to do it well, you have to constantly tap into your inner kid.” Who doesn’t know a kid who has dreamt of battling evil in an awesome care or plane? “Skylanders SuperChargers makes those dreams real.”

There have been more than 300 Skylanders released over the last five years. Each new game has come with a whole new pile of plastic toys for parents to search through. The newest iteration lightens the load by having a line of only twenty new SuperChargers character toys and twenty new vehicle toys.

All of the different Supercharger vehicles will be customizable in-game. Players can ever pair each vehicle with their designated SuperCharger Skylander to create a “SuperCharged combination.” This opens increases the power of BOTH the hero and the vehicle. (Get ready to shop for pairs parents!) Even better? The vehicles are not only going to be playable in the game, but many of them also feature moving parts, making them fun to play with outside of the game.

Skylanders SuperChargers, like the previous games in the series, continues to support all of the Skylanders toys from previous games, enabling all of your children’s favorite Skylanders characters to pilot land, sea or sky-based vehicles.

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more information about Skylanders and other Toys-To-Life games!

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Dear Parents,

I am writing this to express my deepest condolences for the loss of your bank accounts.  I hope that you will move forward after this and keep them alive in memory.

Very Truly Yours,

Stephen Duetzmann

EngagedFamilyGaming.com

 

I’ll cut to the chase here folks. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games, and The LEGO Group announced LEGO Dimensions. What is that you ask? It is their entry to the already crowded toys-to-life market that will release this fall. Even better? It will release for all major consoles on September 27th to kick off what is looking like it will be a VERY intense holiday season. Check out the announcement trailer below:

 

LEGO Dimensions certainly looks interesting.

One the one hand, having the ability to combine diverse characters from far-flung franchises is exciting. The fact that there are no restrictions and that any characters will be able to enter any level and play feels like a direct shot fired at Disney Infinity (which suffers from some pretty significant play set restrictions). The LEGO company and WB Interactive have a massive pool of licenses to pull from in order to make expansions, characters packs, and stages. DC, Lord of the Rings, and the LEGO Movie properties are enough to keep people busy for a LONG time. Adding in Ninjago, Back to the Future, and the Wizard of Oz just feels like a deliberate attempt to show the depth and breadth of their catalog. Theey plan to announce more as the release comes closer and I can imagine that we’ll see some crazy stuff!

On the other hand, it feels like this game should have come out years ago. I can’t help but feel like this is going to struggle in some ways to find purchase in the market with so many families already heavily invested in Skylanders and Disney Infinity. I’m not usually a pessimist when it comes to exciting new video game properties, but the toys-to-life category was already full and now it will be bursting. One thing is for sure: it will be very interesting to see the sales numbers after the game releases.

LEGO Dimensions starter pack

The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack Looks like a party!

The starter pack itself will come with the LEGO Toy Pad and three LEGO minifigures including Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle from the LEGO Movie. They will also release multiple add on content packs at retail stores on the same day that will feature additional levels, challenges, and minifigures based on other WB licensed properties. They may start with only a few that have been announced so far, but Warner Brother’s licensing arm is massive and includes Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, all of the classic LEGO worlds, and much more. Truthfully, the LEGO Dimensions game is almost as expandable (in not arguably more so) than Disney Infinity.

LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions has INFINITE (LOL) possibilities!

Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming as we get closer to the release. This is going to be a big one and we are going to be spending a lot of time talking about it!

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