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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Pixelkin.org as part of their E3 Coverage. They are another site that reviews games for families much like us. Check them out when you get a chance!

Electronic Arts held their E3 Play press event on June 12th, 2016. They brought a new trailer for Madden NFL 17 as well as information regarding significant updates to the game’s Franchise Mode.

The most significant update comes in the form of the “Play the Moments” feature. This works by giving players in Franchise mode the chance to take the helm at critical moments throughout the game, while simulating the rest. Focusing on critical red zone drives, key third down stops on defense, and late game scoring opportunities will keep the games moving and will let players complete a season over the course of a weekend.

Madden17PlaytheMoment

The updates aren’t all on the field though. There are improvements between games as well. Players will be able to use Franchise gameplanning to help tailor their strategy to help take advantage of their teams’ strengths or their opponents’ weaknesses. This influences practices in between, and play selection during, each game.

The Big Decisions system also allows players to take on the role of a General Manager for their favorite team and decide when to bring players back from injury, signing free agents, and even negotiating contracts with players. This is an unprecedented level of control for players and, if implemented correctly, might even give some insight into the decisions some of our favorite teams have made over the years.

These sure are big updates, but don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at this video from Mike and Mike (of ESPN Radio fame) where they lay it all out on the table.

The bottom line? Madden NFL 17 looks stunning and includes some highly sought after feature updates. This is going to be a great year to be a Madden fan!

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We have been waiting a VERY long time for Mighty No. 9 to come out. The wildly successful Kickstarter campaign for the game happened almost three years ago. But, it looks like the game will finally come out.

Keiji Inafune, the head of Comcept, made an announcement to Kickstarter backers that was also posted on the Mighty No. 9 website that announced that the game has “gone gold” which means that it should have no further delays and will, finally, release on June 21st, 2016.

Mega Man fans don’t have much longer to wait before they get to play this one as that is less than eight weeks from now. We can only hope that it will be worth the long wait. (Although, let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute here. The internet is not a very forgiving beast. I expect that the game could be perfect and it wouldn’t be enough for some people.”

We will be covering the game and publishing a review after its release so keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for info as the release date comes closer.

Take a look below for the full text of the announcement.

“To all of our backers and fans of Mighty No. 9,

Firstly, I would like to say again how sincerely sorry we are for how long we have kept all of our fans waiting. We are finally able to deliver some long awaited news regarding Mighty No. 9. We have now confirmed the following release dates for Mighty No. 9: June 21st 2016 (North America & Asia) and June 24th 2016 (World Wide). We understand that as a result of the various delays we have disappointed and let down our fans, but we are happy to finally be able to deliver the game to everyone who brought us this far.

With the game having “gone gold” we are in the last final stages of being able to deliver it into your hands, be that via your favorite retail outlet, or via digital channels.

Therefore the release date we are announcing is set in stone and there will be no further delays for the game.

Portable versions for PlayStation® Vita and Nintendo 3DS ™ will follow at a later point.

It has been almost three years since the start of our Kickstarter campaign, which was only made possible through the support of our backers and fans around the world. This is a project where everyone’s passions were combined in order to create something very special, and we are looking forward to delivering the final product to everyone who was involved. There can be no stronger connection between game creators and game fans.

Now that the dust has settled, we will be delivering Mighty No. 9 to everyone next month. How long will it take you to clear the main story on NORMAL? How many people are going to be able to clear MANIAC mode? What is going to be the fastest record for the time attack mode? We are looking forward to seeing the community answer all of these questions for us! Make sure to let us know your feedback and thoughts on the game through our SNS channels as you play the game. Your voices are what made this game possible, and we want to continue hearing what you think so that it may influence our future endeavors. “

-Keiji Inafune

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Lets face it. The toys to life genre is EXPENSIVE. It can get out of control for parents who just can’t keep up with all of the different figures and games that seem to be coming out every day! Below are some strategies that will help you keep a handle on costs while still letting your kids enjoy the games.

Play the game with your children.

This is a recurring theme on our website in general, but it bears repeating here because it is especially relevant. Many of the toys to life games, especially Skylanders, present players with obstacles that can only be overcome by characters of specific elements. These are all bonus objectives like puzzle rooms to get things like loot and stat-boosting hats.

The best way to know what your child NEEDS vs what they would like is to play with them. You’ll be able to see and recognize where their collection is falling short so you can work together to complete it.

Do your homework.

There are tons of websites out there dedicated to explaining what toys are out there and how to get them. We even got in on the action and published buying guides for Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and LEGO Dimensions this year. This is the next best thing to playing with your kids in regards to know what they need. You can very easily find out what is available with a little web research.

Pay attention to the pre-owned section at GameStop and other retailers.

This wasn’t an option even a few years ago, but GameStop has seen the strength of the Toys to Life market and has pounced on it. Even better? Lots of kids are aging out of their Skylanders collections and trading them in to GameStop to help pay for new consoles. This leaves them with a lot of stock that is often heavily discounted. Our family was lucky enough to clean up at a buy 2 get 3 free sale a month or so back.

When in doubt don’t buy just one.

Many toy retailers like Toy ‘R Us, Target, and Walmart offer discounts from time to time where you can buy one and get one half off (or something similar). This adds up if you are planning to buy a lot of these toys for your kids.

Don’t buy the games and figures on release day.

This may not be possible for people who have older kids, but if you are just getting into the Toys to Life game market and your kids are younger, then I HIGHLY recommend starting with the previous year’s version of the game. You might not be able to use the shiny new figures, but you’ll be able to get the game much less.

 

 

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Available on the following platforms:

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U

Bundles/Packages

Starter pack: $100 – Comes with toy pad, game, Batman, Wyldstyle, Gandalf, Batmobile

Pricing structure:

Level packs: $30

Team packs: $25

Fun packs: $15

The following level packs are available now:

Back to the Future (Marty McFly, DeLorean, Hoverboard)

Portal (Chell, Companion Cube, Turret)

The Simpsons (Homer, Homer’s Car, Taunt-o-Vision)

Team packs out now:

Jurassic World (Owen, ACU Trooper, Velociraptor, Gyrosphere)

Scooby Doo (Scooby, Shaggy, Mystery Machine, Scooby Snack)

Fun packs out now:

Chima Cragger with Swamp Skimmer

Chima Eris with Eagle Interceptor

Cyborg with Cyber Guard

Wonder Woman with Invisible Jet

Lego Movie Bad Cop with Police Car

Lego Movie Benny with Benny’s Spaceship

Lego Movie Emmet with Emmet’s Excavator

Lord of the Rings Gimli with Axe Chariot

Lord of the Rings Gollum with Shelob the Great

Lord of the Rings Legolas with Arrow Launcher

Ninjago Nya with Samurai Mech

Ninjago Zane with Ninjacopter

Wicked Witch with Winged Monkey

Release dates for future products:

November 3, 2015

Level Pack – Doctor Who (The Doctor, K-9, Tardis)

Team Pack – Ninjago (Cole, Kai, Boulder Bomber, Blade Bike)

Fun Pack – Lego Movie Unikitty with Cloud Cuckoo Car – November 3, 2015

Fun Pack – Bart Simpson with Gravity Sprinter – November 3, 2015

Fun Pack – Krusty with Clown Bike – November 3, 2015

January 19, 2016

Level Pack – Ghostbusters (Peter Venkman, Ecto-1, Ghost Trap)

Team Pack – DC Comics (Joker, Harley Quinn, Joker’s Chopper, Quinn Mobile)

Fun Pack – Doc Brown with Traveling Time Train – January 19, 2016

Fun Pack – Doctor Who Cyberman with Dalek – January 19, 2016

Fun Pack – Ninjago Sensei Wu with White Dragon – January 19, 2016

March 31, 2016

Fun Pack – Aquaman with Watercraft

Fun Pack – Bane with Drill Driver

Fun Pack – Superman with Hover Pod

Fun Pack – Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with Terror Dog

May 31, 2016

Fun Pack – Ghostbusters Slimer with Slime Shooter

Fun Pack – Ninjago Lloyd with Golden Dragon

The Cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”:

If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost would be $725.

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Available on the following platforms:

 Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, PC, iOS (toy box only)

Bundles/Packages:

Starter pack: $65 – Comes with base, game, Twilight of the Republic playset (based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano

Star Wars Saga Bundle: $90 (PS4 and PS3 Only) – Comes with a base, the game, the Twilight of the Republic playset (based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars), the Rise against the Empire playset (based on the original Star Wars trilogy), and the following figures: Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Boba Fett.

Pricing structure:

Playset price: $35

Figure price: $14

Power disc set price: $10

Toy Box Expansion price: $20

Disney is also selling the game digitally. You can buy in on your console for a lower price and use the base that you already have, but it won’t come with any of the new playsets or figures (obviously).

The following Star Wars figures are also available now:

Obi Wan Kenobi

Yoda

Ezra Bridger

Kanan Jarrus

Sabine Wren

Zeb Orrelios

Han Solo

Chewbacca

Darth Vader

The following Disney Originals figures are also available now:

Sam Flynn

Quorra

Mickey Mouse

Minnie Mouse

Mulan

Olaf

Disgust

Fear

Sadness

The following play sets is available now:

Inside Out (includes  Joy and Anger figures)

Rise against the Empire (with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia)

 

Star Wars playsets and figures are being spread out as we build up to Star Wars episode VII launch. The release schedule is as follows:

November 3rd

Boba Fett

Darth Maul

The Force Awakens Playset – December

Disney Infinity is a showcase for all of Disney’s different properties. Below is a release schedule for Marvel and “Disney Original” figures, playsets, and power discs.

Upcoming Disney Originals characters:

Spot – November 3

Judy Hopps – Sometime in 2016

Nick Wilde – Sometime in 2016

Peter Pan – TBA

Upcoming Marvel figures:

Hulkbuster Iron Man – November 3

Ultron – November 3

The Cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”

If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost of everything announced so far is $609. You can technically save $10 or so if you already own 1.0 or 2.0 buy purchasing the game digitally and then purchasing the Twilight of the Republic playset separately.

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Available on the following platforms:

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS, iOS

Bundles/Packages:

Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $75 – Includes the portal, the game, The Spitfire figure, Hot Streak vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Starter Pack – Wii U : $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Barrel Blaster vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Dark Edition Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Spitfire figure, Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf figure, the Dark Hot Streak vehicle,  the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, and the Kaos trophy (This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

Dark Edition Starter Pack – Wii U $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf, the Dark Barrel Blaster vehicle, the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, the Kaos trophy(This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

The Wii and the 3DS don’t have the power to run the main campaign so they will receive versions that are focused on the racing.

Wii and 3DS starter pack: $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Hammer Slam Bowser figure, Clown Cruiser vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Pricing structure:

Figure price: $13

Vehicle price: $15

Racing Packs: $35 (Each racing pack includes a character, a vehicle, and a race expansion.)

Additional characters available now:

 Dive Clops

Fiesta

High Volt

Shark Shooter Terrafin

Smash Hit

Stormblade

Additional Skylanders Vehicles available now:

Burn Cycle

Crypt Crusher

Dive Bomber

Jet Stream

Sea Shadow

Shark Tank

Sky Slicer

Stealth Stinger

Racing packs available now:

Racing Sea Pack – Includes Deep Dive Gill Grunt figure, Reef Ripper vehicle, and the Sea Trophy

Characters coming later:

Astroblast

Nightfall

Hurricane Jet-Vac

Thrillipede

Lava Lance Eruptor

Double Dare Trigger Happy

Splat

Big Bubble Pop Fizz

Vehicles coming later:

Sun Runner

Tomb Buggy

Thump Truck

Buzz Wing

Shield Striker

Gold Rusher

Splatter Splasher

Soda Skimmer

The cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”:

Skylanders Superchargers is in a unique place this time around because it has Nintendo specific characters. If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost for a Wii U owner would be around $718. This is because the only way to get Bowser or his Clown Cruiser is to purchase the Wii or 3DS starter pack.

Non-Nintendo owners get a bit of a break here and only have to pony up $615.

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Publisher: Activision

Developer: Platinum Games

ESRB Rating: T for teen

Reviewed on Xbox One, also available for Xbox 360, PS4, and PS3

A review copy of the game was provided gratis by Activision to facilitate this review.

Overall

Transformers: Devastation is simultaneously the best and worst game I have played in a very long time. This might sound like I am conflicted, but I’m really not. These aren’t two forces pulling in separate directions and threatening to tear my enjoyment apart like an old axle. No. Instead these are two opposite forces that held me suspended in a warm pool of 80s nostalgia for every minute that I played this game. It was glorious and heart wrenchingly bad in equal parts; a perfect expression of the 80s.

Let me make one, rather large, disclosure before I get going on this review. I am one of the bigger Transformers fans on Earth. In fact, my love of Transformers has influenced my love of all things mecha. If it is a giant robot, then you can bet that I will love it. Some people might read that and question if I am the right man for the job. How could my Transformers bias not get in the way of a fair review?

That’s a good question, and this is the best answer I can give you: Transformers: Devastation was made for superfans. Every decision that Platinum Games made was laser focused on exciting people like me and making us buy this game and play it. The “average consumer” might not necessarily be drawn to this game in the same way. This makes me the perfect reviewer because, to be frank, I don’t know to many other people who would find value in this game other than the super fans.

At its core, Transformers: Devastation is a stylish action game in the vein of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. The difference here is that instead of over the top gore and violence Transformers expresses that action using cartoon robots battling each other in melee combat. There are guns involved, but they are largely an afterthought. Instead, we spend our time fighting using swords, axes, hammers and fists and forming interesting combos that can be extended by using a simple button press to transform into vehicle mode and crash into the enemy.

The game is, basically, an episode of the 80’s cartoon show extended and put into video game form. This includes things like several of the original voice actors, the original animation style, and even sound track beats that were reminiscent of the series. Saying that something is a “love letter” to fans is a rotten cliche but it works here. Playing this game turned me from a man in my mid thirties to an 8 year old in my pajamas watching Saturday morning cartoons.

This has all been glowing right? Where are the bad parts? What made it the worst game I had played in a while? Well, here they are. I am going to be short and to the point about them because if you are a superfan (like me) then they probably won’t matter).

 

  1. Difficulty – Some of the boss fights are mind numbingly difficult. This can be overcome by setting the difficulty lower, but when your third boss is Devastator you don’t really have much to do other than make it hard.
  2. Inventory Management? – The fact that the game has an inventory management system at all is a mystery, but it is very arcane. You get used to it after a while, but I can’t help but wish they left it out
  3. Repetition – Some of the environments are reused ad nauseum. Granted, I didn’t notice much because I was too busy enjoying punching robots.
  4. Short story – I am not criticizing the quality of the narrative. Its an episode of Transformers so I don’t expect much. With that said, I DO have something to say about the length of the game. I finished the story in about 7 hours or so. If you are someone that wants to replay sections to get higher scores, then it would extend the game. But, there just wasn’t enough time spent punching robots.

 

Family Gaming Assessment

This is an action game that involved melee combat and guns. With that said, the combat is 100% robot on robot. The city that the games takes place in has been “evacuated” so there aren’t any people at all.

If you would let your kids watch an episode of Transformers on TV then this will be more than fine.

Playability Assessment

The action in Transformers: Devastation is all based on time button presses being used to form combos. This rewards skilled players who can have command over the different buttons on the controller. You can just press one or two buttons though so “button mashing” on lower difficulty levels will work.

Some of the bosses are very difficult, but the checkpoint system is generous. If you or your child are easily frustrated though, then this is something to pay attention to.

Conclusion

If you are a Superfan then this is a must buy. Stop whatever you are doing and go buy the game right now.

If you are not? Then this is a game to look forward to if you really enjoy stylish action games like Bayonetta. Otherwise you can skip it without really missing anything. 

 

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Madden 16 is going to be a big game this year. (Read our review here!) Take a look below to see what songs will be on the sound track to see if there are any songs that concern you. I have also included the Spotify playlist so you can give it a listen.

Artist Track
A Thousand Horses Travelin’ Man
Big Data Get Some Freedom (feat. Dragonette)
Blackberry Smoke Holding All the Roses
Brooke Candy Rubber Band Stacks
Don Broco Automatic
Fashawn Something To Believe In (feat. Nas and Aloe Blacc)
GOH vs. Sugarstarr I Used To Be (feat. Redman and Method Man)
Hermitude Through The Roof (feat. Young Tapz)
James Bay Collide
Jimi Charles Moody House Of Moody
John Newman Come and Get It
Joywave Destruction
King Los Ghetto Boy
Lee Brice Sirens
LunchMoney Lewis Ain’t Too Cool
Modestep & Teddy Killerz Make You Mine
NF Intro
No Wyld Odyssey
Nothing But Thieves Ban All The Music
Rag’n’Bone Man Wolves
Robert DeLong Better Days
Sigma Higher (feat. Labrinth)
The Cadillac Three I’m Rockin’
The Weeknd Can’t Feel my Face
twenty one pilots Heavydirtysoul
Viv And The Revival Flash
X Ambassadors Superpower
Xilent Animation (feat. Diamond Eyes)
Yelawolf Fiddle Me This
Youngblood Hawke Knock Me Down
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Publisher: Electronic Arts

ESRB: E for Everyone (Online play not rated)

Reviewed for Xbox One, also available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360

 

Football season is almost upon us and with it comes a new iteration of the longstanding Madden franchise. John Madden Football is the Marshawn Lynch of video games. It is virtually unstoppable. The only real question is whether the game is very different from the last one. Electronic Arts only has a year between games so a massive overhaul is never in the cards. The good news for longtime fans of the series is that Madden 16 includes some subtle changes that help enhance the game and make it emulate the NFL game more fully.

This biggest change is found in the passing game.

Quarterbacks have more control over their throws. Holding the right and left bumpers and triggers on the controller will place the ball either low (and away from the defender) or high (to get those back shoulder fades just like Aaron Rodgers).

Receivers can be controlled in such a way that they can either aggressively leap towards the ball, position themselves for a run after the catch, or secure the ball. These options can be ignored, but they do give players more fine control over the game.

Defenders have options too. You can hold a button to have them make a play on the ball. This will help them jump routes for interceptions or punch the ball out on jump balls. Good timing will give you a better chance to turn things to your advantage.

They did introduce the new Draft Champions mode where you are taken through 15 rounds of a draft where you are asked to choose between three existing players of various positions. It is a fast way to draft a new team and play against people without using existing teams. The interesting part of this mode is that round 15 is a “legend” round that will include players like Randall Cunningham, Jerry Rice, and others. It is definitely an interesting way to play the game.

The rest of the changes are essentially interface tweaks and graphical improvements. The franchise mode is, sadly, still lacking some of the depth that I would hope to have, but we can always hope for next year.

Family Gaming Assessment

Do you let your kids watch NFL games? Is so then the offline play modes in this game will not be an issue.

The standard warning regarding online play stands here. The average player online will be vulgar at best. If you do not want to risk exposing your child to foul language and other “interesting” things you should either shy away from online play or mute voice chat.

The soundtrack is definitely relevant as well. We published the song list in a separate article as well as the Spotity playlist here.

Playability Assessment

Madden 16 is a sports simulator game so it is very difficult. Even the rookie difficulty will be challenging for players who do not have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of NFL football.

It is not impossible to learn the game (frankly, everyone had to learn once), but players should have strong reading skills to read the menus and advice and it is advised to spend a lot of time in the skill drills before playing a game.

Conclusion

Madden stands alone as the only NFL game on the market, but it does not rest on that exclusivity very much. It is a very good game that is a great way for families that love the game of football to share that enthusiasm.

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We learned something very interesting during the 2015 Microsoft E3 press event. I learned how to properly pronounce the name for the Swedish company that makes Minecraft.

 I mean… I learned a lot of other useful stuff to. I learned about Halo 5. I learned that the Xbox One will be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. I even learned that Rare is releasing a collection of thirty classic games for $30 (HUGE VALUE).

But, the thing I learned that will have the single biggest impact on my life?

The company that developed Minecraft, Mojang, is not pronounced “MO-JANG.” It is, instead, pronounced “MO-YANG.”

This is critical knowledge for everyone with a child between the ages of 5 and 15 so lets spread the word people! MO-YANG; Not MO-JANG.

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