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Stephen Duetzmann

Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


This week we chose the term “Skins.” Free to play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Rocket League are dominant right now and this dominance shows no signs of slowing down. All of these free games make up for their incredibly low price by selling what are often referred to as “Skins.”

A “skin” is a kind of item that players can acquire in games. They change the appearance of the players avatar (the character on the screen that represents the player). Skins can be as simple as a change in color scheme (often referred to as a Palette Swap), or as complex as a new avatar with different lighting effects and animations. Most companies are very careful to make sure these skins don’t effect the actual gameplay though. The characters will still play the same. They will just look different doing so.


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

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We talk a lot about ESRB ratings on all of our reviews and podcasts. Savvy parents are quick to check the game box for the rating to make sure their kids are playing games that are appropriate for them. ESRB ratings aren’t limited to just a letter though. There are, in fact, three different parts to every rating.

The three parts are listed below:

Rating Categories

This is the part we all know about. Each game reviewed by the ESRB is assigned a “Rating Category” that suggests its age appropriateness.

  • E
  • E10+
  • T
  • M

Content Descriptors

These descriptors are short phrases that identify what elements of the game caused an age rating to be assigned. Some examples might be Violence, Drug use, etc. These are, in my opinion, the most important part of the rating. Every family is different and every parent has different priorities regarding the kinds of content they want to let their kids see. These categories help with that!

Interactive Elements

These are point of interest in the mechanics of a game that are noteworthy, but don’t necessarily impact the age appropriateness of the game. Some examples of these types of elements are:

  • Online interactions
  • Online purchases
  • User information being available to other users

These three components make up an ESRB rating, and all of them are important for parents who want to control the games their kids play.

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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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

This week we are going to define the term “Generation” with regards to how it is used in the video game space.


Video game consoles have been around since the late 70s and have increased in power exponentially as time has passed. One inescapable problem with home consoles is that you can’t really upgrade them over time. Some companies have tried to circumvent it (the Nintendo 64 released a RAM expansion pack that you could plug into it), but it has never really been successful.

As a result, console manufacturers will release a new system and then throw all of their support behind it for a number of years before moving on to a new piece of technology and forcing consumers to upgrade.

This pattern has been playing out for decades. At this point, consumers generally understand that their systems will only last a certain number of years before a console manufacturer will replace it with something new and more powerful that they will need to buy in order to play the latest and greatest games. (This wasn’t always the case though. There was a great deal of outcry against the Super Nintendo because people did not originally understand that it wasn’t just a slightly different Nintendo Entertainment System.)

Console manufacturers tend to release new consoles all at once (or at least over a short span of time). This behavior has lasted almost as long as consoles have. So gamers and game historians have taken to referring to the time that a set of consoles is available as a “generation.”

There have been eight generations of video game consoles so far (and we are about to step into the ninth). The list below includes the major consoles included in each generation. Game historians may argue some of the finer points regarding what might be included in each generation, but this list is generally accepted as accurate.

  • First Generation: Magnavox Odyssey, Pong, etc.
  • Second Generation: Colecovision, Atari 2600, Atari 5600
  • Third Generation: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Fourth Generation: Nintendo SNES, Sega Genesis
  • Fifth Generation: Nintendo N64, Sony PlayStation , Sega Saturn
  • Sixth Generation: Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft  Xbox, Sega Dreamcast
  • Seventh Generation: Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft  Xbox 360
  • Eighth Generation : Nintendo WiiU, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft  Xbox One
  • Ninth Generation: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X

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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The traditional WWE 2K series may be taking a break this year, but all is not lost in video game land for wrestling fans. WWE 2K Battlegrounds by Saber interactive is an arcade-style party fighting game. In short, its more Super Smash Bros. than Street Fighter V.

It will be released on September 18th for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Pre-orders are available right now (and include Edge).

2K was gracious enough to give team EFG a chance to play an early build of the game so we could have a turn with the insane multiplayer action.

The Family That Brawls Together…

Anyone looking for a complex, technical fighting experience should probably look elsewhere. Battlegrounds is designed from the top down to simplify the fighting experience as much as possible. All of your attacks, throws, and special moves can be completed with a handful of button presses. This is perfect considering the game’s casual focus.

We had four players in our demo of varying skill levels and all of us felt competitive in the matches we played. It took almost no time to pick up the controls and rain down havoc on each other. It was glorious.

Let’s Get Bananas

I’ve played a lot of wrestling games in my time, and all of my favorites have been the games that lean into the absurdity of WWE programming. I knew that this was going to be a good fit as soon as my sun button-mashed and inadvertently tossed me into an alligator’s snapping jaws.

Every match we played included at least one improbably insane moment. My wife played as the Rock (because OF COURSE she did) and threw me under a car that had been lifted, only to knock it down on my Xavier Woods. I was also reminded that Stephanie McMahon uses the Pedigree as her finisher when she caught me on fire while using it.

The final version of the game will include both more crazy levels and more superstars so I’m certain that the madness doesn’t stop here (and we can’t wait).

Game Modes

The full game will be loaded with different game modes, but our preview included two of them. We got a chance to play the Fatal Four Way and the 2v2 Cage Match.

Our favorite between the two of them was the Fatal Four Way. It was partially because of the wild shenanigans that we could all pull while fighting three different players.

The cage match was a bit of a different story. In “real” WWE a cage match awards the victory to whoever climbs out of the cage first. That wouldn’t make sense in a non-scripted competition. Saber Interactive makes up for that by having you try to fill up a “money” meter to earn your way out of the ring. We struggled because of the need to escape. It disincentivizes fighting. and forces us to try and escape combat whenever possible (which is complicated in a game without a ton of movement options inside the cage).

Our Not-So-Final Final Conclusions

We haven’t played anywhere near enough of the game to review it. But, we have played enough that we think there is something here. WWE fans that love to laugh while they throw their friends around a digital ring will definitely want to keep an eye on this one.

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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Wizards of the Coast has announced the next expansion for its venerated collectible card game franchise: Zendikar Rising. This is a set based on the plane of Zendikar. It is a wild, and largely unexplored place dominated by a magical phenomenon called “The Roil.” The Roil causes geologic changes that are sudden, frequent, and drastic. The result is a harsh world full of adventurers searching for secrets to help quell the Roil’s effect and massive beasts that feed off of the chaos.

Returning gameplay mechanics

As per usual there are two returning mechanics in the Zendikar Rising set:

Kicker

Kicker is a keyword ability that allows the player to pay an optional cost when casting a spell to achieve an additional effect. For example. you might be able to spend extra mana to deal more damage with a burn spell or put +1/+1 counters on a creature.

Landfall

Landfall is an ability word that signals triggered abilities that respond to a Land entering the Battlefield under the control of the player with the Landfall card.

New Gameplay Mechanics

There are two new mechanics in the set as well. They are:

Party

Party is a batching mechanic. As you play creatures you build a “Party” that consists of up to one each of four classes: Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard. You control a full party if you control four creatures with all of these types among them. Cards with this keyword have effects on them that depend on the number of creatures in your party when the cards is played.

Modal Double-Faced Cards

Modal double-faced cards (MDFCs) have two card faces, one on each side of the card. When you play a modal double-faced card, you choose which face you’re playing. This is a great idea because there are lands that are also spells. Which means you can plan more spells without risking drawing too few lands.

The Zendikar Rising set will be released on MTG Arena September 17 and September 25 for paper magic.

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

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We’ve been waiting a long time for a proper Nintendo Direct. It looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer, but we DID get a big news drop with the release of a Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct. It was 16 minutes long and was loaded with Super Mario Bros. news.

The Video

The Video Games

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

This was the biggest announcement from the direct. It isn’t perfect, but its a great package that includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy (just the first one). It will only be available for a handful of months so you’ll want to make sure you pick it up.

Optimized versions of 3D Mario games Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy are coming to Nintendo Switch in one package. In addition to having higher resolutions than their original versions, the games have been optimized for a smooth gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch. Super Mario 3D All-Stars also includes an in-game music-player mode to play the music and songs from all three games. Players can also listen to music on their Nintendo Switch systems when the screen is off. A limited production of Super Mario 3D All-Stars launches exclusively for the Nintendo Switch family of systems on Sept. 18 and will be available until approximately March 31, 2021.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

I have no idea how to feel about this. I think it looks amazing. This is the evolution of the toys-to-life genre that we needed. But, I’m not sure how well it will work. This is a remote controlled car that you control with your Switch. You can theoretically build tracks and race Koopa kids on those tracks. It all sounds amazing, but I’m going to need to see this in person before I’m sold.

Created in partnership with Velan Studios, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit brings the fun of the Mario Kart series into the real world by using a Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite** system to race against opponents using a physical Kart. The physical Kart responds to boosts in-game and in the real world, stops when hit with an item and can be affected in different ways depending on the race. Players place gates to create a custom course layout in their home, where the only limit is their imagination. Race against Koopalings in Grand Prix, unlock a variety of course customizations and costumes for Mario or Luigi, and play with up to four players in local multiplayer mode.*** Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, which is available in a Mario Set or Luigi Set, launches on Oct. 16 at a suggested retail price of $99.99.

Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

This is cute. It’s a handheld device that includes, essentially, a new version of Super Mario Bros. There are 35 easter eggs and tweaks added to the game. I don’t think this will be worth the $49.99 for anyone but the most hardcore collectors, but this is neat to look at.

This new collectible device is inspired by the original Game & Watch systems first released in 1980. The original handheld device included a game, and could also be used as a watch to tell time. The original Game & Watch series sold more than 43 million worldwide. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. features a modern +Control Pad. In addition to playing classic games Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2) and a special version of Ball with a Mario makeover, Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. also functions as a clock, with 35 little touches to discover, including some guest appearances from Mario’s friends and foes. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. launches on Nov. 13 at a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

Super Mario 3D World has been overlooked for years because it came out for a console that no one owned (The Wii U). I’ve been waiting for a port since the Switch launched because it could breathe new life into it. You don’t want to sleep on this game. It is an amazing 3d platformer and a great party game. Our kids spent a lot of time playing it on the Wii U and we’re excited to give it another go with new content.

Multiplayer mayhem pounces onto Nintendo Switch! This enhanced of Super Mario 3D World, which originally launched for the Wii U system, features co-op gameplay both online* and through local multiplayer in a variety of creative levels. Additional details about what new things this game has to offer will be revealed later. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury launches for Nintendo Switch on Feb. 12, 2021. New amiibo figures Cat Mario and Cat Peach will also be released at the same time as the game.

Super Mario Bros. 35

Tetris 99 is one of my favorite games of the last few years. I never thought I would be a battle royale fan, but it turns out that I am a sucker for a unique way of applying the genre. Nintendo is releasing another battle royale version of an NES classic on October 1st with Super Mario Bros. 35. Players will play levels that START like they are from Super Mario Bros. on the NES against 34 other players. Defeating enemies sends them to your opponent’s screens. Racing through levels increases your chances of winning. This sounds like it is going to be glorious chaos. The only potential downside is that this is going to be a limited experience. The game will be going away on March 31, 2021.

Welcome to Super Mario Bros. … with 35 players! In this competitive online battle game, 35 players will compete to be the last Mario standing … or running. Enemies defeated will be sent to other players’ courses, but that also works the other way around! Players can activate special items to try and outpace their opponents. Super Mario Bros. 35 launches on Oct. 1 as a digital-only game exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online members.* The game will be playable until March 31, 2021.

Super Mario All-Stars

This is one of the best collections of games ever made. Its certainly the best SNES cartridge ever released. Bringing it to the Switch Online games list is pretty great idea. Its already available to subscribers so go… drop what you’re doing and play!

The classic Super NES game that includes upgraded versions of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 with enhanced 16-bit graphics is joining the catalog of games available with Nintendo Switch Online … later today!*

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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This week Stephen and Amanda are joined by Linda once again to talk about Board Games! This time we are going to go over the EFG Essential board games for families!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Stephen

Mary Engelbreit Fluxx

Amanda

Edge of Darkness

Linda

Drop It!

Topic

EFG Essential Board Games for Families!

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to catch up on video game news!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Stephen

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Spiritfarer

Amanda

Röki

Topics

Epic vs Apple – A breakdown for parents

Nintendo Indie Showcase

GI JOE!

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to catch up on video game news!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

EFG is proud to announce the newest podcast in its growing podcast network: EFG LFG PST! It’s a podcast all about World of Warcraft!

Around the Horn

Stephen

Avengers Beta

Amanda

Fall Guys

Topics

Sony

Spider-Man is exclusive to PS4/PS5 in Avengers

State of Play

Xbox

HALO Infinite Delayed

Xbox Series X in November

Nintendo

Sales Numbers are BANANAS

Pikmin 3 Deluxe

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!

The EFG Essentials

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Subscribe to our Newsletter!

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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Here are all the family-friendly video games video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between August 16th and August 22nd.


Monday, August 17th


Cecconoid- Switch


Tuesday, August 18th


Helheim Hassle- Switch
Mortal Shell- PS4, Xbox One
My Universe: My Baby- Switch
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition- PS4, Xbox One


Wednesday, August 19th


Beyond Enemy Lines 2- Xbox One
Norman’s Great Illusion- Xbox One, Switch
Stones of the Revenant- Xbox One


Thursday, August 20th


Battletoads- Xbox One
Bunny Adventure- Switch
Chinese Parents- Switch
Ellipsis- Switch
Gleamlight- Xbox One, Switch
Kids: Farm Coloring- Switch
Kwaidan: Azuma Manor Story- Switch
Phoenotopia: Awakening- Switch
Retro Tanks- Switch


Friday, August 21st


4X4 Dirt Track- Switch
Dungeon Scavenger- Xbox One
New Super Lucky’s Tale- PS4, Xbox One
One Line Coloring- Switch
PGA Tour 2K21- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Pick of the Week

I have GOT to give the nod to Battletoads! I never really got into the original on the NES, but I LOVE the Brawler genre. There is just something about running around and beating up cartoon enemies that brings me joy. They are also great couch co-op experiences. The fact that it’s coming to Xbox Game Pass is the icing on the cake for subscribers.

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!

The EFG Essentials

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