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Stephen Duetzmann

I’ve been thinking a lot about adventure games recently. It is a genre that has had its ups and downs over the years but definitely has a place in the market. I sat down and wrote out a wish list of adventure games I wanted to play with my kids.

Here are my picks! What are yours?

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic may be past the peak of its cultural significance. But, the audience is definitely still there in spite of the show ending after nine seasons.

I can easily see an episodic adventure game where the mane six would venture around Ponyville solving puzzles. Pinkie Pie could even provide some fourth wall breaking humor.

Adventure Time

This one just seems too obvious. There have been tons of action-based video games based on this (immensely popular) TV show, but none of them has really expressed the quirky humor of the show in the right away. The adventure game format is perfect because it would let players take their time while exploring some of the hilarious locations. 

Heck. The word adventure is in the name of the show!

Winnie the Pooh

This is impossible, but I would love to see it for the location alone. I would love to play a game where I direct Winnie the Pooh around the 100 Acre Wood. The characters are iconic and there is plenty of material available considering the movies, books, and TV shows. A man I can dream can’t he?

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb may have, tragically, come to an end in cartoon form, but I can’t help but think that an episodic adventure game highlighting their summer vacation hijinks would be amazing.

Navigating their home and neighborhood solving puzzles using weird contraptions would fit perfectly with the theme of the show. A meta-plot containing Agent P and Doofenshmirtz would be icing on the cake.

Scooby-Doo, Where are You?

Ok. Look. Scooby-Doo is never going to go anywhere. You might think he’s gone. But, there has been a new movie every year for a while now. We might as well take the opportunity to take the adventure game formula and apply it to a mystery.

The idea of having a series of seemingly unrelated capers that are all tied together by some interesting narrative threads is very interesting. The Scooby gang doesn’t exactly have a lot of depth but that type of scenario would be a great opportunity to develop it a little bit.

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

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Stephen

I love Street Fighter. I’m terrible at it, but I love it. I really fell in love with the game when I started playing Street Fighter II: World Warrior on the SNES with my next door neighbors. We would play for hours. I still remember how excited I was when I was finally able to to a fireball as Ryu. I worked at it for a long time, and when it clicked I was hooked.

Mike

Street Fighter. There is something so satisfying with a well paced, but on the slower side, 2D fighting game. The Street fighter series has always been a very approachable fighting game for me, and my brother will forever be my opponent.

A nod also goes to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a Two Player (Plus) Fighting game where all my nerd dreams came true.

John

Looking back, my favorite two player game of all time has to be Contra.  My brother and I spent countless hours playing this game to the point that we both could play it start to finish without losing a life.

Linda

My favorite two player game is Fox in the Forest.  I rarely play games that are only for two players, but this one has a style that brings lots of nostalgia. Fox in the Forest is a trick taking game, and that mechanic is a family favorite. The extended family are huge fans of the card game Setback, which is also trick taking. The familiarity of the mechanic as well as the beautiful storybook artwork makes it an easy favorite.


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Your Family Game On!

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Video game publishers are constantly experimenting with ways to earn additional revenue for the games they release. One of the most common methods we see them use is a model where the base game is free to play, but some features are locked behind purchases (that can vary in size). In many cases these purchases are small (some are a dollar or less). We call these Micro-transactions. Some of these purchases are quite large and can be more than a full-price console release. We call those macro-transactions. 

The features hidden behind these transactions can be anything from experience boosts (that help players gain power faster) to cosmetic items that change the way a character, their weapons, or attacks look. 

Sometimes though, these transactions include the ability to directly increase your character’s power and improve their chances of winning against other players who haven’t spent money. These are often called “Pay to Win” mechanics (or p2w) by the gaming community at large.

This is very common in mobile games, but can easily find its way into console games as well (it is just more rare). The gaming community at large is very quick to call out companies for including these types of mechanics in their games (you can look up the commentary on the launch of Star Wars Battlefront 2 if you want to see what some players said). 

Most recently, these mechanics have found their way into the newly released Pokemon Unite. This is an interesting case because the Pokemon brand is incredibly strong with kids (and adults), and the game is free to start. This means it is very easy for our kids to get into the game and start playing with people who have spent a large sum of money to be more powerful than everyone else. 

This isn’t a problem by itself as long as our kids are having fun, but p2w mechanics do create some situations we need to be careful of.

First, p2w mechanics encourage kids to want to spend money on the game. They do this because the more money they spend the more of a competitive advantage it gives them.This can help them win more matches, and will be especially important if they intend to play in the game’s ranked mode. 

Second, it also means your kid is likely to come across a player who has spent a LOT of money in order to be as powerful as possible. This will make it difficult to complete against those players and can make it frustrating, 

 I think it is worth noting that this doesn’t mean these games can’t ever be fun, but we, as parents, do need to be vigilant and make sure we help our kids identify these mechanics and make good decisions. 

The best way to do this is to ask our kids questions when they ask to spend money on a game (especially one that was free to begin with). We should ask them things like, 

“What exactly are you buying?”

“What will that currency you are buying be used for?”

“Are you buying something that will make you stronger in the game?”

These types of questions will help your family make better decisions and will help your kids think about what they are doing. You can even have real discussions about whether or not these are the kinds of games they want to play. This will likely save you and your family time and money in the long run. 

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

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Stephen

My favorite game to watch is Street Fighter V (or any other game in the series for that matter). There is just something about watching high level competitive Street Fighter tournaments that I find exciting. I especially like to watch the matches when they take place in front of a loud audience (like at EVO). That produced moments like the one in the video below. Nothing can really top that for me.

Mike

Overwatch. I love the game design and the intricacies of group composition and communication, but I am terrible with shooters involving other players.

Linda

Hands down my favorite game to watch was Horizon Zero Dawn. I generally do not play console games, and a game like Horizon is well beyond my skill (as well as beyond what I am interested in delving into). The story told in Horizon Zero Dawn is captivating and has twists and turns that kept me checking in. The visuals of the game were also gorgeous and made it a pleasure to watch.

Jonathan

Games like Celeste and Shovel Knight. I just stink at them even if I buy them. I need to try Hollow Knight again.


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Minecraft mods on PC number into the thousands, especially if you’re playing the Minecraft Java Edition. The vast majority of the mods available to download from places like CurseForge – a modification repository that’s used for a number of popular games, including Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and Kerbal Space Program – are, for the most part, fairly innocent.

Mods that are available through Minecraft Bedrock Edition, which is probably the version of Minecraft that your kids are playing on console, mobile, and PC, are vetted by the Mojang team at Microsoft to ensure that they are both high quality and family-friendly.

Not all mods are made equal, mind you, and CurseForge ensures that all of those mods are available to download… for good and ill. One of these not-so-great mods is the Jenny mod that’s available through CurseForge on PC and via APK (Android Application Package) for Android OS devices. In theory, you can also purchase a version of this mod through in-game currency.

The Minecraft Jenny mod is a NSFW (not safe for work) unofficial Minecraft mod that introduces an in-game “girlfriend” for Minecraft players that simulates adult interactions. Yes, those kinds of adult interactions. It’s becoming an increasingly popular mod that runs in “Creative” mode. Now, Jenny can be your “bestie,” but that’s not why parents need to be paying closer attention to children downloading this particular mod, of course.

Minecraft Bedrock Edition doesn’t allow unofficial mod installation, so the best way to ensure that kids aren’t going to download and install Jenny is to make sure that Bedrock Edition is the version of Minecraft that they’re using. Java Edition has some excellent mods, including the Redstone mods on CurseForge, but it does require extra intervention. There are no parental controls available on CurseForge, so use discretion.

Jenny might be available for bestie status, but she certainly wasn’t coded just for those purposes. Be cautious.

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

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What is your desert island game and why?

Stephen

I thought about this one for a long time, and I have to go with World of Warcraft. Yes. My desert island has good internet. It is my favorite game of all time, and I can ALWAYS find something to do. There is just something awesome about a never ending list of tasks to complete.

If you’re a stick in the mud and don’t think WoW is an acceptable answer, then my backup answer is Tetris. It’s a perfect puzzle game that I can play to relax and I don’t have to worry about the story getting stale.

Mike

Can we talk about Chrono Trigger? We should talk about Chrono Trigger. This game is about a story that asks “What it is to be a hero?” and explores the tragedies and victories  of that question with one of the best art styles and musical scores of all time. Best overall character roster, elegant game play, an early adopter of new game plus content. And it bears repeating that one of the best video game scores of all time was produced in 1996 with a 16 bit processor.

John

Skyrim, why, because.  Seriously though it is playable for hundreds and hundreds of hours in various ways.  The free form method of leveling and crafting allow for you to entertain yourself in any way that you want.

Linda

My desert island game would have to be Seikatsu. This game is beautiful to look at, as well as a peaceful game to play.  The tokens are heavy and would be less likely to blow away in the breeze. It is one I have played multiple times and it feels fresh each time. Not one that would be dull after a few plays.

Jonathan 

Tetris any one of them but Tetris Effect if I was able to choose. They are the most solid game ever created and even while it’s simple and NOTHING has changed it finds new challenges every day.


What about you?

Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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For many years, Monster Hunter was a game series that was as complex as it was beloved. With the release of Monster Hunter World on PlayStation 4 (later on PC), players have been able to partake in hunts with greater ease. At its core, Monster Hunter games are all about locating and hunting giant monsters to harvest for parts or capture for study. Players craft a variety of different weapons, armour, and items to better help with their hunts, in addition to enlisting a chef to cook meals to eat before going out on an adventure. Your handler will give you quests for hunts, which become more and more challenging and complex the higher level your character is.

Monster Hunter Stories, which is an offshoot of the Monster Hunter core series, focuses on villages that don’t believe in hunting monsters. Instead, they befriend them and train them from hatchlings, creating strong bonds with their “monsties.” Monster Hunter Stories – the original is available on the Nintendo 3DS and on mobile – is more akin to Pokemon’s animation style than the more “grown-up” animation style of the core Monster Hunter games. You still need to hunt down some monsters, which is justified in the story as to why, but the focus is far more on creating bonds between the protagonist and a bevy of monsties.

Monster Hunter core games are pure action games that require quite a bit of reflex and skill. Monster Hunter Stories games are turn-based roleplaying games and rely on strategy to be successful in monster encounters. Newly minted “riders” will wander around the world map to collect eggs from monster dens and gain experience for their squad of monsties by defeating aggressive monsters.

Monster Hunter Stories 2, available on the Nintendo Switch and PC, is a follow-up to the original game from 2016. It’s not necessary to have played the original game, but it is beneficial for story purposes. Monster Hunter Stories 2 takes many of its design and gameplay cues from the original game, but refines the combat so that it’s less reliant on guessing what form of attack a monster will take (power, speed, or technical). Much as with the core Monster Hunter games, Monster Hunter Stories 2 encourages players to get to know the monsters in the world by fighting them over and over again. Players will learn a monster’s moves, how their tactics change when they get angry or use special abilities, and which weapons are most effective against their various targetable body parts.

It sounds violent, right?

Monster Hunter Stories games do not rely on gore or blood. Pieces will not go “missing” as you’re playing, so that the monster’s character model stays intact during battle. Monsters will fall over when they are defeated or will run away back to their den once they’ve taken enough damage. If players chase monsters back to their dens, they will have an opportunity to take one of their eggs and hatch them with the village Monstie caretaker “Felyne.” Felynes are cute little cat creatures that speak and have culture of their own. They’re featured heavily in core Monster Hunter games, too.

The story in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is much more accessible than its predecessor. Without getting too deep into the narrative weeds, the story is a journey of exploration and discovery as much as it is about saving the world from the Wings of Ruin. The Wings of Ruin refers to a particular kind of Rathalos, which are held in deep reverence by both hunters and riders alike, that is born with stunted wings and will awaken to its powers under great duress and destroy the world with its fully formed Wings of Ruin. As a descendent of the original game’s main character, Red, your character is met with the task of raising monsties and helping young Ratha discover who he really is.

(Fingers crossed that he isn’t actually responsible for the Wings of Ruin.)

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is rated E10+, which means that it’s appropriate for children 10 and over. Much of the game has voice-over, though it still has a fair amount of reading to do, so it’s not quite right for children who aren’t reading at a third or fourth-grade level. Strategically, the game will teach players everything they need to know about how to play. There will be some guesswork involved as players get to know the monsters they’re fighting, but it’s not particularly frustrating to do that extra work.

This game is such a treat to play, both in terms of its methodical gameplay and its adorable aesthetic. It’s a delight to be swept away by each of the different biomes in the game, even when it gets mighty cold or particularly hot. Fighting the monsters themselves can be challenging, especially when players get to the most powerful monsters in the game, but it’s like solving a great puzzle. Players will feel like absolute champions when they get through those high-level fights.

One of the downfalls of Monster Hunter Stories 2 is how repetitive the gameplay can become. Once players have fought a monster the first time, they’ll likely have to fight the same monsters over and over again as they make their way through the story in a given region. It’s very much the kind of experience that repeats itself as you go from region to region. It’s comforting, but it can get a little boring if you’ve been playing for many hours at a time.

For children that love games like Pokemon, where they can collect little friends to play with, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a fantastic new experience. For teens that have enjoyed core Monster Hunter games, like Monster Hunter Rise on Nintendo Switch, Stories 2 provides a break from the intense action, allowing players to focus on both strategy and story. And for the new players, Monster Hunter Stories 2 (even more than Monster Hunter Rise) is an incredibly accessible way to dip a toe into this prestigious game series without diving into its core action full force.

Beyond its repetitive gameplay, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a beautiful, sweeping RPG experience that straddles the line between Pokemon and Monster Hunter with elegance and ease. There’s just something satisfying about having a squad of monster best friends to roam the world with, meeting new people, protecting villages, and saving the world. Just take care of Baby Ratha.

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

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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to Xbox Game Pass!

The Pitch

Xbox Game Pass is a service that allows unlimited downloads of a wide range of games on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S for a relatively low monthly fee.

How Does it Work?

Subscribers have access to a roster of more than 100 games. They can download as many of them as they want as often as they want for as long as they maintain their subscription. This isn’t a gimmick or a trap either. Subscribers can download, with very few exceptions, the complete version of every game on the service to their Xbox One hard drive. This means that they don’t have to depend on streaming the games over the internet as they would have to if they were using PlayStation Now.

In addition, Game Pass subscribers are given a 20% discount on the digital purchase of games that are included in the Game Pass game list. They also get a 10% discount on DLC for games on the game list. This is relevant for players who decide to purchase a Game Pass game so they can play it after they end their subscription. One unfortunate “loophole” that you will also need to consider is the inherent risk is purchasing DLC for a game you only have access to through the Game Pass subscription. Buying DLC for a game that you technically don’t own is definitely risky.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers have access to first-party new releases on the same day that they are available in stores! This will add up to a significant value each year as Microsoft is bound to release at least a few games each year. The fact that subscribers will have a chance to play all of these games at no additional charge is a very big deal.

How Much Does it Cost?

Xbox Game Pass vs Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Game Pass has only been around for a year or so, but it is often confused with Xbox Live Gold by people who don’t pay a lot of attention to games.

They are not interchangeable services. Xbox Live Gold is a subscription that provides access to Online Multiplayer gaming and a limited suite of free games each month. Xbox Game Pass gives access to a large list of games for free for the duration of the subscription. Game Pass does NOT, however, give access to online multiplayer gaming on those free games.

It is worth mentioning that both of these services are included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Advice

The Xbox Game Pass isn’t for everyone. It does have a few issues that interested families should consider.

  • Many of the games available on the service are rated M. This won’t be a problem for parents who are engaged and interested in the games their kids play. But, it does reduce the overall value of the service for families where only younger kids play video games.
  • The service is expensive. It may not be prohibitively so, but $120 dollars for 12 months is the price of two full price games.
  • Downloading all those games will fill a hard drive up VERY fast. The biggest drive available on an Xbox One is 1 TB so subscribers will want to put some thought into purchasing external memory so you don’t have to delete games every time you want to try something new. We recommend this Seagate External Hard Drive for this purpose.
  • Games aren’t guaranteed to remain on the service forever. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that their first party games will remain on the service indefinitely, but I think it is pretty safe that they will remain. But, games from companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar Games aren’t under the same protection. They can leave at any time just like shows on Netflix. Its not all bad news though. Microsoft has been adding new games to the service regularly since it was first announced.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus


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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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to Xbox Live Gold!

The Pitch

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service for Xbox that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over Xbox Live. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the Xbox Marketplace. It also includes a suite of free Xbox One and Xbox 360 games that are available for free each month.

How Does it Work?

Xbox Live Gold is a subscription service that must be maintained in order to keep using it. The service grants its members access to the following:

  • Online Multiplayer gaming using the Xbox Live platform
  • A suite of free games available for download each month for the Xbox Series X, Series S, or Xbox One. Typically, the suite of free games will include two for each system, but all of the Xbox 360 games released for the service will also be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series via backwards compatibility. These games can be downloaded to the your hard drive at any time, but you can only play them if you have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription.
  • Periodic discounts on digital games sold on the Xbox Marketplace. The games you purchase using a discount made available during a Xbox Live Gold subscription will remain playable even after the subscription expires.

How Much Does it Cost?

Xbox Live Gold can be purchased yearly, every six months, every 3 months, or monthly.

Parental Controls

The Xbox One has comprehensive parental controls that allow you to set age limits on the games your children can play. This age limitation will even block the downloads for free games purchased through this service. It will be useful to keep that in mind if you purchase Xbox Live Gold on your child’s account as it can reduce the value of the subscription. A workaround for this would be to purchase Xbox Live Gold on your account with your child set up as a Microsoft Family Member.

Xbox Game Pass vs Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Game Pass has only been around for a year or so, but it is often confused with Xbox Live Gold by people who don’t pay a lot of attention to games.

They are not interchangeable services. Xbox Live Gold is a subscription that provides access to Online Multiplayer gaming and a limited suite of free games each month. Xbox Game Pass gives access to a large list of games for free for the duration of the subscription. Game Pass does NOT, however, give access to online multiplayer gaming on those free games.

It is worth mentioning that Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game pass are both included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Advice

There isn’t much advice to give. If your family owns an Xbox One console then this is required for online play. It is, however, a pretty good value because over the course of a year the free games available through the program will add up to a significant value.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus


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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Plus!

The Pitch

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service for PlayStation that is required in order to play online multiplayer games over the PlayStation Network. The service also includes periodic discounts on digital purchases through the PlayStation Network. It also includes a pair of PS4 and/or PS5 games at no additional charge.

How Does it Work?

PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that must be maintained in order to keep using it. The service grants its members access to the following:

  • Online Multiplayer gaming using the PlayStation Network platform
  • A suite of free games available for download each month for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. These games can be downloaded to the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 hard drive at any time, but you can only play them if you have an active PlayStation Plus subscription.
  • Periodic discounts on digital games sold on the PlayStation Marketplace. The games you purchase using a discount made available during a PlayStation Plus subscription will remain playable even after the subscription expires.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Plus can be purchased yearly, every three months, or monthly.

Advice

There isn’t much advice to give. If your family owns a PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation 5 console then this is required for online play. It is, however, a pretty good value because over the course of a year the free games available through the program will add up to a significant value.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now


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!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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