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Disclaimer: These are the indie games that have come out already and we’ve had the opportunity to play. It’s an evolving list!

Alekon: In some alternate universe that we didn’t get New Pokemon Snap in 2021, Alekon would’ve been the most sought-after Snap-alike on the market. That doesn’t mean that Alekon isn’t worth paying attention to. As you move your way through Alekon’s lush landscapes, taking inspired photos of beautiful, unique creatures, you can unlock mini-games to playback at the game’s hub. Each creature has a fun personality to uncover, much like in New Pokemon Snap. And at $19.99, it’s a joyful (and affordable) alternative to Nintendo’s New Pokemon Snap.

An Airport For Aliens Currently Run by Dogs: If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Self, I wish I were playing one of the weirdest and most delightful indie games out there, but also please make sure there are dogs,” then you’re in luck. An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is a witty, strange, and hilarious indie game that has you flying all around the (un)known universe as the last human. Well, and your wife. This game is beyond categorization and classification, but if you loved the quirky beauty of Hypnospace Outlaw, you’ll love this.

Beasts of Maravilla Island: Two Snap-alikes in one year? Clearly, we’ve all been thinking about how much we wanted a new Pokemon Snap game and between Alekon and Beasts of Maravilla, we’re all set! You follow a young wildlife photographer as she traverses Maravilla Island, taking photos of the magical wildlife and learn all about their personalities. In this year of 2021, with everything being what it is, the pursuit of restoring magic to the world is an incredibly tantalizing prospect, which is exactly what you’re set to do on Maravilla. It’s a delight.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale: The world has lost all of its colour and Chicory, the master of a magical paintbrush, has gone missing. It’s up to you, an anthropomorphic dog, to pick up your employer’s (no, really) mantle and try to fight back the darkness. You’ll meet friends to help, puzzles to solve with your colourful skills, and enemies to defeat along the way. Can you save the world from the darkness? Can you make cool clothes? You’ll figure it out and have a blast doing so.

Cozy Grove: Animal Crossing: New Horizons kind of fell apart with content updates during the pandemic, which means that those of us who love those kinds of farming and social simulation games have been kind of left in a lurch. Cozy Grove is all about that slow, slow burn. Also, it’s a little spooky. You play a Spirit Scout, stranded on a haunted island that can’t seem to make up its mind about what it is. As a Spirit Scout, you help the resident spooks and find hidden secrets along the way. Best part of Cozy Grove? It’s designed to be played in 30-60 minute chunks. Bliss.

Embr: Saving people and putting out fires – that’s what we’re doing at Embr Corp! You can dial up Embr and, much like how Door Dash sends out delivery folks to pick up your food, a team of (un)qualified firefighters will come and save the day. They definitely won’t screw up, let the house burn down, neglect to save everyone, or steal a bunch of cash. That would never happen. But if it did happen, it wouldn’t be Embr’s fault. Embr did its due diligence and you’re on your own, bud. Good luck.

Knockout City: Don’t let the game’s title fool you – Knockout City is a dodgeball game. No, it’s a three-versus-three dodgeBRAWL game. There are special dodgeballs, fun cosmetics (yes, there are microtransactions), and whole teams of people for you and your family to knock into a whole other dimension. You can throw dodgeballs, become a dodgeball and be thrown by your team (or your opponents, so be careful there), and hang-glide from spot to spot, dodging and catching and bopping along the way. Knockout City is surefire way to get your family to bond over smacking down the competition, but make it cute and wholesome.

Lost Words: When we’re young, the whole world is magic. The possibilities are endless. It’s doubly so when you’re a burgeoning writer, diving into your talents and discovering your voice. Lost Words is an exploration of youthful creativity and coming to terms with immense loss. It’s a gorgeous side-scrolling platformer that relies on using words to help propel your intrepid heroine towards her goal. We get to help Izzy, the game’s protagonist, as she moves through her grief using her creativity to process how she feels. It’s a beautiful, heart-wrenching experience.

Overcooked: All You Can Eat: Overcooked is an absolutely frenetic, bonkers-town multiplayer game that puts you and your family (and friends) in a kitchen to serve hungry, sometimes impatient customers, on your way to save the world. Learn how to cook dishes, move as a single unit (or not), clean dishes, and traverse bizarre kitchen layouts in this grand collection of every Overcooked game and its DLC. (No yolk! It’s real!) Be ready for shouts, jabs, and laughter as you win (and fail) together.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion: I’m a blueberry!

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 Nintendo Switch is wildly popular, and Nintendo is pairing it with an online subscription service similar to both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. Their service, called Nintendo Switch Online, launched in the fall of 2018 and is a great value for families looking to get more out of their Switch experience. 

The Pitch

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

How Does it Work? 

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription based service that can be purchased annually, or in smaller increments. The service needs to be maintained in order to continue the benefits and maintain access to the features. 

The service includes: 

Online Play – Online multiplayer gaming using the Nintendo Switch Online platform

NES and SNES – Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo Switch Online members have access to curated library of more than 60 NES and Super NES classic games. The collection initially only includes NES games, but was updated a year later to include SNES titles. The curated library of games will grow over time. These games also include online competitive/cooperative play with friends. Certain games (like Super Mario Bros.) even include the ability to virtually pass the controller back and forth.

Save Data Cloud – Subscribers can back up their save game data to the cloud. This makes it easier to retrieve their save data if they lose their Switch or start to use a new one. It is worth mentioning that some games aren’t compatible with cloud saving. The most noteworthy examples are Pokemon Sword and Shield and the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Smartphone App – Nintendo has released a smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). It syncs with the subscriber’s Nintendo account and includes some minor enhancements for different Switch games. You can also use it to use voice chat with your Nintendo friends as you play. (Certain games, like Fortnite, circumvent Nintendo’s app and allow voice chat through the game software itself. This isn’t universal though.)

Special Offers – Subscribers will have access to exclusive sales and product offerings. They have included controllers, discount game vouchers, and even an exclusive game (Tetris 99). 

How Much Does it Cost?

Nintendo Switch Online can be purchased annually, quarterly, or monthly. The service also has a 7 day free trial. 

Annual Subscription: $19.99

3 Month Subscription: $7.99

1 Month Subscription: $3.99

Nintendo Switch Online also has a Family Membership option where up to 8 Nintendo Accounts can share an online subscription for $34.99 annually. 

Advice

This service is a great value for families. The cost is relatively low at $20 a year and it includes a wide array of free games to play.

If your kids aren’t interested in the NES/SNES games and only play Fortnite, then this is a service you can likely avoid. Fortnite doesn’t require an active subscription to play.

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 EA Origins Access

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

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!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Skill Tree

Skill Tree: A set of abilities listed in a linear path (often with some or many branches) where access becomes available in sequence. As a player purchases skills in the beginning of a tree, it unlocks the next skill, or choice of skills, in the linear path. Skill trees are often themed, and are designed to encourage a particular style of play (or several closely tied styles of play). Skill Trees are often visible to the player, showing potential abilities (and potential styles of play) that are available through spending resources on this particular path. Skill Trees are often built in collections of multiple Trees, and often share the same resource, requiring the player to make careful choices to best suit their style of play. The availability and combination of Skill Trees are often used to help better describe a character (or a class) and its interactions with others.


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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!


The gaming definition this week is Buff/Debuff/Nerf

Buff /Nerf

Buff, when paired with Nerf, are mechanical changes made to a game by designers after launch to balance play. These changes either balance play between other players, balance the player’s interaction with the difficulty of a single-player experience, or both. Players find Buffs and Nerfs paired together and distributed in collections known as Patches. Patches release with the buffs and nerfs specifically identified and typically designer commentary on why the changes were made.

Buff/Debuff

Buff, when paired with Debuff, refer to game abilities . The ability applies to player and computer controlled characters, often only lasting a set amount of time or connected to specific pieces of equipment. These abilities change the availability and preference to choices made in play without completely changing the flow. A buff that increases damage to a particular action encourages its repeated use while the ability is active. A debuff that prevents you from using certain abilities (such as silence/mute in the Final Fantasy Series) encourages finding alternate action, either physical attacks or the use of items or abilities to recover from the limitation


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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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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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!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many video games: Achievement/Trophy

Achievements and Trophies were introduced in the era of Xbox and PS3 game consoles. They are a set of points, badges, or icons that show successful completion of a particular type of play. Some games allow Achievements or Trophies to be publicly facing online. Achievements can represent the completion of a section of story or narrative, the use of a particular game mechanic, exceptional skill in gameplay, or discovery of a hidden quirk or feature within the game. Achievements and Trophies are often hidden to avoid spoiling the narrative of the game. Visible ones encourage exploration of the game and mastery of play.

Examples of Achievements and Trophies:

Minecraft:

  • Taking Inventory Achievement: The first time a player opens their inventory
  • Adventuring Time: For finding every biome

Star Wars Squadrons:

  • Galaxy’s Finest (story mode): For completing the campaign on story mode difficulty

Stardew Valley:

  • Bronze trophy for catching 100 fish

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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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Hundreds of thousands of parents buy their families video game consoles as gifts every year. Many of those consoles are destined to be wrapped ahead of time and opened up by elated children only to require several hours of setup or, even worse, to be hindered by internet issues caused by rowdy internet trolls – the ultimate killjoy. 

The good news is that all of those potential problems are avoidable. Below is a list of all the things you can do to make sure that you and your family can avoid that fate. 

Open the Box

This is an unlikely problem, but it is not unheard of for consoles to be returned to retailers with missing components (and sometimes even missing consoles). Opening the box ahead of time gives you the chance to go back to the store and get a complete console ahead of time. You won’t be able to do that on Christmas morning.

Check Your TV

Modern consoles hook up to televisions using HDMI ports. Most TVs have multiple HDMI ports, but many of them might already be taken up by your family’s cable box or even your other consoles. It;s a great idea to check ahead of time whether or not you have a free HDMI port on the back of your TV. If you don’t, then you’ll likely want to invest in an HDMI switch. That will let you plug multiple devices into one HDMI port on your TV and switch between them using a remote or a button on the switch itself. 

Plug it In!

Modern consoles are more like computers than the Nintendos we opened on Christmas morning as kids. They have complex, powerful software running under the hood and they need to be hooked up to the internet in order to set them up. These downloads and installations can take a while so it is a good idea to hook the console up while the kids are away and complete everything.

Some of the things you’ll be able to get taken care of ahead of time are: downloading firmware updates, setting up user accounts for you and your kids, and setting up parental controls.

Don’t Forget About The Games

Many games need to be partially installed from the disk, and many of them need to download patches from the internet in order to play. These installations can take a lot of time and it will feel like an eternity with your kids breathing down your neck. Do yourself a favor and take at least one of the games you are giving out of the plastic and throw the disc into the console. The install process will be almost automatic and it will give your kids something to play right away once the console is hooked up!

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

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Choosing your starter Pokémon is one of the biggest decisions your child will make while playing Pokémon Sword and Shield. They get to choose one of three Pokémon that each have two evolutions: Scorbunny, Grooky, and Sobble. 

At the end of the day, any of the three starter Pokémon will be viable choices to help finish the game. If you fully evolve your starter then they will most likely be the most powerful Pokémon of the appropriate type in your party. 

However, their different types do lend some advantages in the way you handle the first few gyms. In order, the first three gyms are Grass, Water, and then Fire. 

Scorbunny

If they choose Scorbunny, then it means that they elected a fire type Pokémon.

Scorbunny!

This means it will be super effective against the Grass type gym that comes first. But, it will be weak against the the next gym which is water type, so there will be a sharp spike in difficulty. It’s a good idea to make sure you catch a Yamper (a yellow and brown Pokémon that looks like a corgi) because he is electric type or any of the grass type Pokémon on the routes leading up the the Second gym. Electric type and grass type Pokémon are both super effective against water type Pokémon. The third gym you encounter is a fire type gym. Obviously, Scorbunny, being fire type, is not very effective against its own type. Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch water type Pokémon on the way up to and leading away from the second gym. Water type Pokémon are super effective against fire so you’ll want to make sure to catch and use one.

Sobble

If they choose Sobble, then it means that they selected a water type Pokémon.

Sobble!

This means that the first gym will be particularly difficult because the grass type Pokémon there will be super effective against your starter. This makes it very important that you collect a flying type or bug type Pokémon in the very early game. One good flying type Pokémon the capture is Rookidy. This is a flying type Pokémon that will remain strong throughout your time with the game. Sobble is also not very effective against its own type, so you will have another difficult time against the second gym. Just like if you chose Scorbunny, It’s a good idea to make sure you catch a Yamper (a yellow and brown Pokémon that looks like a corgi) because he is electric type or any of the grass type Pokémon on the routes leading up the the Second gym. Electric type and grass type Pokémon are both super effective against water type Pokémon. Sobble, gets its chance to shine in the third gym where it is super effective against the fire type Pokémon there. 

Grooky

If they choose Grooky, then it means they selected a grass type Pokémon.

Grooky!

This means it will not be very effective against the grass type Pokémon in the first gym you come across. This makes it very important that you collect a flying type or bug type Pokémon in the very early game as they are both super effective against grass types. One good flying type Pokémon the capture is Rookidy. This is a flying type Pokémon that will remain strong throughout your time with the game. Grooky is super effective against the water type Pokémon in the second gym. The third gym will be particularly difficult because the fire type Pokémon there are super effective against your starter. Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch water type Pokémon on the way up to and leading away from the second gym. Water type Pokémon are super effective against fire so you’ll want to make sure to catch and use one.

This choice is ultimately a matter of taste. There are players who will swear by one type or another and others that will choose a different type every game based on which Pokémon is the cutest.

What do you think? What Pokemon are you choosing?

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Pokémon Sword and Shield are finally available to the public and they are incredibly popular. Lots of kids will be asking for them, and we suspect a lot of parents will need help. If you happen to be one of those parents, then this is our guide for you. Bookmark this page and refer to it if you need help with your kids’ newest favorite game.

What is the ESRB Rating?

Pokemon Sword and Shield are rated E for everyone by the ESRB.

The content descriptors are Comic Mischief and Mild Cartoon Violence.

The rating summary reads, “This is a role-playing game in which players assume the role of a Pokémon trainer trying to become champion. Players explore the fictional Galar Region and engage in turn-based combat with other trainers. Players select various attacks (e.g., fire, lightning/electricity) from a menu to defeat Pokémon. Melee-style attacks (e.g., rolling, scratching, bouncing) are also used, as impact sounds, light effects, and diminishing health bars indicate damage. One creature is seen with a large drop of mucous hanging from its nose.”

What are the differences between the two games?

The Pokémon Company and Game Freak always release two different versions of their Pokémon games. The biggest differences  between the two versions has always been in the available Pokemon, but this time around there are version exclusive gyms to battle in as well.

Pokémon Sword Exclusive Pokémon

Pokémon Shield Exclusive Pokémon

Version Exclusive Gyms

The fourth and sixth gym that you battle in during the game are different based on which version you play.

In Pokémon Sword the fourth gym features Bea and her party of fighting-type Pokémon. The sixth gym is run by Gordie and his squad of rock-type Pokémon.

In Pokémon Shield the fourth gym is run by Allister  who uses ghost-type Pokémon and the sixth gym is led by Melony and her ice-type Pokémon.

All of the other gyms are identical in both versions.

The differences in the gym lineups means that you’ll need different Pokémon in your party to help overcome the gym challenges and, ultimately, the gym leader.

Legendary Pokemon

Each game features a different legendary Pokémon that is pictured on the front cover of the game. You are able to capture them after you complete the main story arc of the game. 

Pokémon Sword has Zacian who is fairy type. When you find the rusted sword and give it to him he becomes fairy/steel type.

Pokémon Shield has Zamazenta who is fighting type. When you find the rusted shield and give it to him he becomes fighting/steel type.

Do you need Nintendo Switch Online?

Nintendo Switch Online isn’t mandatory, but it does a lot to enrich the experience. Nintendo Switch Online is required for online battling and trading. You also need it in order to participate in Max Raid Battles with other players. (The game will provide you with AI controlled teammates, but it just isn’t the same.)

How do you reset the game?

Sometimes you will just get stuck and feel the need to start over. The Pokémon Company, knowing that its target audience is largely made up of children, makes it relatively difficult to delete a save game so you can start over. They don’t want it to be something that can be done by accident.

In the case of Sword and Shield, you use the data management settings in the Switch menu. 

  • Turn on your Nintendo Switch
  • From the Nintendo Switch Home Screen, select System Settings
  • Find Data Management on the next screen
  • Navigate down to the Delete Save Data option
  • Choose Pokémon Sword & Shield to delete your file for your current profile.
    • Note: Make SURE that you are deleting the save file for the correct profile. 

You can then restart your Pokémon Sword or Shield game. 

What starter Pokémon should they pick?

Choosing your starter Pokémon is one of the biggest decisions your child will make while playing Pokémon Sword and Shield. They get to choose one of three Pokémon that each have two evolutions: Scorbunny, Grooky, and Sobble. Check out our guide to help you choose between them!


What is the difference between Dynamax and Gigantamax?

One of the key new features in Sword and Shield is the Dynamax mechanic. Pokémon have the ability, in specific situations, to grow to a massive size and power up each of their attacks. This is similar to the mega-evolution that was introduced in Pokémon X and Y (Generation 6), except that the dynamax has a maximum duration of three turns. The attacks your Pokémon uses while in dynamax form are called Max Movs and are very similar to Z-moves that were introduced during  Pokémon Sun and Moon (Generation 7). 

You might hear your kids using the term Gigantimax in relation to these battles. These terms are NOT interchangable. Any Pokémon can Dynamax, but there are only certain Pokémon that has a Gigantimax form. This means that they have a special form and access to super powerful G-Max Moves that are unique and powerful. 

The only way to find Gigantimax Pokémon is in Max Raid battles. These are special battles that you enter by finding circular rock formations in the wild area. 

Tips for catching Pokémon

  1. Make sure you are using the right Pokeballs. You start with access to regular Pokeballs. But, as you defeat gyms you’ll have access to Great Balls and Ultra balls in the PokeCenter shops. You’ll get the best results from using the higher levels Pokeballs. You get a single Master Ball After defeating all of the gyms and completing the story. That should be reserved for catching the game’s legendary Pokémon Zacian or Zamazenta.
  2. Reduce the opposing Pokémon’s HP as low as you can without making it feint. This can be tricky, but you can buy a move called False Swipe at the PokeCenter on the way to Route 3. (False Swipe will never reduce a Pokémon to 1 HP.)
  3. Use status effects! Pokémon who are under status effects are easier to catch. Ideally, you would use one of your Pokémon to put them to Sleep, but poison, paralysis, and frozen work as well.

Was this guide helpful? Leave your comments and questions below! We can add more to this document as time goes on!

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

Control

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

Resident Evil 2 Remake

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

Sekiro Shadows Die Twice

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

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

Devil May Cry 5

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

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

Code Vein

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

Mortal Kombat 11

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

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

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

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

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

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

Kingdom Hearts 3

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

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

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

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

FIFA 20

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

Madden 20

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

Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair

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

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

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

NBA 2K20

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

Just Dance 2020

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

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

Plants Vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

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

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


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

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