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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

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

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The Nintendo 3DS family of systems has been a boon to families for years. They are sturdy, compact handheld gaming systems with a huge library of cool games. Unfortunately, the way that Nintendo handled the naming, and the branding of the console as they have iterated on it over the years has created a very confusing environment for parents. Below is a low-down on the available systems in the family and our recommendations regarding them.

“New” Nintendo 3DS XL


This is a redesign of the Nintendo 3DS XL hardware with a more powerful processor in it. This allows it to play a handful of “New” 3DS only games (like Minecraft). This is a great handheld for families that want to use the #D function in the games that include it.

Most of the special edition 3DS consoles that are released at this point are this model. So, if you buy one of those, then this is what you are getting.

“New” Nintendo 3DS


This is a smaller edition of the “New” 3DS. They have the improved internal tech that is built into the XL, but in a smaller package. The biggest difference between the two systems (aside from size) is that the standard addition uses

“New” Nintendo 2DS XL


This is the newest iteration of the console. It has the same screen size as the 3DS XL models, but it eschews the 3D feature much like the standard 2DS models.

Some might consider that to be a downside, but it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Most 3DS games made at this point don’t really use the 3D features on the handheld at all, and even when they do the feature is not required for gameplay.

Nintendo 3DS

 

This was the original release of the handheld and is nearly impossible to find. I would not recommend getting this version of the console unless it is being handed down from someone you trust. It has likely been around since around the console’s launch and might have some damage.

With that said if the handheld you are being offered is in good condition it will still work. I just recommend being cautious.

Nintendo 3DS XL

 

This is the original large model of the 3DS. These are still available, and are relatively inexpensive, but I find it hard to recommend this model. Its underpowered compared to its cost. If you are looking for a 3DS option that will be gentler on your wallet, then I would recommend the “New” Nintendo 2DS XL instead.

Nintendo 2DS

 


The Nintendo 2DS was a brilliant redesign on Nintendo’s part. They removed the standard clamshell design in favor of a flat device that looks like a cross between a tablet and a Game Boy. Removing the hinge did away  

with one of the console’s biggest weaknesses as they are relatively fragile. It did some with a downside though.

The clamshell design protected the consoles dual screens from scratches.

Another significant difference is the removal of the 3D features. This is important for some parents who have concerns about their young children’s vision. It also helps Nintendo reduce the cost of the system.

This was my favorite iteration of the handheld for a very long time until the “New” Nintendo 3DS XL was released. I love the button placement and the durability. It is still readily available in a bundle that includes Mario Kart 7.

A PSA About Special Editions


There are a whole bunch of Special Editions available built for different 3DS games. They are beautiful machines, but it is important to note that they don’t include a copy of the game.


Make sure to check back out all of our other 2017 Holiday gift guides!

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The Holidays are a great time for families to get new home consoles. They make great gifts for the whole family and can be responsible for a lot of great memories. Take a look below for our recommendations for home consoles this year.

Nintendo Switch


The Nintendo Switch launched in March of this year and has been a wild success for Nintendo. It is, without question, the best console for families on the market right now and it isn’t close. The console/tablet hybrid has just passed its 6 month anniversary and it is already home a better lineup of family games that either of its main competitors.

The main attraction for the Nintendo Switch is that it serves two purposes. It is both a home console that you can play on the family TV and a handheld console that you can take on the go. This can be a godsend for families that have multiple siblings because you can use it in “tabletop mode” to play multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Edition anywhere!

Looking for some Switch games to give? Heres our list of Switch Games!

Sony PlayStation 4



The PlayStation 4 is another great console option. It doesn’t have the strongest lineup of exclusive games, but it is home to all of the major third party games like Destiny 2. You shouldn’t have any problems finding games to play with your family here. The catalog is already full of great games already and the future is bright since Spider Man will come out next year.

The biggest decision that new PlayStation owners will have to make when shopping for a PS4 is whether to purchase a base model or to spend a little bit extra for a PS4 Pro. The main difference between those two systems is going to be the graphics performance. Both of them will play the same games, but the PS4 Pro will make them look better if your family owns a 4k television.

Looking for some PS4 games to give? Here’s our list of PS4 games for this holiday!

Microsoft Xbox One


2017 has been a challenging year for Xbox fans. The exclusives have been in short supply and several high profile games have been delayed or cancelled.

There is a ray of hope though. The Xbox One X has been announced and it looks like a great console for families looking for a powerful console to help show off their new 4k television.

Looking for some Xbox One games to give? Here’s our list of Xbox One games for this holiday!

Last Generation Consoles



Families that aren’t interested in standing on the bleeding edge of console gaming technology still have plenty of reasons to pick up older consoles like the PS3, Xbox 360, and, to a lesser extent, the Wii U. These consoles should be relatively easy to find used from places like GameStop and have huge catalogs of games just waiting to be plucked from bargain bins.

In the worst case scenario a uses Xbox 360 will be a serviceable Minecraft machine for families that want to let their children play, but don’t want them using the family PC or laptop.

3DS Family of Hardware


The Nintendo Switch is the most exciting thing that Nintendo has on the market right now, but the 3DS handheld systems are still useful. They will be great purchases for families that want to introduce gaming to their children, but want something sturdier. The handheld may be entering the sunset of its life, but it has a library with hundreds of games that your children will love.

The only real problem with the 3DS family of systems is that there are so many versions that it can be hard to keep track of them. Fortunately, EFG published a handy guide to help sort all those details! You can read it here.

SNES Classic

The SNES Classic isn’t a traditional console, but it is such a big deal that I had to include it somewhere. It is a bite-sized console that includes twenty of the best games ever made. Its going to be in high demand though, so keep that in mind if you are adding it to your shopping lists.


Thats it for the consoles, but make sure to check out the rest of our 2017 Holiday Gift Guide!

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The Nintendo World Championships are back! The event will take place on October 7th at the Grand Ballroom in Manhattan Center and Nintendo is giving people of all ages and across the country a chance to participate!

The Nintendo World Championships have been held multiple times in the past and are all about giving players a chance to come together and show off their skills at Nintendo games.

For example, the 2015 Nintendo World Championships were built around NES Remix and Super Mario Maker. This year, however, it’s all about Mario Kart 7!

Qualifying events will be held starting on August 19 at eight Best Buy locations across the US. Players will be divided into two age groups (12 and below as well as 13 and up) and will play Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS! The player with the best Time Trial entry in each age group at the end of the two-day event will qualify for the Nintendo World Championships 2017!

The settings players will use are as follows:

  • The 12 and younger age group will play as Mario on the Nintendo DS “Luigi’s Mansion” course using Standard Kart, Standard Wheels and Super Glider.
  • The 13 and older age group will play as Bowser on the Game Boy Advance “Bowser Castle 1” course using Standard Kart, Standard Wheels and Super Glider.

The qualifying events will be first come, first served so I definitely recommend getting their early. They should also be pretty fun events to attend, but part of me wonders why they are only holding the event in eight cities in the US? It doesn’t really feel like much of a “world” competition.

What do you think? Will you and your family be making the trek to one of the participating Best Buy stores to compete? Let us know in the comments!

Best Buy Address

Dates

Times (All times local)

610 Exterior St. Aug. 19-20 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Bronx, NY 10451 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
181 Curtner Ave. Aug. 19-20 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
San Jose, CA 95125 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
3675 Pacific Coast Highway Aug. 26-27 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Torrance, CA 90505 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
2301 Howard St. Aug. 26-27 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Evanston, IL, 60202 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
9378 N. Central Expressway Sept. 2-3 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Dallas, TX 75231 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
1000 W. 78th St. Sept. 2-3 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Richfield, MN, 55423 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
4001 W. 20th Ave. Sept. 9-10 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hialeah, FL 33012 Sunday10 a.m.-5 p.m.
17364 Southcenter Parkway Sept. 9-10 Saturday10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Tukwila, WA 98188 Sunday11 a.m.-5 p.m.
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A lot of people, myself included, assumed that the Nintendo 3DS was going to be dead in the water the minute the Switch was released. Nintendo even came out and publicly stated they would be supporting the 3DS in Japan through at least the end of 2018. I sure didn’t believe them though.

I’m glad I didn’t make any bets though, because things are looking pretty good when you consider the upcoming lineup of Nintendo 3DS games. Take a look! You’ll see what I mean.

Miitopia

Miitopia was released last year in Japan. This is a quirky RPG that lets you take the Miis on your 3DS for a wild adventure. In between quests your characters sleep in the inn and you have to help them build friendships so that they will fight more cohesively on the battlefield.

This might be the only way anyone will ever be able to have Shaq and I in the same RPG, so you don’t want to miss it.

Hey! PIKMIN

PIKMIN is a long running franchise that has typically been a 3D experience. Hey! PIKMIN changes perspectives. Instead it is a 2D platforming game that is less of a strategy game and more of a puzzle game. The light and cartoony visuals make this one look, at least on the surface, like the game is being made to appeal to younger gamers. But, we’ll have to see how complicated the puzzles are.

Metroid Samus Returns

Metroid Samus Returns is a complete remake/reimagining of Metroid 2 for the GameBoy. It was announced at E3 this year and excited a lot of fans with its beautiful art and fast paced action.

The original game was a direct sequel to Metroid for the NES and followed Samus as she hunts down a series of specific Metroid (The titular jellyfish like aliens that have appeared throughout the series). It was made for the GameBoy though so it suffered from some serious technical limitations. This had a chance, though, of helping to reignite the love for the series that many fans may have lost over the years (assuming the game ends up being good).

Mario & Luigi Super Star Saga + Bowser’s Minions

The Mario and Luigi RPGs have been around for a very long time. Some would say that they originated as an offshoot of the Paper Mario series, but the first true game in the series was Mario and Luigi Super Star Saga. It was released for the Game Boy Advance back in 2003. The series has continued on since then with several games (many of which were quite good). Nintendo is rereleasing the original along with “Bowser’s Minions,” a game that tells the games story through the perspective of… you guessed it… Bowser’s Minions.

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Pokemon Ultra Moon

I know that many fans were looking for a bigger Pokemon announcement this year. But, upgraded versions of the smash hit Pokemon Sun and Moon will be a very big deal this holiday season. We don’t know all the details yet, but I know our family is already on the hook for four copies of the game.

Monster Hunter Stories

The Monster Hunter series is HUGE in Japan. It hasn’t fully caught on over in the states, but that doesn’t stop Capcom from making valiant attempts to make it happen. The upcoming Monster Hunter Stories has the potential to do just that. The game eschews its standard high fantasy style in exchange for a chibi anime art style. The game looks adorable. The jury is still out on whether or not the game will include the same level of challenge as the main game though.


As you can see, the Nintendo 3DS still has a bit of life left in it. What do you think? Sound off in the comments if you are going to pick up any of these games for your family!

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Our kid reviews are back! This time we have a review for Pokémon Y from Seamus!


This review is all about Pokémon Y. It is one of the Kalos region games as opposed to the more recent Sun and Moon. I am here to drop-kick back to X&Y.

Pokémon Y is the partner to Pokémon X, while being partners it’s surprising how they compare. But they are similar enough that you can get the same tech specs for X so don’t worry if you bought it and are reading this. The only real differences are the Legendary Pokémon and certain mega evolutions. Both Charizard and Mewtwo mega-evolve differently cross game. But, mega stones can be traded from game to game so you can easily get the opposite mega in your game. The legendary is the real determining factor. But again you can trade (but who on earth would trade their legendary even for another legendary? You probably picked the game because you like the legendary better). But that’s just me talking on and on. (I went with Y because my awesome uncle gave it to me as a gift. I had no choice in the matter but Y is cooler in my opinion and surprises are great so thank you so much uncle Pete!) I just love Yvetal.

I played this on a 3Ds and I feel that Nintendo didn’t take advantage of the 3D factor as much as they could have. If you only had a 2Ds you wouldn’t be missing much at all. They only put it in on battles which is only half of the game. The story makes up for that though going far from just battle gyms as you spend good amounts of time battling team flare. I won’t give much away on that but they are an evil organization you must stop. You also get to travel with four other trainers two of which are you next door neighbors. They are Shauna, Serana, Tierno, and Trevor.

This game is a wonderful play with plot twists, puzzles, action, and awesome exploration. Everything a game needs!

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The Pokémon Company held a Pokémon themed Nintendo Direct today that was eight minutes long, but packed a big punch. They made three significant announcements regarding Pokémon games that we can expect to be playing by the end of the year.

The announcements went as follows:

 

Pokken Tournament DX

A deluxe edition of Pokken tournament will be coming to the Nintendo Switch on September 22, 2017. The game will be a full port of the Wii U game, but will include new characters and game modes.

At this point we should be confident that every halfway decent Wii U game will be ported over to the Switch with some bonus content. I’m glad to see Pokken Tournament given that treatment because it was a great game and went largely unnoticed thanks to its place on the Wii U.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will launch on the Nintendo 3DS on November 17, 2017. They are new games in the Alola region that feature new Pokémon that weren’t available in the original. The announcement for these games was very short, but the Pokémon Company indicated that more information would be coming later on this year.

This would not be the first time that a mainline Pokémon game was given a sequel if that’s what these games turn out to be. They released Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 towards the end of the DS life cycle as well. On the other hand, these could very well just end up being special editions of the original games that don’t include much new content. It is tough to say now, but we’ll find out soon enough.

 

Pokémon Gold and Silver

The Generation 2 classics, Pokémon Gold and Silver, will be coming to the Nintendo 3DS eShop Virtual console this fall. These games are considered by many to be their favorite games in the series.

These virtual console releases are particularly interesting to family gamers like us because we may very well have kids who have squeezed all the juice out of Pokémon Sun and Moon and might be hungry for something else. These will be budget friendly options to do just that.

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Nintendo has announced their Summer of Play tour for 2017. They will be bringing the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS family of systems all over the country. They’ll be setting up a veritable wonderland of Nintendo greatness for families to experience.

The tour will serve as a great opportunity for Nintendo fans to get their hands on the red hot Nintendo Switch. This will be great for building interest for the system as its critical first Holiday season.

 

The Summer of Play tour will visit the following locations:

June 9-11
Irvine, California
Irvine Spectrum Center

 

June 16-18
Pleasanton, California
Alameda County Fair

 

June 23-25
Bloomington, Minnesota
Mall of America®

 

June 30-July 2
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Henry Maier Festival Park (Summerfest Grounds)

 

July 7-9
Chicago
Navy Pier

 

July 14-16
Glendale, Arizona
Arrowhead Towne Center

 

July 20-23
San Diego
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina (San Diego Comic-Con)

 

July 28-30
Arlington, Texas
The Parks Mall at Arlington

 

Aug. 4-6
Miami, Florida
Aventura Mall

 

Aug. 11-13
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Musikfest

 

Aug. 18-20
New York
DUMBO Waterfront

 

Aug. 25-27
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia Mall

 

Sept. 2-4
Baltimore
Harborplace
Nintendo Switch games scheduled to appear on the tour include:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • 1-2-Switch
  • Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!
  • ARMS
  • Splatoon 2
  • Super Bomberman R
  • Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers
  • Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition
Nintendo 3DS games scheduled to appear on the tour include:
  • Pokémon Sun
  • Pokémon Moon
  • Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS
  • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS
  • Hey! PIKMIN
  • Miitopia
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Welcome to the EFG Kids’ Corner! This is a series of articles written by gamer kids all over the country! If you are a gamer kid (or know one) send me your best stuff in an email at editor@engagedfamilygaming.com! You just might see it here!

Without further adieu… here we go!


Evan, 10 years old

Have you ever wondered about Pokémon breeding?

Well you’re about to learn because I’m going to teach you how to breed Pokémon with a few simple steps.

Step 1: Find a Pokémon daycare (in Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, X, or Y) or a nursery (in Sun and Moon).

Step2: Catch a Ditto. It’s a vital Pokémon to breeding. They are also used in competitive play.

Step 3: Choose a Pokémon you want more of (like a starter).

Step 4: Put your Ditto and the Pokémon from step 3 in the daycare or nursery.

Step 5: Wait a day or two and talk to the person outside of your nursery or daycare and you will get a egg.

Step 6: Put the egg in your party.

Step7: Find a place that is a circle where you can continually walk around without having to stop.

Step 8: Walk around the circle from step 7 until the egg hatches (The Pokémon that comes out of the egg will be the Pokémon that you bred with the Ditto) and talk to the person from step 5.

Boom!!!!! You just learned how about Pokémon Breeding.

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