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E 10+

Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 10/02/2014
ESRB Rating: E 10+
Available on Nintendo 3DS

Overall Review

Nintendo has never released a Super Smash Bros title on a handheld system. Its glory has instead been reserved for home consoles because they have been the only Nintendo systems with the horsepower to manage it. I am pleased to report that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS more than “manages;” it excels.

This is made better by the fact that the game play experience is amazing.  I am on record as being an unabashed Nintendo fan and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is filled with so much fan service that it is hard for me to speak about this game without hyperbole.

At its core Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is a fighting game akin to Street Fighter, but with one very significant difference. Most fighting games give a combatant a set life total, have them square off against an opponent, and end the match once someone’s life total reaches zero. Smash works the opposite way. Players start at 0% damage and it counts up. The increased damage percentage modifies the distance the character is thrown when they are hit. Defeat comes when a character is knocked out of the play area.

Smash is a game where players can witness a dream fight between Mario and Link. We get to see Peach and Princess Zelda battle for the throne. We get to see Bowser and Wario throw down to see who is the top villain. All of this is possible in what is easily the most chaotic fighting game experiences around. Fights can have up to four players at once. There are random items with insane powers dropping over the levels like rain. Many of the levels appear to be fighting the players right along with the opponents! There are times in every match where you cant help but sit back in slack jawed awe at the chaos taking place around you. But, what makes this bearable is that skilled players can learn to weave their way through the chaos and use it to their advantage. This is, without question, one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming.

Smash represents the best value of any 3DS game so far. With more than thirty playable characters and numerous game modes and challenges to play through it is hard to imagine someone saying they are “done” without hundreds of hours of play.

Family Gaming Assessment

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is a fighting game. There isn’t any way to avoid that. This means that the entirety of the game play is built around cartoonish characters knocking each other around massive arenas.

The good news for parents concerned about violence is that the characters in the game react to being hit as though they were action figures. There is no blood or gore; nothing but a flash of light and a satisfying SMASH!

There is nothing to be worried about here unless your household is severely restricted in regards to violence.

Playability Assessment

The fighting game genre is, at times, one of the most arcane in the entire industry. Players are able to perform special moves using button combinations that are lost on beginners. This places a significant barrier to entry for games like Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom 3.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS eliminates most of those problems by limiting the required button presses. Each characters special moves are triggered by pressing a direction and a “special” button. That’s it. Two buttons. The simplicity here allows even the newest of gamers to pull off exciting moves with a little practice.


This is likely the best game available for the 3DS right now and will likely be in the top 5 forever. I cannot recommend this game enough.

In fact, I recommend this enough to say that it is worth buying two copies to allow siblings to play the multiplayer modes together. That is how good this game is.

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ESRB – 10+

Reviewed on WiiU

Overall Review:

Wooden Sen’Sey is adorable. The hand-crafted wooden aesthetic made it feel like I was playing with a set of antique toys. I doubt that was the aesthetic they were going for, but it grabbed me and greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the game.

Unfortunately, it took a lot longer for the game to grab onto me as it should have. Wooden Sen’Sey is an action platformer. This means that players are expected to deal with fighting enemies as well as timing their jumps to get across treacherous gaps. The control method was a bit floaty for my tastes which made timing some of the jumps very difficult. Players who are used to playing games like Super Mario Brothers U might have difficulty adjusting.

The motion controls with the game pad are where things get seriously interesting. There are jumps that required me to jump, push a button to throw out my chain-axe to stick into the ceiling, and then tip the control pad in the direction I wanted to go in order to build momentum to cross massive pits. Even more challenging were the sequences that required me to repeat that for a span without a platform to land on like a chain-axe swinging Tarzan! I cringe at the idea of less experience players trying to complete those challenges.

The time challenges that unlock after the levels are completed are where this game really shines. You are forced to make careful choices about every jump, swing, or weapon strike as seconds are precious while trying to beat the best times. It also adds a lot of replay value to early levels for players who might not be able to complete later challenges.

Family Gaming Assessment:

Wooden Sen’sey features stumpy-shaped, legless character models that are made of wood. I couldn’t help but think of the Fisher Price Little People figures while I was playing it. The main character does fight with an axe which is pretty intense considering the wood theme, but there is no blood or gore to speak of. Enemies simply blink out of existence after being defeated.

The game earned an E10+ rating for alcohol consumption, but it was largely abstracted. Your kids won’t know that the liquid they are collecting is alcohol (sake I presume) unless you tell them.

Playability Assessment:

There is no reading to speak of in Wooden Sen’Sey.

The game play is not complex, but it is very challenging. In order to be successful, players will need to combine the use of buttons and motion controls to help swing themselves through the different levels.

This becomes even more important in the time attack mode that is unlocked after each level is finished. The fastest times will almost all require some form of shortcut that will require master that the control scheme and younger or inexperience players will struggle with it.


Wooden Sen’Sey was definitely challenging, but its charm made it worth playing. The WiiU is suffering from having so much time in between releases and this is a great way to help fill in those gaps.

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Developer: Press Play
Rated: E10+
Release Date: December 2013 for Xbox One, May 2014 for Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox One
Price: $12


Overall Review:

Anyone with a younger sibling might find themselves drawn in (pun intended) when it comes to Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.  The title character finds his younger brother Felix smashing his toys, and in a fit of annoyance, casts a spell found on the internet to get rid of his nuisance brother.  In a move that’s reminiscent of the classic Labyrinth, a monster really does steal Felix away!  Max takes off in hot pursuit, muttering, unsurprisingly, that his mother is going to kill him.

Thus begins the side-scrolling puzzle platformer that is The Curse of Brotherhood.  Armed with a magically-powered magic marker, Max jumps, climbs, and swings his way after his brother.  Along the way, the marker gains new abilities: drawing pillars of earth, tree branches, rope-like vines, pillars of water, and fireballs.  Max uses these powers to get past obstacles and defeat the minions of the diabolical Mustacho, the villain who seeks to steal Felix’s youth for himself.

The mechanics of the marker are the most unique part of the game.  Getting from point A to point B isn’t always obvious, which is where the marker’s powers come in.  By creating (and destroying) items with your marker, you create platforms and ropes to jump to (or, in the case of the water spouts, be flung from) in your quest.  With frightening monsters chasing you, you need to figure out where you’re going, and FAST!

The graphics of the game are phenomenal and almost cartoon quality.  The voice acting is good as well, as Max occasionally provides verbal queues (“Up! Up! UP!”) as you scramble to safety.


Family Gaming Assessment:

There is a little bit of cartoon violence; some of Mustacho’s monster minions do meet unfortunate ends, but most of them are simply avoided.  And, of course, Max’s younger brother is kidnapped by a giant monster, locked in a dungeon, and experimented on.  That said, the E10+ rating seems appropriate, as the game is mostly about solving the puzzles of how to safely get from one side of the screen to another.


Playability Assessment:

Sadly, this does not look like a game to have a child work the controls, simply due to it’s complexity.  Certainly, having them there watching can be a boon (both to help solve the puzzles, and to laugh along when you try to make a jump and fail miserably), but if they do the driving, expect to be summoned for assistance for the tougher puzzles.

No reading is involved, but the puzzle solving aspects are significant.  Sadly, the marker drawing is done via the control sticks, which can be a bit tough even for a grown-up.  Still, this is a great chance for kids to work on their problem-solving skills; for puzzles that aren’t time-dependant, you can easily ask them for their opinions on how to get out of a sticky situation.  The death mechanic is fairly forgiving; save points are frequent, so failing a particular puzzle rarely sets you back more than a few seconds.



Overall, this game is tough, but really fun to play and even to watch.  At $12, it’s a fairly good deal for some light-hearted yet challenging gameplay (and quite a few achievements)!


Disclosure: Review code was provided to Engaged Family Gaming by the developer.

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By: Stephen Duetzmann, editor in chief

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is looking more and more like it is going to be one of the highlights in family gaming this holiday season. The demo is releasing on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC this week. The actual game will hit retail shelves next Tuesday.

We all know that kids can get attached to certain heroes and refuse to play games or use action figures when they aren’t involved. Take a peek below for a full list of the characters that are available in the game. (Note: This list is VERY long since the game includes all of the major characters and a lot of fringe characters that casual fans have likely never heard of.)


  • Spider-Man
  • Captain America
  • Thor
  • Wolverine
  • Black Widow
  • Nick Fury
  • Iron Man
  • Cyclops
  • Mr. Fantastic
  • The Thing
  • Jean Grey
  • Emma Frost
  • Storm
  • Rogue
  • Psylocke
  • Invisible Woman
  • Human Torch
  • Iceman
  • The Hulk
  • Thundra
  • Hawkeye
  • Deadpool
  • Silver Surfer
  • Iron Fist
  • Luke Cage
  • Ghost Rider
  • Moon Knight (My personal favorite!)
  • Black Panther
  • Blade
  • Nova
  • Dr. Strange
  • Daredevil
  • Elektra
  • Ms. Marvel
  • U.S. Agent
  • Gambit
  • Nightcrawler
  • Black Cat
  • She Hulk
  • Black Knight
  • Doc Samson
  • Wonder Man
  • Tigra
  • Ka-Zar
  • Misty Knight
  • Scarlet Witch
  • Quicksilver
  • Colossus (!!!!!!!)
  • Namor
  • Cloak
  • Dagger
  • Photon
  • Quasar
  • Hercules
  • Mockingbird
  • Quasar
  • Ant-Man
  • Wasp


  • Dr. Doom
  • Loki
  • Ultron
  • Amora The Enchantress
  • Baron Mordo
  • Venom
  • Carnage
  • Magneto
  • Kang The Conquer
  • Bullseye
  • Abomination
  • Super-Skrull
  • Mystique
  • Toad
  • Avalanche
  • Blob
  • Pyro
  • Hydro-Man
  • Mysterio
  • Electro
  • Sandman
  • Vulture
  • Baron Zemo
  • The Juggernaut
  • Sabretooth
  • The Wizard
  • Trapster
  • Klaw
  • Titania
  • Moonstone
  • Warlord Krang
  • Byrrah
  • Attuma
  • Tiger Shark
  • Absorbing Man
  • Taskmaster
  • Living Laser
  • Green Goblin
  • Hobgoblin
  • Mole Man
  • Wrecker
  • Thunderball
  • Piledriver
  • Bulldozer
  • Skurge the Executioner
  • Blizzard
  • Batroc the Leaper
  • Red Skull
  • Whirlwind
  • Dreadknight
  • Crimson Dynamo
  • The Mandarin
  • Dormammu
  • Mad Thinker
  • Beetle
  • Arcade
  • Egghead
  • Constrictor
  • Ringmaster
  • Swordsman
  • Plantman
  • Malekith the Accursed
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Pixel People Review

by Guest Writer


By: Charlotte Heldebrecht

Developer: LambdaMu Games

Publisher: Chillingo

Rated: 10+

Release Date: 31 January 2013, for all iOS Devices.

Reviewed on: iPhone


Overall Review:

Pixel People is an adventure simulation game not unlike SimCity. The object of this game is to create a personal Utopia in space from the ruins of Earth. You start off with a small area to build upon with a cloning machine with which to rebuild the population. The main fun in this game is derived from combining different clones in order to discover different occupations. Occupations types often come with a new building for clones to work in, and thus build your Utopia in the sky!

You can build roadways, homes, and even decorations like fountains. Each building needs certain types of workers, and as you fill up the spaces from your splicing discoveries, you earn more money to upgrade everything!

The artwork for this game is colorful and distinct pixel art style that is very charming. The soundtrack has a monotonous elevator-music style to it, but the cute sound effects. The interface is relatively easy to use, you just need to make sure that you follow the tips provided by the game.


Family Gaming Assessment:

There are no themes in this game to cause any alarm to parents. Dialogue is restricted to tutorials and witty anecdotes in the news ticker on the bottom of the screen. Pixel People is very family friendly.


Playability Assessment:

I would say that any child that understands cause and effect will be able to enjoy this game. For example, in order to create Physicist, you have to cross a Scientist with a Mathematician.

There is more than a little educational value here as well. The logic puzzle of what clones to combine is a great mental exercise. It might even expand their knowledge of how different careers work, and what possibilities they have in the future!

The controls are easy to use and should be simple for any child familiar with touch screen devices


I believe that this game is a great tool to help your child to work on their problem solving and on their logic.

The only real downside is that is the game can very addictive. Your Utopia earns money even when you’re not playing it, so it can be difficult to manage the temptation to overplay. Also, as with most free games, there are in app purchases that you need to be aware of. But, none of these are reasons to avoid the game completely.

Happy Splicing!

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By: Stephen Duetzmann, Editor-In-Chief

WayForward Technologies

ESRB Rating – E 10+

August 13, 2013

Reviewed on PS3 (Also available on, Wii, WiiU, 3DS and PC,  Xbox 360 version available on 09/11/2013)

Overall Review:

Just about everyone reaches a point in their adult life where they begin to develop a yearning to re-experience the things they held dear as a child. They ride on the gentle waves of nostalgia until it’s all they can do to keep themselves from spending all day at work reading Wikipedia about their favorite cartoons as a kid.

Ducktales: Remastered is the perfect game for people who are experiencing that right now. Many of us played the original title back in 1989 when it was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Remastered is crafted in such a way that it looks and sounds the way we imagined it so many years ago. The 8bit era of the Nintendo gave us the freedom to imagine the world, but Remastered allows us to enjoy it.

The feeling of playing this game, at least for a longtime fan, is the most important thing to discuss here. I could pick at dodgy controls and somewhat intrusive story sequences for a few hundred words. But, there is an intangible element to this game that transcends the game mechanics and storyboards. Most games today are full of tension. They want to evoke a feeling of dread, excitement, joy, or all of the above. Ducktales: Remastered stands apart from all that. Instead it lets me be 9 year old boy sitting cross legged in front of the TV with my brother again. That is worth my $14.99 every single time.

Family Gaming Assessment:

I’ll make this quick. This game is rated E 10+, but the content is very mild. It plays out like an episode of the Ducktales cartoon. If you would let your child watch that, then this game is no problem.

Conflict in Ducktales: Remastered is resolved through using Scrooge’s cane to pogo bounce off of enemies. There are no weapons or fighting of any kind. If violence is a concern for you, then this game should not be a problem.

The only real theme that is worth noting is that the Transylvania level does have a horror movie aesthetic. If you are concerned that your kids are easily scared by cartoon ghosts and mummies, then that level is something to consider. With that said, it is goofy enough looking that it should be easily explained away.

Playability Assessment:

This game is very difficult. I would expect children to have a fair amount of difficulty with this one unless they have had a fair amount of experience with other 2d platforming games like Rayman Origins or the New Super Mario Brothers series.

With that said, the game does have a difficulty selection option. Putting the game on “Easy” lessens the challenge by reducing the damage you take from running into enemies. It also removes the “life” counter from the game and prevents you from getting a game over. This should be very helpful for young and/or inexperienced gamers that might be discouraged by losing their progress.


Ducktales: Remastered is a great game. It is not without its faults, but I found the experience to be fun and engaging. Kids will have a lot of fun playing through the colorful environments and becoming acquainted with some of the less appreciated characters on the Disney roster (a Gizmoduck/Phineas and Ferb crossover would be amazing).

All of my praise so far is based on the assumption that the prospective player is a fan of the series. The waters are far muddier if you are not a fan of the original game or the Ducktales series. The game relies on the nostalgia effect to overcome some of its weakness. When I wipe that away and think objectively about it there are not many reason to go out of your way to play this game.

My final verdict:

Fans: Buy it. Now.

Non-fans: Buy it when the price drops unless your kids REALLY like Disney games. 

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