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Pokemon Go is one of our most anticipated games of 2016. We have been downright hungry for this one since it was announced. There was some sort of Beta test this past Winter, but that never came to pass.

The good news is that we will have many of our lingering questions answered in a few months when details are shared at the Game Developers Conference 2016 (GDC 2016 for short).

The details will be revealed in a panel that will be held for developers attending the conference. The panel description is below:

“Over the last three years, Niantic, Inc. has been defining the genre of Real World gaming, using smartphones and tablets to connect the digital world to the physical world. Niantic’s newest game, Pokemon GO, ups the challenge of real world gaming design, taking a beloved franchise and setting its hundreds of brightly-colored monsters loose across the globe, adding a new Bluetooth wearable device created by Nintendo to the mix. Join Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke as he discusses how the company has developed a unique vision for delivering a mobile Pokemon experience that gets would-be trainers into the outdoors.


Attendees will get a first-hand, in-depth look at how players are interacting and exploring the world with one another through Pokemon GO, the collaborative approach to design and development for the game and the next evolution of augmented reality and real-world mobile gameplay experiences.”


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Nintendo is going to make mobile games. We know that much. But, they were tight lipped as to specifically which of their IP are going to be given the mobile treatment first. All they told us was that nothing was off limits. The internet at large has been speculating about what else Big N has up their sleeve aside from MiiTomo since the announcement hit the web. Why should Engaged Family Gaming miss out on the fun?

Below is a wishlist. I can’t guarantee that any of these will happen (some of them probably won’t).

But, I CAN guarantee that speculating about big announcements like this are some of the best parts of following the games industry and I encourage you and your family to speculate with us! Make sure to share your wishlist in the comments!

Without further ado here is our list!

A Super Mario Bros. Infinite Runner

Super Smash Brothers Characters - Mario

Listen. I know that this genre has been done to death. There are literally thousands of these games on the iOS app store and on the Google Play store and only a few of them could be considered “good.” But, Nintendo is a special company. They specialize in finding what makes a game special and taking it to the next level.

Infinite Runners are not typically built around the same level of platforming polish that Super Mario Bros. is. Nintendo could very well create a game that rewards skill and presents players will just the right level of challenge.

It also seems to me like this would be the IP that would require the least amount of extra work and I just want them to get started.

Wario Ware


The Wario Ware franchise was all but built for mobile devices. The game play consists of being presented bite sized challenges that of often a few seconds long. Players are challenged to score points by completing challenges without making mistakes. Its hard to describe so take a look at this video to get an idea what I’m talking about.

Modern mobile devices all have gyroscopes and touch screens which leaves a lot of design space for interesting challenges. The gameplay can get somewhat frantic as the pace picks up so I can imagine some phones being tossed around unintentionally… but thats why they make Otterboxes right?



Mother is a roleplaying game that was released in Japan and was localized for North America as Earthbound. Fans have been asking for Nintendo to bring the third game in the Mother series over to North America for decades at this point. This isn’t a franchise a lot of young fans will know a lot about (outside of a character in Super Smash Bros).

I know that Nintendo has stated that they will not be porting games to mobile devices, but this is clearly a franchise that could draw some interest. I would love to see them bring Mother back and give it a mobile spin.

Animal Crossing

This is the logo for Animal Crossing: New Leaf

The Animal Crossing franchise may as well be a mobile game. Players control cute little characters as they perform small tasks and help build ad manage a small town. It would be equally suited to be a city builder game on a mobile device taking advantage of all of the standard trappings of other free-to-play games.

This would come with its own challenges of course, but Nintendo is a company full of mster game designers. I am certain they could overcome the problems in city building games and release something special.

Wii Fit

WiiFit for iOS April Fools

It makes too much sense for this to be more than an April Fool’s joke. Nintendo has been working on “quality of life” products for years without having anything to show for it. DeNA would give them the web infrastructure to let WiiFit run wild using the fitness data that can be collected using mobile devices.

WiiFit was a phenomenon on the Wii and is a well remembered fitness program. That kind of recognition would give the app a lot of momentum in the face of a market dominated by FitBits and other devices.


What do you think? What mobile games do you want Nintendo to release?

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The Game Awards took place on Thursday December 3rd, 2015. The week before my son and I recorded a podcast where we both made our predictions regarding all of the game related awards that were given out. Below are the results of the awards as well as our scoring! Our competition was much more competitive than we expected it to be!

Game of the Year

  • WINNER: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Super Mario Maker

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout 4

Evan’s Prediction: Super Mario Maker

Score: 0-0

Developer of the Year

  • WINNER: CD Projekt Red
  • From Software
  • Kojima Productions
  • Nintendo
  • Bethesda Game Studios

Stephen’s Prediction: Nintendo

Evan’s Prediction: Nintendo

Score: 0-0

Best Independent Game

  • Axiom Verge
  • Her Story
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • WINNER: Rocket League
  • Undertale

Stephen’s Prediction: Rocket League

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 1-0

Best Mobile/Handheld Game

  • Downwell
  • Fallout Shelter
  • WINNER: Lara Croft Go
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate
  • Pac-Man 256

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout Shelter

Evan’s Prediction: nil (We missed this one on the podcast! Whoops!)

Score: 1-0

Best Narrative

  • WINNER: Her Story
  • Life Is Strange
  • Tales From The Borderlands
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Until Dawn

Stephen’s Prediction: The Witcher 3

Evan’s Prediction: Tales from the Borderlands

Score: 1-0

Best Art Direction

  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Bloodborne
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • WINNER: Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Stephen’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-1

Best Score/Soundtrack

  • Fallout 4
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • WINNER: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Stephen’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Evan’s Prediction:Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-1

Best Performance

  • Ashly Burch as Chloe Price (Life is Strange)
  • Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft (Rise of the Tomb Raider)
  • Doug Cockle as Geralt (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
  • Mark Hamill as The Joker (Batman: Arkham Knight)
  • WINNER: Viva Seifert (Her Story)

Stephen’s Prediction: Mark Hamill

Evan’s Prediction: Camilla Luddington

Score: 2-1

Games for Impact Award

  • Cibele (Nina Freeman)
  • Her Story (Sam Barlow)
  • WINNER: Life Is Strange (DONTNOD Entertainment / Square Enix)
  • Sunset (Tale of Tales)
  • Undertale (tobyfox)

Stephen’s Prediction: Her Story

Evan’s Prediction: Undertale

Score: 2-1

Best Shooter

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • WINNER: Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Stephen’s Prediction: Call of Duty Black Ops 3

Evan’s Prediction: Splatoon

Score: 2-2

Best Action/Adventure Game

  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • WINNER: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider

Stephen’s Prediction: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Evan’s Prediction: Ori and the Blind Forest

Score: 2-2

Best Role Playing Game

  • Bloodborne
  • Fallout 4
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • WINNER:The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • Undertale

Stephen’s Prediction: Fallout 4

Evan’s Prediction: The Witcher 3

Score: 2-3

Best Fighting Game

  • Guilty Gear Xrd
  • WINNER: Mortal Kombat X
  • Rise of Incarnates
  • Rising Thunder

Stephen’s Prediction: Mortal Kombat X

Evan’s Prediction: Rising Thunder

Score – 3-3

Best Family Game

  • Disney Infinity 3.0
  • Lego Dimensions
  • Skylanders: SuperChargers
  • Splatoon
  • WINNER: Super Mario Maker

Stephen’s Prediction: LEGO Dimensions

Evan’s Prediction: Skylanders Superchargers

Score: 3-3

Best Sports/Racing Game

  • FIFA 16
  • Forza Motorsport 6
  • NBA 2K16
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2016
  • WINNER: Rocket League

Stephen’s Prediction: NBA2K16

Evan’s Prediction: NBA2K16

Score: 3-3

Best Multiplayer

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Rocket League
  • WINNER: Splatoon

Stephen’s Prediction: Rocket League

Evan’s Prediction: Splatoon

Score: 3-4

Most Anticipated Game

  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • WINNER: No Man’s Sky
  • Quantum Break
  • The Last Guardian
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Stephen’s Prediction: No Man’s Sky

Evan’s Prediction: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Score: 4-4


As you can see, the final score ended in a tie!  Neither of us are sure if that means he did very well or if I did super bad, but it is probably a little of both. What do you think? Did any of your favorites win an award? Sound off in the comments!

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Take a look below for a list of the biggest family video game news of the past week!

A new Wii U Bundle!

wii u bundle

Nintendo announced a new Wii U console bundle that includes a pre-installed version of the Mario Kart 8 game. It also includes eShop download codes for the two expansion packs released so far. The console is available at a suggested retail price of $299.99.

This is an amazing deal for fans who have been waiting for the opportunity to pick up a Wii U. Mario Kart 8 is one of the best family games in recent memory and getting it (and its expansions) for free is amazing.


Super Mario Maker Released!

Nintendo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of Super Mario Bros with the release of their highly anticipated game Super Mario Maker. This will be a chance for armchair designers the world over to take their turn creating their own levels.

The game releases on September 11th at an MSRP of $59.99.


PewDiePie Reaches 10 billion Views!



Felix Kjellberg, the 25-year-old Swedish video star who goes by PewDiePie on YouTube, has been setting records and bringing in money by the truckloads for years. This past week we set a new record and became the first person to cross the 10 billion view mark across all of his videos.

It isn’t exactly surprising that he was able to with nearly 40 million subscribers, but it is a massive statement by the YouTuber industry saying that those videos your kids are watching aren’t going away any time soon.


The New Apple TV is Basically a Console

Guitar Hero Live Airplay


Apple announced on stage at their iPhone event this week that several games will be playable on the new Apple TV.

  • Guitar Hero Live
  • Skylanders SuperChargers
  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

“Activision can confirm that Guitar Hero Live is coming to the newly announced Apple TV, as well as iPhone, iPad and iPod touch this fall. People will be able to play in their living room with Apple TV and take their game on the go with iPhone or iPad, as the Bluetooth Guitar controller works across Apple devices.”

There are lots of families cutting the cord and using set top boxes like the Apple TV to deliver their TV shows. This is a great way for video game companies to sneak their way into those households if they don’t have a dedicated console.


An Upcoming Mobile Game Will Let You Catch Pokémon in Real Life!

Ingress has been popular mobile game for years now. In it players “battle” over real world locations using their phones! GameFreak, the company behind the smash hit Pokémon, and the developers behind Ingress have teamed up and will release Pokémon Go in 2016.

The announcement was light on details and heavy on hopes and dreams, but we do see people traveling to real world locations and battling Pokémon alone and in groups.

The game will be free to start on Apple and Android devices. We also know it will include of yet undetermined in-app purchases. You can keep your eye on Engaged Family Gaming for more information about Pokémon Go as we get close to release.


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By: The Gaming Mom

The long wait is finally over. Angry Birds 2 has finally landed at iOS and Android app stores. Developer Rovio Entertainment kept gamers drooling over the sequel, which is now the 14th game in the Angry Birds series. The puzzle video game made a soft launch in Canada in early March under the name Angry Birds Under Pigstruction, but it was in July 30 that the developers released its official app with a simpler name.

After six years, we are finally able to try the sequel to the famous pig-smashing flying bird game. Is it worth installing or a waste of time? What should we expect from the Angry Birds 2?

During this review process, we used the LG G4, which is the exact handset used by the Rovio marketing team in producing the Angry Birds 2 teasers. Check out the video here:

We also find the LG G4 a great device for mobile gamers, as O2 says it has a 3GB RAM, Octa-core processor, and long lasting battery – everything a gamer wants from a phone. It’s also exactly the same reasons why we chose the handset for this review.

What we love about this game:
Finally, we are able to enjoy the long-awaited game. Gamers are expecting a lot from this title, given that it took the developers a long time to build this sequel. There are various exciting things about Angry Birds 2 that old and new fans will love, and here are some of them:

• The updated graphics are something to look forward to. All the objects on the screen from the birds and pigs to the background, everything has been improved, in 3D, and in high definition. The backdrops are painted-like with weather-effects, making the updated user interface a huge plus.

• Although the rest of the characters are the same with the same look and similar powers, there is one special bird that you may want to get randomly (that is if you’re lucky enough) – the silver bird. It comes with a special flying power that loops. Meet him in this video.

• More exciting games to finish. Yes, gone are the days when you only have to demolish a building of pigs and you are done with that stage. This time around, players get to play multi-tiered stages, attacking more pigs, enjoying more games. Overall, it comes with 240 stages.

• Boss Battles are exciting, where you get to defeat a big pig and deplete its health by smashing objects to pass to the next stage. Spells are also available that help you get through various challenges. These are unlockable items like the one where it lets you pummel pigs with golden ducks.

• Android gamers will love the game because they can install it even with an Ice Cream Sandwich OS, but iOS gamers will need to have iOS 7 or above device to play the title.

Some things you have to consider:
Excited to install the game? There are a few things gamers will have to consider to fully enjoy this title. Here’s what we know so far:

• Free up some of your space, as this game requires 68 MB for Android and 86.3 MB for iOS devices to download the title. Expect updates to also eat up more memory later on, so prepare ahead and clear your RAM and storage to avoid any freezing screens or crashing the app entirely.

• Save cash, and we mean it. The in-app purchases will cost you around $1.11 to $115.60 per item to fully enjoy the title.

• There’s nothing really new in terms of gameplay. The mechanics and end goal remains the same – fly the birds, crash the towers with pigs, and earn points. It even has the same set of birds except for the silver one.

• Birds do not refill between stages, so be choosy on which ones you fling. Lives are only given five at a time and will refill per every hour (reminds you of Candy Crush?).

Overall, we find the Angry Birds 2 a lot more interesting and livelier title than the original, with its new user interface and interactive characters. The new Silver character is something to look forward to, while the arcade gameplay will keep you hooked for long hours. However, gamers might find the freemium features a turn off as the lives, birds, and levels will cost a lot.

Click here to download the Android version.
Click here to download the iOS version.

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A group of learning game developers from all over the planet has come together to create the 2015 School’s Out Summer Sale. The goal is simple: They wanted to help give parents the tools to keep their children learning throughout the summer!

Take a look below to see how far $15 dollars will take you!

Games for Sale

The Counting Kingdom By Little Worlds Interactive

$2.99 -> $.99


“Kids will love practicing their addition in The Counting Kingdom! Exciting tower defense gameplay has players strategically adding monsters to cast magical spells. Starting with simple sums makes the game easy to learn, but as kids progress they’ll be challenged to make bigger sums and longer equations. Featuring cute and funny monsters, beautiful artwork, and a kingdom full of adventure, kids will forget they’re learning as they practice their math facts!”

Note: Take a look at our review here! Also, The Counting Kingdom was one of our games of the year for 2014!

Earth Primer by Chaim Gingold

$9.99 -> $4.99


Earth Primer is a science book for playful people. Discover how our planet works. Create volcanoes, sculpt mountains, and control the forces of nature with your fingertips. Earth Primer defies existing genres, combining aspects of science books, toys, simulations, and games. It is a new kind of interactive experience which joins the guided quality of a book with open ended simulation play.

Backyard Engineers By Filament Games

$5.99 -> $3.99


“Create the ultimate catapult and launch water balloons at your neighbors! Customize different mechanical elements of the catapult, manipulating movement, accuracy, range, and damage to drench even the most evasive of targets. Each level of the game is a unique puzzle that challenges players to find the fastest and most efficient way to soak their neighbors! Ready to up the challenge? Earn special rewards by beating your previous records using as few turns or as little ammunition as possible. Become the ultimate backyard engineer in this fun and addicting game!”

Word Mess By Masala Games

$2.99 -> $.99


“Find words in beautifully designed word clouds. Improve your visual scanning abilities and vocabulary through engaging and fun gameplay! Word Mess is fun for word enthusiasts of all ages! But it is specifically great for kids in middle school as it boosts spelling, word recognition and general knowledge. It is also being used in special education programs and by occupational therapists.”

Tin Pan Rhythm By Tin Pan

$2.99 -> $.99


“Compose and arrange short musical phrases through a process of play and discovery. Create a chord progression, then arrange the band on the fly. Tin Pan Rhythm guides you along. Use your creations as background music, inspiration for songs, or as practice loops for your real-life instrument. Record and share your music or use it inside your favorite apps.”

Slice Fractions By Ululab

$3.99 -> $.99


“Get your child excited about his or her next math discovery through this award-winning, problem solving game. We’ve teamed up with university education experts to craft an incredibly fun way to learn fractions. Slice through ice and lava to clear the mammoth’s path, unraveling the mystery of fractions!”

Agent Higgs By TestTubeGames

$1.99 -> $.99


“Agent Higgs is on the run! After eluding scientists for years, the Higgs particle is about to face his toughest challenge: a multibillion dollar particle accelerator. A truly fearsome weapon, it is almost sure to reveal him to the world. Agent Higgs needs your help! Help him hide in the particle detector by sliding around electrons, neutrinos, positrons, muons, and more! The known particles (and antiparticles) are the only thing standing between Higgs and detection. What’s that you say? You couldn’t tell a Tau particle from a W boson? Don’t fear! No background is required. As you play through the over 100 puzzles (and counting), you’ll learn all that you need to know along the way. And it’s not just the particles you need to worry about: you’ll have to deal with fundamental forces of nature, including the weak force and electromagnetism. Some particles attract, some repel. Some morph into others, or decay into pieces. Can you outwit the scientists and hide Agent Higgs?”

Spin Spell By Vermont Digital Arts

$1.99 -> $.99


“Spin Spell is a 3D physics based game that motivates children to learn to spell while having fun and improving their hand/eye coordination. Children learn to spell by navigating a variety of 3D spelling mazes. Points and achievements are awarded based on the sequential collection of letters to correctly spell a word, the speed by which the letters are collected and the number of correct letters collected in a streak. Points are never subtracted from the score but bonus streaks are reset when an incorrect letter is hit and/or when the game timer expires.”

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Electronic Arts took some time out of the 2015 E3 press event to talk about mobile games. They even dedicated a bunch of time to a new mobile game based on the Minions from Despicable Me and the upcoming film Minions.

It is a city building style game that is free to start where you control the Minions Paradise exclusive minion Phil as you build up the island so more of your other Minion friends can come and live there.

The harsh reality here is that this is the standard free to play city building stuff that we have been dealing with for years. The difference is that this happens to be themed after an obnoxiously charming movie… and kids eat these guys up.

Brace yourself. Minions are coming.

Click here to see all of our E3 2015 coverage!

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Activision held an event at the Best Buy Theater in NYC today to give a small group of reporters a first hand look at Guitar Hero Live and Engaged Family Gaming was lucky enough to get an invite!

I represented EFG at the event and got a LOT of hands on time with the game. There were only three songs available, but all of the difficulty modes were active and I took my time to go through them all to see how it would all play out.

The difference in the presentation was clear from the minute I strapped the guitar on. Each song started with a first person view of a backstage area while my bandmates and I prepared to rush out on stage and begin our set. Activision was showing us the massive outdoor festival locations today, so running out on stage drew thunderous applause from the massive army of fans spread out before me. Every time the camera panned out across the audience I got a little more nervous even though I knew it was just a video. Activision made it clear during their presentation that they wanted to make a game that actually gave players stage fright. This definitely felt like it was working (although it could have just been the ever-so-cheerful PR person or the large group of other press watching me).

Guitar Hero Live Screenshot

It looks different, but the gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played before!

After a short intro and several generous looks out across the crowd it all came crashing down on me that I had to actually play this thing. The vertically aligned bars that have been the hallmark of the Guitar Hero franchise faded into view and a series of black and white guitar picks glided down the lines as opposed to the colored gems I was used to from before. The difference was alarming since I was very used to the older style, but it was very intuitive. I really don’t think that new players will struggle to pick up the controls.

In fact, the rookie difficulty level only included three buttons so it should be even easier for novices (and younger players) to pick up than previous. I tried that difficulty and had the crowd fired up quickly and kept them going. It was a  lot of fun playing and really getting into the rhythm of the music along with the fans.

That all changed when I switched over to more advanced difficulty levels that used both the top and bottom rows of buttons. Making those transitions was very difficult without practice. I got a little bit better over the course of a few songs, but it left me feeling a bit frustrated. There is room for improvement though. I could tell immediately where I would need to improve if I wanted to succeed moving forward. Parents should definitely be ready to step in with help for more ambitious kids. Keep in mind that you can change difficulty mid song, so if it just isn’t working you can always step it down.

The entire experience was great and I was left wanting more. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long since the game will launch this fall for just about every console under the Sun.

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Anyone who has ever dreamt of rocking out on stage in front of thousands of fans should definitely take note. If you have then this fall is going to give you the chance to “unlock that fantasy” and feel like a rock star with the newly announced Guitar Hero Live.

Activision is the publishing giant behind a few art house games that some of you may have heard of, Skylanders and Call of Duty, and they are taking a stage dive into the rhythm game genre again after a five year absence. This time, however, they have several tricks up their sleeves to help differentiate themselves from the competition.

First and foremost, they have completely redesigned the iconic guitar controller. Fans of the previous Guitar Hero games will recall the five distinctly colored buttons that lined the neck of the guitar. those buttons have been removed in favor of two rows with three buttons each. They did this because they found, while doing research regarding the way that players used the controller they found out that the vast majority of players only used three fingers anyways. They knew that fans would likely lose their minds because gamers typically hate change, but this had the added advantage of making easier modes far easier (allowing for greater accessibility) and the harder modes even MORE difficult by using chord shapes that involve buttons on both rows.

Guitar Hero Live New Controller

The new controller looks amazing!

Second, they have done away with the animated action. Every frame that you will see is a live band performing in front of a live audience. Even better, each song was recorded separately with a crowd in venues of different sizes ranging from a small lounge all the way up to a massive outdoor festival with tens of thousands of people. Even the player bandmates were filmed.

Thirdly, the entire experience is designed to give players as authentic of an onstage experience as possible. The reactions from both the fans and the band themselves are tuned to the players performance, just like in real life, perform well and the audience will buy in and sing along! But, if you start to falter you boo and harass you; even your bandmates will start to give you the evil eye.

The entire package looks like it will be a rocking good time and will be releasing this fall on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and even some mobile devices.

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I’ve seen a few ads and reviews in tech magazines and on some popular websites, but didn’t really understand what Osmo was until we got our hands on it.  Osmo is an accessory for your iPad that comes with four gaming apps designed to get you and your family to interact with the iPad in a whole new way. It was designed to go beyond the screen and change the way you play.

Osmo is designed to work on the  iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Mini Retina and the iPad Air.  The Osmo starter kit comes with the Osmo Base & Reflector, Tangram game pieces, Words game pieces and all three original apps. There is also a new app that was just released, Masterpiece,  that adds yet another dimension to this system.

Osmo Play Beyond The Screen Setup

Setting the device up is incredibly easy.

Before I get into the details of each app and the toys that accompany the system, I’d like to discuss some basics of the design of the packaging and the system.  First, it is important to note that the Osmo game system was created by young parents with technology and engineering backgrounds.  Their goal is to utilize new technology to nurture positive play.  What could be better for your budding little geniuses?  Everything about the system reflects these goals.  The box is bright, colorful, and simple, yet it has some neat features such as magnetic boxes that help keep everything all neatly together.  The pieces that come with the game are sturdy enough for little hands, but not bulky enough to get in the way of a busy lifestyle.  In addition to providing information about Osmo for parents and educators, the Osmo website has great setup instructions and how-to-play videos for each app which makes it super easy for parents to start using the games right away.

The evening we retrieved the system, all three of our children were instantly intrigued.  It’s just cool.  It works with reflective artificial intelligence that basically brings real life toys into the digital realm.  And, with console video games like Disney Infinity and Skylanders being so hugely popular, we know that this is going to immediately entrance our children.  But, better yet, it also has the added benefit of entrancing educators and parents who want the children in their care to actively engage their brains while playing.

Setup is simple.  You simply download all four apps from the app store, you remove any protective case you have on your iPad, you place the iPad in the white Osmo base, and you clip on the red Reflector.  (You might have to adjust the base for an iPad mini, but simple instructions are included). And that’s it, you’re ready to play.



The Games



osmo tangrams

Osmo Tangrams in action!

My middle child is 6 years old and one of those children that can play with blocks, puzzles, and building toys for hours.  But, if you ask him to sit in a chair and read or do schoolwork, he buzzes around like a bumblebee. His bottom rarely touches a chair.  However, as soon as he saw the wooden tangram pieces that came with the system, he was hooked.  He sat at the dining room table and played for a solid hour before we cut off his screen time.

Osmo Tangram is a puzzle game played with colorful wooden pieces. The goal of the game is to create the picture displayed on the iPad screen with the wooden pieces on the table in front of you.  The pieces light up as you put them together in the correct place.  Completing puzzles unlocks new puzzles at the same level.  And yes, there are hints.  You earn more hints by completing puzzles.  The puzzles come in four basic levels.  Simple, Easy, Medium, and Difficult.  The levels are color coded to make it easier for children to follow.  The game is designed for ages six and over which seemed like a fairly accurate age rating.  We think a younger child would be able to play with a parent, but would get easily frustrated on their own. Our toddler was intrigued by the pretty colors and shapes and was happy to sit on our lap and try to help.  She loved identifying the animal or shape that the completed puzzle would become.  From an educational standpoint, there are so many things that your children can learn from this game. Tangram reinforces creative thinking, shapes, geometry, spatial recognition, fine motor skills, and more.  Because you can unlock up to 400 puzzles, this game seems to be have a fairly decent replay value.  My son went back to puzzles that he already completed in an attempt to finish them more quickly.




osmo words

Osmo words in action!

My oldest child is a reader at heart.  Spelling and writing come as naturally to him as breathing.  He loves making up rhymes, playing word games and coming up with pun-ny grammar jokes.  Being a nine year old boy, he is also obsessed with video games.  At first, he was less than interested in playing an educational game.  But, he started playing Words against his Mom, and as soon as he started getting rewarded for scoring points, he was hooked.

Words comes with two sets of cardboard alphabet tiles.  One set is red, the other is blue.  All of the letters are uppercase to avoid confusion.  The tiles are typical of standard board game tiles, and replacement tiles are available. The goal of the game is to guess the correct word before you use up all of your available guesses.  It’s kind of a mash-up of I Spy and Hangman.  Players are shown an image on the screen and toss letters down onto the playing field to guess the word.  There are small yellow circles at the bottom of the screen to show you how many letters the word has. Players can work together and play cooperatively with just one colored set, or they can play against each other  in versus mode using both sets.  Words has two different leveled games built in.  It has a Junior version for preschool aged children and very early readers.  It also has a Classic version for older players.  The word puzzles ramp up as you go, so harder puzzles can even be a challenge for adults.  One of the neat features of versus mode, is that all players score points based on the number of letters they get correct.  The points do not simply go to the player who solved the puzzle.  Another great feature is that you can create your own puzzles on MyOsmo.com.  This is an excellent element for homeschool parents and educators, as they can create puzzles to go along with topics that their students are studying.  The educational aspects of this game are fairly obvious.  They include creative thinking, letter recognition, reading reinforcement, and social learning.  My oldest son found the competitive race to complete words super fun, and since you can create your own puzzles, the replay value of this game is endless.




osmo newton

Osmo Newton in action!

My husband loves traditional early arcade style games, games like Pong, Breakout, and Arkanoid.  They were the very first ball drop and basic physics games.  Newton takes these games to the next level.  The game is  very similar to a PC game titled Crayon Physics Deluxe but with a unique Osmo twist.  My husband found himself playing this game much longer than he anticipated when he first looked at it.  It seemed very simplistic, but the challenges become more difficult as you reach each goal.

Unlike Osmo’s Tangram and Word games, this game has no special pieces.  All you need is the app, the base, a piece of paper and some markers. And, by the name of the game, you can probably figure out that it is a physics based game.  A ball drops out of the top of the screen and you draw lines, buckets, and shapes on the paper to direct the ball to hit certain targets. You can even place household objects on the paper in front of you and the camera will translate the object onto the screen.  The game automatically pauses and the lines turn red when you are drawing.  It resumes and the lines turn back to blue as your hand is moved away from the play area.  You can turn this feature off to make the game more of a challenge.  As with all of the previous Osmo apps, this game has a plethora of educational values.  The game is engaging and accessible to learners six and older.  It teaches early physics  and math concepts, enhances problem solving skills and encourages creative solutions to puzzles.  Since there are no correct ways to reach the target and myriad possibilities, the replay value on this game is also very high. Why not try something new each time?  While it doesn’t introduce as many specific physics concepts as Crayon Physics Deluxe, as part of the overall Osmo package, this is a terrific addition.



Masterpiece_iconI was incredibly excited to see the initial information on Masterpiece.  I love to doodle and draw, and sometimes my pictures come out decent, and sometimes they are absolutely terrible.  I’ve always wanted to effortlessly draw a perfect picture.  Masterpiece allows me to give that a try.

Masterpiece is the newest app released that works with the Osmo system.  This is a unique app that fits in perfectly with the previous games because it encourages an entirely new area of learning.  If the name of the app wasn’t enough of a clue, the app focuses on artistic learning.  With Masterpiece, you can use an image on the iPad and transpose it directly onto a piece of paper.  You can create your own special art pieces.  Masterpiece comes with a full set of pre-drawn images like a coloring book, but you can also take photos of anything you want and put them on the screen.  Once the image is in Masterpiece, you get a marker (Markers are easier to see to start. As you get better, you can use other tools) and some paper and start tracing the lines you see on the iPad onto the paper.  This is a little tricky.  You are tempted to look down at the paper as you go, but you need to keep your eyes on the iPad.  The first couple of tries will come out shaky, but you will get better.  We’ve created some amazing drawings after about 15 minutes of practice.  Keep in mind that images you take on your own must be of the right quality to translate into the app. Images come out better if the lighting is correct and they are taken on a plain background. My son insisted we take a picture of his stuffed monkey, and it only worked when we laid it down on a plain white towel to take the picture.  There are features within the app that allow you to adjust the number of lines and the details in your image.  You can change the size of your image and its position as well.  This game really encourages your child to work on their fine motor skills and is not as intuitive or simple to play as the other games in the Osmo system. However, it is a great way for you or your child to create something truly unique and all their own.



There are other drag and drop iPad apps that do similar things and teach similar concepts as some of these Osmo games.  But, the biggest draw to this package is the tangible, physical pieces and real life interaction that this set brings to the table.  At an MSRP of $79.99,  the four games, the Osmo Base, and the Reflector are an exceptional value.  Your family will get plenty of playtime out of this set, and the price point is only slightly higher than a single traditional console game.  Osmo would be a great system to introduce to classrooms, libraries, homeschool settings, and childcare settings.

A review copy of this product was provided by Tangible Play, Inc.

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