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Nintendo has set itself apart in the gaming console world by focusing on accessibility and family games. Features have been added to some games to make them more approachable for younger and inexperienced gamers. The Nintendo library includes many games rated E, but that does not tell you the difficulty rather it only is a measure of the content. The EFG Staff has put together a list of games that are more approachable to young gamers, specifically those who are beginning readers.

Games with Accessibility Features

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best switch games available. Mario is well known and his games are well-loved

Odyssey takes steps to be more accessible by including an assist mode that tells you where to go and gives you more health. One of our editor’s sons played through the game and finished it at around age five. some of the platforming challenges were difficult, but since there were no game overs he never felt defeated. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 

Mario Kart is on this list for two reasons. First, it is an amazing game that everyone will want to play together. Second, unlike past Mario Kart games (I’m looking at you Mario Kart Wii) it has accessibility options that make the game much easier to play. You can turn on an Auto Accelerate, which makes it so you don’t have to hold down the A button to go. Having to hold a button the whole time can be very hard for small hands. Additionally, you can turn on auto-steering. This feature makes it so you cannot go off-road, and it keeps you facing forward. You can have both of these on at once or choose one.

Great Games With Reading Help Required

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/ Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee

Kids everywhere recognize Pokémon, with Pikachu and Eevee as some of the most well known. After Pokémon Go had such wide popularity, Nintendo took the feel of that and turned it into a console game. The quests are simple, and the game allows players to just run around, explore, and catch Pokémon. Unlike other Pokémon games, players do not battle their Pokémon to catch them. Instead, they can befriend them by feeding them berries, making them easier to catch with Pokeballs.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an interesting beast. It is perfect from a content perspective, but the game can be challenging depending on your personal goal within the game. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is about making a villager and building a community on a deserted island. You explore collect bugs and decorate. There is no real conflict in the game. All of the characters are friendly, anthropomorphic animals. Each day the player is given a small list of tasks to do. This is a great game to play in short bursts and still feel like you accomplished something. It also teaches kids about lists of tasks by rewarding them for completing said tasks each day.

The real challenge is going to come if more than one person wants to play the game. Each Switch as One island and everyone on that switch shares it; meaning if your five-year-old places a tree in front of your house, the tree will be there when you log on. This means that in order to progress everyone will need to work together. This can be challenging when you have players of different age groups.

Another challenge is that only one player gets to make decisions about the island. That happens to be the first player. One family in the EFG team had their 7 year old start the game before her mother. Due to the design of the game, it meant the 7 year old was the one making decisions and getting to experience the “story” Her mom was frustrated by not being able to do things with the island decision wise and ended up having to log on to 7 year old’s account to make progress the island. The lessons learned have been an asset to other families. Our advice it to carefully plan who is the first one to start Animal Crossing New Horizon. With careful planning the who family can enjoy playing on their island.

Games with Online Play

Nintendo does a great job to try and make their online game experiences as family-friendly as possible. Even with the best precautions, there is always a chance something inappropriate could be missed by the filters. Our recommendation is to just be aware that the filters are not flawless and to proceed with online play with that understanding. The following games have online play as a core component, but all these games have some aspects which can also be played offline.

Minecraft

Any five year old who has had exposure to older kids or youtube will be exposed to minecraft. The survival mode will be too challenging for most, but ht ecreative mode will be just right. The creative mode in minecraft makes you invincible lets you fly and gives you unlimited resources of any typee, this turns minecraft into a sandbox where you can build anything that your iomaginatiuon can cook up..Since all of the blocks in minecraft are the same size minecraft is a great place to learn about patterns and 3 dimensional shapes.

Super Mario Maker 2

Activate creativity by creating your own Mario levels from different Mario editions in this “sandbox” game. There are multiple modes of play including: Make and Play your own Mario Levels, Make Together (on the same screen),Play Together (on the same Switch), Story Mode, Online: Share and Download levels, plus compete or cooperate online too. For younger gamers the story mode, make and play your own levels, and play together are the best starting places. Those are also the safest, since players do not interact with any strangers.

Arms

Fighting games that are family friendly can be extremely hard to find. Arms portrays fighting in a lighthearted and approachable way for players of all ages. There are many different combinations of buttons and motions with the joycons to execute the different fighting moves. While the game walks you through each move once, players can go back and look up moves as they get more comfortable. This is a game that a novice (such as our board game editor ) or young gamer can jump right in an play.

Splatoon2

Splatoon 2 is a shooter that even young kids can play. The Squid kids (Inklings)shoot paint and try to cover the largest area. This competitive game has many new tools that open up the more you play and level up. Additionally, there is the option to play locally or online. This is one that anyone can jump in and play. The local play is a great way to get comfortable with the controls before joining a game online and participating in a turf war.


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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between November 15th through November 21st.

Tuesday, November 17th

  • Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back- PS4
  • Five Dates- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Mars Horizon- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Professor Rubik’s Brain Fitness- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Pure Pool- Switch
  • Truck Driver- Switch
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, November 20th

  • Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond- Switch
  • Nexoria: Dungeon Rogue Heroes- Switch

Thursday, November 19th

  • Art Sqool- Switch
  • Azurebreak Heroes- Switch
  • Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead- PS4, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
  • Cake Bash- Switch
  • Cape’s Escape Game- Switch
  • Dreamo- Switch
  • Educational Games for Kids- Switch
  • Eldrador Creatures- Switch
  • Fantasy Friends- Switch
  • Karma Knight- Switch
  • Outbreak- Switch
  • Party Games: 15 in 1- Switch
  • Poker Club- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
  • Star Renegades- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • The Casino: Roulette, Video Poker, Slot Machines, Craps, Baccarat- Switch

Friday, November 20th

  • Brawl Chess- Xbox One, Switch
  • Fall Gummies- Switch
  • Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity- Switch
  • Katamari Damacy: Reroll- PS4, Xbox One
  • Micetopia- Switch
  • Ramp Car Jumping- Switch

For the Grown-ups

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X, Switch (Tuesday, November 17)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

As you have probably figured out by now, I am a huge Nintendo fanboy and I always try and buy the latest and greatest (and sometimes not so great) Nintendo titles. This week, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is coming out and I cannot wait to play this game. There is currently a demo on the Nintendo Switch eshop and if you are unsure, I suggest to try it since the save file transfers to the game when you buy it. I have only played the first level, but I cannot wait to play again and have been waiting for the full release to really delve into it. This looks at the story from Breath of the Wild before Ganon took over the world and you get to play as the four champions, Link, Zelda, Impa, and probably a few surprises.

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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An update will be coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons that will, FINALLY, allow the transfer of save data between Nintendo Switch Systems. The update is coming on November 19, 2020, and will include two key components: Entire Island Transfers and Resident Moves.

Entire Island Transfer

The update will all players to transfer the entire island ( along with all residents on it) to a new Nintendo Switch system. The island itself along with all progress and customizations, animal neighbors, and the island resident representative will be moved to the new Switch.

This will help families who are replacing a Nintendo Switch. But, make note that you need to have access to both the original system and the new system to do the island transfer. So make sure to do that before you get rid of the old system.

Resident Move (Single Player Transfer)

This announcement was a big surprise. The resident move feature will allow anyone, except the Island Representative, to move their resident and almost all of their progress onto a new island. This will allow all of the families who have been awkwardly sharing an Animal CrossingL New Horizons island to FINALLY play separately.

The things that will transfer to the new system are:

  • The resident
  • The resident’s house
  • Most items the resident is holding
  • Most items the resident has in storage

This is going to be a great help for families that want to move one player onto a new Nintendo Switch.

There are two important caveats:

  1. If there is already an island populated on the new system, then the resident you are transferring will move to that island. In that case, all of that resident’s island progress and their animal neighbors will remain on the original Nintendo Switch.
    1. You must have access to both the original system and the new system to use this feature.

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 free Holiday update is on its way into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Below is a list of the major features that will be available in Animal Crossing starting November 19th.

Turkey Day

On Turkey Day, which will take place this year on Nov. 26, the first-class chef Franklin will arrive and host a gathering in the plaza. You can help Franklin collect ingredients to go in the dishes that will be on display in the plaza. You can even receive a gift from Franklin as a thank you for helping him cook.

The United States celebrates Thanksgiving on the 26th of November, however a lot of families are forgoing their usual celebrations as a result of the ongoing pandemic. I have a feeling that the Animal Crossing Turkey Day update will be a welcome distraction for a lot of families this year.

Toy Day

It’s the time of the year when island residents rejoice … The month of Toy Day is nearly at hand! You might notice your island and plaza gradually becoming more festive with holiday-themed decorations over the coming weeks.*** Keep an eye out for decorated trees, too. Shaking these may drop ornaments which will allow you to craft holiday furniture recipes. From Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, you’ll be able to purchase toys from Nook’s Cranny and find holiday-themed clothing at the Able Sisters shop. When it’s officially Toy Day on Dec. 24, Jingle will pay a special visit to your island to spread holiday cheer. If you help him deliver presents, you’ll also receive a gift!

Toy Day is Animal Crossing Christmas. This event does extend until Christmas day so kids who get their game on Christmas day will be able to take part in some of the fun!

Reactions and Hairstyles 

Nine new Reactions will be available with this update, which can be obtained by redeeming Nook Miles at the Nook Stop terminal located in Resident Services. Six new hairstyle options can also be acquired by redeeming Nook Miles, so get ready to express yourself and let your personality shine!

The new reactions include the ability to sit down. That’s a big deal. (It’s true.)

Home Storage Upgrade 

If you’ve expanded your in-game home to its largest size and paid off your debt, you’ll now be able to apply for a home storage expansion by speaking to Tom Nook at Resident Services. Congrats on achieving the next level of home ownership. This will expand your home storage to 2400 slots. Think of all the items you can now store and access from the comfort of your island home!

A lot of players struggle with storage over time (I know I do). This gives players a way to help alleviate that (at least for the time being). It also gives players a reason to pay off their final loan.

Island and Resident Data Transfers 

Two new features are arriving to offer expanded flexibility for your island and resident data. The whole island transfer feature will enable you to move your user save data, along with the island itself and all the residents, to another system. This service will be facilitated by the free Island Transfer Tool app in Nintendo eShop. For players who are not the island’s Resident Representative, a single-player transfer feature allows you to transfer resident data to another system. This includes your resident’s name, appearance and equipment, along with your inventory, home and storage. Additional details about the benefits and limitations of these new data transfer services can be found at https://animal-crossing.com/new-horizons/#transfer.

This is a very, very big deal for families who are looking to get players who have been awkwardly sharing an Animal Crossing: New Horizons island.

EFG has an article with more details about Island and resident data transfers here.

Seasonal Items to Celebrate New Year’s Eve 

New seasonal items will be available starting Dec. 1 at Nook Stop. Between Dec. 26 and Dec. 31, there will also be several festive items to commemorate New Year’s Eve. In addition to the update content, you can look forward to a countdown event starting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31. With Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can meet in-game to ring in the new year with friends, family and your island residents!

New Years Eve is coming and Animal Crossing is going to help us celebrate the end of 2020 (thank goodness).

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between November 8th through November 14th.

Note: Some games on the PS5 say they come out on the 10th, those are also release day games on the 12th for the system. The list was already so long, that I chose not to list each of those games twice.

Monday, November 9th

  • Duck Life Adventure- Switch

Tuesday, November 10th

  • Dead Cells: The Prisoner’s Edition- PS4, Switch
  • Destiny 2: Beyond Light- PS4, Xbox One
  • Dirt 5- PS5 (12th), Series X
  • Fortnite- PS5, Series X
  • Fuser- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Liftoff: Drone Racing- Xbox One
  • Manifold Garden- Series X
  • My Universe: Cooking Star Restaurant- PS4, Switch
  • NBA 2K21- PS5, Series X
  • Planet Coaster: Console Edition- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X
  • Rogue Company- Series X
  • Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin- PS4, Switch
  • Sea of Thieves- Series X
  • Slide Stars- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Speed 3: Grand Prix- PS4, Switch
  • Tetris Effect: Connected- Xbox One, Series X
  • The Falconeer- Xbox One, Series X
  • The Touryst- Series X
  • Train Sim World 2: Collector’s Edition- PS4, Xbox One
  • WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship- PS5, Series X

Wednesday, November 11th

  • Area 86- Switch
  • Sparkle 4 Tales- Xbox One

Thursday, November 12th

  • Astro’s Playroom- PS5
  • Bugsnax- PS4, PS5
  • Family Feud- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Farming Simulator 19: Alpine Farming Expansion- PS4, Xbox One
  • Godfall- PS5
  • Just Dance 2021- PS4, Xbox One, Series X, Switch
  • Life of Boris: Super Slav- Switch
  • Linelight- Switch
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales- PS4, PS5
  • Overcooked: All You Can Eat!- PS5
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure- PS4, PS5
  • Santa’s Xmas Adventure- Switch
  • The Pathless- PS4, PS5
  • Zombie’s Cool- Switch

Friday, November 13th

  • Beat Me!- Xbox One, Switch
  • Bus Driver Simulator- Switch
  • Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Let’s Sing 2021- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered- Switch
  • Suguru Nature- Switch
  • Super Star Panda- Switch
  • This Sims 4: Snowy Escape DLC- PS4, Xbox One
  • Unhatched- Switch
  • Vera Blanc: Full Moon- Switch

For the Grown-Ups

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X (Tuesday, October 10th)
  • Gears Tactics- Xbox One, Series X (Tuesday, October 10th)
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon- PS4, Xbox One, Series X (Tuesday, October 10th)
  • Demon’s Souls- PS5 (Thursday, October 12th)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War- PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X (Friday, October 13th)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Wow! There are a lot of games this week and I could have a whole list of my pick from them compared to last week where I did not even make a pick. I had to go with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on the PS4 and PS5. The 2018 game was my favorite game from that year (and EFG’s game of the year) and the only platinum trophy I have ever earned. I am so excited to play this game!


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 Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play video games with their kids (and board games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great video games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential games for kids on the Nintendo Switch.

Minecraft

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One

Minecraft is one of the best selling games of all time, and one of EFG’s family games of the last decade. It is so well known that I questioned whether or not to include it here. But, it is too important of a game to leave off. 

Minecraft holds a special place in a lot of kid’s hearts because it is so flexible. It can be so many different games for so many different people. It can be a survival game, a creative outlet, a multiplayer battle game, and more. It even ends up being the equivalent of a popular TV show considering how many hours of the game are consumed globally each month (Hint: It’s a lot.)

Super Mario Odyssey

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Odyssey is a great Mario game that just about anyone can play and enjoy. In this edition, you can throw your hat at enemies to take control of them and you take over their bodies to use their powers. There is plenty of content here and collecting all 999 power moons is a challenge that does not get old. This is a must-buy for all Nintendo Switch owners

Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Racing
  • Exclusive

The Mario Kart series has slowly grown to be the biggest game in their stable of exclusives. Ever iteration is met with thunderous excitement and delivers fun that the entire family can enjoy! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive version of the very best that the franchise has to offer.

Every track is masterfully created (or recreated) and the music is jazzy and fun in all the right ways! Not only that, but the deluxe version includes the DLC that introduced Link and Isabelle to Mario Kart and made the case for the next game to just be called, “Nintendo Kart.”

This is the first game I recommend to families who buy the Nintendo Switch. It is an absolute must own.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Exclusive

Long time EFG fans will know that this is one of my favorite games of all time and that means that the games above it have to be pretty significant in order to leave Breath of the Wild in the 4th spot. That isn’t to say that this isn’t one of, if not THE, best video games Nintendo has ever made though.

Breath of the Wild was our game of the year in 2017 and it faced stiff competition from Horizon: Zero Dawn.

It earned its place because it took the Legend of Zelda franchise in a bold new direction by eschewing the linear path of item collection and temple dungeon completion in favor of an open world that could be tackled in any order. Open world games are by no means new, but this was a welcome addition to Zelda and I can’t wait to see where they take it next.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Captain toad Treasure Tracker is a simple puzzle game that can be challenging but is very accessible. This was originally a minigame in Super Mario 3D World that was so in-depth they made it into a full game. We love spending time solving these puzzles.

It’s a top-down puzzle platformer without a jump button. Your goal is to get to the star usually at the top of the level, so you have to figure out how to get to the top. Definitely a fun time for all Puzzle game fans.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Fighting Game
  • Exclusive

The phrase, “Let’s settle it in Smash!” is very common in our house, and I can’t imagine that it is uncommon elsewhere.

The Super Smash Bros. series has been around since the Nintendo 64 era and it continually grows in scope and in popularity. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to his name and its fan base is huge as it is the best selling fighting game of all time. There are obviously members of the Super Smash Bros. community that prefer earlier games like Super Smash Bros. Melee. But, as far as we’re concerned it is the best game in the series.

It’s often difficult to recommend fighting games to anything other than fighting game fans. Smash is the exception I can recommend this game to anyone that owns a Nintendo switch and feels comfortable that they will enjoy it.

Super Mario Maker 2

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platformer +
  • Exclusive

Super Mario Maker 2 is one of the best creative tools for young and adult gamers alike. This game lets you create Super Mario levels using art styles and mechanics from across the history of Nintendo. It has a well-made tutorial that offers plenty of new ideas. Players can browse player-made content by individual creators or select an endless mode that selects levels based on difficulty. Super Mario Maker 2 is easily the best level creation experience for the Nintendo Switch.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Role-Playing
  • Exclusive

Pokemon Sword and Shield are great Pokemon games and are great RPGs. With a team of six Pokemon, you will travel the Galar Region on your quest to become the champion. Though the campaign is short the post-game content is enough to last hundreds of hours. You can catch all the Pokemon, make a competitive team, and participate in online tournaments, or you can battle your friends. 

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze is one of the best 2d platformers available on the Nintendo Switch. This is actually a rerelease of the original game that was available on the Wii U. It has been polished, and a new gameplay mode featuring Funky Kong has been added to help make the game more accessible to newer/younger players. Funky Kong moves through levels on his surfboard so he doesn’t take damage from spikes and can hover while he comes down from jumps. 

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

The 2.5D side-scrolling port of the Wii U original has been updated for HD and includes all the original maps and the New Super Luigi U DLC.  Nintendo has also included a new playable character, Toadette, for the Switch version. This is a hidden gem because so few people bought a Wii U that the original game went unnoticed to all but the most hardcore of fans. It is definitely worth a look.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Simulation
  • Exclusive

Animal Crossing New Horizons is a life sim game where you move to a deserted island with a group of animals. The goal is to spend time on your island making it beautiful, befriending other animals on the island, and earning money (bells). The available tasks change with the seasons, but there is always something to do. This is a must-have for Switch owners looking a relaxing game.

The Adventure Pals

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Adventure Pals from Armor Games is an absurd jaunt through a bizarre world where almost nothing makes sense. Turtles can do backflips. Whales complain about “hashtag body shaming.” The hero’s best friend, Sparkles the giraffe, can use his tongue like a propeller to slow their collective fall. The villain wants to turn everyone into hot dog monsters. Every single one of those sentences is true. And here’s one more: This game is just as fun as it is ridiculous.

Shovel Knight Treasure Trove

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Wii U, 3DS

This wily Kickstarter from 2013 is still alive and kicking. Shovel Knight does an amazing job of taking all of the things that we love about old school platformers like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and even Castlevania and smashing them together into a wonderful, cohesive whole.

Shovel Knight is a fun protagonist whose adventures are silly more often than not, but packs some serious challenge. The other games in the treasure trove are all wonderful and feature different knights from the first game in their own wild adventures; each with their own mechanics and stories.

It’s hard to find a better value than Shovel Knight Treasure Trove and it is easy to recommend it to anyone, especially folks looking for an old school challenge!

Super Mario Party

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Party Game
  • Exclusive

The most recent update to the Mario Party franchise brings back to 4-player board game mode that has been so beloved as well as introducing a 2 vs 2 mode with grid based maps.  You can test your skills against the others in your living room as well as see how you stack up against others across the globe in the new Online Marathon feature.  Nintendo has also leveraged the ability to link two Nintendo Switch systems side by side on a table to play arena games or mini baseball.  This is going to be the party game that you want for game night.

Snipperclips

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Snipperclips is a two-player puzzle game where players each take on the role of different shapes. The goal is to overlap parts of each other’s “bodies” and “snip” off the overlapping pieces. This will let you complete challenges like creating a bowl-like shape to carry a ball across a playing field. This is a fully cooperative experience that is unlike anything else that you’ve seen before. 

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating:E
  • Sports game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched in in 2015 to great fanfare and has only grown as they added more game-modes like “hockey” and “basketball”

This is a great game to play (and watch) because of how wild the matches can be. There is just something exciting about watching race cars flying around a track and crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

The Messenger

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Simply put… The Messenger is a modern response to the Ninja Gaiden series from the NES era. Sabotage Studio is a team full of people who love that game and have gone out of their way to show their reverence in game form.

It isn’t an easy game, but the experience is well worth the effort. The soundtrack alone is worth spending time with the game. But, exploring the different levels AND playing with time travel mechanics are rewarding.

This is definitely a game that needs to be on your radar.

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Farming Simulator / RPG
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mobile
Click the picture to purchase on the online Switch Store.

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits a relative’s run-down farm. You need to build it up, explore the surrounding wilderness, meet people, get married, etc. It is a wildly engaging game that has been a sensation since it’s release. This is a great game to relax with. 

Tetris 99

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle Game
  • Exclusive

Tetris is an all time classic, but Tetris 99 surprised us by adding in a HECTIC battle royale mode. You play Tetris against 99 other players in a frantic race for survival. 

I have spent hours playing this game and building my Tetris skills. Everything moves at a desperate pace so the games move very quickly as well. Its definitely worth a look. 

Dragon Quest Builders 2

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

The Dragon Quest Builders series paints itself in a much lighter tone than the Dragon Quest series.  Specifically, Dragon Quest Builders 2 integrates co-op multiplayer that shows promise for both epic exploration, combat, and construction to put it in league with Minecraft in terms of its possibilities. Unlike Minecraft though, the story of Dragon Quest Builders 2 is meant to also serve as a tutorial and narrative focus for its block based construction.  This is in contrast to the much more open world that is traditional Minecraft. The play dynamic will give some structure to keep the sprawling options presented in a meaningful way and keep the more casual fan engaged in the gameplay.

Kirby Star Allies

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

Kirby Star allies is a simple platformer that anyone can enjoy. The game is fun to play, and if you want to 100% the game then you will have plenty of things to do, with many hours of play. Plus with the ease of access to local play and with controls that work well with all control schemes, it makes a great multiplayer game for all ages. A must-have for all switch owners.

Sonic Mania Plus

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Also Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Sonic Mania is a fast paced action/platformer that brings modern polish to a nostalgic classic. Sonic Mania is features Sega’s iconic Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails (with additional characters in its most recent rerelease) battling their oldest foe Dr. Eggman. 

This game features levels that are blend of remixed classic Sonic from the Sega Genesis Era, and original locations built to make the 12 zones as a whole feel like breaking new ground while keeping it harmonious with the classics. Sound track and Art style are deeply inspired by the 16 bit era, but benefit from complex remixes and smooth flashy animation thanks in part to modern processing power. Controls differ depending on which character you play, everyone has ‘gotta go fast’, but each features different movement options to make each character’s traversal through the levels a distinct experience. 

Sonic Mania has a very robust local multiplayer experience, with available game modes that allow for cooperation and competition. It’s multiplayer only lacks in its ability to be bring all of its fully online. 

Sonic Mania Plus, Sonic Mania’s most recent release, solves some of the imbalances during gameplay by rebalancing boss difficulty and turning Bonus Stage content from a counterintuitive 3D experience to a send up of Sonic Pinball.  The Plus Edition also introduces “Encore Mode”, a new game plus style experience where both art and item placement have been remixed to provide a newer experience. 

Sonic Mania Plus is an EFG Essential for anyone looking for the perfect modern Sonic Experience.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game
  • Exclusive

After Yoshi’s Wooly World, Nintendo has done it again and added a cute aesthetic to a Yoshi’s Island game. This time around the levels look like a child made them out of craft supplies including cardboard, paperclips, paper cups, and tape. While you traverse the levels, there are the typical Yoshi collectibles, hearts, flowers, and red coins. The collectibles are what really make this game a challenge. You can go through the levels, or you can try and collect everything. At certain points during the game, you will need to replay levels to search for certain items in the background and foreground. Each level also has an opposite view where you much search for a Poochy puppy. While the game can be tedious with replaying levels, sometimes multiple times with different objectives, this is a great stepping off point for your young children to play a platformer.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition S

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-Playing
  • Also Available On: PS4, PC

Dragon Quest XI is the most recent edition to an ongoing series of role playing games by Square Enix. The series is known for the art style of Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball.  Dragon Quest is a series that consistently comes out with a reliable turn-based combat system that has seen nothing but simple improvements. 

Its place as an EFG essentials is based on its ease of entry in an ongoing, fantasy story. The fantasy elements that many other games work off of got their start here with a chosen warrior of light and a band of friends and heroes rally to fight the darkness. 

Dragon Quest has had a consistent following in Japan since its first incarnation on the NES in the 1980’s. That following was earned by creating a game as much storybook as turn/quest based game.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Action Adventure
  • Exclusive

Luigi doesn’t get the spotlight very often. That honor is normally reserved for his brother Mario. The Luigi’s Mansion series is the exception. These spooky adventures feature Luigi while he tries to rescue his lost brother from King Boo. Luigi’s Mansion 3 and includes a lot more variety in the environments than previous editions because it takes place in a massive haunted hotel. This will be a great game for kids who love to explore and solve puzzles. (Note: This game is definitely more silly than it is spooky so don’t be super concerned about kids getting scared.)

Addendum: Fortnite

At this point almost every kid on Earth has played Fortnite. But, we wanted to include it here for the sake of completion. It is a worthy recommendation though. Fortnite is huge. It is a great alternative for more mature shooters since it there is no blood and most of the action is over the top and silly as opposed to violent.

The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 11/7/20.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between October 11th and October 17th.

Tuesday, October 13th

  • Forgone- Xbox One, Switch
  • G.I. Joe: Operation Blackout- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Monster Truck Championship- PS4
  • NHL 21- PS4, Xbox One
  • Prinny: Can I Really Be a Hero?- Switch
  • Prinny 2: Dawn of Operation Panties, Dood!- Switch
  • Prinny 1-2: Exploded and Reloaded- Switch
  • Red Wings: Aces of the Skies- Xbox One
  • Robotics; Notes Dash- PS4, Switch
  • Robotics; Notes Elite- PS4, Switch
  • Robotics; Notes Double Pack- PS4, Switch
  • Torchlight III- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, October 14th

  • Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?!- Xbox One, Switch
  • Shadow Gangs- Xbox One
  • Vigil: The Longest Night- Switch

Thursday, October 15th

  • Along the Edge- Switch
  • Alpaca Ball: Allstars- Switch
  • Batbarian: Testament of the Primordials- Switch
  • Burst Shooter- Switch
  • Cake Bash- PS4, Xbox One
  • Castle of No Escape- Switch
  • Doodle God: Evolution- PS4
  • Dustoff Z- Switch
  • Hardcore Mecha- Switch
  • Raji: An Ancient Epic- PS4, Xbox One
  • Ring of Pain- Switch
  • Shantae: Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut- Xbox One, Switch
  • Shoot 1UP DX- Switch
  • Space Crew- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 7- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • This is the Zodiac Speaking- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Tricky Spider- Switch

Friday, October 16th

  • 9 Monkeys of Shaolin- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Crown Trick- Switch
  • Mario Kart Live Home Circuit- Switch
  • Truck Driver- Switch
  • Two Parsecs From Earth- Switch
  • Zoids Wild Blast Unleashed- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to Nintendo’s newest “entry” in the Mario Kart franchise. There has always been remote controlled Mario Kart cars, but never ones that interacted with an app on a video game console. This is such a neat idea! My only concern is that people are not going to have enough space to set up the racetracks. It looks like you have to use all four of the arches, which I know will not fit in the living room of my house. Also, all videos show it working on hardwood floors. I’m curious to see how it will respond on carpet. Nevertheless, I’m super excited for the people who can get it to work in their houses!

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between October 4th and October 10th.

Monday, October 5th

  • Danger Gazers- Switch
  • RIDE 4- PS4, Xbox One
  • Space Grunts- Switch

Tuesday, October 6th

  • 9th Dawn III: Shadow of Erthil- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders- Switch
  • Charterstone: Digital Edition- Switch
  • FIFA 21- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Foregone- PS4, Switch
  • From Orbit- Switch
  • Hidden Objects Collection- Switch
  • Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Wednesday, October 7th

  • Shmubedi Boo- Switch

Thursday, October 8th

  • Adventures of Chris- Switch
  • Aery: Sky Castle- Xbox One, Switch
  • Falcon Age- Switch
  • Filament- Switch
  • Flipon- Switch
  • Game Dev Tycoon- Switch
  • Ghost of a Tale- Switch
  • Home: Postmortem Edition- Switch
  • I am Dead- Switch
  • Ikenfell- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Mortal Blitz: Combat Arena- PS4
  • Neighbours Back From Hell- Switch
  • Puddle Knights- Switch
  • Skatemasta Tcheco- Switch
  • The Ramen Sensei- Switch
  • Tiki Brawl- Switch
  • Torn Tales: Rebound Edition- Switch
  • WarriOrb- Switch

Friday, October 9th

  • Ben 10: Power Trip- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Street Racer Underground- Switch
  • The Survivalists- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

There is a lot coming out this week, but again nothing too big. I’m giving my vote this week to Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 and hoping that they can right the wrong from the previous entry in the series. The first game in the series only had about 12-15 characters to choose from. This time there are 30 characters to race as and 70 that you can choose as your pit crew. This allows you to pick from 100 different Nickelodeon characters. With 28 different tracks, there are a lot of choices in this game! That is why my pick for this week will be Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix!

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between September 27th and October 3rd.

Monday, September 28th

  • Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love- PS4, Switch

Tuesday, September 29th

  • Alwa’s Legacy- Switch
  • Bacon Man: An Adventure- Switch
  • Projection: First Light- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Table Top Racing: Nitro Edition- Switch

Wednesday, September 30th

  • 3000th Duel: The Wise Ones- Switch
  • Commander ’85- Xbox One
  • Detective Case and Clown Bot in Murder in the Hotel Lisbon- Switch
  • Feather- Xbox One

Thursday, October 1st

  • Candy Raid: The Factory- Switch
  • Farm Builder- Switch
  • Hot Shot Burn- Switch
  • Liege Dragon- Switch
  • Nubarron: The Adventure of an Unlucky Gnome- Switch
  • Powertris- Switch
  • Smoots World Cup Tennis- Switch
  • Super Mario Bros. 35- Switch
  • Ys Origin- Switch

Friday, October 2nd

  • 103- Switch
  • Birthday of Midnight- Switch
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time- PS4, Xbox One
  • Dragon Lapis- Xbox One
  • Star Wars: Squadrons- PS4, Xbox One
  • Warsaw- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

For my pick this week, I have to go with Super Mario Bros. 35. This is a new battle royal type game where you play original Super Mario Brothers levels against 35 other opponents. Any enemy you defeat will be sent to the other players. The last one to survive wins! I am not a huge fan of battle royal type games. I’ve played Fortnight and Tetris 99, but neither of them could hold my attention for too long. But I do enjoy platforming games. I have been enjoying another battle royal game, Fall Guys. I love the Super Mario series and I cannot wait to put my skills to the test with other players!

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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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between September 20th and September 26th.

Tuesday, September 22

  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim- PS4
  • Tennis World Tour- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, September 23

  • CastleStorm II- Xbox One, Switch
  • Orbt XL- Switch
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure- Xbox One, Switch
  • Unrailed!- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Thursday, September 24

  • Alluris- Switch
  • Big Bobby-Car: The Big Race- Switch
  • Breakpoint-Switch
  • Going Under- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny- Switch
  • Little Big Workshop- Xbox One
  • Lost Ember- Switch
  • Micro Pico Racers- Switch
  • Rivals of Aether: Definitive Edition- Switch
  • Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition- Switch
  • Wartile- Switch

Friday, September 25

  • Port Royale 4- PS4, Xbox One
  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Guillermo Del Toro is best known for his not-so-family-friendly movies. He is the film maker of Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim. In 2016 it was a huge surprise when he announced that he was going to be making a children’s animated series. Thus, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia became a smash hit. It has gone on to have 3 seasons, and 2 spinoff series. Now, in 2020 you can play as Jim Lake Jr. and save the troll universe!

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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