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We’ve been waiting a long time for a proper Nintendo Direct. It looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer, but we DID get a big news drop with the release of a Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct. It was 16 minutes long and was loaded with Super Mario Bros. news.

The Video

The Video Games

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

This was the biggest announcement from the direct. It isn’t perfect, but its a great package that includes Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy (just the first one). It will only be available for a handful of months so you’ll want to make sure you pick it up.

Optimized versions of 3D Mario games Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy are coming to Nintendo Switch in one package. In addition to having higher resolutions than their original versions, the games have been optimized for a smooth gameplay experience on Nintendo Switch. Super Mario 3D All-Stars also includes an in-game music-player mode to play the music and songs from all three games. Players can also listen to music on their Nintendo Switch systems when the screen is off. A limited production of Super Mario 3D All-Stars launches exclusively for the Nintendo Switch family of systems on Sept. 18 and will be available until approximately March 31, 2021.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

I have no idea how to feel about this. I think it looks amazing. This is the evolution of the toys-to-life genre that we needed. But, I’m not sure how well it will work. This is a remote controlled car that you control with your Switch. You can theoretically build tracks and race Koopa kids on those tracks. It all sounds amazing, but I’m going to need to see this in person before I’m sold.

Created in partnership with Velan Studios, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit brings the fun of the Mario Kart series into the real world by using a Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite** system to race against opponents using a physical Kart. The physical Kart responds to boosts in-game and in the real world, stops when hit with an item and can be affected in different ways depending on the race. Players place gates to create a custom course layout in their home, where the only limit is their imagination. Race against Koopalings in Grand Prix, unlock a variety of course customizations and costumes for Mario or Luigi, and play with up to four players in local multiplayer mode.*** Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, which is available in a Mario Set or Luigi Set, launches on Oct. 16 at a suggested retail price of $99.99.

Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

This is cute. It’s a handheld device that includes, essentially, a new version of Super Mario Bros. There are 35 easter eggs and tweaks added to the game. I don’t think this will be worth the $49.99 for anyone but the most hardcore collectors, but this is neat to look at.

This new collectible device is inspired by the original Game & Watch systems first released in 1980. The original handheld device included a game, and could also be used as a watch to tell time. The original Game & Watch series sold more than 43 million worldwide. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. features a modern +Control Pad. In addition to playing classic games Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (released in Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2) and a special version of Ball with a Mario makeover, Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. also functions as a clock, with 35 little touches to discover, including some guest appearances from Mario’s friends and foes. Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. launches on Nov. 13 at a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

Super Mario 3D World has been overlooked for years because it came out for a console that no one owned (The Wii U). I’ve been waiting for a port since the Switch launched because it could breathe new life into it. You don’t want to sleep on this game. It is an amazing 3d platformer and a great party game. Our kids spent a lot of time playing it on the Wii U and we’re excited to give it another go with new content.

Multiplayer mayhem pounces onto Nintendo Switch! This enhanced of Super Mario 3D World, which originally launched for the Wii U system, features co-op gameplay both online* and through local multiplayer in a variety of creative levels. Additional details about what new things this game has to offer will be revealed later. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury launches for Nintendo Switch on Feb. 12, 2021. New amiibo figures Cat Mario and Cat Peach will also be released at the same time as the game.

Super Mario Bros. 35

Tetris 99 is one of my favorite games of the last few years. I never thought I would be a battle royale fan, but it turns out that I am a sucker for a unique way of applying the genre. Nintendo is releasing another battle royale version of an NES classic on October 1st with Super Mario Bros. 35. Players will play levels that START like they are from Super Mario Bros. on the NES against 34 other players. Defeating enemies sends them to your opponent’s screens. Racing through levels increases your chances of winning. This sounds like it is going to be glorious chaos. The only potential downside is that this is going to be a limited experience. The game will be going away on March 31, 2021.

Welcome to Super Mario Bros. … with 35 players! In this competitive online battle game, 35 players will compete to be the last Mario standing … or running. Enemies defeated will be sent to other players’ courses, but that also works the other way around! Players can activate special items to try and outpace their opponents. Super Mario Bros. 35 launches on Oct. 1 as a digital-only game exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online members.* The game will be playable until March 31, 2021.

Super Mario All-Stars

This is one of the best collections of games ever made. Its certainly the best SNES cartridge ever released. Bringing it to the Switch Online games list is pretty great idea. Its already available to subscribers so go… drop what you’re doing and play!

The classic Super NES game that includes upgraded versions of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 with enhanced 16-bit graphics is joining the catalog of games available with Nintendo Switch Online … later today!*

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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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 Brothers 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.

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 Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

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

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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It is no surprise that Nintendo has been very successful with its handheld and console hybrid, the Nintendo Switch. In 3 years, the Nintendo Switch has sold almost sixty million units. That puts it as Nintendo’s 7th best-selling console and 3rd best-selling home console when handhelds are taken out of the equation. With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X come out at the end of this year, people are wondering where that leaves the Nintendo Switch. Will it be left in the dust of these better performing, higher operating systems? Or, will it continue to be the juggernaut that it is. Even though we are quite a few years away from the next Nintendo console being released, here are some ideas I want Nintendo to consider for the Switch or whatever the next console will be.

1. It Still Needs to be a Hybrid Between Handheld and Console

            One of the biggest selling points of the Nintendo Switch is that it can be played on a television like any other console, or you can play it as a handheld system. I believe that whatever system Nintendo comes up with in the future must still have this feature. Nintendo’s next console will not be as successful without this feature. I also do not think it will be called the Switch 2. Nintendo has a habit of giving their consoles unique names. The one time they tried to keep the same naming convention for a console (Wii U) it was a complete failure and is the lowest selling Nintendo console of all time.  If Nintendo’s next console does not “switch” between handheld and television play, it will be a huge step back for Nintendo.

2. Better Online Infrastructure

            It is no surprise that Nintendo’s online infrastructure is severely lacking. In even some of the simplest games that do not require a lot of extensive action, Nintendo games will still stutter along and dip in framerates. It does not bode well when EVO, one of the largest game tournaments in the world, cancelled the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate tournament because it could not reliably run on Nintendo’s online system. If Nintendo wants to compete against these more powerful systems, it needs to be able to take its games online with better quality and not have all of these hurdles that need to be jumped over. The next Nintendo console needs to allow headset to be used through the controller so that you can talk to your friends while you are playing. It should not require the use of a separate app as a means to talk to each other while playing a game.

            Nintendo also needs to not have as many restrictions on their online play. Allow more than one island in Animal Crossing or allow my friends to be able to send more than 3 gifts to me during a day. Also, if my friends and I want to play some Super Smash Brothers online, allow us to put in a couple of computers so we can have a full four-person game going. It was really surprising when Super Mario Maker 2 came out and Nintendo’s original plan involved not being able to play online with your friends. I also do not understand why we still cannot play games like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe online and can only play them locally.

3. Bring Back the Virtual Console

            When the virtual console debuted with the Nintendo Wii, it was a gamechanger for Nintendo consoles at the time. Finally, we would get the chance to play these legacy titles without having to hook up an older system. They were also fairly inexpensive to buy through the Wii’s online store. Most first party games were released through this system and even involved other systems such as the Sega Genesis, Turbografx 16, and Commodore 64. They then proceeded to release the virtual console on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. For some reason, this all stopped with the Nintendo Switch. They do have the NES and SNES Online, but you must have Nintendo Switch Online in order to play these games. You must also be able to connect to an internet connection every 7 days to continue to use them. The virtual console would give Nintendo the chance to sell the games separately without an online subscription. This would be hard to implement on the Switch currently because a lot of companies went and made their own collections of their games.

4. Achievement/Trophy System

Credit: www.playstationlifestyle.net

            It still amazes me that Nintendo has not implemented an achievement or trophy system into any of their consoles. Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam all of trophies or achievements built into their games and I believe that adds a lot of replay value. Most first party Nintendo games will have some sort of achievements already inserted into the game, so why not just add the format into the system as the whole. If a game is a multiplatform game, they already have to come up with trophies and achievements for the other systems and Nintendo already implements them into most of their games, it would not take a lot of work to add them in to whatever Nintendo is planning to do next. I am a huge fan of achievements in games. Whenever the sound or graphic goes across the screen, it gives me the feeling that I accomplished something, and I have to immediately go and check what I achieved.

5. More Perks for Their Online Service

This reasoning coincides perfectly with a better online infrastructure. Currently, you pay $20 to be able to utilize the Nintendo Switch online and their library of NES and SNES games, but it could be so much more. I would love for Nintendo to allow a free game every month like PS Plus or Xbox Games with Gold. The NES and SNES games are great, but I think it overwhelms people when they see how many games there are. If they could tie this in with a possible virtual console so that the developers and publishers get some amount of compensation, it could be a huge success. I doubt that we would ever see Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI on their library of NES and SNES online games. Square Enix may find it more enticing to allow people who join for that month to be able to play the game that is being given away. If Nintendo took the same approach as PlayStation and Xbox, they could easily charge $60 like their competitors. The only problem would be improving their online and adding these perks.

These are just a few of the perks I would like to see added to Nintendo’s next system or even implemented into the Switch’s future. I do not think the Nintendo Switch will struggle with the competition coming out with their more powerful machines. It will continue to be successful due to its portability and unique characters that only Nintendo can bring.


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

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the biggest games of the year. LOTS of families are picking it up and it can be hard to figure out what to do next sometimes. The EFG staff has pooled our collective knowledge and put together a list of tips for new players. Take a look below (and comment if you think we should include something)!

You can also check out our multiplayer explanation and a story about sharing an island.

The Basics

  • Weeds grow on your island every morning. It can be tedious, but make sure that you pick them every day. They can be used for lots of useful things like:
    • Hay beds. 20 Clumps of weeds = one Hay bed that you can sell for 400 bells. 
    • Medicine (Weeds and a Wasp Nest)
    • Various crafting recipes
  • You can shake trees and gather the fruit that drops. You can then sell that fruit to Timmy and Tommy. Be aware that sometimes shaking trees will drop a beehive or a wasp nest. Be ready to run away (or catch them with a new!)
  • Make sure to go to the beach every day to gather shells and bottles. You can sell the shells to Timmy and Tommy. The bottles contain DIY recipes. 
  • More resource gathering becomes available after you craft your tools.  You can use your net to catch bugs, your fishing pole to catch fish, and your shovel to hit rocks and to dig up fossils. 
  • Make sure you are grabbing branches when you see them. They are very important for making simple tools (and replacing broken ones). All of your simple tools aside from the vaulting pole and ladder will break over time.  
  • Make sure you are grabbing branches when you see them. They are very important for making simple tools (and replacing broken ones). All of your simple tools aside from the vaulting pole and ladder will break over time.  
  • Try to make one of every recipe you have access to. This will help complete Nook Miles tickets. 
  • The first thing to spend your Nook Miles on is your initial home/tent loan. After that you should target increased inventory space. Having more room in your bags will make almost every part of Animal Crossing better/easier. 
  • You can hit rocks with an axe or a shovel. Hitting rocks will give you clay, iron nuggets, and sometimes gold. There is even a rock on the island every day that will give you bells. If you dig holes behind you when you hit the rocks, then you won’t be knocked back and it will help you get the resources faster. Nuggets and clay are important to craft DIY items and advanced tools.

Advanced Tips


  • Visit your friends and have them visit you! This is a great way to share resources and earn Nook Miles and bells. 
  • The first “loan” you have to pay off in Animal Crossing is paid back in Nook Miles. This forces you to participate in a wide range of different activities. You need to earn 5000 Nook Miles to pay it off the first time. After that the loans will be paid in bells (like in previous games). 
  • You unlock “Nook Miles+” after you pay off your first loan.  These are relatively small tasks/challengers compared to regular Nook Miles challenges. They are replaced upon completion so you can grind them for rewards if you need to. They also give you some sense of direction when you are overwhelmed with different activities. 
  • Talk to EVERYONE. Talking to your villagers every day will help you earn NOOK miles over time. They may even give you items like DIY recipes, clothing, or decorations. 
  • Visit the NOOK ATM every day.  Visiting the NOOK ATM every day will help you earn NOOK miles over time. 

Tips for Remote Island Tours


  • Prepare yourself before you go to a remote island using a Nook Ticket. Be sure to empty your inventory except for:
    • Vaulting pole
    • Shovel
    • Net
    • Fishing pole
    • Axe
  • Remote islands don’t belong to other players so it is alright to take all of the resources. So make sure you take everything that you can to make the most of your Nook Ticket (They’re expensive). You will also NEVER return to the same island twice. 
  • Keep in mind that you can craft replacement items for flimsy tools you break. 
  • If the remote island has trees that you do not have, then eat the fruit you have found on the island and use your shovel to dig the tree up. You can then plant that tree on your island. This will help you earn bells and Nook Miles.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know if we missed anything!

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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Animal Crossing New Horizons was released on March 20 2020, and it was perfect timing with all of the stuff going on. I have played many, many hours and so have my brother and sister. Here is my opinion: The game is really good. The graphics are great, the gameplay loop is fun, and honestly we all need an escape from the real world. Animal Crossing provides that. 

The game is simple: you move to a deserted island with two other animals and you live together. You decorate your home and the island with cosmetic items that you craft with the resources that regenerate daily. 

While doing that you also pay off your debt to Tom Nook, expand your home, and just live a happy life with your neighbors. That is literally the game. 

Now.. that sounds like it would get boring, but the game has this nifty feature that gives you what are, essentially, quests to do that make it so you keep playing.  They aren’t lame either. They feel rewarding to do. 

It rewards you for picking the weeds and gathering materials.  There is a rock that literally gives you money somewhere on your island! Why wouldn’t you want to play every day. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons encourages appointment gaming, where you stop by once a day to gather resources and check the shop. It rewards you for picking the weeds and gathering materials every day.  There is even a rock that literally GIVES you money somewhere on your island every day. Why wouldn’t you want to come back? 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons also has a multiplayer mode where you visit your friends islands and they visit yours. This experience is honestly one of my favorite parts. I love going to my brother and sister’s islands and helping them make money or sharing cool new crafting recipes.

Can a kid play it? 

Yes most definitely. The game is simple, there are no moments that are difficult, there are no complicated button presses to pull off a jump and or anything like that. You just walk around, pick things up, and sell them. 

There is a little reading involved, but if they are not able to read then the parts of the game that they will be playing, running around the island and picking stuff up, don’t involve reading.

Should a kid play it? 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB.

This is a simulation game in which players explore a deserted island, interact with animals, and engage in various activities (e.g., fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting). Some bugs can sting players, causing them to become dizzy and collapse. Players can bonk characters on the head and/or push them into holes. One character is seen with mucus dripping from his nose; the dialogue also contains comical references (e.g., “Whoever smelt it dealt it.”).

ESRB.com

Should you buy it? 

Yes and no. It depends on your family. 

If you are an adult buying the game for yourself and a young child then yes! This is a great game to share! You should make sure that the adult (or whoever is most game savvy) boots the game up first though. This way they become the main player on the island and aren’t held back by the other player. 

If you live in a household with more than one Switch, then we definitely recommend buying a copy for each Switch. Each Switch will have separate islands and there will be no issues sharing resources. The different players in the house will be able to play multiplayer together. 

However, if you are buying the game for two kids that are around the same age and gaming ability who also share a Switch, then you may want to think about it. Each Switch only has one island, and this can lead to frustration. The first person to play the game and name the island is the Island Representative, and is the only person who can do some of the quests and activities. You’ll definitely want to have a plan for how they will share the island. 

Conclusion

All in all Animal Crossing: New Horizons is amazing. Anyone can play it, there is no inappropriate content, and the game is just fun. Even though there are some issues with players who join after the game has started being able to make decisions about the island and all that, the game is great!


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

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Check out our review here!) released on March, 20, 2020. One of the features that players are bound to be excited about is the multiplayer. There is just something about teaming up with your your friends and running around a village in Animal Crossing and it looks like New Horizons is going to give players some great options.

There are two different ways to play with other people. Take a look below to see how they work.

One Switch

Each Nintendo Switch can have a single Animal Crossing: New Horizons deserted island. Each account can have a different island resident with their own home. Up to four of those players can play on the island simultaneously (with separate joy-cons and controllers) using the local multiplayer option.

This is accomplished by one of the players starting Animal Crossing, accessing their NookPhone (Using the ZL button) and “calling” the other players who live on the island using the “Call Islander” app.

The player who does the calling is the Leader and everyone else is a follower. The leader controls the camera, and can access menus while the followers have to stay on the same screen as the leader. Likewise, the leader is the only one who can access their pockets. Followers can catch fish, bugs, fruit, and wood but those items end up in the recycle bin near the Resident Services building to retrieve later.

This seems limiting, but it is very easy to change who the leader is using the NookPhone menus.

Up to Eight Switches

Up to eight people can play Animal Crossing: New Horizons using separate Switches. This can be done locally using the Local Play options or Online.

Players access this option by visiting their deserted island’s airport and talking to the Dodo bird. He will give you multiple options for opening up your island to visitors.

All my friends!

If you select the “All My Friends” option, then anyone that you are friends with on the Nintendo Switch that also has a Nintendo Switch online membership will be able to visit your town.

Only my Best Friends

You can designate visiting players as Best Friends using the Best Friends app on your in game Nook Phone. If they are Best Friends, then they CAN use tools like axes and shovels. Be sure to explain this difference to your kids to avoid trolling or innocent accidents.

Once you have people on your Best Friends list you can choose the “Only My Best Friends” option which limits the people who can come to your island to just Best Friends.

Invite via Dodo Code!

The Dodo Code is essentially a password that you set up to let people enter your game that you might not already be friends with on Switch. Anyone who has the Dodo Code can enter the island so you definitely want to make sure that your kids only use it sparingly.

Why Play Online With Other People Anyway?

At first glance, Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn’t look like an online game. You’re just a cute little person running around a deserted island. But, its definitely not intended to be a purely solo experience.

Playing with other people is helpful for a few reasons beyond just being social and seeing other people’s creations.

  • You and other players can trade decorations, tools, resources, and fruit
  • Each fruit that you plant on your island will help you complete a Nook Miles ticket.

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

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Nintendo released an Indie Showcase video today. It lasted around 20 minutes, but was FULL of great game announcements. I had a lot of fun watching it, but I grew more and more excited with each passing announcement as the number of family friendly games that were announced grew. Take a look below for a list of the highlights (and buckle in, because there were a BUNCH of them).

Baldo – Summer 2020

If you had told me a year ago that I would see a game get announced that combines Legend of Zelda and Studio Ghibli-esque animation I would have told you that you were crazy. Baldo (not to be confused with Balto. That one is about a dog) is an open world action adventure RPG that looks like it will be a wonder to behold. The colors are bright. The action looks sharp. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

B.ARK Bio-Interstellar Ark – Late 2020

B.Ark is pretty much made for us. It is an adorable couch co-op game where you play as adorable animals piloting cute spacecraft while battling aliens.

Play as Barker, a loveable and friendly pug who heals his friends and turns his enemies into frenemies! Or Felicity, a fierce leader who’s cat rage can really boost her firepower. There’s also Walker, the Bear with a protective spirit and Marv, the speedy rabbit that can zip around in his enemies with ease! Choose your fighter’s wisely, as different tactics can help your odds against the evils that await!

https://www.tictocgames.com/

Look at me with a straight face and tell me that doesn’t sound awesome?

Summer in Mara – Spring 2020

I love farming games and Summer in Mara looks like its going to be a great one! It features all of the farming, crafting, and ranching that we have come to expect. But, it also includes underwater exploration, light seafaring, and the ability to explore a large city nearby.

I had seen this game before in Facebook advertisements, but this was the first time I was able to see some of the colorful characters (many of whom are anthropomorphic animals). This one is coming soon and I cannot WAIT to give it a try.

The Last Campfire

The Last Campfire is a 3d adventure game being designed by a small team within Hello Games, the people beyond No Man’s Sky. We don’t know all the details, but after watching this trailer I desperately want to help these little pillow people.

Wingspan

Wingspan, from Stonemaier Games, has been a massive hit in the board game world. Each of its print runs has quickly sold out as soon as it hit North American shores. And now? A digital version of the bird watching engine builder is on the way to the Nintendo Switch. They didn’t give us a release date (or a release window for that matter), but the fact that it was announced is good enough for me. I love that game so I can’t wait to get my hands on it for my Switch!


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

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Nintendo has done it again. They have iterated on one of their devices and created confusion among parents. We’re going to break down the differences and similarities between the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite. 

The Games

We’ll start with the most significant point. There are no games that are exclusive to either the original Switch or the Switch Lite. You don’t have to scrutinize labels on this one. They all work. 

The Dock

The biggest selling feature for the Nintendo Switch at launch was the docking technology. Each Switch that was sold included a dock that you could use to have the Switch… well… switch from handheld console (like the 3DS) to a home console (like the PS4).

The Nintendo Switch Lite does not include a dock, and, in fact, it can’t be connected to a television at all. It is a handheld only console. That does mean that it is less flexible that the original Switch. 

The Controllers

The original Switch came with a pair of Joy-Con controllers. They can be removed from the sides of the Switch and used as a pair of controllers or combined with a Joy-Con grip into a single controller. 

The Switch Lite is an all in one device. There are no detachable controllers. Instead, they are permanently built into the side of the machine. The Lite is compatible with devices like the Switch Pro controller in the event that you wanted to use them. This is key for games like 1, 2, Switch (a party game). 

Size

The original Switch is a larger device than the Switch Lite. It measures in at 4 inches tall and 9.4 inches long. It also has a 6.2-inch screen. The Lite, on the other hand, is 3.6 inches tall and 8.2 inches long. 

The numbers don’t paint the full picture regarding the size comparison though. The Switch Lite is also significantly lighter.

The Cost

The original Nintendo Switch costs $299.99 and includes a dock, 2 Joy-Cons, and a Joy-Con Grip. 

The Nintendo Switch Life, on the other hand, will set you back $199.99.

Which one should I buy?

This is a tough decision, but it is ultimately going to come down to how you imagine your family using it.

If you don’t think that there will ever be a circumstance where you will want to put the Switch in a dock and play the games on the TV, then the original Switch is likely overkill. There is no reason to spend an additional $100 for a fancy charging dock for your Switch.

However, if you think that the opposite is true, even to a relatively small degree, then you will need to determine if it is worth that additional $100 charge for the ability to use it on the TV.

What do you think? Which would you want to buy? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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

The Pitch

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

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

How Does it Work? 

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

The service includes: 

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

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

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

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

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

How Much Does it Cost?

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

Annual Subscription: $19.99

3 Month Subscription: $7.99

1 Month Subscription: $3.99

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

Advice

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

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

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origins Access

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

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

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Dragon Quest Builders was a title that first came across our radar as a humble PS4 title with big ambitions. The game utilizes the beautiful art style of Akira Toriyama (Of Dragon Quest, Dragon Ball, and Chrono Trigger fame), blending it with Minecraft style construction and level design, on top of Dragon Quest RPG. The sequel was debuted at Square Enix’s E3 2019 presentation and seeks to top even those lofty goals. Dragon Quest as a series has always been a mainstay in the RPG genre, being one of the few games with a lineage going all the way back to the original NES.


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.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is slated to be released on all major platforms on July 12th to both the PS4 and the Switch. It is built for a very specific audience in mind, but for that audience, this looks to be a stellar experience.

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

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