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The holidays are coming up fast and if you’re like me, you still have no idea what to get your friends and family. Well, never fear, because I’ve put together the Official Engaged Family Gaming Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is packed full of video games that will make any gamer happy. Whether your loved one is a seasoned pro or just starting out in the gaming world, I’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let me help you find the perfect gift for the gamers in your life!

The EFG Holiday Gift Guide For Video Games

Below are recommendations for video games across all three major consoles.

Nintendo

Nintendo had a pretty good year this year. It started with Pokemon Arceus and then it kept going from there.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

If you’re looking for a Nintendo Switch game that the whole family can enjoy, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a great option. The game came out in 2022, and it’s already a hit with kids and adults alike. In the game, Kirby must save his home from an evil wizard who has cast a spell over the land. To do so, Kirby will need to use his special abilities to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. The vibrant colors and cute characters are sure to appeal to younger players, while older gamers will appreciate the challenging gameplay. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a Nintendo fan who is just getting started, Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a great choice.

You can buy Kirby the Forgotten Land on Amazon here.

Splatoon 3

Nintendo Switch gamers rejoice! The newest installment in the beloved Splatoon series is finally here. And it does not disappoint. Splatoon 3 takes everything that was great about the first two games and cranks it up to eleven. The colorful ink-splattering action is as frenetic and fun as ever, and the new maps and modes provide endless hours of entertainment. But Nintendo has also added some serious depth to the game this time around, with a robust single-player campaign and a host of new online features. In short, Splatoon 3 is the perfect Nintendo Switch game for kids of all ages. So break out your splatanas and get ready to have a blast.

You can buy Splatoon 3 on Amazon here.

Pokemon Scarlet/Violet

The newest addition to the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, are set to be released in 2022. These games will be the first open-world games in the history of the franchise, giving players a chance to explore the world of Pokemon like never before. In addition, Nintendo has announced that these games will be compatible with all current Switch models, as well as the new Switch Lite. So whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or just getting started, there’s a Nintendo Switch option for you. And with Nintendo’s commitment to quality family entertainment, you can be sure that these games will be fun for everyone. So mark your calendars for 2022 and get ready for a whole new world of Pokemon adventures!

You can buy Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet on Amazon here.

Nintendo Switch Sports

Nintendo Switch Sports is one of the latest releases for the Nintendo Switch. The game features six sports: Soccer, Volleyball, Bowling, Tennis, Badminton, and Chambara. Nintendo Switch Sports is a great game for kids because it helps them to stay active and have fun at the same time. The game is also easy to pick up and play, making it perfect for family gatherings or parties. Nintendo Switch Sports is a must-have for any Nintendo fan, and it’s sure to provide hours of fun.

You can buy Nintendo Switch Sports on Amazon here.

Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope

Nintendo has a long history of releasing games that are not only fun to play, but also full of charm and whimsy. Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope, is no exception. This game, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, follows the unlikely team-up of Nintendo’s iconic plumber and a band of mischievous rabbids as they try to save the Mushroom Kingdom from an invasion. It features enough humor and clever gameplay mechanics to entertain players of all ages. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or a Nintendo fan who is just getting started, Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope is definitely worth checking out.

You can buy Mario + Rabbids: Spark of Hope on Amazon here.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Nintendo Switch owners were in for a treat when, this past January, Pokemon Legends: Arceus was released. This new style of action-focused gameplay is a departure from the turn-based games of the main series, and is sure to be a hit with kids. So if you’re looking for a new adventure to take on with your Nintendo Switch, be sure to check out Pokemon Legends: Arceus. You won’t be disappointed.

You can buy Pokemon: Legends Arceus on Amazon here.

PlayStation

Sony-Playstation-logo

PlayStation started the year strong with Horizon: Forbidden West and and is going to finish the year with God of War: Ragnarok. That is a pretty impressive one two punch for gaming audiences in general, but leaves a little to be desired from our perspective. (God of War isn’t on anyone’s Family Game of the Year lists).

Horizon: Forbidden West

The long-awaited sequel to 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn, Forbidden West picks up Aloy’s story as she ventures into unknown territories to uncover the secrets of the machines and save the world from a new threat. The game is set in a beautiful open world full of exotic landscapes and deadly creatures, and it promises to be an amazing adventure for fans of the first game. Whether you’re playing on PS4 or PS5, Forbidden West is a must-play title that shouldn’t be missed.

You can buy Horizon: Forbidden West on Amazon here.

Gran Turismo 7

Do you like racing games? Do you like cars? Well, I’ve got some good news for you: Gran Turismo 7 was released for the PlayStation 5. 

If you’re not familiar with Gran Turismo, it’s a series of racing games that has been around since the early days of the PlayStation. The first game was released in 1997, and since then there have been six additional installments, with Gran Turismo 7 being the latest. The franchise is known for its realistic portrayal of car physics and for its large selection of vehicles – Gran Turismo 7 has over 1200 different cars to choose from!

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the series or you’re just looking for a new racing game to try out, I highly recommend giving Gran Turismo 7 a shot. It’s an absolute blast, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

You can buy Gran Turismo 7 on Amazon here.

LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga

This year has been a big one for LEGO fans, with the release of the long-awaited Skywalker Saga game. The game lets players relive all nine movies in the Skywalker saga, from The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker. With over 100 playable characters and plenty of humor, the game is a must-play for any LEGO fan. And with the release of the new Clone Wars DLC, there’s even more reason to dive in. If you’re looking for a fun way to relive the Skywalker saga, or just want a good laugh, LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga is the game for you.

You can buy LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga on Amazon here.

WWE 2K22

If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, then you were probably excited for the release of WWE 2K22. This year’s installment in the popular simulation wrestling series promises to be the most realistic yet, with updated graphics and game mechanics that make it feel more like you’re watching a real match than ever before. With so much to offer, WWE 2K22 is sure to be a hit with wrestling fans of all ages. So don’t wait any longer, grab a copy and get ready to rumble!

You can buy WWE 2K22 on Amazon here.

Marvel: Midnight Suns

Marvel: Midnight Suns is an excellent strategy video game developed by Firaxis studios. In this game, players take control of popular Marvel superheroes and team up to fight a demon army. The gameplay is exciting and fast-paced, and the graphics are stunning. Marvel: Midnight Suns is a must-play for any fan of the Marvel universe.

You can buy Marvel: Midnight Suns on Amazon here.

Xbox

Xbox is really interesting to talk about. All of their first party games come to Xbox Game Pass

LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga

This year has been a big one for LEGO fans, with the release of the long-awaited Skywalker Saga game. The game lets players relive all nine movies in the Skywalker saga, from The Phantom Menace to The Rise of Skywalker. With over 100 playable characters and plenty of humor, the game is a must-play for any LEGO fan. And with the release of the new Clone Wars DLC, there’s even more reason to dive in. If you’re looking for a fun way to relive the Skywalker saga, or just want a good laugh, LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga is the game for you.

You can buy LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga on Amazon here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection

If you’re looking for a blast from the past, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is the perfect way to relive your childhood. This collection of SNES, NES, Genesis and Game Boy games features the turtles in all their retro glory. From the original arcade game to the classic side-scrolling games, this collection has something for everyone. And best of all, it’s now available on modern consoles! So whether you’re looking to relive some childhood memories or just want to try something new, be sure to check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection.

You can buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection on Amazon here.

Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontiers is an open-world game that lets players explore a vast and beautiful world as they collect items, solve puzzles, and uncover secrets. Fans of the franchise are sure to be delighted by the new direction the series is taking. With an expansive open world to explore and tons of exciting content to discover, Sonic Frontiers is sure to be a favorite. 

You can buy Sonic Frontiers on Amazon here.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Marvel: Midnight Suns is an excellent strategy video game developed by Firaxis studios. In this game, players take control of popular Marvel superheroes and team up to fight a demon army. The gameplay is exciting and fast-paced, and the graphics are stunning. Marvel: Midnight Suns is a must-play for any fan of the Marvel universe.

You can buy Marvel’s Midnight Suns on Amazon here.

For the Grown-ups

Look. Adults play games too. Below are just a few games that are a great recommendations for grown up gamers looking for something a bit more Mature.

God of War: Ragnarok

The God of War series is one of the most popular video game franchises of all time. The original God of War was released in 2005 and was an instant classic, spawning multiple sequels over the next decade. The most recent entry in the series, God of War 2018, was a massive hit, selling over 10 million copies. Now, fans are eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series: God of War Ragnarok. Set to release on November 9th, 2022 for PS4and PS5, God of War Ragnarok is one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year. In this latest installment, players will once again take control of Kratos as he embarks on an epic quest to defeat the Norse gods. With stunning graphics, intense action, and a compelling story, God of War Ragnarok is sure to be another blockbuster hit for the franchise.

You can buy God of War Ragnarok on Amazon here.

Elden Ring

From Software, the makers of Elden Ring, have a history of creating amazing action RPGs. Their most recent game, Elden Ring, is no exception. It has quickly become one of the most popular games of the year. The game is set in a vast and beautiful open world, and the player takes on the role of a brave warrior who must save the kingdom from a powerful evil. The combat is fast-paced and intense, and the game features a unique magic system that allows players to cast spells in strategic ways. With its gorgeous graphics and captivating gameplay, Elden Ring is sure to be one of From Software’s most iconic games.

You can buy Elden Ring on Amazon here.


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

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

The EFG Essentials

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PlayStation Now has been retired. The benefits (most of them listed below) have been rolled into the newly updated PlayStation Plus service. Head over to our guide if you want to see what PlayStation is offering as part of its premium subscription service.

We’ll leave the content up for archival purposes though so people can see what PlayStation Now WAS.


It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to PlayStation Now!

The Pitch

PlayStation Now (PSNow) is a Netflix-esque streaming service for PlayStation 4 and PC. Subscribers have unlimited access to stream a collection of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 games over the internet on their PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, or PC.

How Does it Work?

Subscribers have access to the massive catalog of games for as long as their membership lasts. The majority of the games are streamed online like the shows we watch on Netflix or Disney +. There is a selection of around 300 games available for download through the service.

How Much Does it Cost?

PlayStation Now (PSNow) can be purchased in 12-month, 3-month, or 1-month increments.

12 Month Subscription – $99.99

3 Month Subscription – $44.99

1 Month Subscription – $19.99

Advice

Some of the value of PlayStation Now (PSNow) is dependent upon the strength of your internet connection. The games are streamed over the internet so they will run poorly if you can’t get a good enough connection. Sony customer support recommends that your internet service has a download speed of at least 5mbps (megabytes per second) to use the service. Tests performed by other sites like ArsTechnica have shown that it takes closer to 9 mbps to really take advantage of it.

There is a collection of games you can download. You can even play them in up to 4k resolution if you play it on your PS5 or PC.

Troubleshooting

Sony technical support has provided a few tips for folks who have the recommended download speed and are still experiencing issues with the service:

Use a Wired Connection

Many homes have their consoles hooked up to the internet via a wireless connection (wifi). This does hamper the quality of the connection between your PS4 and the modem. One way to correct this is by using an ethernet cable to connect your PS4 to the modem directly. This may not be possible for everyone, but it is at least worth mentioning.

Reduce the Number of Applications Using the Network

Your home network only has so much data that it can download from the internet at once. Applications that are sharing that download speed and can hinder each other’s performance. Its like traffic coming into your house. We’d get everywhere faster if we were the only car on the road.

Some applications you might consider shutting down are:

  • Streaming video applications (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube)
  • Cloud backup or sync applications (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud)
  • Content downloads (BitTorrent, software, games, movies, or music)
  • Video/audio communication apps (FaceTime, Skype)

Try Off-Peak Hours

Your download speed can also be hurt if you try to use a shared (or public) connection during the busiest hours of the day. Try using the service during off-peak hours like evenings and weekends so there may be fewer people using the service.

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 Access

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origin’s Access


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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Updated 08/14/2022

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Sony has released an upgrade to the PlayStation Plus program. The new version of the program offers a number of features and benefits that are sure to appeal to parents and gamers alike. In this article, we will discuss all the details of the new PlayStation Plus program so that you can decide if it is right for your family. We will cover topics such as price, content, and how the program works. So whether you are already a PlayStation Plus member or are just considering signing up, read on for all the information you need!

PS+ has been around since 2010. During that time it has delivered a ton of free games and discounts to subscribers.

The program has always been optional, but it was a requirement for anyone who wants to play online multiplayer games on their PlayStation console. The vast majority of PS+ members are happy with the service and don’t mind paying $60/year for it, but there are some that feel like they’re being forced into it. Forced or not… PS+ is a key part of the PlayStation ecosystem so you need to know how it works in order to make the most out of your console.

  • Classics Catalog
  • Game Trials
  • Cloud Streaming

PlayStation Plus is divided into three tiers: Essential, Extra, and Premium.

PlayStation Plus EssentialPlayStation Plus ExtraPlayStation Plus Premium
Monthly Games Monthly Games Monthly Games
Online Multiplayer Online Multiplayer Online Multiplayer
Exclusive Discounts Exclusive Discounts Exclusive Discounts
Exclusive Content Exclusive Content Exclusive Content
Cloud Storage Cloud Storage Cloud Storage
Share Play Share Play Share Play
PlayStation Plus Collection PlayStation Plus Collection PlayStation Plus Collection
Game Help Game Help Game Help
Game Catalog Game Catalog
Ubisoft Classics Ubisoft Classics
Classics Catalog
Game Trials
Cloud Streaming
This chart shows a quick view of the benefits of each tier.

PlayStation Plus Essential

“Enjoy all the core PlayStation Plus benefits: join your friends in online multiplayer, add new games to your collection every month, get incredible deals from PlayStation Store, and more.”

  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts

PlayStation Plus Essential also includes:

  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

PlayStation Plus Extra

“Get all the great benefits included in the PlayStation Plus Essential plan, as well as access to the Game Catalog, featuring hundreds of games from genre-defining blockbusters to innovative indies, with new titles added regularly.”

  • Game Catalog
  • Ubisoft+ Classics

PlayStation Plus Extra also includes:

  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

PlayStation Plus Premium

“Enjoy all the core PlayStation Plus benefits, hundreds of games in the Game Catalog, as well as exclusive benefits like game trials, cloud streaming, and the Classics Catalog.”

PlayStation Plus Premium also includes:

  • Game Catalog
  • Ubisoft+ Classics
  • Monthly Games
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • The PlayStation Plus Collection*
  • Share Play
  • Game Help*
  • Cloud Storage
  • Exclusive Content

How Much Does PlayStation Plus Cost?

1 Month3 Month12 Month
PlayStation Plus Essential$9.99$24.99$59.99
PlayStation Plus Extra$14.99$39.99$99.99
PlayStation Plus Premium$17.99$49.99$119.99
This table shows the subscription price for each tier of PlayStation Plus.

Advice

If you own a PlayStation 5 and want to play games online (with a few exceptions like Fortnite), then you’ll need to buy one of the plans to do so.

At that point, it is just a matter of choosing which of the three plans you want to buy into. The Essential plan works just like the PSPlus did at launch. It grants access to online play, discounts, two free games a month (determined by Sony), the PlayStation Plus Collection, and a few other minor benefits.

The Extra plan is an extra $5 a month (or $40/year). That extra cost gives you everything from the Essential package but includes access to a catalog of PS4 and PS5 games at no extra charge.

The Plus Premium plan is only a few dollars more a month and adds access to the classics catalog. This is a collection of older PlayStation titles like Dark Cloud and Ape Escape. This is a great move if you have nostalgia for these older PlayStation titles, but have gotten rid of your older PlayStation consoles.

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 Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now


The new PlayStation Plus program is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a gaming subscription service. With its low price and wealth of content, there is something for everyone in this program. Not to mention, the added features make it an even more appealing option for families. Be sure to check out all the details on Sony’s website so that you can decide if PlayStation Plus is right for you! And don’t forget to let us know what you think about the new program in the comments below.

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Update – 08/14/2022

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support to 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 for both the PS4 and PS5.  We have chosen at the moment to include both of these systems on to one list as there are currently very few PS5 exclusives at the moment and even fewer that would fall under the “Family Game” umbrella.

Minecraft

  • ESRB rating: E 10+
  • Survival
  • Also Available On PS4, Xbox One, and Everything that has an electronic signal

 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 kids’ 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.)

Marvel’s Spider-Man

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action-adventure
  • Exclusive

Spider-Man was our game of the year in 2018, and would easily hold its own against other games of the year that we’ve announced in the past. Insomniac Games was the perfect developer to bring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to life. They were able to capture the true essence of what makes Spider-Man a fun hero to watch and to play: the traversal.

Swinging around New York City looking for backpacks, finding crimes to fight, and battling with supervillains was a blast from the very first second until its emotional end.

Madden 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • PC, Xbox One

Madden 2021 is the singular NFL title for all your gaming needs. If you are looking for a high-quality football simulation with all the applicable NFL licenses this is going to be your go-to.

MLB The Show 21

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The exclusive Major League Baseball property across all platforms, MLB The Show 21 is an exceptional baseball simulation.  This year’s version brings two changes to the classic game. First, there is now a ballpark creator mode that allows you to custom-build your own ballpark to whatever specifications you desire.  Secondly and we believe more importantly this is the first time that this is not a Sony Exclusive and instead has been released on both the Playstation and Xbox platforms, allowing access to the game to a whole slew of players that could only look on from behind a Sony sized wall.

NBA 2K22

  • ESRB Rating E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5

Buy NBA 2K22 on Amazon.

The NBA 2K games are far and away the most consistent and best performing NBA property on the market today.  This is truly a basketball simulation that allows you to play as any of the current NBA teams, customize your own, or even play as some of the iconic teams of the past. 

WWE 2K22

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Genre: Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series

Buy WWE 2k22 on Amazon.

In WWE 2K22, you can take your dream of becoming a WWE superstar and make it a reality. With over 200 superstars from throughout WWE’s history to choose from, you and your family will enjoy laying the Smackdown on each other in a family-friendly way.

2K20 was remarkably bad. So bad in fact that they took a year off from publishing in order to refine the game engine. 2k22 is a return to form for the franchise.

This year’s entry gives you the chance to relive highlights from the brilliant career of Rey Mysterio Jr. Some of his biggest highlights are missing because the opponent isn’t in the game. But, it is a fun ride through history nonetheless.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Classic Mac OS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched 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 trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal.

The Messenger

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

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.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Platform Game

LittleBigPlanet gave the world a gift in Sackboy. Sony didn’t really have a mascot until he came along and he finally gets his own dedicated game in Sackboy: A Big Adventure.

Overwatch

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • First-person Shooter
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Overwatch is a great alternative for parents looking to let their kids play a multiplayer shooter. It features cartoonish graphics, a diverse cast of characters, and a number of game modes that keep things interesting. One of the things we love about Overwatch is that the cartoonish aesthetic helped keep the ESRB rating down, and makes this more of an Avengers-like experience than a Saving Private Ryan one.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

  • ESRB Rating:E 10+
  • Platform Game
  • PS5 exclusive

The sixth installment of the wildly successful Ratchet & Clank series, Rift Apart leverages the capabilities of the PS5 to provide exceptionally smooth gameplay and stunning visuals that were not possible on the previous versions of the Playstation.  This game stays true to the themes and style of the previous Ratchet and Clank installments; it introduces plenty of new twists and turns such as the “Rift Tether” that allows the player to instantly change worlds, and the introduction of Rivet, the first playable female character in the franchise.

Kingdom Hearts All-in-One

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On Xbox One

The Kingdom Hearts All-In-One package includes 10 different Kingdom Hearts experiences dating back to the PlayStation 2. This is an amazing value for Disney fans who are looking for an Action RPG series to sink their teeth into. Once you finish this amazing collection you can pick up Kingdom Hearts 3. 

Stardew Valley

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Simulation
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation Vita

Stardew Valley is a remarkable game. It is a farming and life simulator where you play as a younger person who inherits relatives 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. 

Final Fantasy XV

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One, Stadia

The Final Fantasy Series is a benchmark against which all role-playing games are weighted. Final Fantasy 15 is one of the best stand-alone role-playing games of the PS4/Xbox One era.  The Final Fantasy series incorporates fantasy and futuristic elements into a compelling story.  

Final Fantasy 15 is a coming-of-age story, as the young prince Noctis grows from a brash teen to an adult and wielder of magic powers. His journey is assisted by three friends that are as many mentors as they are friends, each with stories in their own right. 

With a steady, fast pace in mind, Final Fantasy 15 handles the action in the third person view. It has simple commands mapped to the controller ahead of time. Combat happens in real-time, players can choose to pause the action for an opportunity to plan and strategize which is an anchor point of the RPG experience. 

The Final Fantasy Series represents a collection of stories throughout gaming history. All of the games are great in their own right, and everyone has a favorite that can be endlessly argued

FIFA 2021

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia

Soccer (Football for our international readers) is the most popular sport on Earth. It stands to reason then that the digital version would be wildly successful as well. If your kids play soccer, then they likely have this game on their wish lists every year. I can’t say that I blame them. FIFA does amazing work each year in crafting as authentic and fun of an experience as they can.

Tetris Effect

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Puzzle
  • Also Available On PC, Oculus Quest

Just like the original Tetris, Tetris Effect requires you to place tiles in order to clear lines.  This update though adds themes and music through different levels based on the beat of the music.  It also adds a mechanic that allows you to place several blocks at once and a VR compatibility that varies greatly from your standard Tetris game.  This is a high-quality addition to one of the most popular gaming titles ever.

Horizon: Forbidden West

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Action Role-playing

Buy Horizon: Forbidden West on Amazon

Horizon: Forbidden West is an open-world action and adventure title that takes place in a land so far removed from a global catastrophe that civilization has reset again in the ruins of ancient cities. The game encompasses a rich story, beautiful landscapes, and great voice acting.  In addition, there is the thrill of hunting giant robot dinosaurs.

The Story of Horizon: Forbidden West continues the story of Aloy, a young woman raised as an outcast, and her struggles to navigate and explore the lands beyond her home. This time around she is recognized everywhere as a hero who has already saved the world. She has to face the ramifications of that newfound fame while trying to save everyone from a dangerous blight that threatens to choke out all life. This takes her to new regions and introduces her to new tools, new people, and new robot beasts to fight.

Rocket League

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, macOS, Linux

Rocket League is, quite literally, soccer as played by rocket-powered vehicles. It launched 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 trach crashing into a massive steel ball and trying to score a goal. 

Hollow Knight

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Platform Game/Metroidvania
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Linux

Hollow Knight is an independently developed action game that blends the best of Castlevania and Dark Souls into a beautiful and family-friendly title. You take on the role of a wanderer who is brought to the entrance of The Hollowness from unknown circumstances. 

The Hollowness is an interconnected dungeon with multiple entrances and exits to each beautifully crafted zone. Every part of the Hollowness is built to be both journey and destination, with levers and gates revealing backtracking paths to the surface, and many difficult challenges focusing on platform-based movement and fair, but brutal combat. 

Hollow Knight is built to unfold by itself in a very organic path. Exploration and curiosity open up alternate paths and entire sections of the world. Your skills and the story are shown rather than told and are left for you to discover through environment and inference rather than straight and simple exposition.

LEGO Games

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Action Adventure
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS

From Harry Potter and Star Wars to Marvel and DC, LEGO has consistently captured the imagination of kids 0-99.  That they have somehow managed to consistently do this with their video games titles is somewhat remarkable.  Most of their games follow the same basic format of providing you with familiar characters to interact with your environment while collecting blocks either by battling enemies or destroying objects in the world around you.  This has proved a winning formula time and time again and has provided tens of thousands of hours of entertainment to its fans.

Plants vs Zombies: Neighborville

  • ESRB Rating: E 10+
  • Tower Defense
  • Also Available On PC, Xbox One

Parents regularly approach the EFG team looking for alternatives to more violent M-rated shooters on the market. We regularly suggest the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series. This is the latest entry to the series, but any of them are worthy additions to your collection. 

Everything about this game is all bright colors and goofy characters.  There is even a Disco Zombie character! 

Everybody’s Golf

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Sports Game
  • Exclusive

The latest installment in the series “formerly known as Hot Shots Golf” was published specifically for Sony platforms.  Everybody’s Golf is a cartoony arcade-style golf game that allows for single-player or online multiplayer gameplay.  The gameplay is refreshing and simple allowing for easier accessibility to players of all ages. In keeping with the theme, Sony has also decided that if you need a break you can feel free to drive your golf cart anywhere you like.  This is typically frowned upon by the “establishment” for those that would like to know and infinitely entertaining.  Go out, play golf with everybody, and have a great time.

Journey

  • ESRB Rating: E
  • Adventure Art Game
  • Also Available On: Playstation 3, PC, iOS
Journey Video Game Review - Video Game Review of Journey on ...
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Journey is one of the best games to come out in the last decade. It is a relatively short experience where you guide a cloaked wanderer through a desert, but the way that this game handles multiplayer will take your breath away. 

No Man’s Sky: Beyond

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Survival
  • Also Available On: PC, Xbox One

No Man’s Sky was released in 2016 and wasn’t very well received. However, Hello Games has been releasing regular, free updates since its launch. It is almost unrecognizable from its original form now. It still has the exploration mode, but it has base building, a creative mode, multiplayer, and more!

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age

  • ESRB Rating: T
  • Role-playing
  • Also Available On PC, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS

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 essential 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 1980s. That following was earned by creating a game that was as much a storybook as it was a turn-based game.

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 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 4/10/2022.


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!

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The PlayStation 5 is still incredibly difficult to find as a result of shortages. This shortage is likely to continue well past the holiday season. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any available though. Start looking early if that is on your family’s wish list. 

The good news is that the PlayStation 4 should be readily available and still has life left in it for families who don’t have a console yet. Noteworthy titles you’ll want to find on deep discounts for the PS4 are Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete Edition, and the Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Collection. 

Below is a list of games that are great gift ideas for PS5 owners. 

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

Buy here!

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is on my shortlist for the game of the year 2021. It is just that good. This is a new game in the franchise that has been built from the ground up to take advantage of the PS5 technology. The levels are designed in such a way that you use rifts to travel through completely different spaces within levels with no load times. It is wild to experience all the different ways that Insomniac takes advantage of the tech. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Buy here!

Kena punches way above its weight class. It is a budget title that has gorgeous graphics. It looks and plays like it was made by one of Sony’s high-profile studios. But, it is actually the first game from a company known for fan animations. This is another game in contention for game of the year and it will likely be on our PS5 essentials list for a very long time. 

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Lots of games have tried to clone Super Smash Brothers to find success. But, we haven’t seen anything like All-Star Brawl before. Game Mill Entertainment has combined the deep roster of Nickelodeon licenses like Spongebob, Avatar, and Ninja Turtles with retro gameplay that is reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. Melee. 

This is also as close to the original as one can get without owning a Nintendo Switch and actually buying Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 

Everyone of a certain age will have memories of playing Tony Hawk on their PS1 in their dorm room. (Ok. Might just be me.) This is a well-done remaster of the first two games of the series. It is gorgeously remade and includes some quality of life improvements that will help us share the game with our kids as we remember it (as opposed to how it actually was). 

PlayStation Plus/PS Now

Buy here!

Look. The reality of our situation this year is that it might be tough to find games in boxes to wrap up and put under the tree. Gift cards for PlayStation Plus and PS Now should be readily available though. These are “practical” gifts (or at least as practical as anything game-related could be). But, they will be appreciated nonetheless. 

Essential PS5 Games

If you are looking for more recommendations than what we list here, then check out our PS5 essentials list.

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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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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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!

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The traditional WWE 2K series may be taking a break this year, but all is not lost in video game land for wrestling fans. WWE 2K Battlegrounds by Saber interactive is an arcade-style party fighting game. In short, its more Super Smash Bros. than Street Fighter V.

It will be released on September 18th for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Pre-orders are available right now (and include Edge).

2K was gracious enough to give team EFG a chance to play an early build of the game so we could have a turn with the insane multiplayer action.

The Family That Brawls Together…

Anyone looking for a complex, technical fighting experience should probably look elsewhere. Battlegrounds is designed from the top down to simplify the fighting experience as much as possible. All of your attacks, throws, and special moves can be completed with a handful of button presses. This is perfect considering the game’s casual focus.

We had four players in our demo of varying skill levels and all of us felt competitive in the matches we played. It took almost no time to pick up the controls and rain down havoc on each other. It was glorious.

Let’s Get Bananas

I’ve played a lot of wrestling games in my time, and all of my favorites have been the games that lean into the absurdity of WWE programming. I knew that this was going to be a good fit as soon as my sun button-mashed and inadvertently tossed me into an alligator’s snapping jaws.

Every match we played included at least one improbably insane moment. My wife played as the Rock (because OF COURSE she did) and threw me under a car that had been lifted, only to knock it down on my Xavier Woods. I was also reminded that Stephanie McMahon uses the Pedigree as her finisher when she caught me on fire while using it.

The final version of the game will include both more crazy levels and more superstars so I’m certain that the madness doesn’t stop here (and we can’t wait).

Game Modes

The full game will be loaded with different game modes, but our preview included two of them. We got a chance to play the Fatal Four Way and the 2v2 Cage Match.

Our favorite between the two of them was the Fatal Four Way. It was partially because of the wild shenanigans that we could all pull while fighting three different players.

The cage match was a bit of a different story. In “real” WWE a cage match awards the victory to whoever climbs out of the cage first. That wouldn’t make sense in a non-scripted competition. Saber Interactive makes up for that by having you try to fill up a “money” meter to earn your way out of the ring. We struggled because of the need to escape. It disincentivizes fighting. and forces us to try and escape combat whenever possible (which is complicated in a game without a ton of movement options inside the cage).

Our Not-So-Final Final Conclusions

We haven’t played anywhere near enough of the game to review it. But, we have played enough that we think there is something here. WWE fans that love to laugh while they throw their friends around a digital ring will definitely want to keep an eye on this one.

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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