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aIf your kids play video games, then chances are very good that they have at least asked you to play a game online. Online games like Fortnite and Call of Duty are HUGE. The entire video game industry has slowly been shifting its focus towards multiplayer-centric video games. No matter how much you want to avoid it, your kids will inevitably end up in a competitive online game. 

We have to prepare our kids for these competitive environments the same way we prepare them for the little league field. These online spaces are no less real than playgrounds and playing fields. 

The online gaming landscape is pretty toxic right now. So many players exhibit poor sportsmanship and lash out at other players when even the slightest thing goes wrong. It has gotten to the point where many players (myself included) won’t use voice chat unless playing with a group of people they have known for a long time. 

We would never accept a situation like that on the ball field. Could you imagine a team full of kids that talks so much trash that three quarters of the team wore ear plugs? How would they even play?

Here are some actionable steps to help your kids treat the playground and the online lobby with the same amount of respect (and make the play experience better for everyone involved). 

  • Talk to your kids about digital sportsmanship. This is the first step for everything. Let them know that you are aware of the spaces they play in. Encourage them to exhibit good sportsmanship and to avoid mirroring other players’ bad behaviors. 
  • Be present. A lot of these bad behaviors are practiced by kids who are playing their games in private spaces. You can combat this by moving gaming spaces into the shared parts in your home, or joining them to watch (and listen) to them play. 
  • Speak up! If you hear your child saying something inappropriate during a gaming session (or even ABOUT a gaming session), then you have to speak up immediately. Let them know that what they said was wrong or hurtful and why. 
  • Draw the connection. A lot of kids don’t see digital gaming spaces the same as real ones. They don’t see the need to use similar behaviors. It’s up to us as parents to help make that connection for them. 

Do you and your family have any experience with online gaming? How do you help keep your kids from exhibiting (or experiencing) bad behavior online? Let me know in the comments!


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 July 5th and July 11th.

Sunday, July 5th

  • Overcooked 2: Suns out Buns Out DLC- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Monday, July 6th

  • Gerty- Switch

Tuesday, July 7th

  • NASCAR Heat 5- PS4, Xbox One
  • Superliminal- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Thursday, July 9th

  • CrossCode- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Demon’s Rise: War for the Deep- Switch
  • Elden: Path of the Forgotten- Switch
  • Laraan- Switch
  • TroubleDays- Switch

Friday, July 10th

  • Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • F1 2020- PS4, Xbox One
  • Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire- Xbox One
  • Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris- PS4, Xbox One
  • The Great Perhaps- PS4, Xbox One, Switch

For the Grown-Ups

  • Catherine: Full Body- Switch (Tuesday, July 7th)
  • Deadly Premonition 2- Switch (Friday, July 10th)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

I am really excited to get the chance to play CrossCode! It was released on Steam last year, but since I do not play PC games, I have not played it yet. CrossCode is a 2D action adventure RPG that looks like it came straight out of the SNES era. With over 120 enemy types, 7 dungeons, 100 quests, and over 60 music tracks, this game brings a lot to the table. I will be playing it on Xbox Game Pass when it drops this week!


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

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A new, free, update has been added to Animal Crossing: New Horizons as of July 3rd. Wave 1 expands the playable space for everyone by letting you play in the ocean!

Below are the new features added in the free Wave 1 Update.

  • Swimming and Diving – You can equip a wet suit and explore the ocean around your island. You can swim and dive to look for new wild life to sell or donate to the museum.
  • New Clothing types – Wet suits, swim masks, and water shoes
  • Pascal Brings Rewarding Recipes – They’ve added a new visitor: Pacal. He is a friendly otter who absolutely LOVES scallops. You can trade scallops that you find while diving (look for the bubbles) for Mermaid themed DIY patterns.
  • Gulliver? – Gulliver gets a pirate themed rescue mission after you download the new update.       

Even better? This isn’t the only free update coming this summer! There is a second wave schedule for sometime in August! The video that accompanied the announcement for the summer updates had fireworks on the splash screen for the August update so that might be the theme? We may not know for sure, but we don’t have to wait very long!

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

Looking for information about how multiplayer works in Animal Crossing? Check out our guide here!

Our new player tips for Animal Crossing are here!

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Final Fantasy 7 is, inarguably, one of the most important video games ever made. It helped to propel the nascent Sony PlayStation into the wild success that it was, and helped bring the Final Fantasy name to millions of people. Fans have been clamoring for a remake ever since Sony showed an HD reimagining of the opening sequence during the lead up to the launch of the PS3. The excitement level stayed at such a high level for so long that I never thought that a game could live up to those wild expectations. I was convinced that people would be very disappointed. I can’t speak for everyone of course, but I came away more than just satisfied with Final Fantasy 7 Remake – I came away astonished. The experience wasn’t perfect, but I came away very impressed and hungry for more.

The original Final Fantasy 7 (boy does it feel weird to type it that way) was a turn based RPG. The heroes lined up on one side of the screen and the enemies line up on the other. That style of game still exists (Dragon Quest XI is a great example), but Square Enix doesn’t think that is the direction for Final Fantasy anymore.

As a result they gave FF7 Remake a much more active combat system. Players move characters around the battlefield and use basic attacks while building a meter. You then use the completed bars to activate spells, special moves, and use items. It took a moment for me to get used to it (and I would assume that just about everyone would have a similar experience). But, once I was able to get a handle on it I felt like I was playing a fighting game.

It’s not all about combat though. One of the reasons people wanted to see this game remade was to see the world as fleshed out and rendered as beautifully as modern hardware allows. Final Fantasy 7 Remake both lives up to those expectations and fails miserably at the same time. It was almost funny in a few scenes where I was watching two of the most gorgeously rendered characters I have ever seen stand in front of a door with textures that would have looked bad on the PlayStation 3.

I was never lacking for something beautiful to look at though. It’s easy to forgive a weird texture on a door when the character models were among the most detailed I had ever seen. Some fo the backdrops (especially when you are at high elevations looking below).

The Story

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is not a simple remaster. It is an expansion and reimagining of the first major segment of the original. I spent nearly 50 hours playing as I prepared for this review and all of it was spent in the massive Diesel-punk city of Midgar. This would have made up 3 or 4 hours of play in the original game.

I met fully realized characters that were previously just a few lines of throwaway dialogue. I spent hours completing side quests in locations that had previously only been a single screen (or didn’t exist at all).

I experienced a story that dissected the original in interesting ways. I never had much of an attachment to the original (in fact, I’ve gone on record as saying that I didn’t like it at all), but playing the remake actually gave me a strong drive to play it again.

The “ending” felt very weirds to me because I knew as I was playing it that this wasn’t the end. I knew that their adventure was going to continue. As a result, the ending was robbed of its weight. It felt like just any other bombastic boss fight with a cutscene afterwards. t

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is an action RPG that is very systems heavy. This means that in order to really appreciate the game you will need to spend a lot of time in menus tweaking your equipment, skill point expenditures, and strategies. FF7R is also fairly challenging on all but the easiest difficulty setting. Players who are easily frustrated should tread carefully if they don’t have a lot of experience with RPGs.

Should a kid play this game?

The ESRB has rated Final Fantasy VII Remake T for Teen with the rating descriptors Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, and Violence.

The ESRB rating summary is listed below:

This is an action role-playing game in which players follow the story of a mercenary (Cloud Strife) on a quest to save the planet from evil. Players explore the city of Midgar, perform various quests, and battle monsters and soldiers in frenetic melee combat. Characters use swords, staffs, guns, and magic spells to battle fantastical monsters and human soldiers; combat is highlighted by cries of pain, impact sounds, and explosions. Cutscenes also depict instances of violence: characters impaled by swords (off-camera); a man shot repeatedly while on a stairwell. Some female characters wear revealing outfits (e.g., deep cleavage); one scene depicts a man ogling women’s bodies while making suggestive hand gestures and hip movements. The game contains some alcohol content: ordering “something hard and bitter” and watching a character drink; searching for a person at the “Drunkards’ Den”; watching characters drunk and slurring their speech. One cutscene depicts a character smoking a cigar. The words “sh*t,” “a*shole,” and “pr*ck” appear in the dialogue.

ESRB

In my opinion, I don’t think the ESRB got it right. The T rating doesn’t accurately represent what is going in this game from a content perspective. For one, the curse words don’t just “appear in the dialogue.” They are constant, distracting and unnecessary. I’m not being puritanical about this either. I have been known to use foul language at times, but the language in this game made me question how I talk.

Further, there is a major plot point in the game built around sexual violence. This is problematic for a lot of people and would likely be included in a trigger warning in some contexts. Again, I understand why it happened and where its place was in the story. But, these scenes were uncomfortable for me and I’m a grown man.

We discussed this on the Engaged Family Gaming podcast and we mutually agreed that the PEGI rating system more accurately conveys the content in FFVII Remake with a PEGI 16 rating (meaning that they don’t recommend it for anyone below the age of 16).

Conclusion

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a wonderful game. I enjoyed the combat. I (mostly) enjoyed the story. I didn’t want it to end when it did. I think this is a must play for Final Fantasy fans, especially if you enjoyed the original.


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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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to talk about Video Games!!!! E3 Didn’t happen this year, but it looks like everyone else had a conference of some kind! EA held their EA Play live event. We got new Pokemon and Smash news! And, the New Game Plus Show broughts us a BUNCH of anime games!

This podcast is sponsored by:

The Virtual Economy Podcast

Games we didn’t get to talk about last week!

Among Trees

Eternal Cylinder

Calico

Potionomics

Call of the Sea

EA Play Live

Star Wars: Squadron

Skate …. eventually

Pokemon

Pokemon Smile

Pokemon Cafe Mix

New Pokemon Snap

Super Smash Brothers

Min Min from Arms is the DLC character

New Game Plus Expo

Pretty Princess Party

Harvest Moon: One World

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2


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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between June 28th  and July 4th.

Monday, June 29th

  • Blaster Master Zero- PS4
  • Blaster Master Zero 2- PS4
  • Super Smash Brothers Ultimate: Min Min DLC- Switch

Tuesday, June 30th

  • Hunting Simulator 2- PS4, Xbox One
  • The Legends of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III- Switch
  • The StoryTale- Switch

Wednesday, July 1st

  • Minecraft Dungeons: Jungle Awakens- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • My Bewitching Perfume- Switch

Thursday, July 2nd

  • Biped- Switch
  • Caretaker- Switch
  • Ghost Grab 3000- Switch
  • Pool Slide Story- Switch
  • Singled Out- Switch
  • The Otterman Empire- Xbox One, Switch

Friday, July 3rd

  • Alphadia Genesis- Xbox One
  • Infini- Switch
  • Marvel’s Iron Man VR- PSVR

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick of the week goes to Trails of Cold Steel III for the Nintendo Switch. This game has already been released on PS4, but I believe that Nintendo Switch is the best system to play these long RPGs on. If you want to play the first two parts of the story, you will have to play them on PlayStation 4 because they have not been ported to the Switch yet. This is a continuous story, so it would be a good suggestion to at least look up a story synopsis from these 2 games on the internet.

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This week Stephen and Amanda are here to talk about Video Games!!!! E3 Didn’t happen this year, but it looks like everyone else had a show of their own!

This podcast is sponsored by:

ReadyPlayerMom – mixer.com/readyplayermom

The Virtual Economy Podcast

Sony


The EFG Show Wrap-up

Amanda’s Write-up!

Ratchet and Clank: Drift Apart

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

BugSnax

Horizon: Forbidden West

Spider-Man – Miles Morales

All The Others

Roki

Humankind – Sega

Lake

Urban Trials Tricky

Ooblets

Evil Genius 2

Blankos Block Party


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Music from https://filmmusic.io

“Android Sock Hop” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)

License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Here are all the video game releases rated E-T by the ESRB that are releasing between June 21st and June 27th.

Monday, June 22nd

  • Sword and Sandals: Sparticus- Switch

Tuesday, June 23rd

  • Assetto Corsa Competizione- PS4, Xbox One
  • Conjurer Andy’s Repeatable Dungeon- Switch
  • Little Town Hero- PS4
  • Pokémon Café Mix- Switch, IOS, Android
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Star Wars Episode 1 Racer- PS4, Switch

Wednesday, June 24th

  • AntVentor- Switch
  • Ninjala- Switch

Thursday, June 25th

  • Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia- Switch
  • Dungeons 3: Complete Collection- PS4, Xbox One
  • Grimshade- Switch
  • Mideon Tower- Switch
  • Mr. Driller: Drill Land- Switch
  • Pachi Pachi On a Roll- Switch
  • Ploid Saga- Switch
  • Poopdie: Chapter 1- Switch
  • The Almost Gone- Switch
  • The Forgotten Land- Switch
  • The Messenger- Xbox One
  • Towaga: Among Shadows- Switch
  • Tower of Time- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Truck and Logistics Simulator- Switch
  • Unitied- Switch
  • Urban Trial Tricky- Switch
  • Yes, Your Grace- Xbox One, Switch

Friday, June 26th

  • A Summer with the Shiba Inu- PS4, Switch
  • Sudoky- Switch
  • Urban Flow- Switch

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Now you can relive arguably the best game with Spongebob Squarepants on the cover! This is a remaster of the original game that came out on Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox. You get to play as Spongebob and his friends, Patrick and Sandy as they try to rescue Bikini Bottom from the evil Plankton. This game comes from an era where 3D platformers were very popular and it does not disappoint! If this game does not interest you, I would also suggest to pick up The Messenger on Xbox One (or any other platform of your choosing).


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 June 14th and June 20th.

Tuesday, June 16th

  • Colt Canyon- Xbox One
  • Disintegration- PS4, Xbox One

Wednesday, June 17th

  • Edna & Harvey: The Breakout Anniversary Edition- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Timberman VS- Xbox One

Thursday, June 18th

  • Aery: Little Bird Adventure- Switch
  • Best Friend Forever- Switch
  • Destrobots- Switch
  • Endless Fables: Dark Moor- Switch
  • Hakoniwa Explorer Plus- Switch
  • Klaus- Switch
  • My Butler- Switch
  • Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2- PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • One Way Heroics Plus- Switch
  • Polandball: Can Into Space- Switch
  • Push the Crate 2- Switch
  • Waking- Xbox One
  • Working Zombies- Switch

Friday, June 19th

  • Burnout Paradise Remastered- Switch
  • Radio Squid- Switch
  • Railway 2: Nintendo Switch Edition- Switch
  • The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters- PS4, Switch

For the Grown-Ups

  • The Last of Us Part II- PS4 (Friday, June 19th)

Jeff’s Pick of the Week

My pick for this week goes to the 1st part of Namco’s Museum Archives. To be truthful, you could go with either and have a good time. Each pack contains 10 games. I went with the first one because it contains Galaxian, Pac-Man, Xevious, Mappy, Dig Dug, The Tower of Druaga, Sky Kid, Dragon Buster, Dragon Spirit: The New Legend, Splatterhouse: Wanpuku Graffiti, and Pac-Man Championship Edition. These 10 games for $20 is a great deal and any arcade fan from the eighties will have a blast with this collection.


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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In another life, this week would have been E3 2020 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. The glitz, the hubbub — all of it would be laid out to reveal what to expect from the hotly anticipated fall releases of the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. Xbox gave us a nibble of third-party games in its previous showcase, y’know, as a treat. Unfortunately, the vast majority of what Xbox put on display was rated M.

But Sony gave us the whole (mostly kid-friendly) meal.

The console’s design, mostly shown standing upright but it will be able to lay flat, while being subject to some rather hilarious memes, is sleek and beautiful in white, black, and blue, reminiscent of Mass Effect’s aesthetic. The new DualShock controller will match. The PlayStation 5’s additional peripherals (not seeing a PlayStation VR headset yet) will also be in white, including controller chargers, a 3D audio headset to take advantage of the PS5’s built-in 3D audio, and a new PlayStation camera.

Sony revealed that there will be two PlayStation 5’s available at launch, one with disc-drive and one without. Microsoft has yet to confirm whether or not an all-digital edition (much like the Xbox One S All Digital) will be available at launch, meaning that Sony’s ahead of the game there. 

Sadly, there is no word on pricing for either flavor of the PS5, meaning that we can’t even pre-order the darn thing just yet. 

But! It wasn’t just a day for the console’s form factor or how much it may cost at launch. It was also a day about games.

In case you didn’t catch the stream, here’s what we can anticipate for kid-friendly and teen games on PlayStation 5. 

For Teens

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

We’re finally seeing Miles Morales firmly taking the reins in the follow-up to 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man. Insomniac’s interpretation of Spidey brought in some serious accolades (and certainly stoked our infinite hype train). Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will be coming out this holiday season, although we don’t know if it will be considered a launch title or will be released shortly thereafter. 

Miles Morales, the Spider-Man from Earth-1610 in the Marvel Comic Universe, is primed to take over for Peter Parker in the video game space, especially after his exceptional appearance in the much beloved animated film, Into the Spiderverse. We’re looking forward to taking to New York City with Miles’ new powerset at our fingertips.

Note: Sony has clarified that Miles’ new game is a stand alone expansion similar in scope to Uncharted: Lost Legacy.

Horizon: Forbidden West

Believe it or not, Horizon Zero Dawn, released in 2017 on PlayStation 4, is rated T. Yes, Aloy’s treacherous journey through the beautiful tech-infested wilderness, is a T-rated game. Sony revealed today that Aloy’s next adventure, Horizon: Forbidden West, will be coming to PlayStation 5. Aloy will be facing even more arduous challenges in unforgiving terrain. There’s currently no release date for Forbidden West, but if you haven’t had a chance to play Zero Dawn, now is the time. The first game, Horizon Zero Dawn, will be coming to Steam sometime this summer and is currently available on PlayStation 4. 

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo has long been a PlayStation staple — much longer than Forza has been the racing game for Xbox. But there hasn’t been a numbered Gran Turismo game since Gran Turismo 6 on the PlayStation 3. (We got Gran Turismo Sport on PlayStation 4.) Gran Turismo 7 appears to be an homage to the most beloved, in this writer’s opinion anyway, entry in the series: Gran Turismo 3, which came out for the PlayStation 2. 

Gran Turismo 7 is, much like its predecessors, breathtaking. It’s certainly putting the ray-tracing capabilities of the PlayStation 5 through its paces. As of the June showcase, there is no release date available for Gran Turismo 7

Goodbye Volcano High

Who doesn’t love a coming-of-age story about anthropomorphic dinosaurs? Goodbye Volcano High, a game from Ko_op Mode, is a “cinematic narrative game” and, of course, a love story. And no teen love story is complete without a great soundtrack, which Goodbye Volcano High will have. The game will be available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Steam in 2021. Want more? Check out their website

Destruction Allstars

Vehicular mayhem sans visceral violence means that Destruction Allstars, from Lucid Games, is likely going to be a T-rated game, even if it’s on the more mature end of the T-range. (We’re looking at you, Final Fantasy VII Remake). With a future-tech Mad Max vibe and Burnout levels of carnage, Destruction Allstars is definitely going on our wishlist as a must-play high-intensity romp. 

For Kids

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

We knew that the PlayStation 5 would have to bring us some Ratchet & Clank, but we weren’t sure if it would be a launch title or if we would be getting it somewhere down the line. Well, Insomniac’s beloved anthropomorphic-robot buddy action-adventure platformer doesn’t have a release date yet, but the next installment in the series, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, does look beautiful. 

Rift Apart follows in the narrative footsteps of 2016’s Ratchet & Clank, so if you were a little lost on what’s going on with the story, you can pick that game up today on PlayStation 4. 

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Sackboy is back! Who knew that we would miss the little guy so much? We’ve been hanging out in Sackboy’s world since 2008’s debut title, LittleBigPlanet, for the PlayStation 3. But this next adventure looks a little different than any of the previous installments in the series — it’s a full 3D platformer now! (Remember that LBP is a mostly 2D side-scrolling platformer.) 

Sackboy: A Big Adventure will still allow you to play with up to three of our friends (or family), but we don’t know much more than that at the moment. There is no release date announced as of the conference.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

There is something so wholesome and welcoming about a lush green forest, magic, and furry puffball friends to keep safe. Kena: Bridge of Spirits is exactly the kind of game that we love to see geared towards kids, too. Kena is a story-driven action-adventure game. According to the developers, Ember Labs, the main protagonist (Kena) needs to “find and grow a team of tiny spirit companions called the Rot, enhancing their abilities and creating new ways to manipulate the environment.”

It’s a breathtaking game that will definitely tug on our collective heartstrings. No release date is available, but we’re crossing our fingers for 2021.

Astro’s Playroom

There is almost nothing we can say about this game, other than Astro’s Playroom is building on the utter adorableness of Astro Bot Rescue Mission, a PlayStation VR game that came out in 2018. Astro’s Playroom trailer is light on gameplay and what the game is actually about, but it definitely got us excited about the return of Astro Bot! 

Bugsnax

This is probably one of the weirdest games included in the PlayStation 5 stream, but don’t let that deter you. Bugsnax, from the studio that made Octodad, is achingly cute… albeit odd. Who knew that half-snack, half-animal creatures could cause one woman to squeak in sheer delight? Well, not this writer. Not until after the trailer, anyway. 

According to Sony’s blog, Bugsnax is all about investigating the “mysterious Snacktooth Island, home of the legendary half-bug, half-snack creatures.” Bugsnax will be available this holiday season, but it’s unclear as to whether or not it will be a launch title or just within the launch window.


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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