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Family-Friendly Console Games

Indies to bond over

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

With so many games to choose from nowadays, it can be hard to find ones that the whole family can enjoy. I figured I'd review 6 recently released console games that can be quite fun to play for kids, parents, and maybe even a pet or two.

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Wandersong Review Switch ★★★★☆

Many games feature bards as joke characters but Wandersong puts one in the spotlight. v1d30chumz 18-208-187-128

Wandersong screenshot
If only trees had ears...

Wandersong has you control a bard who's on a journey to educate himself about the Earthsong; a mystical tune that may just save the universe. The gameplay is very simple to control as you merely run around areas and talk to people. Oh, and you can sing songs and dance, of course. Doing so is incredibly intuitive so youngsters can easily enjoy themselves. It basically acts as a Simon Says game where you copy onscreen prompts that have you tilt the stick in different directions. Singing songs allows you to overcome obstacles, send ghosts back to where they belong, and interact with nature. The game world is filled with joyful scenarios, quirky characters that even adults will find charming and humorous, and plenty of delightful sights and sounds. All of that being said, there is no multiplayer but it's still a great game to play while passing the controller around.

Wandersong's memorable adventure and heartwarming tale make for one fantastic musical journey.

Wandersong gameplay video →

Smash Hit Plunder Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Very few PlayStation VR games allow you to play simultaneously with local players who look at the TV. Therefore, Smash Hit Plunder is definitely a unique experience and it may just have what it takes to get any kid's pent-up aggression out.

Smash Hit Plunder screenshot
Be careful, little elf dude; don't wake up that ghost!

Smash Hit Plunder puts you in the shoes of a mage who finds himself in a magical castle. You play by choosing various rooms to plunder in order to uncover coins and treasures. You do this by using either 2 PlayStation Move controllers or the DualShock 4 controller to pick up and smash objects which frequently makes coins appear. Thankfully, you're equipped with a vacuum so you can simply suck up any coins in your vicinity after destroying everything in sight. This may sound fairly monotonous but the cleverly designed stages, variety of modes, and ability to cooperate with a few friends make it an impressively satisfying game. I should mention that playing without VR by controlling your character on the TV is far less enjoyable so you'll definitely want to regularly swap who's using the headset in order to get the most out of Smash Hit Plunder. Besides that, it's a unique and strangely rewarding game. Even trying for high scores can be a lot of fun.

If smashing up a castle then sucking up coins sounds fun to you then Smash Hit Plunder will be a welcome fit for your VR library.

Smash Hit Plunder trailer →

Pilot Sports Review Switch ★★★☆☆

If you remember Nintendo's quirky SNES gem Pilotwings then you'll feel a great deal of nostalgia while playing Pilot Sports.

Pilot Sports screenshot
Hang-gliding is a lot trickier when you have to fly through rings

Pilot Sports tests your flying skills using an assortment of vehicles including airplanes, parachutes, hang-gliders, and even jetpacks. You essentially pick whichever stage you want to tackle next then aim to beat it as efficiently as possible in order to hopefully earn a gold medal. You can choose a character, too, but they all look laughably bad. I wish the developers took a more unique approach with their character designs. On the plus side, there are 50 courses to master; most of which have you flying through rings to either earn points or compete in time trials. The gameplay itself is handled well although turning can be problematic as the camera takes a while to catch up thus tricking you into thinking that you still need to turn so you may end up over-steering. Once you adjust yourself to that, beating the stages and competing in local multiplayer matches with up to four players can be quite fun.

With some fine-tuning, Pilot Sports could be an easily recommendable challenge-based flight game. As it is, it ends up feeling a little rough around the edges but there's still some fun to be had, especially within the multiplayer mode.

Pilot Sports gameplay video →

Wenjia Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Sometimes, a good way to bond is through overcoming a challenge. Wenjia has you control a cat to navigate through tough 2D platforming stages so let's see if this kitty's journey is one worth partaking in.

Wenjia screenshot
Watch out, kitty; there are spikes everywhere!

Wenjia is one tricky platformer. Basically, you run around as a cat who can double-jump and shift between 2 parallel worlds. Doing this reveals new platforms and gimmicks such as portals, trampolines, and shiny collectibles. Right off the bat, my main complaint with Wenjia is that it requires a ton of trial and error in order to pass many of its segments. For example, being able to know that a platform is available in the other world will require you to shift there so if you're too late, you may end up getting snagged on some spikes or falling down a bottomless pit. What to do will be clearer on your next attempt but you still won't be guaranteed to emerge unscathed. Overall, it's a rather short game that can be completed within a couple of gaming sessions but if you want to acquire all of the collectibles then you'll find yourself playing for much longer. Although it's single player, passing the controller will definitely take some of the frustration away.

When it comes to tricky platformers, Wenjia's world-shifting mechanic makes it unique but the frustration factor can be super-high. Plus, non-perfectionists can easily finish its campaign within a couple of hours.

Wenjia gameplay video →

Marble It Up Review Switch ★★★★☆

If you're acquainted with games such as Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball then Marble It Up will be a very familiar experience.

Marble It Up screenshot
Something tells me that every diamond won't be as easy as this one...

Rolling around as a marble to carefully work your way to each level's exit is a winning formula. Marble It Up has you play through stages where you must collect diamonds in order to open up the exit. These levels aren't that tough to merely finish but being able to achieve high scores on the leaderboards and earn gold medals will require excellent precision and efficiency. Right now, there aren't many stages with only 40 of them currently available but the developers are looking at adding more content such as a multiplayer mode. I sincerely hope that they do because what's here is a phenomenal marble game that controls beautifully. Plus, it looks and sounds fantastic.

Marble It Up is easy to universally recommend as I can't imagine anyone not enjoying mastering its clever levels.

Marble It Up gameplay video →

Splody Review PlayStation 4 ★★☆☆☆

If you grew up playing video games in the '90s then you've probably played your fair share of Bomberman games. Splody is yet another Bomberman clone but does it add anything exciting to the established formula?

Splody screenshot
I don't think challenging 30 Hard Bots at once was such a good idea...

I absolutely love Bomberman. Seeing as Konami revived the series with the supremely enjoyable Super Bomberman R, I'm not sure it's a good time to release subpar clones of the series. Unfortunately, Splody is exactly that. Almost everything from its visuals to sound and controls to stage designs leave a lot to be desired. However, one thing that Splody does right is offer oodles of customization options. As a result, you can set up some truly crazy matches but even when you do; it still never reaches the highs of the Bomberman series.

In a time when dozens of awesome Bomberman games have already been released and the series recently made a comeback, this indie clone simply doesn't offer much substance that you can't already get from Hudson Soft's classic franchise.

Splody gameplay video →
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Gameplay video playlist for Family-Friendly Console Games
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