Mary's 2015 Holiday Video Game Gift Guide for Families
Gaming ideas that will get your whole family playing together over the Christmas season
With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be finding yourself bewildered by the overwhelming choice when it comes to friends and family members that enjoy gaming. If you aren't an avid gamer, it can be tough picking out games that the recipient will enjoy, and if it's for a family, you may struggle to find a title that the whole team will want to play. Here I have collected some of the best options when it comes to family-friendly video games. These games are widely accepted by all different kinds of gamers, kids and adults alike. So, whether you're looking for games to give along with a new console or to supplement the existing library of your friends and family, look no further.
Hasbro Family Fun Pack
Hasbro is the standard when it comes to board games, and here they have digitized and collected 4 of their well known titles. This disc comes with Monopoly Plus, Risk, Trivial Pursuit Live! and Scrabble. A.J. reviewed the Monopoly Family Fun Pack last year. He found that the only part of this pack worth playing is the Monopoly Plus game mode, which thankfully Hasbro decided to include in their Fun Pack this year, along with other high class titles. Everyone knows Monopoly, and to see it come to life with a 3D board adds a new twist to the classic formula. Another lengthy board game that has been flung into the digital world is Risk. This game of world domination comes complete with flashy military themed visuals and 1 to 4 player offline and online play. Finally, big fans of the game can find someone to play with that shares their love for it just as much as they do. Playing Trivial Pursuit with updated questions and a TV show theme is sure to impress those that have grown bored of the traditional lengthy and difficult Trivial Pursuit board game format. And finally, Scrabble is the easiest to pick up and play with a large group where players place letters on a board in order to earn points in a goal to beat their opponents. This edition can be played offline with friends, offline against the computer, or online against other players around the world.
The Jackbox Party Pack
This collection of 5 hilarious games has revolutionized how people play video games together in a party setting. All of the games are hosted by the console, and each player uses any device with a browser to take part. No more handing a controller to someone that has no idea what to do with all of the buttons and how to hold it. If you can connect to the internet on your phone, tablet or computer, can type and press a button, then you're set. The games are short, lasting about 20 minutes on average and there is enough content to keep you going for hundreds of plays. Kids in particular will enjoy the Drawful game where players must attempt to draw a picture on their device and other players have to guess what it is (it's harder than you think!) While adults will have fun attempting to convince others of the missing word or phrase in an actual crazy headline.
If you'd like to know more about this delightful collection, head over to A.J.'s review here.
Guitar Hero Live
Guitar Hero has made a triumphant return this year with a new game that has the player jamming out to a live audience that reacts as they play. The game comes with the plastic electronic guitar controller (more life-like than ever) that is used to mimic the actions of playing it in real life. Great fun for budding musicians and experienced players alike, this hits all the right notes for a fun party even for those that aren't typically gamers.
Skylanders is the franchise that started the whole toys-to-life phenomenon and filled game shops and electronic sections of department stores with a variety of figurines. This year the fifth edition of the Skylanders series has been released that focuses more on racing. A player places their selected figurine along with a vehicle on the portal, and the character displays in game. As you play the game, data is stored in the physical toy, improving its abilities the more you play. Due to there being four previous installments of this franchise, there is an abundance of toys out there to purchase for anyone that already has the game. All of the toys from the previous versions work with the newer ones, making it very hard to gift one that your recipient already has.
Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition
After Skylanders created the concept of toys-to-life, it was only a matter of time before Disney joined in on the fun with Disney Infinity. With their third version of the game, they made a big thing of introducing Star Wars characters into the mix along with their existing Disney, Pixar and Marvel characters. This latest version also includes a sandbox mode where creative types have the freedom to create their own worlds. This is yet another great game that has amazing value with seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to purchasing add-ons to expand the fun.
Lego is a timeless classic that is enjoyed by all ages, and has been on many kids' wish lists for decades. For the last 10 years, video game versions of Lego franchises have been popping up, much to the delight of almost every type of gamer out there. This year, Lego took the fandom one step further and created a hybrid physical Lego toy video game. The starter pack includes the portal that is needed to have your Lego characters show in the game, along with 4 toys. If you know someone that already has this, there are a ton of play kits that are available to expand on their physical Lego set then they'll have even more fun in the video game. These vary in price and cover a wide array of popular franchises such as The Simpsons, The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park and even Scooby Doo!
For more on this blocky adventure, read my full review here. I also reviewed every level pack (which make fantastic gifts on their own), so be sure to check those out as well: The Simpsons, Portal 2, Back to the Future, and Doctor Who.
Minecraft / Minecraft: Story Mode
Since its original release over 4 years ago, Minecraft has grown massively in popularity amongst children and adults alike. At its core, this game has the player exploring and building a simplistic stylized world. They must forage and build tools and items to survive and continue exploring. The game is almost endless, which is why it's such great value. Along with the Minecraft edition for consoles, the story mode was also released recently. If you know someone that is a fan of the original game, they may not be familiar with this edition that brings some narrative to the otherwise plotless universe.
Yoshi's Woolly World
One of the best genres of games that can be enjoyed by a variety of gamers are platformers. Nintendo released one of the cutest yet this year - Yoshi's Woolly World. The entire game is rendered with wool, and can be played cooperatively with another player. Special Yoshi amiibos were also released, that are actually made of yarn. They come in three colours (green, pink and blue). If you're buying a game to entertain a larger crowd then a game this cute is sure to attract at least a few observers.
For a more complete understanding of how awesome Yoshi's Woolly World is, read A.J.'s review here.
Super Mario Maker
Another hit from Nintendo this year is Super Mario Maker for Wii U. This game does what it says - it allows the player to create their own Super Mario levels. The levels can be played in either the classic style that older fans are accustomed to, or the newer style of the more recent games. Besides making your own fun, you have the option to play professionally made courses as well as the limitless number of levels created by other players that can be downloaded to your Wii U.
Rayman is a classic video game character that has amassed a following over the years. If you have heard of Raving Rabbids (those crazy screaming funky looking rabbits that appear in party games), you will be familiar with the unique artistic style of this series where these bunnies debuted. This game can be played with another player that helps them traverse the 2D platforms, and its unique art style has been known to attract others to simply sit and watch as the silliness ensues.
Announced with much fanfare, this compilation contains 30 games to get your hands on. With a selection of classic games that you may have forgotten, lengthy adventure games with raving reviews, party games and some odd ducks, any type of gamer will find something they can enjoy for many hours.
A.J. wrote a very comprehensive review detailing every game featured in Rare Replay so be sure to read it here before picking up a copy.
That about does it for my gift ideas this year. If you have any questions then please don't hesitate to contact us. Have a happy holiday and enjoy playing games with your family!