Christmas Shopping Choices: 10 Family-Friendly Video Games

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Christmas Shopping Choices:

10 Family-Friendly Video Games

By David Grue, Contributing Writer

 

With video games becoming more and more popular, the market has exploded with a variety of games across an increasing number of platforms. Many of the games that receive the most publicity are extremely violent and vulgar.

 

However, game developers have not neglected the family audience completely. There are a great number of games that can be enjoyed in a family setting, providing positive entertainment for everyone. The following games are high quality, family-friendly titles, but caution for younger children is advised for the fighting games.

 

 

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Mario Kart 8

Platform:  Wii U

ESRB Rating:  E – Everyone (comic mischief)

 

“Pure racing joy” are the words to describe Mario Kart 8. The latest installment of the Mario Kart series allows players to choose their favorite Mario character, customize the kart, wheels, and parachute then choose either race or battle mode. New in this game is anti-gravity, where karts lock to the track as it turns sideways and upside down. This allows for more interesting level design. There are also new items to use to during the race like the Boomerang Flower and Piranha Plant. The graphics are amazing and the soundtrack is even better.

 

This game is great for children and families because it supports up to four players at once for fast paced and chaotic fun. The game is easy to pick up for new players but also offers time trials and online racing for more advanced players. Online play is safe because you can only talk to people on your friends list and only before the race starts. Otherwise, you can select from a list of greetings and phrases to use in the lobby.

 

 

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Disney Infinity 2.0

Platforms:  iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One

ESRB Rating:  E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (cartoon violence)

 

Disney Infinity 2.0 is the latest addition to Disney Infinity and features playsets for Marvel heroes as well as classic Disney characters. The game has physical figures that add new content to the game. For example, the original Starter Pack includes figures of Sully from MONSTERS INC., Captain Jack Sparrow from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and Mr. Incredible from THE INCREDIBLES, and a base to scan them into the game. Once the figures have been scanned, players can explore the worlds from those movies with their respective characters. If players want to mix and match different characters from different worlds, they can play in Toy Box mode.

 

Disney Infinity 2.0 is great for children and families because players can enjoy controlling their favorite Disney characters in their home worlds. Parents can control the content in the game through which figures and play sets they buy. Toy Box mode also allows children to explore their creativity via a giant, virtual toy chest. One cause for caution is that multiple play sets and figures can get expensive since they have to be bought individually.

 

 

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Little Big Planet 3

Platforms:  PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4

ESRB Rating:  E – Everyone (comic mischief, mild cartoon violence, tobacco reference)

 

Little Big Planet 3 is a side-scrolling platformer with puzzle solving elements. The game has an adorable and unique aesthetic where the entire world is sewn together. Sackboy, the main character, is now joined by Oddsock (a dog-like character), Swoop (a small bird), and Toggle (a size-changing character). Each of these new friends has a different ability to help solve puzzles and navigate the levels. There is a well-designed and funny five-hour campaign that can be completed alone or with up to four players.

 

This game is great for children and families because it’s a very light hearted platformer that encourages cooperation to overcome evil forces. It also provides an avenue for creativity through the level editor, Creator. The game does a good job of introducing players to Creator with little puzzles to solve using the different tools available. Players can also download and experience other people’s creations online.

 

 

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The LEGO Movie Videogame

Platforms:  Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows, Mac OS X

ESRB Rating:  E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (cartoon violence, comic mischief)

 

“Everything is awesome!” The LEGO Movie Videogame follows the plot closely of the wildly popular The LEGO Movie. Like many LEGO games before it, the player must collect LEGO pieces in or to build different objects and progress through the levels. The game allows players to control nearly every character from the movie. Players can also explore all of the diverse set pieces shown on film.

 

This game is great for children and families because it is faithful to the movie and allows players to take control of their favorite characters. It is really great for children who might find building with real LEGOs daunting because the game provides a more directed building experience. Emmet is a Master Builder, and he can see all the places that need building. The game carries the largely Christian worldview from its source material. Fans of the movie or other LEGO games will find this a worthy addition.

 

 

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Minecraft

Platforms:  Android, iOS, Windows Phone, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows.

ESRB Rating:  E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (fantasy violence)

 

My 6- and 8-year-old nephews are obsessed with this game! They are not alone either. Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time. The game features a procedurally generated world, meaning every time they start a new game it’s different. There are several different play modes but the core game revolves around gathering resources and building structures. In Survival Mode, players must mine raw materials and chop down trees in order to craft, weapons, armor, and shelter to survive against monsters. In Creative Mode, players have all the resources in the game and are free to creation whatever they want. The graphics are endearing and look like an 8-bit game come to life in a 3-D world.

 

Minecraft is great for children and families because more than any other game on this list it fosters creativity. The game was originally released in 2011 and people are still finding out new ways to create things in this game. Creative Mode is like having infinite LEGOs with nearly infinite space to build. Survival Mode rewards hard work, dedication and self-reliance. There is an option to play with other people online in some of the versions, but this is in no way mandatory.

 

 

 

 

 

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Super Smash Bros.

Platforms:  Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

ESRB Rating:  E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (cartoon violence, comic mischief, mild suggestive themes)

 

The latest Super Smash Bros. is one of my favorite games to come out this year. It brings my friends and family together hours of fun. The game features a staggering 51 characters from across Nintendo franchises in a brawling fighting game. Players fight each other with unique moves on each character as well as random items that appear in the stages. Besides the multiplayer aspect, there are mini-games, challenges, and events that add a nice single-player element.

 

This game is great for children and families because of how safe and fun it is. There is no blood or gore, and characters don’t die, they simply fly off the screen. The Wii U version allows for up to 8 players at once, so everyone can get in on the same game! It is very easy to pick up and play but has a lot of depth for more serious gamers. Large multiplayer games are extremely chaotic and fun. There are a couple of costumes where characters are essentially in swimsuits. There is an option to play online, but, like Mario Kart, players can only talk to their friends or use pre-determined greetings.

 

 

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Scribblenauts Unlimited

Platforms:  Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, Windows

ESRB Rating:   E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (cartoon violence, comic mischief)

 

Scribblenauts Unlimited is an adorable puzzle game where players take control of Maxwell as he uses his journal to overcome obstacles and free his sister from a horrible curse. Maxwell’s journal can summon almost anything the player can imagine by writing in it. Players spell out what they want to create and it comes to life. If there’s a fire that needs to be put out, players can create a rain cloud, fireman, or bucket of water to complete the task. There are always multiple ways to solve puzzles.

 

This game is great for children and families because it helps foster creativity in solving puzzles as well as improve a child’s spelling skills. This would be a great game to play together as a family where each person can try a different solution to any given puzzle. The graphical style is lighthearted and colorful to go along with the game’s tone. For those interested, there is also Scribblenauts Unmasked, which has a DC Comics superhero theme.

 

 

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Octodad:  Dadliest Catch

Platforms:  PlayStation 4, Windows, Mac

ESRB Rating:  E10+ – Everyone 10 or older (fantasy violence)

 

Octodad:  Dadliest Catch is a hilarious game about someone who is trying to provide for his family by being the best father and husband he can. . . while maintaining his secret identity as an octopus. The main gameplay element is controlling Octodad’s limbs individually. This makes simple tasks like walking across the room difficult and often results in Octodad flailing around and knocking things over.

 

This game is great for children and families because it’s pure, lighthearted and fun. It also reinforces the family dynamic. It’s nearly as fun to watch as it is to play. It’s possible to have two people hold the controller, and one person control Octodad’s left limbs while the other person controls the right ones. This makes an already hard to control character even harder to control, but it provides a great exercise in teamwork.

 

 

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Just Dance Kids 2014

Platforms:  Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360 (Kinect)

ESRB Rating:  E – Everyone (mild lyrics)

 

Speaking of exercise, Just Dance Kids 2014 is a great way to get moving! Choose from up to 32 different songs and dance along to the moves on the screen. The songs range from recent pop hits to oldies to classic kids songs. <a href=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Dance_Kids_2014”>Here is the full song list</a>. The game supports up to four players, so the whole family can get in on the fun. The game is extremely similar to the more adult Just Dance 2015.

 

Just Dance Kids 2014 is great for children and families because it provides a great change of pace for people who enjoy too many sedentary activities. The developers really did a good job making sure there’s something in this game for everyone. Players follow along to real children dancing on screen and all the dances are safe. There is even a Parents section in the game where parents can track all the songs that have been played.

 

 

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World of Goo

Platforms: Android, Blackberry, iOS, Wii, Windows, Mac OS X

ESRB Rating: E – Everyone (comic mischief)

World of Goo is an adorable puzzle game where players control little balls of goo and connect them to build an assortment of structures. Players will build bridges, towers, and many other creations in order to complete each level objective. There is a good variety of different goo balls. Some can latch onto walls, others float in the air, and even some explode. The game has a light-hearted and humorous story. The early levels are fairly straightforward but there is a nice ramp up in difficulty as the game progresses.

This game is great for children and families because it’s a charming game that promotes creativity. The graphics and sound design is excellent and makes it enjoyable for anyone in the family to pick up and play. There is no set solution to any level, so critical thinking and experimentation are encouraged. The physics in the game are surprisingly accurate, making the game a fun way to learn the basics of structural engineering.

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