REVIEW: Five family-friendly video games for the holidays - InfoNews

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REVIEW: Five family-friendly video games for the holidays

A screengrab from the video game "Super Mario Party," is shown in a handout photo.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Nintendo
December 05, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Video games are sure to be at the top of the wish lists of many Canadian children once again this holiday season, but parents may be concerned that some of the most sought-after titles are too much of a time sink, too violent or both.

Here are five suggestions from The Canadian Press on games that children and young teens can enjoy, and for parents looking for an alternative to the "Fortnite" craze.

NINTENDO LABO

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB rating: E (all ages)

Price range: $80 (robot kit) to $90 (vehicle kit, variety pack)

A solid entry-level gaming choice for younger children, Nintendo's Labo kits are essentially cardboard toy construction sets and video games rolled into one. The Labo debuted in April with the variety pack, and robot kit, and a vehicle kit that came out in September added steering consoles for car, submarine and airplane games. The car steering wheel and pedal can also be used as a controller for the popular racing game "Mario Kart 8," and it works pretty well.

While building the kits is certainly enjoyable, the real gem of the Labo system is the basic object oriented coding language that kids can access to learn the fundamentals of programming while adding more functionality to the toys. It's packaged as an under-the-hood extra in the kits released so far, but has excellent potential as a learning tool if Nintendo features it more prominently in a future release.

SUPER MARIO PARTY

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $80

Nintendo's bread-and-butter has long been family-friendly games, and this year was no different. "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" and the "Pokemon: Let's Go" games could also have made this list. But for sheer family entertainment that appeals to gamers of all ages, "Super Mario Party" has the edge.

The casual mini-games that make up the heart of the game are fun, particularly with a full complement of four players. And playing the board game modes is a must for any family whose holiday get-together includes a heated round of "Monopoly."

OVERCOOKED! 2

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows/Mac

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $25 (digital) - $50

Another chaotic family-friendly multiplayer game, "Overcooked! 2" is a game that stresses co-operation and teamwork as a group of chefs are tasked with cooking and serving an increasingly complicated array of dishes within a time limit. As the dishes get more complex, so too do the kitchen layouts the chefs must work in. Without some planning and co-ordination, you could be spending time putting out fires and searching in vain for clean dishes as the timer mercilessly ticks down.

The attractive price point and availability on a wide variety of platforms makes "Overcooked! 2" one of the more accessible holiday gaming recommendations.

FORZA HORIZON 4

Platforms: Xbox One, Windows

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $80

The latest entry in the "Forza Horizon" series takes place in an open-world rendition of Britain, where players vie for supremacy in high-speed races to earn enough money to add more vehicles to their ever-expanding garages.

It's a game more suited to older kids, as the driving mechanics can get a little complicated, and of course the thought of recklessly driving through the streets of Edinburgh might be a turnoff for parents with smaller children. But with the amount of vehicles available and the variety of racetracks on offer, "Forza Horizon 4" will offer plenty to keep young, aspiring gearheads busy.

SPIDER-MAN

Platform: PlayStation 4

ESRB rating: Teen

Price range: $65 (used) to $80 (new)

Spidey's latest foray into video games highlighted a big year for the wall-crawler: Peter Parker had a big role in the blockbuster "Avengers: Infinity War" (we all know he's coming back from "the snap," right?) and multiple versions of the hero will appear in the anticipated animated film "Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse."

The latest "Spider-Man" game exists outside his film counterparts, with an excellent original story serving as the backbone of the title. It may not be suitable for younger children due to a few intense scenes and some mild language, but any kids who can handle the Marvel films won't have any problems with the content here.

While there is some cartoonish violence in the game, Spider-Man's moral compass stays true. His fisticuffs with the forces of evil are never lethal, and when he's not facing off against The Kingpin or The Rhino he even has time to clean up some of New York City's pollution.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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