One of the many popular new moves the gaming industry has made recently is to expand its attention on family and party games. While online multiplayer may be the hottest new thing, companies have not completely forgotten that people like to play together in the same room as well. While Nintendo has historically ruled the family gaming market, Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, with the introduction of the Move and Kinect, respectively, have made large strides in taking a piece of Nintendo’s pie.
Nintendo is still the king of family night, however, with hits such as Wii Sports, New Super Mario Bros, Mario Party 8, all three of which are wonderful plays. Wii Sports still sells well today, even though it was a release title. With sports such as bowling, sword fighting, and tennis, it appeals to many different types of sports enthusiasts. New Super Mario Bros is a remake of the original Mario game. The graphics have been overhauled, four player support, and a few new power ups to help you along. You can either help each other out, or compete against each other while enjoying the same classic Mario play that has enraptured many fans for over 25 years. Noting that the original Mario Party started on the Ninetendo 64 over 10 years ago, and is about to release its 9th iteration two consoles later, proves how popular this title is. It is really two types of games in one; the overall goal is to win a board game, but to do so, you have to compete with up to four players in dozens of mini games to advance on the board to win.
The Playstation 3 has its fair share of titles as well. Little Big Planet 2 is the follow up to the award-winning Little Big Planet, and is recommended for everyone to try at least once. While it is exclusive to PS3, it is a must play for owners. This game also supports, and in some instances requires, four people. On the surface, it’s a simple platformer, but the heart and soul of this game is player creation and customization. There are well over five million user created levels in existence. If karaoke is your forte’, there is the Singstar series. There are the generic titles featuring a wide range of songs, and there are specifics, such as ABBA and Queen, focusing on the bands specific songs.
If you are an Xbox owner, the console has been pumping out family games for its Kinect sensor. Kinect Sports is their version of Wii sports, with many of the same sports, but relying on the control free playstyle of the Kinect to make them more entertaining. There is also Dance Central, which has players dancing to their favorite songs and grading them on precision. For those with younger children, Kinectimals is an intuitive way to get them their first pet and see how they might handle a live animal, without having an actual live animal. This may not technically be a multiplayer title, but who does not have fun watching a young child interact with their first pet?
The following games are available on all systems (with the exception of Just Dance 1 and 2, which are Wii exclusive, while Just Dance 3 is on all platforms). The Just Dance series is immensely popular, with each new iteration quickly selling out in its first week. In these games, you choose from a large list of songs and, well, dance to them. All that is required is the Wii remote, Move controller, or Kinect sensor to pick up your moves. The Michael Jackson Experience follows the same pattern, with the exception of being only Michael Jackson songs. The Hasbro Family Game night series, now up to its fourth entry, adds a new twist one a large amount of classics. Taking old Hasbro board games, such as Clue, Mouse Trap, Battleship, and Life, and turning them into modern day classics is what this series is known for. The rules are the same, but quirky animations and added virtual features have freshened up these old favorites for a new generation. Disney Universe supports up to four players, each taking the role of 1 of 75 Disney characters to liberate 8 classic Disney worlds from various threats. It appeals to the kids, and to the kids in everyone else. Lastly there is You Don’t Know Jack. This quirky trivia game does not just ask you boring questions, it puts some pizzazz into them. Supporting up to four players, it’s a great way to laugh together while proving how smart you are.
Regardless of which system you may own, there are tons of titles for you and your family to play together. Sports, karaoke, dancing, platformers, most game types are represented. All of the titles mentioned are guaranteed fun, but do not be afraid to sample other titles not listed. Usually if the title has a rating of E and supports more than one player, there’s a good chance you may be able to enjoy it as a family. So what are you waiting for? Go out and start planning for a night of games, love, and laughter for this holiday season.