Fun New Video Games for Families

Nicer weather is on the way, but what to do while you are still trapped indoors? Check out these new video games and devices you can play with the kids.

 

Skylanders Imaginators is the newest in the proud Skylanders line of games.  Each game further expands on the previous, and lets real life toy-like figures meet and battle on the portal (game) and inside the game itself. Each character is unique and can be brought into the game with the included portal by simply placing the toy on the portal.  This newest iteration brings in a character creation element which makes for great fun and increased interactivity in a unique way.  The story follows the Skylanders as they try to defeat Kaos in his newest plan to destroy Skyland.  Kaos has found a new power called the Mind Magic and is creating an army of Doomlanders.  The leader of the good guys is Eon, and he calls upon Portal Masters to battle Kaos and his army.  But this time there are Sensei’s as well.  These sensei’s give you new powers for your Imaginators to use and be built with.  The new Nintendo system Switch has received its own version of this fun game, and now includes further mobility. You can also save your Skylanders’ figure stats and abilities to the system so you can play Skylanders on the go with your characters but without a portal or figures in tow.  This is a great new addition (and kind of a big deal)  and makes Skylanders able to be an “on the go” game as well.

Skylanders Imaginators

If you haven’t yet, you can also create your own Skylander that will be mailed to you in real life. My son flipped his lid over this, and your Skylanders fan will as well. It’s easy to do, just download the Skylanders Creator app from the iOS or Android store, and using the app, create an Imaginator character or transfer one from the Skylanders Imaginators console game to the app. Follow the directions, it takes just a few minutes once downloaded from start to finish. Any Skylander you created can be yours in real life- one of the cooler things we’ve seen in a while.  Highly recommend.

Nintendo Switch

Speaking of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo has finally given us what we have been frothing at the mouth for, a new system!  Their newest console is the Switch.  It is both a portable as well as a use at home console, which I think is very neat.  It is easy to switch between the two, even in the middle of your current game.  The first thing you will notice upon opening up the Switch is there is not much in the box, a tablet and a stand, controllers, a few various controller accessories and cables.  This is exactly the point of the system- portability.  The tablet portion of the Switch is quite a powerhouse, with a crisp, gorgeous display.  The controllers are very responsive and are solidly built as well.  They do feel a bit small in Dad’s monster size hands, but are definitely still playable for long periods of time (especially when used in conjunction with the joy con grip, which turns the two small controllers into one bigger one for a more classic gaming feel).  It’s actually kind of telling of current gaming, all the different ways the Switch is played in our house.  My son loves playing portable, anywhere, from the kitchen to the bedroom, while dad loves the classic gaming feel with controller in hand on the TV.  The Switch’ s joy con controller can also act as two separate controllers for two players, which make for fun for all with the accessibility of a small controller with fewer buttons.  Non gamers will be easily  drawn into multiplayer games with the small controller making for a more fun multi-player experience.  The Switch is available now in stores and online retailing for $299.99.
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Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

This gorgeous Wii U game is making its way to Nintendo 3DS. This version contains some new features, plus every stage available in the original. Exclusive new stages focus on Poochy: Players must time Poochy’s jump to collect beads, and Poochy Pups as they head for the goal. Poochy Pups are curious little helpers who jump on suspicious spots to indicate where players should look for secrets and collectables. Nintendo and Japanese stop-motion animation studio Dwarf are collaborating on 30 animated shorts featuring Yoshi and Poochy that will be included in the Nintendo 3DS version of the game. A yarn amiibo figure of Poochy will launch at the same time as the game.
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How to Choose the Best Computer to Play Minecraft

Technically, you can play Minecraft on any computer. However, this game is based on the programming language Java. So you will need a computer capable of running Java programs. All new computers can do this. However, Java takes up significant processing power to function properly. So, even if a computer can run Minecraft, it may not do it well. If the computer you are using lacks enough processing power, Minecraft will lag and run on a low-frame rate.

If you are looking for the ideal computer to play Minecraft, here are some tips:

PCs are the Best

Minecraft can run on PC, Linux, Macs, Xbox, Playstation and even on computers powered by Raspberry Pi. However, PC is the best type of computer play the game on. If you have a good desktop or laptop PC with a powerful graphics card, that’s all you need to play the game. You do not technically need a gaming computer for Minecraft. However, if you also want to play other games, it won’t hurt to buy a low-budget gaming laptop or a desktop.

Framerate Matters

Framerate, or fps (frames per second), is how fast individual images can be displayed on a screen so it looks like the images are moving. You may know this as moving picture, or movie, technology (very fancy). Video games display images similarly to movies. The graphics you want to see on the game will be affected by your computer’s fps. The higher the fps, the better. You can change this setting in-game, but there’s no point in tuning up in-game fps very high if the computer you are using cannot render the fps that fast. The basic frame rate for Minecraft is around 50 fps. Standard computers can manage around 60 fps. Gaming computers usually have double that rate, which will be more than enough to play Minecraft smoothly with great blocky graphics.
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Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome amiibo – Nintendo 3DS

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Animal Crossing has long been a favorite of the the Nintendo franchises, where players have open creative control over their character, building rooms, homes, clothing and with this newest iteration, a city.  The newest version being called Animal Crossing: New Leaf Welcome amiibo.  You take on the role of Mayor, where you are able to effect your city in a few interesting ways, Public Works Projects and Ordinances.  Both of which effect the citizens of your town.  Public Works Projects let you collect funds from citizens and visiting players which are then used to build fountains, light poles, bridges, police stations and cafes.  Ordinances are laws which govern how your town runs from opening and closing time for your shops and cafes to encouraging players to plant flowers, this is a gentle nudge for your citizens.  The main component of Animal Crossing is customization.  You start out in a tent and slowly work up to a house, where each room can be customized with lamps, furniture, and other household items.  The player yourself can also be customized from your clothing, shoes, hat and accessories.  The next most exciting component of New Leaf is the ability to share and explore.  Players can now explore other towns and visit others homes, getting ideas for their own homes and towns as well as getting tips and pointers on how to run their own town. The Dream Suite allows you to download dream versions of others towns and explore them.  The Happy Home Showcase lets others view your home via StreetPass and their furniture.  Play Coins also have a usage in game where they can be used to buy fortune cookies, which can be traded in for special prizes and rare items.  On November 2, 2016 Animal Crossing New Leaf released and update to support Amiibo’s including Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda, and Splatoon as well as cards.  These Amiibo are then summoned as villagers and vendors to a new campsite.

LEGO Dimensions Packs – Dr. Who, Simpsons, and Adventure Time

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In what other game can you have Homer driving down the yellow brick road in the bat-mobile?

The answer is LEGO Dimensions.  The Lego brick themed multiverse spanning game is constantly expanding and with the most recent additions you can now explore the worlds of the children’s favorite Adventure Time, the generational favorite Dr Who,and the TV classic The Simpsons Springfield to name a few.

Sets are broken down into a few different categories, the predominant one being levels. With the download of an update to your game and the usage of figures from that particular universe, the level is unlocked.  Simpsons brings your characters into Springfield to solve various quests and requests by locals as well as the collection of various items to complete the level to 100%.  There are playable levels as well as free play modes where you can just go exploring to find all the nooks and crannies put in the game.  I guarantee as a fan you will find something that will put a huge smile on your face no matter which level pack you play.
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Dragon Quest Builders for the Playstation 4

What is an interesting way to get your whole family into the role playing game genre while still keeping the little ones excited about open world sand box style gaming, in the same vein as Minecraft?  The answer is the new Dragon Quest Builders game where you play a hero who must rebuild a destroyed kingdom, block by block castle by castle, city by city.  This may sound like a daunting task, but for those of us with a creative mind and a builder’s spirit, it is within reach.

The story is that there was a great battle generations ago, and after such, a hero was tricked into joining forces with a great evil.  The evil Dragon lord took away mankind’s ability to build and imagine, scattering the remains of humanity across the planet.  Your job to rekindle this builder’s spirit and imagination with the help of the Goddess at your side, as well as your own imagination.  The game itself is huge and wide open, able to be explored and built or broken down at will.  There are familiar characters from the Dragon Quest series including Slimes and Dragons, and a familiar art style similar to previous iterations of the Dragon Quest series, with an anime feel instead of the block-y computer graphics of Minecraft.
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Pokemon Sun and Moon for the Nintendo 3DS

If you have been under a rock for the last few months, Pokemon is back and in a big way.  With the recent release of Pokemon Go and the most recent release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, all your gaming needs can be met trying to catch them all.

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In Pokemon Sun/Moon, you follow along a young trainer as he or she moves to a new region the Alola region, which looks like a tropical Pacific Island.  Upon moving here, you quickly start your adventure to become a Pokemon trainer, and one of the best ones there is at that.  You first pick out your starter Pokemon, choosing from Rowlet (Grass-Flying), Litten (Fire), and Popplio (Water). Each of these are cute little critters who pack a mean punch.  Whichever you pick, you are in for a good time, so no need to stress over this first choice.  As you progress through the game, you learn some new moves called “Z Moves”, which are a way for trainer and Pokemon to act in unison and perfect harmony to release devastating attacks on your opponents (which there are many of).  Your opponents range from the evil Team Skull, to wild Pokemon hidden in the tall grass and waters of the area, to other trainers- there are more then enough chances to try out your new moves.
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Jotun Valhalla Edition and Axiom Verge for Nintendo Wii U

Today we are going to look at two of the plethora of cool Indie titles for the Wii U, Jotun Valhalla Edition and Axiom Verge.  An epic Norse adventure game and a mind bending side scroller which questions your trust in the programmers of the game.

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First up is Jotun, Jotun Valhalla Edition follows the story of Thora, a Viking warrior who has suffered an inglorious death.  This means she can not enter Valhalla. As such, Odin offers her another chance to prove herself worthy of Valhalla by battling various gods and defeating them.  You begin the game in Ginnungagap, a Norse limbo which acts as your central point between various levels.  Each has lush hand drawn designs and characters.  Every level acts as a puzzle in itself, as well as an exploration chance to find a God’s weapon.  These weapons then make each boss battle easier to get through, some times, later in the game these are even necessary to defeat some tough baddies.  This game has a “new school”, artistic vibe and an old school, boss rush game play. It is perfect for new gamers as well as older ones.  What I really like about this game is its lush settings, designs, and the Norse driven story which is a relatively fresh area in gaming.
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