holiday guide

Pixelkin 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Gaming Families

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This was one of the best years for family and kid-friendly gaming, thanks in large part to Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch, which released in March, has been a huge success this year. We’ve seen big titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey cement Nintendo as the premiere resource for family-friendly gaming.

The Super Nintendo Classic Edition also makes a great holiday gift for families nostalgic for early 90s gaming.

We’ve gathered all the best and biggest games of the year for each console, organized by younger kids (under 10), older kids (10-16), and mature teens & parents (17+). Like the ESRB ratings, these age brackets are loose recommendations at best. Ultimately you’ll know the most appropriate games for your kids. Go to ESRB.org and search for the interested game to obtain more specific ratings and descriptions.

 

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new nintendo 3ds XL

Pixelkin 2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Nintendo 3DS

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Everyone’s talking about the Nintendo Switch. But Nintendo hasn’t exactly forgotten its premiere handheld device, the Nintendo 3DS.  This year saw new a Pokémon, Fire Emblem, and even a new Metroid release. Nintendo launched a New Nintendo 2DS XL earlier this year, providing all the functionality but without the almost always ancillary 3D feature, providing the perfect starter set for kids.

Oh, and all the games below are good for all ages, though RPGs like Pokémon require strong reading skills.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

The Dragon Quest series is renowned for its classic, cartoony art style and traditional JRPG mechanics – many of which we owe to this venerable series. Dragon Quest 8 is considered one of the best, if not the best, of the series, originally launching on PlayStation 2. The open world design isn’t as amazing these days but the story-telling and gameplay are still rock-solid, and remain some of the best in any RPG.

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World

Not very many people actually owned a Wii U, so I’ll forgive you if you missed out on 2015’s Yoshi’s Woolly World. But rectify that this year with this 3DS version. Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World lacks the cooperative multiplayer but retains the whimsical art style and puzzle-filled level designs.

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns

As it says in the title, the next installment to Story of Seasons features three different towns to visit, socialize, and barter in while growing your own farm. Story of Seasons is by the makers of the beloved Harvest Moon series, which largely inspired last year’s big indie hit, Stardew Valley.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Fire Emblem

The once niche strategy-RPG Fire Emblem series has surged in popularity on the Nintendo 3DS thanks to 2013’s Awakening and 2016’s Fates. This year we actually got a remake of the second ever Fire Emblem game, 1991’s Fire Emblem Gaiden. It featured the same great chess-like combat while also adding unique 3D dungeon crawls.

Ever Oasis

ever oasis

With several Zelda 3DS titles under their belt, developers Grezzo branched out with their own original game this year. Ever Oasis combines Zelda-like exploration and dungeon crawling with cultivating your own little town of shops and products. The two halves are well-integrated, as attracting and pleasing customers results in a bigger roster of potential party members to aid you in your quest to bring life to the desert.

Monster Hunter Stories

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The Monster Hunter series is known for being hardcore, challenging, demanding, and nearly inscrutable to newcomers. But this spin-off is nothing like that, instead utilizing a Pokémon formula in letting you tame the beasts to fight with you. The large 3D zones often bring the 3DS to its knees, but Monster Hunter Stories offers a content-rich adventure that expertly combines the best parts of both franchises.

Metroid: Samus Returns

3ds

Metroid fans have been clamoring for a new 2D Metroid for well over a decade. For now we’ll settle with this remake of 1991’s Metroid 2. The old black and white Game Boy title has been completely rebuilt to take advantage of the 3DS’ hardware and controls, while still retaining the classic 2D gameplay.

Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition

It’s Minecraft. If you have kids and you own (or will own) a 3DS, there’s a good chance they’re asking for it. Minecraft was previously available on every gaming device on the planet, with Nintendo 3DS as the last holdout. Note that it does require either the New Nintendo 3DS or New Nintendo 2DS.

Layton’s Mystery Journey

Layton's Mystery Journey

It’s been awhile since the last Professor Layton game. Turns out the poor Professor has been kidnapped, and it’s up to his equally adept daughter Katrielle to solve a series of puzzles and quests to find him in her own adventure.

 

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

Nintendo 3DS

Pokémon X and Y never did get the formerly common third edition, which served to enhance and remix that generation of Pokémon. We’re returning to form with Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, offering lots of new content and a good excuse to return to Alola for Pokémon fans. You won’t find any new Pokémon, but old ones will make new appearances, not to mention the ability to catch every single Legendary Pokémon.

 

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon Will Have Past Villains, Legendaries

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With Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon only two weeks away, Nintendo is teasing more new features. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will feature villains and legendary Pokémon from previous games in the series. There’s also a new Pokémon rental mode called the Battle Agency. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will launch November 17 on November 3DS.

The new villain team is called Team Rainbow Rocket. It’s made up of antagonists from previous Pokémon games, like Ghetis (Pokémon Black and White) and Lysandre (Pokémon X and Y). The leader is Giovanni, the boss of Team Rocket from the very first games, Pokémon Red and Blue. Their reasons for being in Alola are unknown but you’ll definitely be crossing paths.

In addition to the new Ultra Beasts, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will add classic Legendary Pokémon, such as Mewwo, Ho-Oh, and Lugia. Legendaries will be exclusive to either Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon. The Pokémon Company confirmed that between both games players will be able to obtain all Legendary Pokémon. The QR Scanner will also return, and the Island Scan will let you find new Pokémon in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, such as Charmander.

The new Battle Agency introduces a new concept to Pokémon: renting Pokémon for online battles. Trainers can take part in Single Battles with teams of three Pokémon each. You can unlock more rental Pokémon the more you play.

Totem Stickers are a new collectible that can be found all around the Alola region, like Zygarde cells. These stickers will power up your totem Pokémon, which differs between Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Ultra Sun can use Lurantis while Ultra Moon has a totem Salazzle.

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is out November 17 on November 3DS.

Nintendo Holiday Experience

Play the Switch at Nintendo Holiday Experience in Select Malls

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Halloween it’s over – let the holiday season begin! Nintendo has announced a new pop-up booth called the Nintendo Holiday Experience. These booths will be available at 17 major malls across the US. They’ll arrive November 11 and run until December 17.

“We want to bring smiles to people’s faces this holiday with experiences the whole family can enjoy,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. “The Nintendo Holiday Experience is a great opportunity for people to try Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS, this season’s must-have holiday items.”

The Nintendo Holiday Experience will be available at the following locations:

  • Perimeter Mall in Atlanta
  • Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts
  • Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois
  • The Parks Mall at Arlington in Arlington, Texas
  • FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield, Colorado
  • Memorial City Mall in Houston
  • Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California
  • Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California
  • Aventura Mall in Aventura, Florida
  • Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota
  • Queens Center in Elmhurst, New York
  • King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
  • Arrowhead Towne Center in Glendale, Arizona
  • Washington Square in Portland, Oregon
  • Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, California
  • Westfield Southcenter in Seattle
  • Tysons Corner Center in Tysons Corner, Virginia

The Nintendo Switch launched earlier this year, making this its first big holiday season. All the major first-party Switch titles will be available to play at the Nintendo Holiday Experience, including Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Nintendo’s handheld gaming system, Nintendo 3DS, will also be shown some love with playable handhelds and games. Recent releases include Metroid: Samus Returns and Mario Party: The Top 100 will be featured.

Visitors who are My Nintendo members can use their QR Code to receive a collectible Platinum Point code card. Each code can net 100-500 Platinum Points. Platinum Points can be redeemed for Nintendo game discounts or digital items and perks for Nintendo’s mobile games.

The Nintendo Holiday Experience will arrive in select Malls November 11, and leave December 17.

Layton's Mystery Journey

Layton’s Mystery Journey Out Today on Nintendo 3DS

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Reason number 14 why the Nintendo 3DS is having an incredible year in 2017: a new Professor Layton game! Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy is a mouthful of a title, but it’s out today on Nintendo 3DS. It’s available via retail and digital download on the Nintendo eShop for $39.99.

This time players take on the role of Professor Layton’s daughter Katrielle, who has taken up the family business of investigating mysteries and solving puzzles. Her father is missing, and Katrielle embarks on a quest along with her assistant Ernest Greeves and her first client Sherl, a “talking dog with a sarcastic demeanor but a loyal heart.” Fantastic.

Here is the official description for Layton’s Mystery Journey:

Investigation, observation and lateral thinking are key skills that players will need in order to guide Katrielle and her companions through the many puzzles and challenges that await. Gameplay revolves around exploring London, chatting with the colorful local residents and business people you encounter, investigating areas of interest to find clues, hint coins and other items, and of course tackling the numerous puzzles that will pop up along the way. The game features twelve different cases, which tie together into an overarching story featuring the seven Dragons – the “millionaires” of the game’s title – who are enigmatic and influential figures in the city of London. What conspiracy could they be hiding? It’s up to Katrielle to find out!

Layton’s Mystery Journey will feature more puzzles than any previous Layton game in the series. Bonus downloadable puzzles will be available daily for an entire year starting today. Layton’s Mystery Journey will also feature three unlockable minigames, collectibles to find, and customization options for dressing up Katrielle and decorating her agency.

Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy is out today. It’s rated E for Everyone with Comic Mischief, Mild Language, and Mild Violence.