holiday guide

Pixelkin 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Gaming Families

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One | No Comments

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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nintendo switch

Pixelkin 2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Nintendo Switch

Posted by | Feature, Switch | No Comments

Make no mistake: the Nintendo Switch is the hottest video game product you can purchase this holiday season. The unique hybrid system offers both traditional home console use as well as complete handheld portability.

After a generally disappointing showing in the Wii U, Nintendo has roared back this year with huge titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Most impressively they’ve expanded their third-party support with lots of welcome indie titles like Stardew Valley and Shovel Knight. There’s also some more mature offerings courtesy of Bethesda with Doom, Wolfenstein, and Skyrim. Simply put, Nintendo has had one of the best console launch years in history, and it should only get better from here.

Younger Kids

Snipperclips – Cut it Out, Together

Nintendo Switch

A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Snipperclips provides a unique puzzle design for two players. You play as both the paper and the scissors, cutting each other to form shapes in order to solve a series of puzzles. It’s simple yet brilliant game design that you can play solo with both controllers, but really shines cooperatively.

Also available on: N/A

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

mario kart 8

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just 2014’s Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U plus all the DLC tracks and drivers and enhanced HD graphics. Mario Kart 8 happens to also be one of the best in the long-running series, featuring the refined controls, a huge assortment of drivers, vehicles, and tracks, and seamlessly integrated online multiplayer.

Also available on: N/A

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a remake of a 1989 platformer on the Sega Master System. The remake offers new hand-drawn graphics, a female playable character, and the ability to switch between old and new audio and visual settings. It’s a solid side-scrolling platformer with classic design and modern features.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Arms

arms

A motion-controlled fighting game sounds horrendous but Nintendo may have stumbled upon something special. Multiple fighters and arms-styles can be configured to best suit your playstyle as you square off from a near-first-person view to swing your comically large but effective limbs.

Also available on: N/A

Splatoon 2

 

The first Splatoon was one of the few bright spots on the Wii U, and this Switch sequel provides more of the same great online multiplayer action. Transforming a third person arena shooter into a paintball match is a great way to make it family-friendly. Splatoon goes a step further by offering an intriguingly goofy world of squid vendors and a head-bobbing soundtrack.

Also available on: N/A

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

mario + rabbids

“It’s like XCOM but with Mario” is not a sentence I expected to see in 2017. Yet Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle presents a fantastic tactical strategy game when Ubisoft’s Rabbids drop into the Mushroom Kingdom unannounced.

Also available on: N/A

LEGO Worlds

lego worlds

LEGO + Minecraft is an easy sell, but LEGO Worlds ended up being less than the sum of its parts. Still, LEGO gameplay is always kid-friendly and intuitive, and offers split-screen and online multiplayer. LEGO Worlds lets you earn gold bricks through quests and exploration as well as build your world brick-by-brick.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Super Mario Odyssey

super mario odyssey

The moment we’ve all been waiting for: a new single player 3D Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey does not disappoint, with a wide array of beautiful worlds to explore, secrets to discover, puzzles to solve, and collectibles to collect. Super Mario Odyssey retains what makes Mario the king of gaming and also adds fun new elements, like turning Mario’s trademark cap into a sentient creature who can possess others, adding an entirely new dynamic to every encounter.

Also available on: N/A

Stardew Valley: Collector’s Edition

stardew valley

Charming, pixelated farming sim Stardew Valley was my personal Game of the Year last year. The Collector’s Edition, which released this year, is mostly an excuse to buy a physical version, which includes a pull-out map, digital soundtrack, and a guide book. Cooperative multiplayer is slated to arrive sometime next year.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2

lego

The LEGO games have consistently remained one of the best go-to family-friendly series over the last decade. If you’ve played any of them, you’ve played them all. Marvel’s tone and characters mesh particularly well with LEGO’s silly storytelling and style. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 tells a tale of time-travel, meshing together multiple realms from the modern MCU, including Asgard, Sakaar, and Wakanda.

Also available on: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC

Older Kids

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild was one of the most anticipated games of 2017. As a launch title for the Nintendo Switch it became an instant system seller, providing an enormous, detailed open world that let you tackle it however you wanted – including waltzing right up to the final area after the opening. It’s a hallmark of interlocking game designs that put as much freedom as possible in the hands of the player.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will go down as one of the all-time best games, Zelda or otherwise, and should absolutely be your first purchase on the Nintendo Switch.

Also available on: Wii U

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

One of the few games on this mega-list that’s not actually released quite yet, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is another big RPG coming to Switch, after the Wii’s Xenoblade Chronicles and Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X. These games mostly stand on their own but feature giant open worlds and real-time combat, not unlike an MMO.

Also available on: N/A

Mature Teens & Parents

Doom

Doom

The hyper-violent first-person shooter wouldn’t seem like a good fit for a Nintendo system, but sometimes you just need to rip and tear your way through some demons. This Switch port of one of last year’s most satisfying remakes is mostly intact – minus the Snapmap editor, and you’ll need to download the multiplayer separately.

Also available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

skyrim

It’s usually not exciting to see a 2011 game ported into a different console, but Skyrim is anything but usual. Being able to play one of the best RPGs of the modern era on the go certainly has its perks.

Also available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC

stardew valley

Stardew Valley Arriving on Nintendo Switch October 5

Posted by | News, Switch | No Comments

My personal favorite game of last year is arriving on Nintendo’s new console this week. In a blog post this week, developer ConcernedApe (Eric Barone) announced the Nintendo Switch version of Stardew Valley will launch on Thursday, October 5. Apparently that’s the date of this year’s harvest moon. Stardew Valley is priced at $14.99.

“I’m very happy to see Stardew come to a Nintendo console,” writes Barone. “I grew up on Nintendo, after all! This will not only be the first time Stardew Valley appears on a Nintendo platform, but also the first time Stardew will be on a portable system.”

The Nintendo Switch port was developed by Sickhead Games and published by Chucklefish.

In case you missed one of the biggest indie games of last year, Stardew Valley is a pixelated RPG and farming and life sim. It features seasonal farming, social relationships, dungeon-delving, and time management, all wrapped up in a 16-bit aesthetic.

Fans are still eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated multiplayer update. The most recent news is still from early August, which detailed exactly how online multiplayer will work. The 1.3 patch, which will include online multiplayer, is due to arrive in early 2018 and will come to PC (Windows, Mac, Linux) first. After that the patch will roll out to consoles, beginning with the Nintendo Switch version.

The beta to test multiplayer should begin later this year on Steam.

Stardew Valley for Nintendo Switch launches October 5. It’s been rated E for Everyone, though includes Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood and Language, Gambling, and Alcohol and Tobacco use.