10 Best Family Games for the 2014 Holiday Season

Posted by | November 26, 2014 | PlayStation 4, Tips for Parents | 3 Comments

This holiday season has been bursting with new game releases. We here at Pixelkin have played a ton of these games and have chosen our 10 favorites that we feel would be great for kids and families to enjoy together.

1. Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360 (Kinect required)
Release Date: October 21
ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Lyrics

Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is pure magic. We’ve never played a game that made us feel as connected to music as this game does. Its gorgeous art and expansive environments filled with great little flourishes make the game a joy to play even when you’re not in the core music gameplay. Since two players can enjoy the whole experience together, it’s a great game for kids and parents to play together. For more details, read our full review.

2. Skylanders Trap Team

Platforms: Android, Fire OS, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Date: October 5
ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Cartoon Violence

Skylanders: Trap Team is as fun as it is funny. Sometimes playing it felt like watching a top-tier kids’ cartoon—it was just that vibrant and well-written. Skylanders uses lots of technological tricks—like having the character’s voices come out of your TV and the “Portal” that holds your figurines—to make it feel like real magic. On top of that, there are lots of new characters and huge areas to explore. Being able to play as the villains and hear them talk to you from their traps is a great addition to an already solid game. With cooperative play options and tons of missions, Skylanders is a game that has lasting value. For more details read our review.

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS

Platforms: Wii U, 3DS
Release Date: November 21/October 3
ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes

Super Smash Bros. is a long-running game franchise from Nintendo. The latest game adds in a ton of new ways to play, including support for up to eight players at a time, a surprisingly robust single-player campaign, and support for the new Amiibo figurines. This is a must have for any Nintendo fan. For more details, read our review.

4. LittleBigPlanet 3

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Release Date: November 21
ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Comic Mischief, Cartoon Violence, Tobacco Reference

LittleBigPlanet 3 is a perfect family game. It supports up to four players, and you can jump in and out at any time. As one of the cute, cartoonish sack people you run and jump (and fly!) through a platforming adventure, as you try to take down a misguided inventor who wants to take all the world’s creativity for himself. It’s charming and fun for the whole family. Read the review here.

5. The Sailor’s Dream

Platforms: iOS
Release Date: November 6
Apple Rating: 12+

The Sailor’s Dream is an elegant mobile game that is more poetry than puzzle. It sets you in a beautiful and peaceful ocean, surrounded by six small islands. You can explore each island in whatever order you like, scrolling through rooms and discovering items that each reveal a tiny piece of a larger story. There are dark elements to the tale; however, it’s neither intense nor frightening. The game moves at a dreamlike pace, encouraging you to take your time in this strange and wondrous world. For more details, read our review.

6. Chariot

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC (Wii U planned)
Release Date: September 30
ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Mild Fantasy Violence

Right from the start, we were charmed by Chariot’s unique gameplay and cute art style. We loved the challenge of navigating platforming environments, not only with the adorable characters, but with the clunky, unwieldy chariot as well. Though the game does get challenging pretty quickly, it’s great to snuggle up on the couch with your son or daughter and work through the puzzles together. For more details, read our full review.

7. NBA 2K15

Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: October 7
ESRB Rating: E
Content Descriptor(s): Mild Lyrics

NBA 2K15 is a super-fun basketball simulation that’s probably one of the best-looking games on Xbox One and PS4. The gameplay is equally as impressive as the graphics and is easy enough for new players to learn quickly, while still having a level of depth seasoned players will enjoy. There are multiple modes, including ones which let you guide a team through multiple seasons on and off the court, or generate a custom squad using collectible player cards. You can even create your own player and take him through a story mode as he tries to break into the NBA. For more details, read our review.

8. Costume Quest 2

Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Wii U
Release Date: October 28
ESRB Rating: E10+
Content Descriptor(s): Fantasy Violence

Costume Quest 2 is a hilarious holiday adventure through time and space. When the evil dentist Orel White conspires with a Time Wizard to become supreme dental overlord of the world, twins Wren and Reynold must use their love of costumes and candy to bring him to justice. The game involves exploration and turn-based fighting, both of which are jam-packed with excellent humor. The characters in the game are diverse and respectful. In this game, kids and adults are able to work together towards a common goal, instead of falling back on that tired cliché of young-versus-old. For more details, read our review.

9. Pokémon Art Academy

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: October 24
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Content Descriptor(s): None

Pokémon Art Academy is less a game and more a learning program, but it definitely makes the list. Kids will be guided through the fundamentals of drawing, using the 3DS stylus to sketch straight onto the screen. While the lessons are limited to drawing Pokémon characters, the techniques are sound and could easily be applied to more creative work. A bonus is the Free Paint mode—kids can draw whatever they like on a blank canvas. Pokémon Art Academy is an educational tool, a digital art program on the go, and a fun way to enjoy Pokémon all in one. For more details, read our review.

10. The Sims 4

Platforms: PC
Release Date: September 2
ESRB Rating: T
Content Descriptor(s): Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence

The Sims 4 reboots The Sims with an all-new character creator and lots of new, hilarious interactions. The house-creation is also easier than ever, with pre-made rooms available. Of course, if players want to micromanage everything from the ground up they’re totally welcome to do that too. The Sims 4 lets players live out their dream lives. Any career is attainable, any house, any particularly fancy couch—it’s a great, creative fantasy game, and for that we enjoyed it. For more details, read our review.

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