The Ten Best Family Games of 2019

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It’s the calm before the storm as we head into 2020, with with a pair of next-gen consoles looming on the horizon from Sony and Microsoft. This year was more than an afterthought for games, however, and Nintendo continues to release smash hits for the Switch.

Gaming families had plenty of excellent choices this year, though you’ll definitely want to own a Switch if you don’t already have one – nearly half the games on our list are exclusive to Nintendo’s excellent handheld hybrid. Here is the (alphabetical) list of our favorite family games of 2019.

Doraemon: Story of Seasons

You may not have heard of classic 1970s anime and manga series Doraemon, but chances are the words Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley will excite you. Doraemon: Story of Seasons infuses the enjoyable farming gameplay of Harvest Moon (now called Story of Seasons) with the youthful characters of Doraemon, including the titular time-traveling cat and his helpful gadgets.

Platforms: PC (Steam), Switch

Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders mashed up two great tastes that taste great together – the colorful enemies of venerable RPG series Dragon Quest, with the building, crafting, and blocky world of Minecraft. The result was an instant hit. Dragon Quest Builders 2 adds online (and local network) co-op multiplayer, and is available on Nintendo Switch.

Platforms: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts fans had to wait an eternity for the return of Sora, Donald, and Goofy with this beloved mash-up series of Disney and Final Fantasy. While the gameplay in Kingdom Hearts 3 is still firmly rooted in its original early 2000s PS2 era, there’s an undeniable joy playing within the Disney and Pixar worlds like Frozen, Toy Story, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Nintendo knocked it out of the park with this excellent follow-up to the Luigi’s Mansion series, turning the haunted mansion into an entire ghost-filled hotel. Luigi is armed with more ghost-busting abilities, such as cloning himself as Gooigi, which can also serve as a family-friendly local co-op mode. On top of a fun campaign, up to eight players can play competitively or cooperatively in various multiplayer modes.

Platforms: Switch

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

It’s been ten years since we last enjoyed a Marvel Ultimate Alliance co-op brawler, and The Black Order more than satisfies our need to punch, blast, fry, and zap henchmen and villains. We love mixing and matching our team of different Marvel heroes from a roster of over 30, including Avengers, X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Platforms: Switch

Planet Zoo

As a full park sim Planet Zoo is geared more toward teens and adults, but thanks to the excellent animal AI, robust creation tools, and focus on animal conservation, it makes an excellent game for families to work together to learn about animals and their complex habitat needs. A lengthy campaign help introduces the park tools and management systems while offering a wonderful variety of biomes and locations, then you can try your hand at building your own zoo from the ground up in sandbox or franchise modes.

Platforms: PC (Steam)

Pokémon Sword and Shield

There’s little doubt that a Pokémon game will grace our list of best family games. Even with the somewhat mixed results of Pokémon Sword and Shield, there’s no denying that it provides hours and hours of catching hundreds of Pokémon and battling through the UK-inspired Galar region. The free-roaming Wild Area alone is worth the price of admission for Pokémon’s eighth generation.

Platforms: Switch

Super Mario Maker 2

Super Mario Maker was a phenomenal game when it released on Wii U in 2015, finally giving us the power to create our own 2D Mario levels. The Switch sequel is basically more of the same, plus tons of new features like new enemies, components, day/night and biome themes, and  the Super Mario 3D World tileset. All that along with a much improved single-player campaign and online and local multiplayer makes Super Mario Maker 2 a must-have for Mario fans.

Platforms: Switch

Untitled Goose Game

The official tagline nails this quirky indie game’s description: It’s a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose. Play as a goose in Untitled Goose Game with a checklist of hilariously mischievous tasks such as stealing from a store, knocking over vases, hiding in boxes, and causing light-hearted mayhem for these poor townsfolk.

Platforms: PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a much improved spin-off of the 3D platformer series that combines 3D overworld travel with 2.5D level designs, starring the chameleon Yooka and his bat companion Laylee. The result is a satisfying spiritual successor to classic 2D platformers like Donkey Kong Country.

Platforms: PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One

Luigi’s Mansion 3 DLC Features 2 Multiplayer Packs

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Nintendo has announced the DLC plans for Luigi’s Mansion 3. The DLC will feature two multiplayer packs that will release in 2020, for a combined purchase of $9.99.

Multiplayer Pack Part 1 will launch on April 30, 2020, and include three new mini-games for ScreamPark mode, which is the competitive multiplayer mode for Luigi’s Mansion 3. It also adds three new outfits, floor themes, and ghosts for the cooperative ScareScraper mode.

Multiplayer Pack Part 2 will release on July 31, 2020, with yet three more mini-games and three more outfits, floors, and ghosts for the multiplayer modes.

The multiplayer packs cannot be individually purchased, and only available as a bundle for $9.99. As an added bonus, players will also receive a new Polterpup light, called the Flashlight Type-P. This new flashlight can be used in either Story Mode or ScareScraper.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 released earlier this year exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Luigi is tasked with saving his friends from a haunted hotel in Story mode, using his trusty flashlight and Poltergust vacuum. It also features competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes for up to eight players locally and online.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is rated E for Everyone.

pokemon

Pokémon Sword and Shield Starter Evolutions Revealed

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Pokémon Sword and Shield have already been out for two weeks, and Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are just now officially revealing the evolutionary forms of the three starter Pokémon, as well as announcing another Gigantamax-capable Pokémon.

Grookey, the Grass-type monkey starter, evolves into Thwackey at level 16. Thwackey is known as the Beat Pokémon, and its held stick is now split in two which it wields like a drummer. At level 35 Thwackey evolves into Rillaboom, the Drummer Pokémon who is now a full-grown gorilla, who uses its sticks to beat on a tree stump drum.

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The rabbit Fire-type Pokémon Scorbunny evolves into Raboot at 16 and begins specializing in kicking attacks. At level 35 it evolves again into Ciunderace, the Striker-Pokémon. Despite definitely looking like a Fighting-type hybrid, Cinderace remains a pure Fire-type Starter through all three evolutions, a rarity among Fire starters.

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Finally there’s perennial sad-suck amphibian Pokémon Sobble, who evolves into an emo-lizard form at level 16 called Drizzle. Drizzle reaches its much improved potential at level 35 when it evolves into the Secret Agent Pokémon Inteleon, a suave anthropomorphic chameleon.

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The newest Gigantamx Pokémon has also been revealed: Snorlax. Rarely when encountering a Snorlax in a Max Raid Battle, you’ll find one in a different form – that’s a Gigantamax Snorlax. Gigantamax Snorlax is so large and sedentary that an entire woodland park has grown on top of its belly, including a berry tree.

Giganamax Snorlax has the unique move G-Max Replenish, which replaces any of its Normal-type moves. G-Max Replenish deals damage as well as restoring any Berries that its allies have eaten during battle.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is available now on Nintendo Switch. It’s rated E for Everyone.

pokemon go galarian weezing

Pokémon Go Celebrates Sword and Shield with Galarian Weezing

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Mobile AR game Pokémon GO is celebrating the recent release of Pokémon Sword and Shield on Nintendo Switch. An exclusive Galarian version of Gen 1 Pokémon Weezing can now be found in raid battles.

Galarian Weezing is a regional variant Pokémon, which were first introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon with the Alolan Region. Regional variant Pokémon use a similar base model but have a different appearance and different typing than their base counterparts. In this case, Galarian Weezing is Poison and Fairy type.

New avatar items based on clothes from Pokémon Sword and Shield have also been added to Pokémon GO.

In addition to Galarian Weezing, Pokémon GO is hosting several events throughout November.

The Supereffective Week runs through next Tuesday, Nov. 26. During the week you’ll find more Pokémon who are particularly effective against Team Rocket. You will also earn double the Stardust from Trainer Battles and receive more potions and revives from PokéStops.

The following week, from Nov. 27 through Dec. 2, is the Friend Fest event. During that week, you will encounter more family-themed Pokémon in the wild, such as Nidoran and Nidorano. You’ll also gain an attack boost when raiding with friends, and get a 50% stardust discount on trading Pokémon with friends.

Finally, Terrakion, the Legendary Cavern Pokémon will be added to Pokémon GO later this month. Beginning Nov. 26, Terrakion will begin appearing in five-star raids, through Dec. 17.