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

Dragon Quest Builders 2 Ships Over 1 Million Sold

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Square Enix has announced that Dragon Quest Builders 2 has shipped over one million units sold, including physical and digital releases. In Minecraft fashion, the developers celebrated by building a custom thank you model of the Dragon Quest hero.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the co-op friendly sequel that combines the colorful monster-filled RPG of Dragon Quest with the block-powered building world of Minecraft. The player washes up on a mysterious island, meets a foreboding young man named Malroth, and must battle back against destructive forces, evil cults, and monsters while rebuilding the island village.

The final DLC pack, the Modernist Pack, is now available for purchase ($9.99). The pack includes the largest collection of crafting recipes yet, with the theme of modern-looking buildings and clothing. The DLC is part of the Season Pass, which includes two other crafting packs, for a total of $20.99.

Arriving later this month on Tuesday, August 20th, Dragon Quest Builders 2 will receive its final free content update, which will add the ability to create multiple save files, as well as an all-new epilogue to the end of the story.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 rated E10+. It’s available for PlayStation 4 and Switch.

dragon quest builders 2

Season Pass DLC Detailed for Dragon Quest Builders 2

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Dragon Quest Builders 2 is launching July 12 on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Starting July 26, Square Enix will release one free DLC pack and three paid DLC packs. The three paid DLC can be purchased separately, or as part of a $20.99 season pass. Alternatively you can purchase the digital bundle which includes the game and the season pass for $79.99, though that doesn’t include any savings.

The post-launch DLC adds new craftable content, new locations, and new customization options.

  • Knickknack Pack (July 26, Free) – This free pack includes three recipes so players can celebrate with some Hotto flair.
  • Hotto Stuff Pack (July 26, $5.99) – This pack includes more than 40 recipes to design and decorate structures that look similar to The Hotto Steppe, as well as an additional island to gather the new materials.
  • Aquarium Pack (Aug. 2, $9.99) – Adds a fishing island and 40 different fish that can be caught and added to an aquarium.
  • Modernist Pack (Aug. 9, $9.99) – This pack includes more than 70 different recipes to construct modern-looking structures, as well as additional hairstyles and clothing.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is the sequel to 2016’s Dragon Quest Builders. The series combines Minecraft-like building, exploration, and crafting (and a cube-based world) with Dragon Quest’s colorful monster design and RPG questing. The sequel adds cooperative multiplayer, fast travel, and ways to explore the sea and air.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 launches on July 12. It’s rated E10+.