holiday guide

Pixelkin 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Gaming Families

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

With new consoles looming on the horizon, 2019 could’ve been a quieter year in gaming.

Thankfully it was anything but quiet, with hugely anticipated sequels like Kingdom Hearts 3, The Division 2, and Borderlands 3, excellent newcomers like The Outer Worlds and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and delightful indies such as Wargroove and Untitled Goose Game.

If you’re thinking of getting a new console this holiday season, we would wholly recommend the Nintendo Switch, or the Switch Lite. While PlayStation and Xbox consoles have never been cheaper, entirely new consoles are launching next year from both companies.

The Switch, however, is enjoying another banner year in 2019, seeing several big entries in beloved series such as Super Mario Maker and Pokémon, as well as a robust library of indie games and cross-platform titles. And the handheld-only Switch Lite, which launched earlier this year, may prove to be the most kid-friendly console of all time.

Below you’ll find links to our 2019 gaming gift recommendations, including tabletop games, organized by Younger Kids (under 10), Kids and Teens (10-16), and Mature Teens (17+). Note that many kid-friendly games, such as Super Mario Maker 2 and Pokémon Sword and Shield, are beloved by kids, teens, and adults alike.

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The Blockbuster Party Game Review

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Publisher: Big Potato Games
Age: 12+
Players: 4-8
Game Length: 20 mins
MSRP: $19.99

The category was “movies with superheroes.” My wife and I locked eyes from across the table, hands poised over the buzzer. What followed was a hilariously heated exchange as we realized the incredible amount of superhero films we’ve seen together.

The Blockbuster Party Game combines multiple social party game modes within a delightfully nostalgic package, hearkening back to those 90s days of Friday night runs to the VHS tape emporium, Blockbuster Video.

Be Kind, Please Rewind

In the Blockbuster Party Game, players divide into two teams. Gameplay is divided into two halves, with the first half featuring a head-to-head match between two players on opposing teams. A card is drawn from a deck of 60 category cards, such as “movies set during Christmas,” or “movies by Steven Spielberg.” Both players call out answers while hitting the buzzer to impose a 15-second timer on their opponent, until one of them is stumped.

In the second half of the game, the winner of the head-to-head match draws six cards from a different deck of 200 movie cards, selects three, and gives the other three to the losing player. Both players choose which of their three cards to put in each of the three spots on the board for their team to guess. Depending on the spot that was chosen, the players then take turns using a single word, a single quote, or attempting to act out a scene in the hopes their team guesses each film.

The 200-card movie deck contains a rich assortment of popular films, spread among eight different genres, from Horror and Animation to All-Time Classics. Even if you’re not a cinephile, there’s a solid chance you’ve at least heard of movies like Groundhog Day, Rambo, and Forest Gump. The game ends when one team acquires at least one of each genre movie card by correctly guessing the movie.

For a light party game, there remains a decent level of strategy as players decide which movies and which categories they want to assign them. For Home Alone I could shout “KEVIN!” as my one word clue, or use the classic quote, “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.” The Act It category often becomes the throw-away section, however, as we found it challenging to pantomime any scene of a film within a 30-second window for all three categories. We quickly realized how many action films are just Dude Shooting Gun.

The Rating

The Blockbuster Party Game has a 12+ age rating. The gameplay isn’t tactically complex nor does it contain any objectionable material (unless you count R-rated movie titles). The age rating is due to the decades of movie knowledge that’s recommended, at least on a surface level, to fully enjoy the game.

The Takeaway

The party game goes all-in with the Blockbuster theme, featuring a foldable parking lot board with attachable Blockbuster sign, and VHS tapes as movie cards. The entire package is contained within a rectangular plastic shell, exactly like a VHS box that I’d rent stacks of throughout the 90s. The Blockbuster Party Game effectively balances head-to-head movie trivia with the social enjoyment of remembering, quoting, acting, and referencing popular movies, the perfect party game for nostalgic 80s and 90s kids of a bygone era.

Find The Blockbuster Party Game at Target.

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Explore the Galar Region in Pokémon Sword and Shield, Out Now

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It’s a historic day for the long-running and incredibly prolific Pokémon series. Pokémon Sword and Shield are out today on Nintendo Switch, the first main series Pokémon game ever released on a home console – though, of course, the Switch is also a handheld.

Like previous generations, Pokémon Sword and Shield present an entirely new region filled with Pokémon. The Galar Region is modeled after the United Kingdom, featuring locations and themes inspired by the sports-loving country.

Trainers can choose between three starter Pokémon: Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble, and embark on a journey to become the very best, like no one ever was.

In addition to the standard Pokémon catching and turn-based battling, Sword and Shield add a host of new features and gameplay elements, and of course, lots of new Pokémon. Trainers can grow their Pokémon to extreme size and power via Dynamax, while select Pokémon will transform into more powerful forms called Gigantamax.

The Wild Area stretches for the length of the Galar Region, and features free-roaming Pokémon a la Pokémon Let’s Go, as well as online co-op Max Raid Battles against super-charged Dynamax Pokémon. Other welcome features include auto-saving, swapping out Pokémon in the wild, and being able to nickname traded Pokémon. Hardcore competitive trainers should be pleased to learn that Pokémon stats and Nature can be changed by feeding Mints and supplements.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are available separately for $59.99 in physical stores and digitally on the Nintendo eShop, as well as a dual-pack that includes both games. Purchasing the double pack also includes a special offer of two codes, one per game, that allows you to face off against Dynamax Larvitar and Dynamax Jangmo-o in Max Raid Battles.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are rated E for Everyone.

Disney Tsum Tsum Festival Review

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Available On: Switch

The Nintendo Switch has a slew of Mario Party-like mini-game collections, including Mario Party itself. But none bring the inexplicable gush of joy from kids (and some adults) like Tsum Tsum.

Disney Tsum Tsum Festival transforms the mobile puzzle game into a multiplayer party game for up to four players locally or online, starring the adorably chubby and popular Tsum Tsum toys.

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