Game Goods 2017: Bob Hoose’s Year-End Picks

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Top Games year-end picks

We all know that it’s a pretty common thing these days to see families playing video games together. Games can be interactive, fun, and even educational if you find the right ones. Of course, finding the video games that fit your family room is the real challenge. And that equation can have as many variables as there are families, I guess.

So now that we’re nearing the end of 2017, we thought we’d mention a few of Plugged In’s favorites from the past year. Here are five winners from a couple different genres that might appeal to you and yours.

ArmsArms: When you think Nintendo, it’s likely that Zelda, Mario and maybe Kirby are the first things that leap to mind. But the fact is, the gamemakers at Nintendo know how to create good family-friendly games without those famous brands in the mix. Arms, for the Nintendo Switch, is one of the latest creations to aim for that happy-kid sweet spot—this time offering a different twist on the multiplayer fighting genre. There is plenty of color, plenty of creativity and plenty of fun in this game, which tends to be the way mom and Nintendo like it.

Platform: Nintendo Switch; Rating: E10+

 Aven ColonyAven Colony: For those who love their building simulators and real-time strategy, this game does it right. And along with the typical challenges of those genres, it mixes in a healthy dose of sci-fi story intrigue that actually kicks the typically sedate building sim formula up a notch. Without hitting you with anything too complicated, Aven Colony offers up just enough deep-space conflict and complexity to keep your brain engaged and to deliver a nice rewarding sense of satisfaction by mission’s end.

Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC; Rating: E10+

Horizon ZeroHorizon Zero Dawn: This PS4 exclusive was definitely one of the best action -adventure games this year, and it put gamers in an age of human tribesmen who hunt giant robot creatures with handmade bows and spears. How’s that for some creative spice? The game also raises interesting questions about the nature of man, the choices we make in a tech-driven world and our propensity for good or evil. That said, though, there’s just enough of said evil depicted here to give this engaging game a too-sharp edge for any would-be pre-teen players.

Platform: PlayStation 4; Rating: T

 Mario plus RabbidsMario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle: This game is a crossover title between Nintendo’s Mario and Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids franchises. It’s something of a strategy shooter for the Nintendo Switch. I know, you’re probably thinking: A Mario shooter!? But it turns out that Mario playfully handles his gunplay almost as well as he handles a well-thrown barrel. I mean, he’s Mario, right? This little plumber guy can pretty much do anything without making a mess of it.

Platform: Nintendo Switch; Rating: E10+

Sonic ManiaSonic Mania: Platform game, anyone? Not all that many years ago, Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog ruled supreme. And in this new collection of running, jumping, flying and spin-dashing challenges he still does. Sonic Mania simply transports Sega fans, young and old, back to a snazzy reimagining of the nostalgic games they may recall from a bygone era. Fortunately, it’s free of any updated content banana peels that might trip up all that high-speed fun.

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch; Rating: E

As always, if you’ve got some other family favs that you’re aching to tell the world about, feel free to offer up your suggestions in the comments below. (I was told to keep it to a meager five by my mean old Scrooge of an editor. But we won’t frown too harshly in his direction.) Happy family gaming to one and all.

Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Evan Weisensel 9 days ago
What, no Cuphead?
Anonymous 8 days ago
I was rooting for Cuphead's success since I first heard of it in 2014. I love hand- drawn animation even though I didn't buy the game. However, I'm not surprised it was snubbed by Plugged In. After all, the reason Cuphead and Mugman are fighting all those bosses are because they are indebted to the devil.
Evan Weisensel 8 days ago
Though, they portray the Devil and gambling as one of the worst things imaginable. They didn't get around to reviewing i though, so maybe that's why it's not on here.
Muki Buhler 9 days ago
I'm interested as to why no Breath of The Wild.
Anonymous 8 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I was also surprised. That game is actually more kid friendly than Horizon Zero Dawn, and it's kinda shocking that Plugged In chose that game over Breath of the Wild.

Zelda: BotW, Super Mario Odyssey and Injustice 2 are the biggest snubs for this list, in my opinion.
Airship Prodigy 6 days ago
From what I can tell (I've only played Injustice 2), the storyline elements are a good bit more intense. That's my guess as to why it didn't make the list.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

LEGO City Undercover deserves to be on here.

Ok, so I know it originally came out in 2013 as a Wii U exclusive, but since barely anyone owned that console, we can probably make an exception here since it was re-released on all the new consoles.

LEGO City Undercover is, in my opinion, the best LEGO game EVER! Fun combat, funny dialogue, an original story (instead of being based off a movie), and a MASSIVE open world to explore, I really think that Tt games outdid themselves, and I'm glad they re-released it instead of letting it die with the Wii U.

Also, glad to see my man (er, hedgehog) Sonic is on this list! I haven't played Mania yet, but I'm planning to eventually.

I did play Sonic Forces, and while I don't think it's a bad game like some people do, I do also think it's the video game equivalent to eating cotton candy: fun while you're enjoying it, but you'll forget it once it's over. Well, aside from the music, anyway.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Also, just curious Bob, but what do you think is the PS4's best exclusive so far: Horizon Zero Dawn or Uncharted 4?
Alex Clark 9 days ago
lol, I was about to jump in and say MGS V, but that is actually not an exclusive
Anonymous 8 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

I personally think that Knack is the PS4's best exclusive. ;)

Okay, not really. For me, it's Uncharted 4 all the way!
Evan Weisensel 7 days ago
Uh oh, did somebody say Knack?

KNACK 2, BAYBEEEEEE!
*Here comes the money plays in the distance*
bobed 10 days ago
No, thanks to all. Never been able to appreciate video games.
Dan Haynes 10 days ago
Why, I'm shocked. Shocked I say! ;)
Evan Weisensel 9 days ago
Why'd you comment then?
bobed 9 days ago
Because I have a right to express my opinion in a free country. Why do YOU continuously insist on replying to me despite disagreeing with me?
Evan Weisensel 9 days ago
I was just curious as to why you'd comment on an article about video games to say that you're not interested in video games. It'd be like me commenting on an article about pretentious art house movies just to say I'm not interested in them. You're right, you are free to do that, but it just seems kind of pointless to do so to me seeing as it doesn't really add anything to the conversation...
bobed 9 days ago
If PluggedIn posted an article about pretentious art house movies, I'd probably comment on that, too. Is it weird that I throw my comments out there when this blog posts something? Really? Especially when this blog tends to post on a huge variety of subjects? Come on now.