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

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.

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