“Family friendly” is sometimes a label applied to video games that might otherwise be described in a polite manner as “not very good at all”. Most developers see the family market as easy to please – they’re only kids and old people after all – so the budget and effort that gets spent on AAA titles like Call of Duty just isn’t there. There are however a few absolute gems – which are both family friendly and incredible games to boot. Consider introducing your granny and kids to the console with these great co-op games this holiday season.
If the family friendly isn’t so important to you and you’re just looking for great local multiplayer, check out these 6 dorm room multiplayer favourites .
Little Big Planet 2 (PS3)
A shockingly cute platformed narrated by Stephen Fry, Little Big Planet is a truly gorgeous game that takes full advantage of the 3D processing power of the Playstation 3. Levels are varied; alternating between standard platformers, races, and uniquely creative mini-games that take advantage of the extensive physics engine and always surprise. It’s also a fairly forgiving game with respawn points spread throughout the level – as long as one player survives, you’ll soon find yourself brought back from doom. The bosses can be a little tough, but again, as long as one of you can make it through to end of the level you can still progress as a group.
Each player can fully customise their “sack puppet” with a huge range of costumes and accessories – you may find yourself sitting there for hours as you all try on different hats. No – really. As well as a compelling co-op campaign, there are thousands of user created levels you can download – and a level editor to have a go yourself.
If platform games aren’t your thing, there’s also a Little Big Planet Carting game.
Castle Crashers is a hilariously absurd epic fantasy adventure which pits you and 3 friends against a range of silly monsters. The art style is adorable, but in a very different way to Little Big Planet. There is a small amount of gore though, and the pace varies considerably – it can get a little frantic, so it’s generally more suited to teens than the very young or very old.
Lego *Anything* (Cross Platform)
When Lego made the jump from little bricks to the digital gaming market, it really wasn’t clear if they could pull it off successfully. The good news is that they did – stunningly well in fact – that the series went on to spawn tens of famous franchises done Lego style – from Indiana Jones, Star Wars, to Harry Potter and many more. Each game is fairly formulaic – guide a number of your favourite characters around a themed 3D environment, completing puzzles and collecting lego bricks – but it works so well. It’s good, clean fun for the whole family with forgiving gameplay mechanics at a relaxed pace.
Dance Central (Xbox 360)
Ok, so you do need to actually get up from the couch for these and granny may bow out, but learning a difficult dance routine then showing it off is something every kid loves to do. Making full use of the Kinect controller to accurately measure body movements, you’ll need to really nail these difficult (and real) dance moves to be successful. Co-operative or competitive play for 2 players at a time with various difficulties – for more players, you can create teams and have “dance-offs” against each other. Hook up an iPad or Surface with SmartGlass app in party mode to have a remote song chooser without interrupting gameplay.
When Vikings Attack (PS3)
An incredible simple game for up to 4 players that involves running around various arenas, throwing bits of the scenery like shopping trolleys and tables at the invading vikings (or each other, if you’re that way inclined). Fast paced and hectic, this may not be for all, but if you can follow the action then ensuing hilarity is almost guaranteed. Ludicrous fun for all the family, kids and adults alike.
New Super Mario Brothers U (Wii U)
A tired formula that won’t appeal to all, but fairly forgiving gameplay and squeaky clean – like nearly every Wii game, in fact. Personally, I’d recommend Little Big Planet 2 over Super Mario any day, but if you’re stuck on a Nintendo console then this is definitely a safe option for family co-op fun.
Rock Band (Xbox 360 / PS3 / Wii)
If you have the required living room space and are prepared to lay out a little more than your typical video game would cost (you can find used instrument sets on eBay for around $100), Rock Band is a classic music game with something for everyone – whether you’re into drums, guitar, or singing. There’s even a Lego Rock Band!
The trouble with Wii sports games was that once you figured out you could cheat, you really didn’t need to get up off the sofa any more and the appeal disappeared. The Xbox 360 and Kinect changed all that: Kinect Sports is the seminal first-party sports game from Microsoft that replicated a variety of different sports in one package. Winner of “Parents choice Award”, “Sports Game of the Year” and “Family Game of the Year”, Kinect Sports and it’s sequel – now in a combined $20 package – represent fantastic value for money with no less than 13 different sports included. Run your own family tournament! Disclaimer: Yes, you’re still going to look silly jumping around in the living room. Get over it and have fun!
These are all current generation titles of course – we’ve yet to see what’s to come for the new consoles, but it’s a good bet than anything launching for PS4 or Xbox One this Christmas probably won’t be family friendly. The benefit of buying games now for the last generation of consoles is that there’s so many bargains to be had.
If the idea of the whole family staring at the TV for hours is understandably disconcerting, consider investing in a few good quality European board games like Ticket To Ride – you’ll probably want to establish a weekly family board game night as a result. Perhaps even consider running a tabletop role playing game – a fantastic way to exercise children’s imagination!
What’s your favourite family co-op videogame – or are you more of a board gamer?
Image Credits: Family playing video games Via Shutterstock