LEGO Worlds – Mar. 7 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
LEGO games are always a sure fit for family gaming, but LEGO Worlds is a bit different from what’s come before. The title is a massive open-world sandbox game that lets players roam around and construct their own creations out of LEGO bricks. It’s basically the long awaited meeting of a Minecraft-style game with a LEGO world.
For anyone that’s into the massively popular toy line, LEGO Worlds is a dream come true. You can build practically anything you can imagine, and have complete freedom to build. Of course, there are pre-built LEGO structures you can erect, or you can choose to construct things brick by brick. It also features a number of vehicles, costume options, and monsters. Later on after the game’s release it will additionally be adding multiplayer and world sharing. It’s the perfect title to engage anyone’s imagination, and is sure to keep them interested for hours upon hours .
Yooka-Laylee – Apr. 11 (Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch)
Yooka-Laylee is made by the newly formed Playtonic Games, a studio comprised of former key members of Rare. Many of the developers behind the game worked on titles like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. As such, Yooka-Laylee is a huge throwback to the whimsical character platformer games of the N64 and PS1 days.
The game focuses on Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat, as they try to take down an evil corporation that’s turning all the world’s literature into profit. It’s an easy to pick up and play platformer that has you utilizing each character’s specific skillset to navigate the world and solve puzzles. The colorful and cartoony art style instantly appeals to kids, and it looks to have much of the tongue-in-cheek humor that Banjo-Kazooie did. It even features a host of arcade style multiplayer minigames. As it’s coming to pretty much every current system, this is a must play for kids and families alike.
Super Mario Odyssey – Holiday 2017 (Switch)
Mario is one of the most recognizable character in the world, and his newest game looks like it’ll be as charming and inventive as any other. Super Mario Odyssey sees the plumber go on yet another sprawling adventure, this time going to dense forests, arid deserts, and even a massive New York looking city. Odyssey returns to more of an open world kind of design, giving players huge areas to explore instead of linear platforming levels.
A new partner comes along with him on the journey in the form of a sentient hat, that also has a use in gameplay. You can throw your hat to take out enemies, or jump on it to reach high platforms. With the added power of the Switch, the series looks better than ever before. We still haven’t seen a ton of the game, but Mario is consistently a hit with players of all ages, and is sure to delight the younger crowd.
Splatoon 2 – Summer 2017 (Switch)
The original Splatoon was a wildly different game for Nintendo as it was a team-based shooter . However, Nintendo still made the title very family friendly and managed to put their trademark charm into it. You play as an Inkling, a squid kid that can literally transform between a squid…. and a kid. The whole point of Splatoon is to cover the battlefield with your team’s ink color, and control a majority of it. You can “splat” other players but the real focus is on controlling the map, making teamwork absolutely vital to Splatoon.
Of course, it really helps that Splatoon has an absolutely absurd and unique style. Everything about the game is unlike anything else, right down to the aesthetic and music. Splatoon 2 looks to add even more weapons and options for players. The original game already looks fantastic, but the added power of the Switch adds a level of sheen onto the world that makes it even better. The second game is also going to feature a single player mode, and being able to take your Switch with you makes it even more appealing. Whether playing it at home or on the go, Splatoon 2 is a title that younger fans should really enjoy.
Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World – Feb. 3 (3DS)
Yoshi’s Wooly World is one of the most absolutely adorable games ever made, with a fantastic looking yarn art style. Poochy and Yoshi’s Wooly World brings the original Wii U game to 3DS, with a handful of new levels to go along with it. These new levels see you playing as Yoshi’s adorable dog Poochy, and there’s even a new amiibo to go along with it.
The title is a fairly easy platformer that sees Yoshi traveling around a series of islands to rescue his fellow Yoshis that have been turned into yarn bundles by the evil Magikoopa Kamek. There’s some really smart visual twists the game has like having to unzip areas to keep going, or throw yarn balls to rebuild something. Yoshi’s Wooly World is such a vibrant, that it’s just pure fun to play.
Arms – Spring 2017 (Switch)
Nintendo Switch already has a few unique looking titles, between the party game 1-2 Switch and the new fighting game Arms. The latter, coming to the Switch this Spring, pits two players against each other as characters that have crazy extendable arms.
You use the new Joy-Con controllers as boxing gloves, one in each hand. A combination of motion and button presses control your punches, blocks, and special attacks. Timing and strategy is going to be key to overcome opponents. Multiplayer is easily playable in split-screen, meaning Arms is a great game to play at a party or with friends around. Of course, it’s also just as exciting entirely on your own.
Nintendo already has a huge stable of family friendly titles, both sports related and not. Arms looks like a fine addition to their repertoire, and a fun sports related title for younger players.
Crash Bandicoot: N’Sane Trilogy – Fall 2017 (PS4)
The N’Sane Trilogy gives a brand new generation of video game fans a chance to play the Crash Bandicoot. The first game was originally released on the PS1 back in 1996, and it featured a wacky main character who’s a part of the fictional species called Bandicoots.
Crash Bandicoot has you running through a series of platforming/puzzle levels, requiring you to dodge obstacles and defeat enemies. It’s a fast-paced game that definitely takes getting used to, but is incredibly fun once you get the hang of things. The N’Sane trilogy remasters the first three Crash Bandicoot games, updating them for the PS4. The titles look absolutely gorgeous, and Crash himself is a colorful and crazy character that definitely should appeal to kids. There’re three incredibly fun and worthwhile experiences here, making it a valuable purchase for any younger player.
Sonic Mania – 2017 (Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch)
Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most famous gaming icons of all time, and has had over 20 different games on various systems over the years. His newest title, however, takes a step back into the past. Sonic Mania is a retro throwback to the old days of Sonic, making the game a sprite-based 2D platformer again.
The game features “remixed” classic levels like Green Hill Zone, as well as brand new levels. Both Tails and Knuckles come back for the title, and Sonic even has some new moves up his sleeve. Mania has that same level of speed and style that the original Sonic games had, and it looks like a true return to form. It’s an absolute must for anyone that’s a fan of Sonic, and a thrilling experience for younger players .
Just Dance 2017 – Already Released (Various)
Just Dance has become one of the biggest gaming franchises around in recent years, and always proves to be great family friendly and party game. Like with previous titles, 2017 has you using motion controls to mimic the movements of on screen dancers, and win points based on their accuracy. Recent iterations have even added a free app that’ lets you use your smartphone as a controller.
There’s also a new mode in 2017 called “Just Dance Machine,” which has players dancing through sequences of different styles to help recharge an alien spaceship. With new songs and modes, Just Dance 2017 is the perfect title to keep younger players coming to whether on their own or with friends. It certainly helps that it’s released on just about everything you can play video games on.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – March 3 (Switch, Wii U)
Zelda is yet another one of the most well known video game series around, sending players on adventures in beautiful and engrossing fantasy worlds. Breath of the Wild changes up the series’ core design, however, by making it an open-world title. Of course, there’s still all the adventure and puzzle solving you could hope for from a Zelda game.
Breath of the Wild is the first big game for Nintendo Switch, launching on the same day as Nintendo’s new system. The title has been in development for years now, and it’s looking like another fine entry in the franchise. Zelda games are always kid friendly, as even though their fantasy worlds are fraught with danger, it’s done in a style that isn’t overly obtuse or violent.
Breath of the Wild is truly one of the must have titles of the year, and an epic engrossing adventure for video game fans of all ages.