A Guide to Finding the Best Holiday Video Games for Families on the Nintendo Wii

When it comes to family friendly video games, the Nintendo Wii is my favorite system. The console has rapidly become a family favorite as it is one of the few video game systems that can draw in family members who don’t even like video games. Whether it is enjoying a game of bowling or trying ski jumping, the Wii has an uncanny capable of attracting the attention of almost everyone.
Consequently, the Wii is a great choice for finding family video games. There are a number of existing titles out there that are family friendly video games in that they both appeal to all members of the family and are fairly harmless. One of the Wii’s strengths is that many of its games emphasize unique game play rather than the bloody and unique graphics that many systems emphasize.

In that spirit, here are six family friendly video games for the Nintendo Wii:

The Beatles: Rock Band – The Rock Band series has been one of the most popular video games of recent years and the latest release-The Beatles: Rock Band-is sure to continue the series’ popularity. The Beatles: Rock Band takes the elements that made the series enjoyable-mainly making it easy for anyone to be a rock star-and expanding on that game play by adding the music of one of history’s greatest rock bands. The game adds forty-five songs by The Beatles and succeeds as an incredibly enjoyable game for those familiar with The Beatles music (such as parents) and as a means of introducing a new generation to the music (such as their children). The game also can be used with a special set of Beatles-branded peripherals. Because of its appeal for both parents and kids, this is one of the many great video games for families.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii – One of the most popular video games for families this year will likely be the latest installment in Nintendo’s long running Super Mario Bros. series. The latest title is a bit of a throwback to Mario games of the past, with New Super Mario Bros. Wii being the first Mario title in several years to be a simple side-scrolling platform game. Of course, it features contemporary graphics and unique controls provided by the Wii remote (the controls blend traditional button pushing with moving the remote). The game offers multiplayer support for up to four players at a time, making it the first Mario title since the 1980s to have simultaneous multiplayer support. Given the popularity of past Mario titles, this game will be one of the top family friendly video games of the year.

Wii Fit Plus – The original Wii Fit is one of the most enjoyable titles for the Nintendo Wii. It offered a number of enjoyable exercise activities in video game form to encourage even the most ardent couch potato to start an exercise regimen. For the most part, it worked as the video game made exercising considerably more enjoyable while also making it easy to track your progress through an extensive profile system. Wii Fit Plus updates the original Wii Fit title by simplifying the profile system and adding a new way of tracking burned calories. In addition, there are new games such as skateboarding and cycling. It’s one of the many great family video games nor the Wii and it’s a great update to the original Wii Fit.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off – While an admittedly quirky title, Cooking Mama: Cook Off is a surprisingly fun video game and one of the best family friendly video games. The game’s unlikely premise-you are a cook-is surprisingly fun and the whole family will be laughing as members of your family use the Wii remote to prepare a wide variety of dishes by cutting, slicing, and dicing. The two-player game will probably most appeal to families with slightly older children, but it is a fun game nevertheless. If your family enjoys watching show such as Iron Chef or is looking for a truly unique video game, you can be sure they will enjoy Cooking Mama: Cook Off.

Mario Kart Wii – The original Mario Kart game for the Super Nintendo provided my family with hours of entertainment. Mario Kart Wii is no different-it’s one of the many great family video games for the Nintendo Wii. The game takes the classic elements of the original Mario Kart game-mainly great multiplayer game play-and enhances it with new graphics, new cars, new tracks, and a lot of other bells and whistles. As a nod to the classic Mario Kart games over time, Mario Kart Wii lets players race on all of the tracks featured in the old games. In addition, the game comes with the Wii Wheel accessory that turns your Wii remote into a steering wheel (additional Wii Wheels can be purchased if desired).

Super Smash Bros. Brawl – The Super Smash Bros. series has grown over time to become one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games around and the latest installment for the Nintendo Wii doesn’t disappoint. The game features imaginative new levels, a large selection of characters from classic Nintendo games (some of which-such as Kid Icarus-will surprise older games), and great multiplayer fun. It simplifies the classic fighting video game format by making the moves easier and reducing the violence (it is very cartoon-like), making the game a great choice for a family friendly video game. Moreover, the game has a ton of different options for customizing it, which provides a great value over time.

Audiosurf Putting Your Music in the Game

The genre of music video games has become stale in the past few years, with 2009 seeing a large decline in sales. Guitar Hero, Rock Band and even Dance Dance Revolution have all had many sequels and they are falling quickly in sales as people become bored of the yearly sequels and expansion packs with more of the same. even the fresher DJ Hero failed to make much of a mark.
Along comes Audiosurf, a indie music title by Dylan Fitterer that takes what you love about the genre, but does away with all the bells and whistles and needless accessories that have caused so many problems. Audiosurf lets you use your own music for its games soundtrack, meaning you have a limitless supply of new content to play through.

Unlike Guitar Hero and the like, Audiosurf requires nothing more than a PC and a collection of digital music. The gameplay is simple, you pilot your ship down a road and dodge gray blocks and collect colored ones. Bet you’re wondering where the hook is, your music is analyzed and dictates the shape of the track. All the blocks are placed according to beats and vocals in the music, the road twists, turns, and dips according to the music as well. Each song you play will create a different road to travel with different obstacles.

If you think this sounds too simple that depends on your skill level. You can let the computer autopilot if you just want to stare at the eye-candy, or drive the track in a large selection of vehicles with different abilities, and varying difficulty levels. To keep you going to try and better your runs, the game has a global scoreboard as well as 17 Steam Achievements with such tasks as earning 30,000 points per minute in a 3+ minute song.

Now for the technical stuff. I mentioned eye-candy before, and Audiosurf has varying levels of it. The game is very scalable and even computers a few years old should be able to run it without any issues. If you have a higher-end rig though, the game can look downright amazing with so much happening in concert with your music selection. There are extensive options to allow you to tweak the visuals and sound effects to your liking and the game never sees any slowdown as long as you don’t put on the highest graphical setting on an old computer.

As for what type of music files you can play, you can go with Audio CDs sure, but the game can also play MP3, M4A, OGG, FLAC, and WMA files. It even has it’s own selection of frequently updated tracks for you to play through as well as the complete soundtrack to Valve’s The Orange Box featuring Still Alive from the game Portal.

This game is not for people who want to pretend their rock stars or people who want to gloat about how much they spent for every expansion to a game. This is a game to have fun while listening to your favorite music. It can be played for hours at a time, or in one song bursts.

Audiosurf seems to be exclusive to Steam and costs $10 (less that you were expecting I bet) and can be found on sale on Steam with some regularity.

A Zombie Messed My Hair, I’m Going to London

Hello and welcome one and all.
For this little review I picked the oh so hyped Hellgate to write about.

I shall start by saying that I’m a really enthusiastic gamer, the kind you can’t stand when I like a game, but you really don’t hear me whining when I don’t.
Also, I like to think I only play good stuff, in every genre, but even more so in the rpg genre, be it with online or not.
I like immersion and good storytelling, and I have to admit that graphics DO matter, and also gameplay.

So, and because there’s already to many drama in most of the reviews I saw on Hellgate, I decided to make one, and be actually neutral.

So it all starts somewhere in the beginning of 2007 with one little video that went all over the web, it shows a cg video of Hellgate and presents two characters (one of them at least you can meet in game), well, I really liked the video and all, but I’m a mature gamer and I do know that “preview” videos have nothing to do with the game’s gameplay and final look. They are just sorta like concept art in video. So I waited, until finally they released the first in game video, and it was really impressive, it looked like they actually picked what they have learned and reinvented it, only way lot better.

Fast forward to the day I got the demo and my jaw really dropped, nothing REALLY impressive there, but I can say it was actually very good for a demo.
Good and intuitive gameplay, good level design (you get to play a couple of areas), interesting characters, the little wink to old Diablo fans (like me) right in the first station, all pointed to Hellgate as my newest and lasting addiction (I go through games like a madman).

Which takes us to launching day… Halloween 2007, a little earlier than I expected to be honest, but then again, I was glad my wait was over.
I grabbed my copy at EA store, my digital copy, with no special dye kits. I couldn’t avoid to feel a little excluded from this, “I want a dye kit to” thing. It was messy, and I’m far away from any of the places the mess happened. So I downloaded my copy from the EA store and fired it up, ready for an epic battle against the horde of demons swarming London.

And got really bored after a couple of hours.

Now, before you get all puzzled, let me explain.
Hellgate has everything to be a good game, and almost gets there.
It had problems at launch, yes, I kept getting disconnected after 5-15 minutes of playing online and sometimes crashed wile offline, yes.
Nothing that is not to common nowadays in the game industry.
But it is good, only not good enough for me.

The story is linear, except for the little twist at the end, and even that, hum.
The gameplay is simple enough, so simple actually it bored me a while after the second station.
The music is good, only none of it is catchy enough to inspire… anything (I disabled it a wile after).
My characters looked good from start to finish, that has got to be said (and the fact that female characters can have piercings it’s a plus 5 on my book).

And then there’s the new patch launched recently, which, as far as I know (and tried) squashed most of the bugs and gave subscribers a new area, and this is good, really good.
Means that the game is gonna keep growing after all, and maybe then those drama internet queens and wow fanboys can just shut up and go play whatever they like, and leave the good London defenders do their thing.

And maybe I’ll join them sometimes.

So, everyone that surprised I didn’t need to bash Flagship to make a review?