Holiday Gift Ideas: The Best Family Games of the Year

John Biggs
Good News

Rather than run down a list of games that your kids might play all alone in their rooms, hunched over their controllers, I decided to recommend a few games that you and the little ones (or not so little ones) can play together. These are some of the best titles I've seen this year and they're all available now for various platforms.

New Super Mario Bros U - If you've picked up a Wii U (or are planning to), this is the game to get. While NintendoLand is fun -- it's sort of a Wii Sports for the U and it comes free with every console -- the real winner on the console is NSMBU. It's basically Mario Brothers in HD with lots of chances for multi-user play. Best of all, the littlest players can use one of the controllers to place platforms for other players to jump on during tough spots in the game, allowing less experienced players to leap and swoop through the various levels without dying too many times.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - Until Nintendo comes out with a new Mario Kart Racing, Sonic is pretty much the best family racer you can get. This multi-platform game lets you ride around fun tracks in cars that turn into airplanes and boats, and shoot crazy weapons at each other including firecrackers, ice, and bees. Best of all, Wreck-It Ralph makes a cameo. It's on all the consoles, including the Wii U, so you can play it no matter which one you have.

Halo 4 - Here's a game made for one player that is much more fun with two. While it's a bit violent, the sweeping spacescapes and acceptably intelligent enemies make it a great Parent-Kid game to spend a few hours on after a holiday dinner. The game is quite beautiful, as well, featuring amazing scenery and clever vehicles.

Kingdom Rush - Kingom Rush is a tower defense game -- you basically have to defend your home base from monsters, knights, and wizards -- but it teaches plenty about planning, strategy, and even a little math. It's a great one for long car rides and can be a fun family project as you and the kids plot out how to stop the evil Yeti from taking down your palace. It's available on most tablets.


Small World - Not every game out there needs an HD TV and three controllers to play. Small World is a great family board game that pits various monsters against each other on a huge map. You take over each other's land, prevent your monsters from going extinct, and spend hours having a bit of family fun. It may not beep and boop, but sometimes the best games don't come on a disc.

What are your favorite games to play with the kids -- and will you buy any as gifts this holiday?

Images via Nintendo, Days of Wonder

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