The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the annual video
game trade show where most major publishers showcase their biggest and best
games for the upcoming holiday season in beyond. Despite the fact that the 2012
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles highlighted moregory and violent games than in years past, we were still able to find more
than 25 family-friendly games and accessories which we liked enough to call our
favorites. A few of these are available
now, and most will be here by holiday 2012.
We can’t wait to bring you more info on these as they are released.
Here are the FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com E3 2012 favorites,
separated by category. We’ll start with
our overall favorites first.
overall family-friendly games at E3 2012
– Activision – If you’re not up to speed on the hottest toy/video game
crossover, then here’s a crash course. Skylanders are real-life collectible
figurines that come to life within the Skylanders video game when placed on the
included “Portal of Power.” This year’s Skylanders Giants is the follow-up to
the franchise’s debut in 2011, and features more than 40 new collectible
characters, including 8 all-new “Giant” Skylanders which are bigger and more
powerful. It may sound like a gimmick,
but it actually works so well because Skylanders gameplay is spectacular
two-player co-op fun. And the Portal of
Power makes it easy to quickly switch characters whenever you want.
– Nintendo – We couldn’t be more excited to recommend Nintendo’s new Wii-U
console for families, and launch titles like Nintendo Playland are the perfect
illustration of the possibilities the new GamePad tablet controller will
provide. Nintendoland will feature
12 different games based on well-known Nintendo franchises like Donkey Kong,
Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion and more. Each game asks at least one player to utilize
the GamePad in a unique way, and often require lots of team work and
cooperation in order to best help each other play. For example, up to four players may try and
collect candy around a map which they can only view a part of at a time, while
the player with the GamePad tries to catch them and “tag” them and always has a
view of where everyone is.
Wonderbook: Book of
Spells – Sony Computer Entertainment America – Wonderbook is a genius idea
from PlayStation, in that it’s a real-life book that has AR codes all over it
which come to life when placed in front of the PlayStation Move camera. Harry Potter’s Book of Spells from JK Rowling
is the first title to be released for Wonderbook, and let’s player learn and
practice actual spells from Hogwarts, while watching themselves do it on
screen. It’s a magical experience, and
one that blends books and interactive entertainment.
Disney Epic Mickey 2:
The Power of Two – Disney Interactive - Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of
Two is the best two-player game families can look forward to this holiday
season. With bright and colorful
gameplay and gorgeous graphics on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the game is
an improvement over the first Epic Mickey, which featured some dark themes and
technical issues that helped prevent it from being a runaway family hit. Families will play side-by-side as Mickey and
Oswald as they use a combination of paint and thinner to battle the evil forces
which are tearing apart many classic Disney backdrops.
Lego Batman 2: DC
Super Heroes – WBIE – This cooperative Lego game starts 50 characters from
the DC universe of comic book heroes, such as Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder
Woman, the Flash and more. It’s got the
classic Lego sense of humor, dozens of hours worth of replayability with hidden
collectible items, and is bound to be a cooperative blast for families this
games for families with preschoolers:
Kinect Nat Geo TV
– Microsoft – Many families made the switch from Wii to Kinect in 2011, and
they now have a new breed of Kinect game to look forward to with these TV style
offerings due out in time for the holidays.
Filmed with real Nat Geo TV hosts, Kinect Nat Geo TV plays like a real
television episode, but with action sequences in between educational
moments. For example, kids and parents
will need to get off the couch and eat fish like grizzly bears after learning
how they gobble them with their mouths as they jump out of the river.
Kinect Sesame Street
TV – Microsoft – We’re so intrigued and excited by the new breed of Kinect
TV games that we had to include two on our list. Kinect Sesame Street TV features 8 full
episodes of Sesame Street that were actually filmed in conjunction with this
past season that aired on PBS. But
thanks to the Kinect Camera, kids and grown-ups can interact with characters
and familiar scenes in silly and fun ways that make learning interactive,
educational and hilariously fun.
Just Dance Disney
Party – Disney Interactive – The wildly successful Just Dance formula is
getting the Disney treatment, with songs and routines to Disney movie classics
as well as tunes from the current lineup on the Disney Channel. Elementary-aged kids will also love Just
Dance Disney Party, including the extended freeze mode which requires kids to
stand perfectly still for extended periods – no small feat!
Nickelodeon Dance 2
– 2KPlay – This sequel to last year’s Nickelodeon Dance is designed for
preschoolers, starring Dora, Kai-Lan, the Fresh Beat Band, Team Umizoomi, the
Bubble Guppies and the Backyardigans.
Songs from all these favorite Nick Jr. shows are here in Nickelodeon
Dance 2, with easy dance moves for kids that also provide good exercise. And
while many adults find the Fresh Beat Band to be over-the-top on the cheese
scale, this chance to hear their songs as they stand on their own may surprise.
games for families with kids & tweens:
Where’s My Perry?
– Disney Interactive – We couldn’t help but include this awesome app that is
basically a mash-up of the smash hit Where’s my Water with the Phineas &
Ferb universe. Featuring a heavy dose of
Dr. Doofenshmirtz and evil lasers, as well as inside-jokes based on Phineas
& Ferb, there’s no doubt that Where’s My Perry is the must-have app for summer
vacation, all 104 days of it.
Rayman Legends –
Ubisoft – The beautiful hand-drawn characters and backgrounds are only one
reason we love Rayman Legends for Wii-U.
We also love the cool use of the GamePad tablet controller that requires
teamwork and strategic timing in order to help the action on the main TV screen
Harry Potter Kinect
– WBIE – Featuring highlights from all eight Harry Potter movies, this Kinect
game places kids alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione as they progress their way
through Hogwarts and ultimately to the final battle with Voldemort.
Sly Cooper: Thieves
in Time – Sony Computer Entertainment America – Longtime favorite Sly
Cooper is back in a game being designed by folks who are probably bigger fans
of the series than you are. This means they’re lovingly paying attention to all
the right details and gameplay elements in this single-player adventure that
sees traveling through time to help fix the time problems his long-lost
ancestors (such as Sir Gallacooper) are having.
Smart As… - Sony
Computer Entertainment America – Bringing brain-training to Vita, Smart As…uses
all the Vita features to test Logic, Reflexes, Arithmetic and more. What’s
really cool about Smart As… is the way that statistics can be quickly tracked
and compiled to help compare different groups across your own personal network,
countries and even continents.
family-friendly games for teens
– Square Enix – It may look like a first-person shooter, but it’s really all
about shifting dimension and utilizing the objects around you (usually boxes of
some sort) to progress through a mad professor’s mansion. Need a heavy object but only have a cardboard
box? Shift to heavy dimension. Need to float across a chasm but only have a
safe. Throw it, switch to slo-mo
dimension to jump on top of it, and then alternate between gravity and no-gravity
dimensions as you ride it across long distances. Quantum Conundrum requires lots of thinking
and precise timing.
Dance Central 3 –
Harmonix – Learn to dance from the pros, as celebrity choreographers such as
Usher climb aboard the Dance Central 3 train to include real-life moves they
perform on their tours and in their videos.
New Super Mario Bros
Wii-U – Nintendo – Although it essentially plays nearly identically to New
Super Mario Bros. U, that’s not a bad thing at all. What is new is the use of a “helper” player
holding the GamePad tablet that can place objects and stun enemies to help up
to four players play through the level on the main screen.
All-Stars Battle Royale – Sony Computer Entertainment America – This
brawler is perfect for competitive minded teens, providing detailed arenas
based on popular PlayStation franchises as a backdrop for four-player brawling
action. There’s a mixture of characters
from E-, T- and M-rated franchises here which gives us a bit of pause, but
ultimately these characters perform actions that are age-appropriate for this
likely T-rated game.
– WBIE – Using the Wii-U GamePad as the input device, Scribblenauts Unlimited
lets players devise nearly anything they can imagine by simply spelling it out,
and then inserting it into the game to see if it solves the problem. Need to cross a giant chasm? See if a red iguana might help you (spoiler:
it probably won’t). We love
Scribblenauts for its ability to allow players and families to stretch their
creativity to solve problems.
games for playing together:
Rabbids Land Wii-U
– Ubisoft – The zany Rabbids, with their surprisingly endearing loud-mouth,
potty-humor-loving antics, are back in this board-game style title which sees
players use Wii-U enhanced mini-games to try and progress through the
game. It’s perfect for family game night
or simply playing with your friends.
Just Dance 4-
Ubisoft – The cool thing about Just Dance 4 is the game’s “DJ” mode which
allows a player to hold the Wii-U GamePad tablet to select the upcoming dance
moves for up to four other players. It
means no dance is ever the same, and that Just Dance will continue to be a
great title for any sort of gathering.
Sonic & All-Stars
Racing Transformed – SEGA – Sonic and friends are taking their cart-racing
to the land, air and sea, complete with numerous items and tracks that are all
based on popular SEGA franchises. Fans
of Sonic and more will love seeing the attention to detail in each level as
they fly through the air or take to the water.
Game & Wario –
Nintendo – It’s another collection of games for Wii-U, and we’re not
complaining. These activities are based
on the WarioWare characters, and can even provide for multiple players to
participate while simply watching the screen while one player uses the GamePad
tablet to try and fool them. There are
all sorts of permutations for multiplayer fun with Game & Wario for Wii-U.
Little Big Planet
Kart Racing – Sony Computer Entertainment America – Little Big Planet and
cart racing are a match made in heaven, with fully customizable tracks, items
and more that make even user-generated experiences feel like they were made for
developers – and vice versa. Little Big
Planet kart Racing is a must-have game this holiday season for any PlayStation
innovative family-friendly games:
NBA Baller Beats
– Majesco – We’ve seen motion controls and even no controls, but now we’ve seen
a game that uses a basketball as the control.
If you can get past the obvious hesitation and concerns with encouraging
dribbling basketballs inside a house, you’ll find a rhythm game in which each
dribble, crossover and head-fake must be done in time with the music. Even after just playing NBA Baller Beats for
one song, you’ll notice your ball-handling skills improving.
Dice + - Dice +-
This accessory uses Bluetooth to connect to nearly any device, whether it’s a
tablet, TV or smartphone, and uses special apps to serve as a gameboard while
you roll the real-life Dice + to either move the action along or choose an
item. The Dice + comes with 9 apps
available for download, and looks to be a cool way to have a high-tech family
game night where you are all gathered around a table and interacting, but in a
very modern way.
Sphero – Sphero –
This is another Bluetooth device for smartphones and tablets which has a number
of functions which make it an interesting consideration for families. Not only can use a free app to control like a
remote-controlled car, you can also use a different free app to program and
create your own sequences, which can later be shared with other. Pick up the Sphero or put it on a table and
it becomes a game controller for even more free apps. It’s got a hefty price tag – more than $100 –
but it’s worth keeping an eye on as an innovative way that families can play
together using technology.
Unfinished Swan –
SCEA – We’re tempted to call this the blank slate video game, as players are
given minimal actual gameplay instruction outside of a storybook-style intro
about a boy who is magically inserted into his grandfather’s painting. Players will need to figure out all the
controls and objectives on their own, and as they do so they’ll unravel the
story and feel a great sense of power and validation from deciding everything
Super Monkey Ball Banana
Splitz – SEGA – With the abundance of Super Monkey Ball games for nearly
every platform, you’re family is likely familiar with the franchise and may be
surprised to see it here as innovative.
But the VITA version does something really cool that we can’t wait to
try ourselves. You can take a picture of
any object and after a few seconds of thinking, Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz
will generate a level based on your photo.
It means that even for players that complete everything they can in this
game, there’s literally a world full of levels for them to create and explore. How’s that for replayability?
Johner Riehl is the founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com. He's also a freelance writer focusing on all areas of families and technology, and is a regular contributor to TechSavvyMag.com, Zui.com and Wired Moms. He's also a featured writer and co-author of Scott Steinberg's Modern Parent's Guide series. TWITTER: @FmlyFrndlyVdGms & @FamilyTechDad