Are you sick and tired of watching the more hardcore members of your family blasting away at zombies, aliens, and enemy soldiers? Wish you could pick up something for the loved one who's looking for more than just target practice? Then check out our holiday gift guide for casual gamers. It's full of cost-effective, family-friendly alternatives to violent shooters and complicated RPG's.
Perfect for children and utterly hilarious for adults, Costume Quest offers a fun, family-friendly game for an affordable, downloable price tag. Jump into the roller-skate shoes of a young boy whose sister has been kidnapped by ogres on Halloween Eve. Explore the neighborhood, collect candy, discover newer, more powerful costumes and transform into your best imaginary self to fight the monsters and rescue your sister. With incredible animation and a sharp, cartoonish visual style, Costume Quest is great for the entire family.
Mega Man 10
There’s nobody alive who doesn’t enjoy Mega Man, except maybe Dr. Wily, and he’s not alive, he’s fictional. So, basically every single person on the planet loves Mega Man. And the iconic, blue robot is back to his old-school, 8-bit shenanigans with Mega Man 10, a classically presented, retro adventure. The new “Easy Mode” makes the game more accessible to beginners, while a handful of additional levels, bosses and challenges give experienced players something new to discover.
Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
Take a trip back down memory lane to the old-school days of point-and-click adventure games with this downloadble remake of Monkey Island 2. Boasting entirely new graphics, a pick-up-and-play control scheme and hours upon hours of hilarious puzzle solving, Monkey Island 2: Special Edition is perfect for gamers of all ages. And with a quick flick of the thumb, nostalgic gamers can switch back to the original presentation of the game, a stark contrast to the high-definition art painstakingly recreated for this new release.
Rock Band 3
Mother, father, son, daughter or raucous college student, if you don’t yet own Rock Band, you need your head examined. If you do, then pick up your plastic equipment and rock out to Rock Band 3, the latest release in this wildly popular franchise that puts you on stage and makes you into a rock god. With a bevy of new features, songs and instruments (say hello to your new best friend, the keyboard, folks) Rock Band 3 is easily the cleanest, most comprehensive and enjoyable version of the game to date. Rock Band 3 is a must-buy for those less interested in shooting things this holiday season.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
If there’s a single word in gaming that communicates to parents, “This game will not transform your child into a violent psychopath,” it’s the word, “Mario.” Fortunately, Nintendo knows this better than anybody and has continued its commitment to chubby, migrant plumbers with Mario Galaxy 2, the sequel to last year’s high enjoyable adventure. Explore dozens of planets and battle dozens of bosses in Mario’s latest trip into space to rescue the princess, defeat Bowser, and help some mushroom-headed little people. The single greatest reason to own a Wii this year, Mario Galaxy 2 deserves a place on your shopping list for the kids this holiday season.
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing
Next to Mario and Mega Man on this list, clearly the blue-haired hedgehog has a place on your stocking-stuffer list for the youngins and casuals gamers. Add some kart-style racing and a handful of classic Sega characters to a classic Sonic game that's packed with themed, scenic levels, modes and challenges, and you’ve got yet another title for the family that doesn’t include zombies or headshots!
3D Dot Game Heroes
A high-definition, modern-day throwback to the old-school, Zelda-style adventure games – in fact, it basically is Zelda – 3D Dot Game Heroes is a blast to play. With a fun, fantasy story, clever visual style, weapons, power-ups, magical powers and a pixelatd world to explore, this exercise is nostalgia is great for aging gamers looking to reconnect with some of their old favorites and newer, younger gamers looking for an enjoyable, easy to use, family-friendly adventure.
Not every game has to be about guns, grenades, swords, and fireballs. Sometimes, just sometimes, they can be about dance! Thanks to Microsoft Kinect, the gamers themselves can now act as the controller, and since we all know that the family who dances together, stays together, Dance Central might be the best bet for the casual, Kinect-enabled gamer. Test your moves and learn a few more from this club game, no matter what your skill is on an actual dance floor.
LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
While the latest in the hugely popular LEGO franchise does little to shake up the formula, the change of scenery to the hallways of Hogwarts makes for an incredibly fun adventure filled with secrets, challenges and plenty unloackables to keep kids and adults engaged for hours. Perfect for the casual and hardcore gamer alike, the title sports some impressive visuals and stunning magic effects, as well as some surprisingly clever puzzles and a comically compressed version of the first four books in the series. If you, your family, or you friends are a fan of the LEGO series thusfar, there’s no reason not to own this latest adventure.
Virtually no game has stolen our time this year more effectively than Angry Birds. Whether it’s on our iPad or our cell phones, every free second we have, we’re lining up shots and firing birds with our trusty slingshot into the poorly constructed hideouts of the nefarious green pigs. The concept is simple. Help the birds win back their stole eggs from the green pigs. You do this by angling up your slingshot and firing your birds – each of which have individual abilities – into the collapsing structures built by the pigs. Knock ‘em down and wrack up points to proceed to the next level. Adorable, funny, but most of all challenging, Angry Birds is easily the best mobile game of the year.