Imagine that you just had your Thanksgiving dinner this year. Everyone is sitting in the family room together, staring blankly at a television and some dumb ads about going Black Friday shopping are on. Nobody is really talking to each other. Or you’re (unfortunately) preparing to go Black Friday shopping after getting convinced by those ads when you could just go buy that stuff online, man, what are you doing? Why aren’t you playing video games instead, like one big, happy family? Am I right? Or am I right? I think I’m right. I have to be right. So I figured that I’d write you a list the day before Thanksgiving on the video games you should totally try and attempt to play with your family, which may or may not go absolutely horrible. But anyways, here’s the list:
1. Any 4 Play Co-Op Super Mario Bros. Game
New Super Mario Bros. (Wii and Wii U) and Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) just make far too much sense. Four player Mario co-op is some of the most fun you could possibly have with other human beings…while playing video games, of course. It is frantic and crazy and is absolute nonsense at times, but that’s why it’s good in the first place. These games realize that the absolute point of video games isn’t just to play them alone; you can play them with others, on the couch (not online), and still have an absolute blast. Nintendo has kept that spirit alive and well with these Mario games and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
2. Rayman Origins/Legends
The two new Rayman games released in 2011 and 2013 are an absolute blast to play in solitude. And frankly, are the preferred way to play if you want to collect everything, but if you want to have just pure and simple fun, get three others (or four if you’re playing the Wii U version of Legends) and go absolutely nuts. This is similar to Mario in the same ways: crazy and frantic four-player co-op platforming that is video games at their best. It reminds you why you even liked to play games in the first place. And maybe play them with your family or something. That’d be nice.
Are you in the mood for some Playstation platforming instead? Well, go find a copy of LittleBigPlanet! Though I’ve heard LittleBigPlanet 3 has some problems, (I’ve yet to play it) you can still have a good time with any version of the game (at least the ones on consoles for co-op). I’d say this is the last choice for platformers in my opinion, it uses “floaty” jumps which I’m not personally crazy about and I prefer the platforming of Rayman and Mario, but regardless, the advantage that LBP has is custom levels. People have put in obsessive, disturbing amounts of time into creating fantastic levels that are better than the levels that come with the game in the first place.
4. Super Smash Bros.
N64, Gamecube, Wii, Wii U, any of them. Play em’. Now. This is the most obvious pick. Anyone can pick up and play Smash Bros, even the most incompetent gamer could. It’s fast, frantic, and absolute fun and you get to beat up each other with recognizable Nintendo characters. And hey, that new one just came out. Go play that. This is by far the best pick I could ever recommend.
5. Mario Party
Do you want to hate your family by the end of the game? Sort of like those times you played Monopoly and flipped the table over because the banker cheated? Play Mario Party! Where the minigames are insane, sometimes incompetent, sometimes a blast, and sometimes completely unfair! It’s always fun to walk around a board, steal stars from people, and play the minigames. I recommend the N64 versions of the game, those are the ones I have the most memories with and are by far the most interesting of the bunch.
6. Mario Kart
Half this list is Mario and for good reason. It’s Mario Kart. Everyone knows Mario Kart. Your grandma knows Mario Kart (probably not actually). All you gotta do is use a control stick and press the A button, it can’t be that hard for the family dog to play. Any iteration of the game is good for co-op (console iteration) and is simple, easy, and the definition of pick up and play.
7. Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed
I’m going to say something controversial: I like this game more than Mario Kart. Yeah, I said it. I’ve had a lot more fun with this game and it’s such a solid racer, and, it’s nice to see a real competitor to Mario Kart for once. It has a Diddy Kong Racing style mechanic with different vehicles except unlike that game, the vehicles transform mid-race, and it causes you to think on your feet and adds a completely different game style to the kart racer. Beyond that, there are plenty of classic Sega characters in the game, from Sonic The Hedgehog to Jet Set Radio to Nights into Dreams, plenty of variety from Sega’s catalog is represented in tracks as well.
8. Call of Duty Nazi Zombies
Wanna shoot stuff with your family instead? Go ahead! I think even the people who hate Call of Duty have to admit this mini game originally included in World At War is incredibly fun and always will be. It’s a simple survival game that is fun with as many people as possible, unfortunately, you’ll only be able to play with a total of two people on local co-op, but hey, maybe people will like watching too. (Who doesn’t like to watch people shoot zombies? Right? Right…?)
9. Playstation All Stars Battle Royale
Unpopular opinion time! I actually really like this game. Essentially, this was Sony’s attempt at a Smash Bros. game and it’s pretty effective. If we’re going to be honest, Playstation characters are nowhere near as notable in terms of being recognized. Your family might be questioning who the hell this Nathan Drake guy is or that weird skeleton from a PSOne game is or that rapper from some rhythm game is, but hey, it’s still fun! It’s not as pick up and play as Smash Bros. since kills are based upon using special moves which might not be clear right away, as a whole, it has more of a learning curve, but is still nearly as accessible as Smash Bros. and (almost) just as fun.
10. The Last of Us
Do you wanna make your family cry? Or get emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel? Well, it’s the best way to spend Thanksgiving really! I mean who doesn’t like a game where infected attack you and you get worried and tense and have to shoot at them with very little ammo? Extraordinary family-friendly, Naughty Dog did a good job with that factor. In fact, this game is more accessible Smash Bros. on your Thanksgiving evening! Everyone will laugh and cry and have a great time being in emotional distress weeks after playing it together (or watching it together and one person playing it). Besides, the game has giraffes in it, is that not family-friendly enough for you?
That’s my top ten list of games you should totally play with your family on Thanksgiving! (Okay, okay, more like nine.) Hopefully, you enjoyed this post with (mostly) serious picks that you could actually play with family; especially all those wonderful Nintendo games that still manage to capture the real spirit of video games and video game co-op. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and happy gaming! (And don’t go Black Friday shopping, wait for the deals online!)
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Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):
Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).