Editor’s Note: The good folks at Nintendo of America recently invited NYC Dads Group to come check out their most kid-friendly offerings for the season. Our resident gamer Rich Gallagher offers this review.
I spent a lot of time playing video games as a kid and get to work with some game companies as an adult, so a lot of parents often ask me for recommendations this time of year on games to get their kids. While a lot of ink (not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars) has been spent in making PlayStation 4 and Xbox One the most sought-after gaming gifts this holiday season, I would advise to take a closer look at what Nintendo has to offer this season.
Nintendo 2DS (suggested retail price $129.99)
The original Nintendo DS became the most successful handheld system ever, thanks in large part to its popularity with the backpack set. Kids seem to really connect with portable systems – they love having something that’s uniquely theirs, that they can take along to school and on long car rides, and wirelessly sync up with their friends.
A few years ago, Nintendo launched 3DS, which added a glasses-free 3D display, and brought the graphical fidelity for the handheld category up to par with home consoles at the time. But my personal favorite new feature was a suite of social games that made use of the traveling nature of the system. Street Pass allows a 3DS to “talk” to all the other systems and exchange gifts, enter instant mini-competitions, and even swap characters and outfits in games. This added a lot of lasting value to the system, and made the simple act of getting out of the house and exploring an in-game reward.
The Nintendo 2DS was clearly designed with our kids in mind, featuring a lower price point and a very “small hands friendly” wedge form factor. They stripped out the 3D display, but I was delighted to see all the social and wireless features remained intact. As such, I would make this the go-to gift for anyone buying their children their first game console.
For the uninitiated, Nintendo’s handhelds are the home of the Pokemon series – so you’ll likely be buying one of these before too long, no matter what.
Also, I saw a few games:
Mario Party: Island Tour (for 3DS/2DS – $39.99)
A great addition to this longstanding “Mario characters in a board game that’s a video game” series. All the boards, mini-games,and characters we’ve come to expect from this franchise, updated for the 3DS/2DS era of handhelds. This is a particularly treat buy for kids because the game features Download Play, so you’re kid can wirelessly send the game to a friend’s system so they can play together, at no cost.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U – $59.99)
There’s definitely been an uptick in Mario games the last few years, but this one brings enough new ideas to the table to make it stand out. I didn’t get a chance to try out the simultaneous four-player action that is the focus of the TV ads, but what I did see was a really solid 3D platform that is simple enough for even young kids to enjoy, with all the hidden goodies and completion quests that have become a staple since “New Super Mario Bros.” It’s no wonder this is making “Game of the Year” lists.
This was a big surprise for me. In the past, these Olympics titles have been lukewarm at best. We get one every two years, they contain a number of mini-games based on Olympic sports. However, this year’s version added a few features that make great use of the Wii U, and really add to the overall offering.
Players can play online and contribute their points into a bank for their home country to help “win” that Olympic event and pick up a medal. And some innovative use of the Wii Remote makes pairs figure skating more fun than it really has any right to be. Dads that played way too much Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 in college know what I’m talking about.
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Rich Gallagher is an involved dad and full-time PR guy. He helps coordinate New Dad Boot Camp classes for NYC Dads Group and is always on the lookout for volunteer veteran dads.
He resides in Long Island City, Queens, with his two daughters, wife, and a rescue Schnoodle.