The All New LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and an Old Classic Disney Universe

This Christmas, gaming headlines will be dominated by the big new consoles and their big new games. It’s an exciting time for the serious, hardcore gamer but the choice of games on offer is decidedly un-friendly to kids and families, mostly by virtue of taking themselves too seriously. It’s good to know then, that there’s life the old machines yet.

We’ve got two great games to look at, a hot new release and one you might’ve missed, both of which offer hours of adventuring fun on your XBOX 360, PS3 or Wii U (amongst others).

After this year’s Disney Infinity (a contender to the Skylanders’ throne but still unproven), we decided to take a look back at a simpler time. A time before you had to have dozens of (pricey!) plastic toys to play a  game.

Disney Universe in the Video Game Party Wagon

In 2011 saw the quiet release of Disney Universe. Mixing inspiration from games like Little Big Planet, the LEGO series and even Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, with their most popular Disney film franchises, it’s a game squarely aimed at the seven-to-eleven crowd. But that’s not to say it’s just for young lads.

Like the best Disney films, this is one for everyone; girls and boys, Mums and Dads. It’s a good job then that Disney Universe lets four players team up and take on the bad guys together. Adding and removing new players when you’re in the swing of things is tricky and it’s starting show it’s age a little in the looks department but these are minor quibbles. For a little over a tenner in most places, this is a great value package that deserves a second look.

Fast forward to the present day and we’re going hands-on with the latest instalment in the always-popular LEGO game saga, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.

Lego Marvel Super Heroes in the Game Wagon

Each new addition to the franchise, since its inception in 2005 with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, has applied the formula of co-operation, collection and comedy to a huge range of pop-culture icons. From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, the emphasis has always been on exploring the subject matter from a little, yellow, plastic perspective.

Marvel Super Heroes changes little here and adds a lot. If you’re a fan of LEGO games or Marvel characters – like Spiderman, Hulk or Thor – you’ll feel completely spoilt by what this game has to offer. Over 100 different super heroes await your control, from the popular to the obscure, each with their own special power and play-style.

You can play the whole thing alone, or have a sidekick hop in and hop out when you need a helping hand. If we had to nitpick, Gamewagon would love to have seen this expanded to four players to make it a real smash at events. If you’ve tried a LEGO game and wasn’t sold, Marvel Super Heroes probably won’t change your mind. There’s nothing to revolutionary here but there is heaps and heaps to do and you’ll have plenty of fun doing it.

Top 20 Family Friendly Video Games – Weekending 14th December 2013

Lego Marvel Superheroes moves up in Video Game Charts

Courtesy of UKIE Games Charts Weekending 14th December 2013.

FIFA 14 just misses top spot this week by a very small margin! and remains at No 2 in this weeks video game charts.

Warner’s ‘Lego Marvel Superheroes’ moves from No 6 to No 3 and looks like it is finding it’s way into many Xmas stockings. It may also be benefiting from retailer promotions in the approach to Xmas.

Ubisoft climbs another place with ‘Just Dance 2014’ now at  No 6 and is a great title for the girls to have their own strictly themed dance off. No matter what format you have this game has become the standard and gives plenty of options to co-operate or compete.

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Is this video game suitable for my child?

At Gamewagon, we often get asked our opinions on a whole range of game-related topics. Usually it’s as simple as troubleshooting controller problems, or advising on compatibility between consoles. One question, however, that we’re asked again and again, has a less straightforward answer.

“Is this game suitable for my child?”

 It’s a complicated question that, unfortunately, doesn’t have a yes/no answer. It’s certainly not our place to decide what’s best for your children. We do, however, feel a responsibility to be able to advise on what is in place to help guide your decisions.

The best place to start is with the PEGI age rating system; the little coloured boxes you see on the front of games. It gives each game a rating from five possible options of age appropriateness (3, 7, 12, 16 or 18).  Each number corresponds to the recommend minimum age of the player, based on the content of the game.

PEGI Video Game Ratings

So, according to PEGI, a 10 year old should not be playing LEGO The Lord of the Rings, because they’ve labeled it as only suitable for children aged 12 and over!

The top three ratings (12, 16 and 18) are actually legally binding for retailers, meaning they cannot sell, for example, a 16-rated game to a child under that age, without breaking the law in the UK.

To compliment the age ratings, PEGI also implements content descriptor icons. These tell PEGI Advisoryyou why a particular game was awarded a specific age rating and can range from Fear and Gambling to Online and Violence. If you’d like to know more about PEGI, you can visit the family-focused website, askaboutgames.com

“At Gamewagon, we take this system very seriously and will only allow games that are age-appropriate for the whole audience to be played at our events, whether supplied by the customer or by us.”

When it comes to what you allow your children to play at home, it’s no longer a question of the law, but your own personal judgment.

Games have evolved drastically in recent years. It’s a medium that’s constantly pushing boundaries in the pursuit of realism. Games are capable of creating (or recreating) worlds with such accuracy that, now more than ever, you could easily find yourself mistaking footage of a game for a video recording.

This heightened fidelity is not just found in the visual presentation, but the story, dialogue and even audio, of modern games. They’re deeper, longer and more involved than films or television. Something like Skyrim, one of the most popular games of all time, would take hundreds and hundreds of hours to completely absorb.

A few hours watching something like Grand Theft Auto V could never be enough to assess the content. You may see nothing but the harmless exploration of rolling hills, with little idea that the game contains a short segment that forces the player to commit horrific acts of torture on an innocent civilian. Depending on your opinion it’s either a brutally honest, political comment on US foreign policy and homeland defence, or a gratuitous and unnecessary scene, only inserted to shock. Either way, it is entirely inappropriate to allow a child to try and process this.

So what does a busy parent do when a child is begging for the latest 18-rated release? You can’t play every game to completion before making a decision (even if you wanted to). So here are our 5 top tips for making sure your kids are playing fun and suitable games.

  1. Use the PEGI system – particularly the 18, 16 and 12 ratings. It sits on the conservative side so if they don’t think it’s right for your kid you’ll be better safe than sorry.
  2. Find the best new games that are suitable – askaboutgames.com publishes a weekly list of the top selling games, by PEGI rating, so you can see what’s popular in your child’s age bracket.
  3. Play with your kids – it may seem daunting to the uninitiated but playing along with your kids is the very best way to understand what games can be and how they affect your children.
  4. Indie and mobile games – as big console releases are increasingly aimed at adults, smaller, downloadable games can be great for kids. They’re weird and wonderful and there are all sorts out there. Minecraft is an Indie game! (most indie and mobile games aren’t rated by the normal PEGI system so do read reviews prior to handing a game over to your child).
  5. Keep an eye on Gamewagon – finding the best games for kids of all ages is our business. We won’t recommend a game if we don’t love it and we’ll always let you know who we feel it is right for.

Family Friendly Video Game Review – FIFA 14 Multiplayer Fun at It’s Best

FIFA 14 the video game party wagon favourite

EA’s FIFA video game has become a household name over many years now. Every year new editions come out with millions of sales in the first few days. It is not just for the boys  my daughter and her friends are FIFA players and they play every aspect of the title from skill challenges to ultimate team!

But is the latest release all that good?

Well…. Yes it is, we have taken a couple of months of game play to get a good feel on the evolution of the game in it’s current 2014 version. This year’s version does not disappoint. The graphics, and fluid play combined with the latest players creates a polished game with depth and hours of game play.

The continuous stream of updates stop FIFA getting old and means that the game is a joy to play even after months of playing; something many games fail to achieve.

The game play

There is not much more you could hope for in a computer game of football that FIFA 14 does not include. Learning from their previous games in the series EA have made the game play more deliberate and made the game feel more rewarding when a goal is scored. There is a learning curve even if you have played previous releases but the overall feel makes things more realistic.

Player opinion

After speaking with a number of dedicated FIFA 14 players the general thoughts are that the game continues to evolve and it rewards experience and practice. FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team has become a key part of the game, people literally spending more time and money on this part of the game than the game itself.

Overall

In reviews all over the world you will struggle to find a review giving the game lass than four stars. It is simply one of the best video gaming sports titles of all time.