Win a Gamewagon Party in our Christmas Holiday Competition!

This years Christmas holiday competition is a little different. This year we will be giving Gamewagon video game model competitionaway a free Gamewagon Party to the winner of our video game modelling competition.

Models can be made out of anything you have available; Cardboard, toilet rolls, paper, tinfoil, plastic, lego, modelling clay, plasticine are all ideal for model creation.

So, start putting aside what they need over the holidays and then get ready to send us a photo of their video game character or scene. It can be based on real characters or made up the choice is yours.

A photograph of your model should be sent to drawing@gamewagon.co.uk before Monday 6th january 2014.

We will judge the entries from the 6th January and announce the winner on the 10th January 1014!!!  The winner can choose a party for up to 12 guests at any time from Monday to Thursday during 2014.

Good luck and may the best model win!!!

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.

Super Mario 3D World 60 Second Review

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World is the latest WiiU must-have game, starring the world’s most famous gaming icon – Mario!

Following on from the success of last year’s New Super Mario Bros U, it’s a bright, colourful and wonderfully playable leap forward for a series that spans generations.

With hundreds of levels that take you from familiar green fields, to fantastic new locations like a floating carnival, everything looks better than ever thanks to the extra power of Nintendo’s Wii U console.

Presentation – Visuals, Sound and Theme

The gameplay feels updated too, sitting comfortably between the 2D of classic Mario games, and the full-blown 3D of something like Mario Galaxy or Mario 64. If you’re one of the thousands of gamers who got their introduction to Mario with the Wii, it’s a great way to ease into a deeper game world that you’ll love to explore.

And there’s plenty of exploring to be done. New power ups like the awesome catsuit or mind-boggling, multi-Mario, hidden in every nook and cranny. There’s tons of stickers, stars and coins to collect that it can seem like an impossible task for just one pint-sized plumber.

Multiplayer in the Gamewagon

Lucky then, that Super Mario 3D World supports up to four simultaneous players. You’re all bundled in together, as either Mario, Luigi, Toad or Princess Peach, working together to make it through level after level for imaginative fun.

Summary

So, who would’ve thought, with the bombastic launch of Sony, and Microsoft’s new massive consoles (with their massive price tags), we’d be talking so excitedly about a 30 year old series on a 2 year old machine? Super Mario 3D World is a pure gaming challenge for the hardcore, and the very best family gaming experience for the casual gamer.

Top 20 Family Friendly Video Games – Weekending 7th December 2013

FIFA 14 Maintains it’s position in Video Game Charts

Courtesy of UKIE Games Charts Weekending 7th December 2013

No change for a firm favourite with our Gamewagon parties for the past year FIFA. The latest version  ‘FIFA 14’  remains at No 2 in this weeks video game charts.

Warner’s ‘Lego Marvel Superheroes’ remains at No 6 and we will be reviewing this as a likely Xmas wish list item. We were slightly disappointed by lack of 4 player modes as the Lego titles maintain their 2 player “Dad and Lad” mantra.

Ubisoft climbs 2 places with ‘Just Dance 2014’ at No 7 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.

As far as racing titles go we have always favoured Forza but this week Sony’s ‘Gran Turismo 6’ for PS3 has made an appearance in the top 20. For motor heads it is worth a look but initial reviews are patchy so we suggest you give it a go before purchasing.

Other Xmas favourites are likely to be Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity as they try to convince us all to not just buy the game but also the additional characters that make the different games come alive.

Minecraft (at No 13) is still extremely popular and the multiplayer modes of the Xbox version are a hit with the Minecraft fanatics. Those that have played iPad versions struggle a little with the learning curve but soon start crafting as they always did.

Stunning graphics and fast, furious and fun co-operative play are sure to make this a winner.

Stunning graphics and fast, furious and fun co-operative play are sure to make this a winner.

Hanging on to a place in the top 20 (despite slow WiiU console sales) is Super Mario 3D World. We have a review for this game on it’s way and we are sure that it will have a big part to play in our Gamewagon parties as the multiplayer games are fast, furious and fun.

Knack (No 18) is another recent release for the PS4 and is a great little game in the mould of the single player / two player co-operative play Lego titles. We’d have preferred a 4 player option to make it a hit in the Gamewagons but it may still be a solid choice if Santa brings a PS4 for Xmas.

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Xbox One or PS4 at Christmas – Maybe neither!

One of the most popular questions we are currently being asked is: What would you recommend, PS4 or Xbox One this Christmas?

We have gathered the thoughts of our team, families and friends to help you consider your options.

Fun and Games

We have been deliberating over the Next Gen question ourselves as we look forward to ensuring our game wagons can provide the best video game party games. In our opinion these are the most important points to consider: what games do you like to play? What games are available? Do you want family fun or individual game play?

A console in its own right offers very little. As we started using the Xbox One we suddenly found many of the Apps that we were used to having on the Xbox 360 were not available yet! It felt a little disappointing. It certainly may be worth waiting rather than diving in as an early adopter.

Microsoft has put a huge amount of effort in trying to “own the living room” with their all-in-one multimedia device. We have to say that it becomes a little laughable as you try and get the whole family to be able to watch normal TV through the console, let alone play a few games. In fact in our home we have reverted back to using the good old remote rather than trying to get everyone to grips with the voice recognition.

It’s also worth considering the availability of games. If you do not have a console and this is your first forage into the world of video games then it may still be prudent to not jump on the PS4 and Xbox One bandwagon. There is nothing worse than buying a console and then having to wait for enough age appropriate games to make it really enjoyable.

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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.