Family games are a big part of the Christmas magic. And while it might not be so common anymore to sit around the table playing Monopoly or Cluedo, that doesn’t stop us from continuing a great Christmas tradition in the electronic age.
In any game, it is always more fun to go up against friends and family than a computer generated opponent. That’s part of the reason that social gaming has become as popular as it has. Gamers will be flocking to their favourite online platforms, whether it is Words with Friends on social media, or Secrets of Christmas at Casimpo Casino to take on loved ones around the globe. But for those who are meeting up in person with friends and family this Christmas, the Xbox provides something closer to that traditional experience of all sitting together for a family game. Here are some titles that need to be at the top of your Christmas list, some old and some new.
Yes, it’s very silly and about the least sophisticated game you can think of. But if you want something that the whole family can get involved in, from the age of 2 to 92, then look no further than this 2010 offering for Xbox 360, developed by PouncingKitten games. There are four bingo modes, but they all do much the same thing, and you are guaranteed an afternoon of hilarity. Who can ask for more than that at Christmas?
If you’ve ever sat down with the family to play Pictionary, you know what to expect here. Install the game on your Xbox, and anything from three to eight players can join in from their connected smartphones. Draw a picture to represent the image you’ve been tasked to convey and the other players have to guess what it is. The best part is that the other contestants’ wrong guesses become the multiple choice wrong answers, so that others – potentially thousands of others – can try to work out what it was.
Castle Crashers Remastered
Multiplayer platform games always offer plenty of entertainment, particularly when you have the option of either cooperating the way the game intended or simply trying to trip one another up for the fun of it. Castle Crashers has always been a crowd-pleaser, and this updated version adds a little polish without detracting from the cartoonish fun of the original. Be warned, you will die many, many times.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
If you’ve spent any amount of time watching shows like Star Trek, you will know that piloting a spacecraft is no simple matter. It requires a well-drilled crew, all working together and understanding how their role contributes to the overall success of the mission. That’s the precept behind this multiplayer co-op game, and what makes it really challenging is even with four of you working like a well-oiled machine, you always feel you could do with a couple of extra crew members. There are numerous stations to man, so your powers of cooperation and teamwork will be tested to the limit.
Micro Machines World Series
Back in the 1990s, Micro Machines was the game that inspired Mega Drive owners to go out and buy additional controllers. It’s the original and best multiplayer driving game, and those who complain about the lack of a career mode in this latest incarnation should, frankly, go out and buy Grand Turismo instead, because they are missing the point. Everyone knows how the game works, it is all about beating your friends to the line and, when the opportunity arises, blasting them to smithereens with a tank in the process.
Did you ever have one of those games as a kid where you had to guide a ball through a maze past various holes and other obstacles? You can probably feel an echo of that teeming frustration, just thinking about it all these years later. Be warned, Peggle is a lot like that, except here, you are trying to hit pegs, not avoid them, to get the highest score. It’s not complicated but it is highly addictive. The best way to play is with an end time in mind, at which point the player with the lowest score has to carry out some sort of forfeit, such as dealing with that mountain of washing up in the kitchen.
Finally, one for the more serious, competitive gamers. If your idea of Christmas fun is a ruthless battle for survival in which the weak are picked off first, look no further than Speedrunners. It’s a breathless battle across multiple platforms, and all the time the screen gets smaller. At first, it seems impossibly difficult, as one by one, combatants fall off the screen into oblivion. But after a few practice goes, the cream will rise to the top and you will be surprised at just how long the battles can ultimately last.