What makes a successful brand or franchise aimed at kids? Often the first piece of media that entices children or young teens is a movie, television show, or toy line. From there companies can expand with multiple forms of media and merchandising – including video games.
Video games have reached an odd era when it comes to kid-friendly brands. In the 90s and early 2000s, a major video game tie-in was pretty much guaranteed, and many of these games were extremely well-produced and successful. But gradually the games declined in quality and were rushed out the door as games became much more advanced. Many major toy and kid-focused companies all but abandoned gaming – until mobile.
My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#10 Pokémon GO
There’s a first damn time for everything – including a mobile game on my Game of the Year list. It’s the first time a mobile game has made my coveted list since I began making them four years ago.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy mobile games. I have a ton of fun playing digital board games like Lords of Waterdeep and Small World, and dabble in ports of Heroes of Might and Magic III and Dungeon of the Endless.
But never has an original mobile game captured my attention like my #10 game. Leave it to Pokémon to finally break the barrier. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #10”
A lot is riding on Pokémon Sun and Moon. Pokémon popularity is at its highest point since its inception in the 90s, thanks to its 20th Anniversary and hit mobile game Pokémon GO. Yet we haven’t seen a new, non-remake Pokémon title in three years.
Pokémon Sun and Moon represent the largest shift in the series we’ve ever seen. These are still classic monster catching and battling games aimed at kids, but the numerous improvements and new island setting make Pokémon Sun and Moon a hugely successful entry in the popular franchise.
Whether you’re a lapsed fan or simply want to dive a little deeper, I’ve created a brief rundown of each generation of main Pokémon titles.
Pokémon GO has become a global phenomenon. A free-to-play phone app with a well-known franchise is a perfect storm of market penetration. It’s also proven the simple joys of augmented reality, and created a unique shared gaming experience from kids to grandparents.
Pokémon GO has also created a renewed interested in the Pokémon franchise. Fans and newcomers are getting excited about Catching ‘Em All all over again. With Pokémon celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Sun and Moon launching this November, the timing couldn’t be better to jump back in.
Whether you’re a lapsed fan or simply want to dive a little deeper, we’ve created a brief rundown of each generation of main Pokémon titles. It’s also a fun walkthrough of the history of Nintendo’s handhelds. At the end, look for recommendations on where to jump in, and a special challenge mode if you already consider yourself a master trainer.
Pokémon GO’s incredible success is undeniable. Nintendo has struck gold with its combination of pokémon hunting in the real world using augmented reality.
As brilliantly fun and simple as the game is, Pokémon GO does a poor job explaining its mechanics. Professor Willow may be distractingly handsome, but there’s a lot of missing information out there. Thankfully since everyone’s playing Pokémon GO, we’ve figured everything out. Mostly.
Pokkén Tournament has intuitive controls and a perfect difficulty ramp that successfully lets Pikachu and company brawl in glorious HD.
Available on Wii U
At its core Pokémon has always been a fighting game, albeit a turn-based one. Mapping Pokémon onto a traditional 3D fighting game makes perfect sense. Pokkén Tournament on Wii U has intuitive controls and a perfect difficulty ramp that successfully let Pikachu and company brawl in glorious HD.
Pokkén Tournament is structured like a typical fighting game. You select from a roster of a little over a dozen fighters and fight one-on-one with opponents.
Executing moves is similar to Super Smash Bros. Simple combos fire off various flashy attacks. Each fight is structured around two phases – a bigger 3D Field phase and a more intimate side-by-side Duel Phase. Knowing when to close in and when to back off is an interesting strategy. Different pokémon excel at different techniques.
The surprisingly awesome 3DS monster battler Yo-Kai Watch comes in at #5 on my Game of the Year list.
My Top Ten Games of 2015
#5 Yo-Kai Watch
Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.
On the surface Yo-Kai Watch is another monster-collecting Pokémon clone aimed at kids. It has already become a massive franchise hit in Japan in the last few years, from toys and comics to movies and anime.
The Nintendo 3DS game really stands out thanks to some unique gameplay that owes more to Dragon Quest Monsters than Pokémon. The semi-open world, modern urban setting is a huge breath of fresh air in a stale JRPG genre. I also really respected the theme of helping people with their various problems rather than just trying to be the best, like no one ever was.
Pokémon Y made #3 on my 2013 list, and I’ve been playing and enjoying those games for well over a decade. I jumped into Yo-Kai Watch with all the skepticism and eye scrutiny, and came away with one of my favorite games of the year. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #5”