THE multiplayer shooter genre is largely an adults only affair, with military based gunplay and gore featuring prominently. But Nintendo’s underappreciated Wii U title, Splatoon, is the ideal way for members of a family to pit their wits against each other in a fun and lightsome environment, rich in fizzing technicolour and charming characters. Effectively a sprawling game of paintball, players must not only try and mark their opponents, but claim territory by blasting a great big splodge of paint. It sounds like throwaway fun, though if you play for any length of time, you will come to appreciate the need for subtle strategies. With short, punchy matches, this is the ideal shooter for people who loathe shooters.
LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES
(all major platforms)
THE constantly expanding universe of Lego games means that families are spoiled for choice when trying to pick a title players young and old can enjoy, but Marvel Super Heroes, released last year, is one of the best entries in the series.Nearly 150 familiar faces inked by Marvel artists over the years are given blocky form, allowing parents and children alike to assume to the role of their favourite characters. A mix of platforming, puzzle solving and light combat, the game’s difficulty is perfectly pitched at younger audiences, while older players will find much to keep them entertained even when the task at hand is straightforward - there are myriad comic book in-jokes and riffs on historic narratives, such as a nice early jibe about Wolverine’s obsession with his ancestry.
DISNEY INFINITY 3.0
(all major platforms)
AFTER a bit of a shaky start, the latest installment of the Disney Infinity series is the best yet, combining fun and imaginative game modes with well crafted character figurines, making it one of the most enjoyable toys-to-life titles available. Simiilar to the Skylanders series, players use real life toys and so-called ‘portal’ bases which plug into a console’s USB port, allowing the toys to be represented on screen as if by magic. The game is a third person action adventure although it throws into a the mix a variety of gameplay styles, spanning platforming, races, light combat, basic puzzles and a generous smattering of side quests. If you want every character you’ll have to fork out for more figurines, but the starter pack represents good value and will provide hours of play.
SUPER SMASH BROS
(Nintendo 3DS, Wii U)
IN the same way Nintendo subverted the multiplayer shoote with Splatoon, Super Smash Bros sees the veteran Japanese company put its inimitable imprint on one of gaming’s oldest and most noble genres - the beat ‘em up. There are no bone crunching assaults here, just frantic, colourful and deeply rewarding action, boasting a generous array of characters. The fifth iteration of the series is one of the best party family games available thanks to finely honed gameplay mechanics, but also due to crisp HD visuals that really makes the action pop out on a television screen. For adult who remember playing the series on the Gamecube, this Wii U version is a way to relive your youth and keep the kids enthralled at the same time.
MARIO KART 8
CHANCES are if you are a parent in your thirties or forties, you will remember playing Super Mario Kart on the Super NES. A few decades on, the series is alive and well with a superb Wii U version that, in classic Nintendo style, allows the entire family to gather around the television and race to the finishing line - just watch out for those red shells. The eighth main entry in the series is a mesh of vibrant design and nuanced mechanics that makes it arguably the best installment since its illustrious debut. The core has been revised ever so slightly to create a handling system of significant depth and purpose, while new tracks inject vim and variety to proceedings.