Last month, The Rock Daughters™ and I kicked-off the holiday season with our second visit to Nintendo of America HQ in Redmond, Washington. There, inside a notoriously-secretive complex outside of Seattle, the girls and I went hands-on with some of 2017’s hottest games and gifts. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Nintendo here at Rock Father HQ, a love that dates back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and it’s successor, the Super NES (SNES), which were both Christmas gifts. Funny enough, twenty years ago, in 1997, my then-future wife and I both presented each other with wrapped Nintendo 64 (N64) systems under the tree. The GameCube followed, and now we’re parents in 2017, and our house has a Nintendo Switch and a pair of the “New” 2DS XL systems, and with that I’ve curated a collection of “Rock Father Picks” for the Nintendo fan in your life – from budding gamers to experienced players! Take a look…
Nintendo Switch: 2017’s biggest new system launch has come with a ton of acclaim, and it’s been completely worthy of all of the praise it’s received. Perfect on-the-go or on the big screen at home, the innovative controls allow more players to play, while helping get kids up off the couch and moving around. Check Stock at GameStop (affiliate).
While I expected the Switch to be a focal point of the family room (and it is at times), I find myself traveling with it often. Our Switch has seen some miles, accompanying me from coast-to-coast. As the game selection continues to grow, I see the Switch as being a system with a whole lot of life. Quite simply, I love it and my family does, too.
Rock Father Picks – Nintendo Switch Games:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Special Feature here)
- Splatoon 2 (Review & Feature here)
- ARMS (Reviewed here)
- Super Mario Odyssey
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Just Dance 2018
- Ultra Street Fighter II
Under-the-Radar Picks: Ben 10, Cars 3: Driven to Win, Pinball FX3, Infinite MiniGolf
When it comes to games for the Switch, the “big names” like Mario, Zelda and Pokemon reign supreme, but there’s some lesser-known games hitting the platform via third-party developers that are a lot of fun – and several tap into recognizable franchises.
Cars 3: Driven to Win (Warner Games) is a game that I’ve had more fun with than I ever expected. On the surface, it’s a racing game with some battle modes and crazy features that we’ve seen similar versions of in other titles, but there’ a lot of replay value here. Players find themselves challenged to unlock new achievements and go for the gold stars in a game that’s easy to jump right into.
Ben 10 (Outright Games) jumps to the Switch straight from the hit Cartoon Network series, and it’s a game I think a lot of folks might be unaware of. On the surface, it captures the look of the series, but the gameplay is pretty straightforward – so if you’re an old-schooler like me, you’ve seen the general gist since about Double Dragon. What Ben 10 is great for is younger players, and that’s what’s important here. Kids who want action but don’t necessarily have a lot of skill yet can get into this quickly, so it’s perfect for little ones like my five-year-old. She loves the show and the action figures, and this is a game that’s easy to grasp.
I absolutely LOVE Pinball FX3 (Zen Studios) on Xbox One, so seeing it go portable on the Switch is a fantastic move. It’s very much a platform for various table packs, and those who love playing traditional, real-world pinball will appreciate the detail that the folks at Zen put into this. There’s a vast assortment of licensed tables like The Walking Dead, Universal Studios and Star Wars on the Platform, and I expect that many of those will make their way over to the Switch, but really all of the tables are fantastic. It’s addictive, which puts it in good company with another Zen Studios title – Infinite MiniGolf.
Because it plays so much like a mobile game as-is, Infinite MiniGolf is a perfect on-to-go title for the Switch, and one that’s great as a time-filler or marathon sessions. The physics of real minigolf are there, but the seasonality lends itself to some interesting themes like Halloween and Christmas, each which place mythical creatures onto the course, and with them some supernatural challenges that break the rules of reality. Another game where replay value is high, Infinite MiniGolf is another gem among the downloadable titles available from the e-Store.
Nintendo “New” 2DS XL: Officially part of the “3DS Family of Systems,” the “New” 2DS XL addresses what’s essentially been the elephant in the room the past few years… no one really uses the 3-D slider. My kids certainly don’t, and we have last year’s “New” 3DS XL as well. That said, the “New” (and just for the record, “New” is part of its name) 2DS XL is a better system – one that’s been redesigned and attractively priced.
The “New” 2DS XL features a bigger screen, redesigned body that’s pleasing, and a fast processor. It plays all of the 3DS games in 2D.
Rock Father Picks – 3DS Games
- Mario Party: The Top 100
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions
- Minecraft New Nintendo 3DS Edition
- Pokemon Sun & Moon
Super Nintendo Entertainment System – SNES Classic Edition: If you want to go retro, and if you can find one at retail, the SNES classic is the retro system to snag this year. It’s currently at the top of my personal wish list, and as soon as I see one in the wild, I’m buying it.
Following the success of the also-hard-to-find NES Classic Mini (which I purchased during my 2016 visit to Nintendo HQ), this system celebrates the 16-bit era of gaming, but in a compact form, easily playable on modern equipment in HD. Flippers and scalpers are having a field day again, so a word on that – don’t pay more than $79.99. Includes 20 classic games. Learn more.
Beyond the Games: Toys and Accessories
Nintendo does a fantastic job on licensing, and that means that their first-party characters can make the jump from video game to… pretty much everything else. Among our favorites are Mattel’s line of Super Mario Bros. Hot Wheels Character Cars, the real-world Splatoon blasters from JAKKS Pacific, the Carrera Mario Kart RC vehicles or the incredible assortment of action figures, board games and collectibles out there – Nintendo truly has something for everyone! GameStop even has a dedicated section based on everyone’s favorite plumbers, the Mario Bros, while ThinkGeek has an entire department for Nintendo Collectibles!