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The best consoles and video games for your family

Wondering which console to buy for your family? Don’t know what the coolest new video games for kids are this year? We do!

The best consoles and video games for your family

Photo: Warner Bros and Nintendo

The best consoles and video games for kids

Our favourite family-friendly gaming picks

In this time of tech-minded tots, giddy gamers and digital natives, it can be hard figuring out the best video game options for your family. Well, fret no more! We've got all the information you need right here in our top picks for gaming consoles, tablets and video games.

So let's get started! Wii-who? Here’s the rundown on which video-gaming system is the right fit for your family...

A version of this article appeared in our December 2013 issue with the headline “Game on!” pp. 73-75.

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Nintendo and Warner Bros

Sony PlayStation 4

Best for: Adults and kids.

Pros: Boasting more power than previous generations, Sony has big plans to expand the online social features of their flagship console with this latest offering. A BluRay player is also built in.

Cons: Sony does skew towards an adult audience, but have proven with their Little Big Planet games that they can do kid-oriented stuff brilliantly well, too. Their inclusion of at least one kid-friendly option ("Knack" — find it in this gallery!) in their launch titles shows this is still something they take seriously.

Cost: Starts at $400, sony.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Sony

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Wii U

Best for: Kids.

Pros: Nintendo has long been known as the most kid-friendly of the major consoles. The Wii U has a simple control system and a generous assortment of games suitable for all age ranges.

Cons: Doesn’t feature a built-in BluRay player (though it plays movie/TV through its own service, Nintendo TVii, and has Netflix capabilities) — a drawback if you’re looking for an all-in-one entertainment device.

Cost: Starts at $300, nintendo.com

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Nintendo

Microsoft Xbox One

Best for: Hardcore gamers.

Pros: The new console is an all-in-one entertainment box that, besides playing video games, drives TV and video services, streams music and more, all while running an operating system that communicates with your PC, phone and tablet. A BluRay player is also included.

Cons: Most of the kid-friendly material will be coming from third-party developers, which means it will also be available on other platforms. If you want a box for parents, this may be the one, but it has the least to offer younger children.

Cost: Starts at $500, xbox.com

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Microsoft

Skylanders Swap Force

Video games that encourage social interaction are a big trend right now! Particularly popular are video games sold with plastic action figures that store each player's information when plugged into a base station.

The third edition of the popular series Skylanders adds the ability to mix and match parts on the figures to customize your character’s powers. Simple, fun gameplay that allows players as young as five to pick up a controller and get started immediately, while still staying engaging for older players, remains a hallmark of the Skylanders games, as do the quirky personalities of the available characters.

Where to buy?
Activision, $75 for the starter pack, skylanders.com

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Activision

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Disney Infinity

Disney Infinity is a fun new game incorporating a range of characters and worlds from across the Disney brand – everything from Pirates of the Caribbean to your kid’s favourite Pixar titles. It also lets players augment its basic adventure mode with the ability to build their own worlds for infinite possibilities.

Where to buy?
Disney, $75 for the starter pack, infinity.disney.ca

Psst... enter to a win a 
Disney Infinity prize pack here!

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Disney

Apple iPad Mini

Are your kids too little for a “real” video-gaming system? Tablets are fast becoming the introduction to this world for the under-five set. Here are a four good options to consider.

The Apple iPad Mini is the smaller version of the reigning king of tablets, and is just as powerful, sized perfectly for tiny hands and taps into the app store with thousands of titles.

Where to buy?
Apple, from $329, apple.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Apple

Google Nexus 7

The Google Nexus 7 tablet runs Google’s popular Android operating system and comes with features like parental-control settings so that you know exactly what apps and content your kids have access to.

Where to buy?
Google, from $249, google.ca/nexus/7

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Google

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Asus MeMO Pad

For sheer price point, you can’t beat the Asus MeMO Pad, an Android-driven tablet that starts at just $159. It lacks the extended features of the iPad or Nexus, but will run a full range of apps from the Android store.

Where to buy?
Asus, from $159, bestbuy.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Asus

Microsoft Surface

A direct challenge to the iPad, Microsoft’s Surface intentionally blurs the lines between tablets and computers by combining the ease of a tablet touch screen with the productivity of a laptop.

Where to buy?
Microsoft, from $349, microsoft.com/surface

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Microsoft

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Wondering which new video games to give the kids for their birthday this year? Here our top eight of our picks!

With Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, an old favourite gets an update that preserves the look and feel of the original while throwing in a few tweaks to keep things fresh. Intensely addictive fun with clever, playful levels, this game is brand new to 2014.

Where to buy?
Nintendo, Wii U, $55, bestbuy.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Nintendo

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LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

The LEGO series of video games are great — a perfect balance of easy gameplay and challenging missions that encourage exploration, problem solving and simple goofing around. You’ll love this superhero-themed adventure as much as your kids!

Where to buy?
Nintendo, Wii U, PS3, Xbox360 (10+), $50, bestbuy.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Warner Bros

Super Mario 3D World

Mario returns with an all-new adventure that adds new powers, new suits, a huge world to explore and a wide assortment of playable characters – including Princess Peach – for one of the best Mario adventures ever.

Where to buy?
Nintendo, Wii U (not yet rated), $60, walmart.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Nintendo

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure

The latest Scribblenauts game introduces DC Comics locales and characters into the mix. Kids will be having so much fun using word-based problem solving in this well-crafted world, they won’t notice they’re learning as they play.

WB Games, WiiU (8+), $60, futureshop.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: WB Games

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Sonic Lost World

Sonic the speedy hedgehog is back with a cool assortment of new moves. He’s ready to fight the evil plans of the Deadly Six in the latest adventure of this popular franchise.

Where to buy?
Sega, Wii U (10+), $50, amazon.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Sega

Knack

One of the launch titles for Sony’s new PS4, Knack is a quality pick-up-and-play adventure title that drops side-scrolling-style gameplay into a 3-D world as you pilot your robot character level by level, solving puzzles and battling villains.

Where to buy?
Sony, PS4 (8+), $60, sony.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Sony

Angry Birds Star Wars

Yep, the ridiculously popular tablet game has crossed over to consoles with a Bird-ified version of the Star Wars universe. Many prefer the touch-screen controls to the console version, but it’s super fun regardless.

Where to buy?
Activision, Wii U, PS3, XBox (4+), $40, walmart.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Activision

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Pikmin 3

The latest installment of the weird game where you’re a spaceman controlling plant creatures on an alien world as you gather scrap in a salvage operation. This version adds new classes of Pikmin characters while refining gameplay for the best adventure yet. Odd concept, great fun.

Where to buy?
Nintendo, Wii U (8+), $60, amazon.ca

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: Nintendo

More technology tips

10 apps to keep your kids entertained on road trips>
For your next family road trip, load up on these fun apps and never hear the words “Are we there yet?” again.

The best consoles and video games for your familyPhoto: iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Dec 06, 2013

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