While it's largely thanks to what might be the ultimate family gaming console, family gamers have quite a lot to be thankful for in 2012. From one of the most robust mini game suites to date to the most prolific toy of the year (that's also a game), 2012 may be the best year for the gaming family since the launch of the original Wii. With the help of Games.com's own friends and family, here are our top choices for best family games of 2012.
The innovative kids toy by Toys for Bob (and co.) already set a standard in 2011, but this direct sequel builds on that success with even larger characters both physically and virtually. But what Skylanders did best was breathe new life into toys overall, which for kids born in recent years often pale in comparison to video games.
Just Dance 4
While Ubisoft (and Harmonix with Dance Central) run the risk of contracting Guitar Hero syndrome, there's no sense in not living it up while it lasts. Just Dance 4 is the more accessible and widely available dancing game, with a vast, varied track list spanning five decades of dance music. What's most impressive about Just Dance 4 is how it incorporates the exclusive features of each console, like the new Puppet Master Mode on Wii U.
New Super Mario Bros. U
It's probably safe to say that most gaming families grew up with Mario in their lives. The latest in the storied series only makes it easier for folks that "aren't gamers" to join in on the fun with modes developed solely for the GamePad. And what fun it is: Mario's 2D adventures haven't been this expansive and vibrant since his first outing on the Super Nintendo.
Back in the days of the DS, Scribblenauts wowed us with its emergent puzzle-solving play and the near endless possibilities it presented. Now, on the Wii U and 3DS, developer 5th Cell has opted to push the concept to its limits, allowing players to navigate a world using their limitless, versatile item creation skills. But ultimately, with multiplayer, Scribblenauts Unlimited allows kids and parents alike to tap their imaginative, creative side with an infinite canvas.
What Wii Sports was to the Wii, this collection of mini (and some not-so mini) games is the finest showcase of what the Wii U is capable of. It's true that Nintendo Land works best in company, but that's the point of family gaming. Not only does this suite evoke simple, lasting joy, but it introduces new (perhaps young) gamers to otherwise "hardcore" play concepts and franchises in extremely entertaining and palatable ways--a true achievement in the genre and Games.com's best family game of 2012.
Michael Fahey, Mobile/Social Editor
John Benyamine, Publisher
Kelly Karnetsky, Editor
Ludwig Kietzmann, Editor in Chief