It’s the weekend! It’s also just any old weekend. There’s about to be a storm brewing in the next two months of conventions and game releases and some of our editors are still in Germany for Gamescom so I guess the storm has already begun for them. It’s not a perfect analogy.

This weekend, we’re resting, getting ready for school because that’s a thing kids have to go to occasionally, and just trying to sneak some gaming time in.

(Editors with an * did not submit a weekend plan but gave me permission to write one for them.)

Andrew Reiner – If the weekend went the way I hoped, I would sleep through most of it. Instead, I imagine I’ll be on all sorts of adventures with my daughter, and I also have a game for review that I need to keep playing. At night, I will watch more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (the Ghost Rider season).

Kyle Hilliard – No big specific plans this weekend. School is starting up soon for the kid, so we will try to relax before that train gets rolling, but otherwise it will be video games, assorted television shows, and cleaning the house. I am a very boring old person.

Dan Tack – World of Warcraft with some bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and a garlic aioli

Javy Gwaltney* – Ohayo, minna-san! ^_^ This weekend, me and my nakama (nakama means friends) have a keikaku (keikaku means plan) to play more Ryu Ga Gotoku (Like a Dragon when translated from Nihon (also known as Yakuza in America)). After that, we are going to the anime store at the mall to buy a Sasuke (from Naruto: Shippuden) shirt that says “There is a place for me in hell – it’s called a throne!” so I can wear it to work next week. Have a glomp-filled weekend, my nakama!

Ben Hanson – This weekend I have no idea what I’m going to play. I’ll probably keep dabbling in Dead Cells and maybe continue playing Guacamelee 2. Other than that, I guess I’m going to the Minnesota State Fair so the real game will be trying to stay within 10 feet of a bathroom while scarfing down cookies and fried crap. Have a good weekend!

Brian Shea – This weekend, I’m going to continue the rebuilding process of my Baltimore Ravens in Madden NFL 19, and continue bashing my head against a wall in Dead Cells. I’m not sure what’s more painful: watching my favorite football team endure horrible losses or losing to the same boss character moments before I was about to take him down. When I need a break from the pain, I’ll switch to Overwatch.

Suriel Vasquez* – I’m in Germany for Gamescom! While in Germany, I took a walking tour of the city with a group, only to later discover I had following a German family around for most of the day. They were very understanding and gave me something to drink. This weekend, I hope to fly home, but since the airline lost my luggage for days on the way here, I am implementing a new strategy to keep it on me. I have written the words “Emotional Support Suitcase” on the front and plan to demand it get its own seat. If you see me at the airport being dragged away by the airline, do me a favor and remark loudly “This guy looks like he could use an emotional support suitcase.” It’d help.

Leo Vader – I’m having a couple friends over to watch Bone Tomahawk because I’m too scared to watch it by myself! Beyond that I’ll probably polish off Guacamelee 2, which just gets more and more fun as I get more abilities. Then Siege on Sunday which goes without saying. HAGS!!!!

Imran Khan – I’m going to finish the main story of Yakuza Kiwami 2 this weekend, do a lot of my PAX prep for next week, and maybe make good on all those empty promises I keep making to stream something. Oh, and maybe try to beat more than one boss in Dead Cells, that would be cool.

How about you, dear readers? What’re your weekend plans?

A few months back, Nintendo updated Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch to be compatible with the Labo Variety Kit’s bike handlebars. It was the first news of Nintendo expanding Labo creations to other games and it seems they’re repeating the same thing with the recently-announced Labo vehicle kit.

As shown in the Tweet above, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be able to use the wheel, pedal, and key of the Labo for use in all of the game’s modes, which means you can emulate using a racing wheel with your assembled Labo kit. While the pedal and steering wheel have obvious uses, the key is used to launch items, as well. I’m curious how the Labo picks up on you powersliding or if you have to physically lean it in order to do so.

Like the handlebars, using the vehicle can also be done with the Switch inside the cardboard or docked onto the TV. There’s no word on when the patch will arrive, but it should be here by the time the Labo Vehicle Kit hits on September 14.

You can watch the video clip above from The Game Informer Show podcast (which you can subscribe to right here) to learn how CD Projekt RED slightly tweaked their gameplay demo from E3 2018 to show at Gamescom. Game Informer‘s Suriel Vazquez and Ben Reeves saw the demo and have new impressions to share from the experience. Also, just to beat you to it in the comments section, we also agree that CD Projekt RED should release video of the demo on the internet.

From Software’s raised more than a few eyebrows when it announced that its new game was Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a title that has nothing to do with Dark Souls or Bloodborne. However, we finally managed to get some hands-on time with the title (you can read Ben’s impressions here) and take a look at it to see what we think.

Here’s me, Dan Tack, and Leo “The Man Himself” Vader talking about footage from the Gamescom demo supplied by Suriel Vazquez, who stabs a bunch of dudes and takes on a giant ugly looking guy.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is due out on March 22 for PS4 and Xbox One.

Great Games To Play With Kids

The opportunity to share tabletop gaming with the kids in your life is a not-to-be-missed chance for making memories. In my experience, children relish the chance to play games as a family. Their imagination is set loose on the concepts of the game, they often relish the chance to learn clear rules and gain mastery, and perhaps most importantly, it’s something they can do together with you.

Many of us grew up on classic games like Battleship, Sorry, Jenga, or Connect Four. While there’s nothing  wrong with any of those familiar older games, recent years have brought us an array of fantastic new ways to enjoy gaming, even with the youngest players.

If you’re curious about ways to introduce board gaming into your family’s routine, here are some of my recent favorites, including recommended ages.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

Hoot Owl Hoot
Publisher: Peaceable Kingdom
Age: 4+

Every year, new strides are made in the field of cooperative board gaming, leading to some engrossing adventures. Unfortunately, the phenomenon hasn’t often been harnessed for one of the demographics in which it would be most appealing: kids. Publisher Peaceable Kingdom aims to change that with games that primarily focus on shared goals and kindness to one another. My favorite is the color-matching cooperative game called Hoot Owl Hoot.

Players control a parliament of owls as they try to make their way back to the nest before the sun rises. Players take turns moving the owls on the board toward the nest by playing cards of different colors, and then moving one of the owls to the next available spot of that color. If another owl is already on the next space of that color, you can jump ahead to the one past that. Everyone works together to get the owls home safe. But hidden in the deck are sun cards that must be played when drawn, and which advance the arrival of the morning. Everyone wins or loses together.

Hoot Owl Hoot is great fun, and its appealing theme about cute owls is a surefire hit. No reading is required, and the concepts are simple to learn, so even very young children can have a blast. The game teaches rudimentary strategy as you consider which card to play, making it a far more compelling choice than many more recognizable “follow-the-track” games you may already know.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

Tiny Polka Dot
Publisher: Math For Love
Age: 3-8+

With 16 included games in this affordable card pack, Tiny Polka Dot is a wonderful way to mix the fun of card games with early number and math skills. The cards are large and colorful, and they combine in different ways to create a variety of engaging ways to play. One mode might be about memorizing card locations and matching, while another might demand you gather cards that add up to the number five.

I love that the game plays well with even the youngest of children, but some of the included game types scale up to match skills available to slightly older players. I also love that the game includes a brief guide for grownups on how to help kids enjoy and learn as they play. Tiny Polka Dot makes this list for its fun factor, not because of its educational elements. But if the gamification of learning appeals to you, I’d encourage you to check out my earlier write-up on great games that teach.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

My Little Scythe
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Age: 8+

The original adult-targeted Scythe was one of my favorite games of 2016. You can read my complete review for more info. That’s why I was overjoyed that this new kid-targeted version turned out to be one of the most rewarding and exciting family games I’ve played. My Little Scythe translates the strategic systems of the original into an accessible and colorful story about competing kingdoms of anthropomorphic animals, setting out across a hex-grid board to complete quests, gather apples and gems, and all the while trying to maintain friendships with the other kingdoms. High production values are showcased with the gorgeous unpainted miniatures, colorful components, and attractive board layout. Young players are encouraged to think ahead and plan, since taking a move one turn means you’ll need to do something else on your next turn. Advancing your own kingdom’s goals must be balanced against maintaining friendship with your competitors, so don’t get into too many pie fights!

My Little Scythe’s greatest triumph is its ability to translate the sophistication of the original game into a playable and successful experience on a simpler scale. While My Little Scythe is still one of the more complicated games on this list, it will appeal greatly to kids who are used to watching their parents play all those cool and grown-up strategy board games. In the sweet spot of kids between 8 and 12, I can’t recommend the game highly enough.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Publisher: Educational Insights
Age: 3+

Ideal for pre-schoolers in your family, The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game features great components, simple rules, and a cute theme that rarely misses the mark for those littlest newcomers to the tabletop gaming world. The game focuses on color-matching and fine motor skills, and since the game box doubles as the board, setup is almost as simple as pulling off the lid.

Everybody is helping to gather food for their squirrel, picking up multi-colored acorns as directed by their result on a spinner. Sometimes, your squirrel gets sneaky, and is even directed to steal an acorn from one of the other players, demanding that all the players learn good social skills and how to be gracious and friendly even when competing in a game.

For most kids, the best part of the game will be the “Squirrel Squeezer,” a simple set of tongs (that looks like a cute squirrel) used to pick up the acorns. This one is a great option for a parent and child to play together, as there are times that the random element of the spinner means mom or dad might regularly lose.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

Stuffed Fables
Publisher: Plaid Hat Games
Age: 7+

One of my most anticipated games of 2018, Stuffed Fables turned out upon release to be even better than I hoped. While any gaming group could enjoy this narrative adventure, it really is one of the best games I’ve run into for families to play together, built from the ground up for parents and kids to be able to enjoy in equal measure, especially if that family includes fans of storytelling.

In this self-described “adventure book game,” players control stuffed animal characters on a mission to save their beloved little girl from an evil being intent on inflicting terrible nightmares. Stuffed Fables plays out as an adventure that explores the milestones and challenges of childhood, but wrapped within the context of a great fantasy story. In each chapter, the players make meaningful decisions about how to move the tale forward and save their friend. The unique feature of the game is its game board and rules, which are all contained within a colorful spiral-bound book, so every scenario is different from the last, with different pages reflecting different locations and situations that the heroes find themselves encountering.

Not only does Stuffed Fables feature a wonderful story, but its mechanics also emphasize cooperation through the sharing of dice for challenging actions, or even the ability to share “stuffing” with other players to help them recover from dire situations. While some minor dark imagery and scary plot points might not be the perfect fit for some kids, the wholesome tone and cooperative vibe help to ease the way.

If the kid in your life can’t get enough of fantastical stories and adventures, Stuffed Fables is a phenomenal introduction to the way gaming can bring stories to life.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

Ice Cool
Publisher: Brain Games
Age: 6+

A couple of the kids in my extended family cannot get enough of this dexterity-based flicking game, which is all about a group of penguins slipping and sliding around their school. Gameplay is quick, the physical element of play is ideal for young players who may not yet be interested in strategy games, and the board and components look great.

Ice Cool comes in a box with multiple smaller box pieces layered inside, and they all fit together to form a discrete set of rooms that make up the school, each with doorways that interconnect for easy passage for the playing pieces. Your “penguins” are little wobbly round-bottomed figures that, when flicked with your finger, rocket, jump, and curve around corners. In each round, one player chases the other players, trying to touch an opponent’s penguin before they collect all the fish scattered around the board.

Not entirely unlike a wild version of putt-putt golf, the excitement here is in lining up a perfect shot, and seeing how it all goes horribly wrong as your penguin careens against walls and flies off track. The whole experience is light-hearted and simple, and has the added benefit that a single game can easily fit in under the 30-minute mark.

Amazing Tales
Publisher: Martin Lloyd
Age: 4+

I’ve previously written about the joy of introducing role-playing games to kids, which is an incredibly rewarding and bonding activity to share. That article offers advice on how to successfully navigate those first role-playing sessions, as well as several games that work well for young players. At the time, I hadn’t yet had a chance to explore Amazing Tales, and it’s a great option to add into the mix, so I wanted to mention it here.

Amazing Tales is built to be played by an adult and one or two children. The kids get to make up any character they want, from futuristic robot to magical fairy, and everything in between. Imaginations can run wild, and every character gets to select four things they’re especially good at, like flying quickly, or talking to animals. These newly minted heroes then set out on adventures into a setting of their choosing, including the deep dark wood, magical kingdoms long ago, pirate seas, and adventures beyond the stars.

Amazing Tales is presented as a book that can and should be read by the adult, but little to no reading is required by the child, as the rules for play are incredibly simple, and conflict resolution uses simple dice rolls. The book offers invaluable advice for how to make the game fun for your child, and ensure that everyone walks away feeling like they were part of a thrilling (and brief) adventure. A whole game can be played through in about 30 minutes, including character creation.

Top Of The Table: Games To Play With Kids

Suspend
Publisher: Melissa & Doug
Age: 8+

I’m a particular fan of stacking and building games, many of which can be adapted with little trouble to work well with younger players. No such adaptation is necessary with Suspend, a stellar physics and balancing game for all ages.

Players have a number of metallic rods with different indentations and lengths, and they must hang one of their pieces onto an ever-growing structure of delicately stacked other rods. Can you add a piece without having the whole thing tumble?

I’ve broken Suspend out even at grown-up game nights, and everyone has had a blast. For kids, the joy is in the precarious nature of the balanced structure, and the tension of seeing whether their newly added piece will stay on. Interestingly, by the end of the game, the structure often looks like a beautiful piece of modern art, which is a nice bonus.

The publisher’s recommended age is eight and older, but I think it bears mentioning that I’ve played it with kids as young as five who had a great time, so long as they had some monitoring, since there is a physical component to the metallic game pieces.

 

Tons of amazing kids games are out there, but I wanted to highlight the games above because many parents have the tendency to simply fall back on old standbys they played when they were young. That’s fine for nostalgia reasons, but I suspect that with some experimentation, you may find that some of the more recent games for young players are a ton of fun, and that means you’ll have a better time sharing them as a family.

Despite this lengthy list of suggestions, I’m eager to hear what family games you like to break out with the kids in your life. Share your picks in the comments below. And if you’d like some more personalized board game recommendations (for kids games or otherwise) feel free to drop me an email and let me know what you’re looking for, and I’ll see what I can help you find.

Remember Haunting Ground, Capcom’s obscure survival horror game on PlayStation 2?

No?

Oh, okay.

Haunting Ground was a 2005 PS2 game from Capcom that was rumored to have begun development as a Resident Evil prototype. Capcom is dredging up these memories by giving Cammy a crossover costume of the game’s protagonist, Fiona, to be earnable through the game’s extra battle mode.

The survival horror title put Fiona in a castle with a dog partner named Hewie, who comes to listen to her commands and befriend her over the course of the game. The game was…problematic, but decidedly unique, especially in the way it depicted sexual horror regarding the dangers surrounding Fiona.

Capcom’s crossover costumes for Street Fighter V never quite dive this deep, so it’s interesting to see that they remember Haunting Ground, or maybe someone on the Street Fighter V live team just really liked her costume. With Capcom’s focus on looking into their back catalog for games to bring back as remakes and remasters, maybe someone is pushing Haunting Ground internally.

You can start earning the first part of the costume on August 30.

A few weeks back, we found out that God of War’s novelization was actually being penned by game director Cory Barlog’s father, J.M. Barlog. Now we find out that the audiobook is also being kept in the family in a different way, with the audio version of the book being read by Alastair Duncan, the voice of Mimir.

Barlog and Sony Santa Monica tweeted out the announcement today.

Mimir, the smartest man alive, is carried around by Kratos through about half the game. The head regales you with tales of the world around you and mythology of the Norse pantheon Kratos finds himself embroiled in. This makes him a natural choice to read the novelization of the game.

Duncan has also voiced several other notable video game characters, like Nihlus (and the stubborn Turian council member) in Mass Effect, Celebrimbor from the Middle-earth games, and Senator Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising: Revengence. Nanonmachines, son.

 

Mimir’s dialogue was some of the best in the game, thanks in no small part to Duncan’s on-point delivery. I’m usually not one for video game novels, but this might be worth a listen.

In our latest piece of exclusive coverage on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, we’re getting into the gritty details of some different abilities and armor you can use in each of the game’s three playstyles: Warrior, Hunter, and Assassin. I walk through a few different character builds, showing ability combinations, gameplay loops, and how it’s all been improved from Origins.

Watch the video above for new gameplay footage and details, and don’t forget to click the image below to check out our coverage hub, where new written and video features on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey will be posted all throughout the month!

The Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game has maintained its popularity for nearly two decades. With it showing no signs of slowing down, we opened the newest Structure Deck, as well as a few booster packs from the recent Shadows in Valhalla release to show off our favorites.

We were sent both the Powercode Link Structure Deck and a few booster packs in the Shadows in Valhalla set to see what we could pull. I was surprised by the quality of cards we got from the booster packs, with super and secret rare holo monster cards overflowing from the boosters.

Check out the gallery of what we pulled from the booster packs and the deck below.

 

For some coverage of the Yu-Gi-Oh video games, check out this episode of Test Chamber where we took an early look at Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Links.

Today, during the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Pokémon World Championships, the lead cast and director of the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie appeared on stage to reveal the film’s logo and to get the audience to chant, “Pikachu!” You can check out the photo gallery below for photos of Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Kathryn Newton (Blockers), who are playing the film’s two leads, and director Rob Letterman (Goosebumps) at the event. Unfortunately, Ryan Reynolds, who will be providing Pikachu’s voice in the movie, was not in attendance.

 

 We still don’t know much about the movie, Detective Pikachu, but some photos from the set did leak at the beginning of the year, which you can see here. Detective Pikachu is coming to theaters May 19 of next year.

For our review of the Detective Pikachu game, you can follow the link.