/ PLATFORMS / Nintendo Wii U
The Nintendo Wii U was the 2012 follow-up to the hugely success Wii console. It took the idea of the Wii's family motion controls and added in a controller with a built in screen. Although this is seen as s commercially less successful (or to many gamers, a failed system), for families it has been hugely successful at offering ways of playing together still not possible on even never consoles like the Nintendo Switch that followed it.Because the Wii U is a console that uniquely has two screens displaying different views of the game world it's excellent for games where players take on different roles. This was epitomised by the launch title Nintendo Land and extended with games like Affordable Space Adventure and Wii Party U. In these games one player uses the Wii U gamepad and screen with up to four other players use the classic Wii Remote controllers and the TV view. For families it can be quite magical.The Wii U also has a strong library of big budget exhuberent games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, The Wonderful 101 and of course The Legend of Zelda Breath Of The Wild which is visual as good as the Switch version of the game (the Wii U was the system it was originally design for).The Wii U also has the benefit of being able to play many games on just the gamepad screen, freeing up the TV for other viewers. This turns the gamepad into a pseudo portable system and can even be used to play Wii games. Although it's worth noting that the range from the Wii U base isn't that great.Finally, the Wii U fully supports all the Wii controllers and game discs. This opens the door to a huge library of games and greatly reduces the cost as purchasing a newer console with four controllers can almost double the price of a Switch, PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Because of its reputation as a "failed" console you can regularly find Wii U consoles and games second hand at a really low price (£100/$120).
Release Date: 17/10/2010, updated in 2019
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Wii and Wii U
Skill Rating: 3+ year-olds
Kirby's Epic Yarn is a running and jumping game starring Nintendo's Kirby character that can (usually) suck enemies into their large mouth to gain new abilities. It's set in Patch Land, a world made completely out of fabric. You use your platforming...
Release Date: 01/02/2005, updated in 2020
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, DS, GameCube, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Switch, Wii, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds
The combination of Lego, a popular film franchise and a video game is a rich recipe for gaming fun. The series of Lego games has developed since the first release on Nintendo DS. Not only do these games offer a chance to explore, destroy and fight in a...
Release Date: 30/09/2014, updated in 2018
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One
Chariot is a co-op platform game where you haul around a wheeled Chariot, to the end of each level. Pushing, pulling or dragging with ropes, you need to use the real physics of the game to solve puzzles and time jumps to get the heavy object to the...
Release Date: 14/10/2016
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skylanders uses toy figures to unlock characters and save progress. It is no longer manufactured but can be found second-hand quite cheaply and is a lot of fun for young players, particularly when played in cooperative two-player mode.
Release Date: 08/02/2006, updated in 2014
Platforms: Wii and Wii U
Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds
Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Sports Club offer motion-controlled sports. Although these games are well known, the depth each of them offer is a best-kept secret. Games like bowling, tennis and boxing are easy to pick up but require considerable...
Release Date: 08/10/2010, updated in 2013
Platforms: Switch, Wii and Wii U
Mario Party is an interactive board game. Players roll a dice to move around a board and then compete in different mini-games to earn the chance to throw again or earn points. You play as Nintendo characters and take on challenges that make use of the...
Release Date: 23/11/2017, updated in 2019
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Although Minecraft – where players place blocks to build structures, sculpt the landscape and create adventures – is the best-selling game of all time, some of the best aspects of it are little known. Along with the exploration, building and...
Release Date: 26/10/2013, updated in 2020
Platforms: Switch and Wii U
Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the latest in a series of puzzle games where you direct hordes of titular plant-like creatures to navigate garden locations. Different colour Pikmins have different abilities so the challenge is to get enough of the right ones to...
Release Date: 13/06/2017
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Cars 3: Driven to Win is a racing adventure game based on the 2017 film. You explore the world of Radiator Springs and other locations from the film. As you do, you meet the other cars, collect items and unlock new areas.
Release Date: 18/11/2012, updated in 2019
Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds
New Super Mario Bros. U is platform game where you play with 4 main players (and an optional assistant player) to traverse from one side of the level to the other. Along with the usual running, jumping, stomping and collecting you are racing other...
Release Date: 04/05/2018
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a running, jumping and collecting game where you control Donkey Kong. A second player can control the Diddy Kong sidekick. The challenge is getting to the end of each level, but there are also letters and items to...
Release Date: 17/11/2009, updated in 2020
Platforms: Android, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Stadia, Switch, Web, Wii, Wii U, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS
Skill Rating: 2+ year-olds
Dancing in front of each other isn’t something we often do in families. Just Dance is released with new songs and features each year. It gets parents, carers, children and even grandparents off the couch and dancing along with the on-screen moves....
Release Date: 21/11/2013, updated in 2013
Super Mario 3D World (known as Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury on the Switch) is a platform game you can play with up to 4-players in the same place. While all Mario games are good for families, this co-operative and competitive play makes it great...
Release Date: 23/02/2010
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Android, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iPhone, iPad
Team Sonic Racing is the latest kart racing game in a series featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and other Sega characters. Like Mario Kart, you control one of 15 characters in races using fantasy sports cars, while performing tricks,...
Release Date: 25/06/2015, updated in 2017
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS and Wii U
Yoshi's Woolly World is a platform game of knitted yarn. You explore, jump and run your way around, solving puzzles and collecting items to complete each stage.
Release Date: 13/11/2014, updated in 2018
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, Switch and Wii U
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a running, exploring, puzzle game where you guide the Toad character to save Todette from the villain Wingo and retrieve the Power Stars on each level. You navigate puzzles and obstacles, fighting enemies to reach the...
Release Date: 21/11/2010, updated in 2013
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a running, jumping and bashing game where you play Donkey Kong and other characters trying to reclaim their island from the Tiki Tak Tribe. It's a return to the side-on platforming of the classic Donkey Kong 64 in 1999.
Release Date: 28/08/2000, updated in 2018
Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, GameCube, Switch, Wii and Wii U
Mario Tennis Aces is the latest in the series of tennis game. These games recreate a relatively traditional game of tennis, although you play as Nintendo characters who each have special moves and powers.
Release Date: 25/10/2013
Platforms: Wii U
Wii Party U is a collection of games to play with families in the same room. Different modes suite different groups and ages but are all light hearted fun and make use of the Wii U Gamepad in creative ways.
Release Date: 08/07/2010
Wii Party is a party game that offers a variety of challenges that each use the Wii Remote motion controls. These 80 mini game challenges are organised through three sections of the game: Party Games, House Party Games, and Pair Games.