Tag Archives: nintendo

Nintendo Labo: Building Your Own Wow!

We usually review four or five products each week, but the new Nintendo Labo is so engaging and entertaining that it deserves its very own column. Before we start, there are three important things you need to know about Labo.

  1. You’ll need a Switch. Nintendo’s newest gaming console. Labo won’t function without it. If you don’t have one, it’s well worth the investment.
  2. You’ll need time. Labo divides the experience into three components: Make, Play, and Discover. Depending on what you’re making, the Make phase can easily take over an hour. But you and your child(ren) will have a blast—and an even bigger blast when you finally get to the Play and Discover stages.
  3. Tweens and teens will love it. We brought two grumbling teenagers to a pre-launch event in San Francisco and they practically refused to leave. And when a gaggle of teens took over our living room to have a Labo construction (and play) party, we knew something truly special was happening.

Labo Variety Kit (Nintendo)

Variety PackThis kit comes with everything you’ll need to build five complete projects (called Toy-Cons). Each one starts as a series of sheets of cardboard. Pop out the pieces, fold them (video instructions are available—and extremely helpful), connect them to each other, and decorate to your heart’s content. Then you attach the Switch Joy-Con controllers and the magic happens.

 

  • fishing rodWith the fishing rod, you build a “working” rod and reel. Next, you fire up your Switch console and start fishing, for anything from minnows to sharks. You can even design your own fish.
  • The motorbike lets you rev the throttle and lean to turn. And you’ll almost feel the wind in your hair as you weave through standard tracks or ones you design yourself.
  • The piano may look simple, but you don’t have to be a musician to start composing and recording your very own music, including sound effects.
  • The remote-controlled car is powered by vibrations from the Switch controllers. Use the Labo app to steer, or battle and race a friend (you’ll need another set of Switch controllers for this).
  • The house includes different rooms, components, mini-games, and even a resident creature.

Ages 6+. $69.99 MSRP. https://labo.nintendo.com

motorbike

piano

Labo Robot Kit (Nintendo)

Robot KitBuilding a wearable robot suit out of cardboard is a daunting task, but we know you can handle it. Once you’ve constructed and connected all the pieces (including a backpack, visor, and attachments for both arms and legs), you’re ready to step into the game, where you control an on-screen robot (kind of like in Ready Player One) and can punch, stomp, and smash buildings, vehicles, and other minor inconveniences all by yourself, or go robot-head to robot-head against a friend (he or she will need another Robot Kit and controllers).  Ages 6+. $69.99 MSRP. https://labo.nintendo.com

Robot action

Labo Customization Set

RC car duckIncludes tape, stencils, and a variety of stickers that you can use to customize and decorate your Labo creations. But you can just as easily use anything you have around the house or that you can buy at your local arts-and-crafts store (like glue, paint, and googly eyes—who doesn’t love googly eyes?). $9.99.

 

Toy-Con Garage

This is the Discover phase, a place where you can get under Labo’s hood and start tinkering with code. In the garage, you’ll be able to reprogram your already-built Toy-Cons or create completely new ones (like turning that piano and a handful of rubber bands into a guitar), learn if-then programming, and much more. Toy-Con Garage is already included with your Labo!

 

 

Winter Video Games

Got gamers? We do, too. Here are a few of the latest titles that will be keeping our kids (OK, and maybe us as well) occupied during the coming rainy days and cold nights.

Lightseekers (TOMY)

lightseekersYou can play this unique game using just the app or with what the company calls “connected play,” which “fuses augmented reality, physical trading cards, digital action figures, and more.” The figures are especially cool and can be used as actual game controllers, something we’ve never seen before. There’s no portal—all you need is your tablet, the app, and Bluetooth to link everything together, and you’re good to go. The interactive trading cards bring features into play and into (virtual) reality as you use them. Starter packs are about $40 at your favorite retailer. https://www.lightseekers.com


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When It’s Time to Plug Back In

Looking for some fun videos games to play with the kids? Have we got ideas for you!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo)

MarioKart8Mario Kart is one of those games that turns a room full of strangers into a room full of new buddies—or at least rowdy racers. Requiring equal parts skill, luck, and know-how, Mario Kart has consistently been a bright star in the gaming universe, and this one may be, dare we say, the brightest of them all. With almost all characters unlocked to begin with, this game is built for multiplayer action, and there are tons of characters to choose from, so there’ll be no squabbling. On the Switch, characters of different weights and sizes act differently and effect your controls, as do the type of vehicle and even the tires you select. The game also includes support for amiibos and amiibo cards, which unlock more in-game content, allowing for plenty of customization. $59.99 at retail locations or via download from the eShop. http://www.nintendo.com/games


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Video Games to Play when You’re Home Alone, Or Not

Nicer weather is on the way in some parts of the country, but what to do if you find yourself snowed- or rained in? Check out these new video games to play with the kids—and the devices to play them on.

Skylanders Imaginators

skylanders imaginatorThis is the newest in the proud Skylanders line, which uses real-life toy figures that enter the on-screen game through a “portal.” As always, the story follows the Skylanders as they try to defeat the evil Kaos in his latest plan to destroy Skyland. Kaos has found a new power called “Mind Magic,” and is creating an army of Doomlanders. The leader of the good guys is Eon, who calls upon Portal Masters (that’s you!) to battle Kaos and his army. To help, there are Senseis who give players new powers that you can use to build and equip your Imaginators. If you’ve got the new Nintendo Switch (more on that below), you’ll be able to save your Skylanders figures’ stats and abilities to the system so you can play Skylanders on the go, without having to schlep the figures or the portal.

One of the most amazing features we’ve seen in a while is the new Skylanders Creator app, which you download from the iOS or Android store, and use to create a unique Imaginator (or you can transfer one from the Skylanders Imaginators console game to the app). The whole process takes only a few minutes. Best of all, your creation will be mailed to you! www.skylanders.com/video-games/skylanders-imaginators

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Fall Classic Video Games

Looking for some new video games to play with the family as the weather cools down? Or maybe something portable to get you through those inevitable holiday travel delays? Here are some of our current favorites.

Paper Mario Color Splash (Nintendo)

paper mario color splashThis newest entry in the beloved Paper Mario series takes Mario to the formerly colorful Prism Island, where someone is draining the land of all its paint and color. As the hero we all know and love, Paper Mario comes along to save the day with his paint hammer, which splashes color on colorless portions of land, flowers, characters, houses, and even water. This game plays like other games in the series, where combat is turn based, but it also includes cards that describe what moves can be used next. This game is a blast to play for RPG fans or Mario fans in general. And if you’re new to Paper Mario, this is a perfect place to start, giving you an interactive role-playing experience that will help you paint-smash some dull areas of your own life. Only on the Nintendo Wii U. Retails for $59.99. http://www.nintendo.com

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Figure This

Is your little one a cuddle monster—the kind of kid who falls asleep amid a pile of stuffed animals on the bed? If so, your child will love the plush toys we review this week. But wait, there’s more. We’ve got movie-themed characters and something to keep cuddle monsters entertained when you take them outside.

Nintendo Plush

nintendo character plushThese video-game themed toys have hit the trifecta: they’re cute, fun to play with, and encourage your child (and you) to act out scenes from his or her most beloved games. You’ll find just about any Nintendo character you can imagine—old ones, new ones, and even the most obscure ones—including Kirby, Mario, the coin box (really!), Koopa Troopa, Cat Toad, and regular Toad. Some make those well-known Nintendo game sounds like the coin bling and the Koopa Troopa “hit” sound. Prices vary, but most are under $10, and they’re available at any toy store.

Pokémon Collectibles

pokemon colectiblePokémon fans and collectors will love the new collectable Pokémon toys, which are being released to mark Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. Every month through December 2016, Nintendo will release one retailer-exclusive, Mythical Pokémon. These extremely rare plush figures will be 8-inches tall and made with a very special crushed velvet material. There will also be 2-inch pearlescent-finished figures that come with their own pearlescent-finished Poké Balls. The company will also release a number of limited-edition Pikachu products throughout the year, but you’ll have to move quickly because when they’re gone, that’s it! Visit http://tomycollections.com/ to see which Pokémon is being released in which month, and at which retailer. Prices will vary.

Precious Moments

precious moments plushThese plush toys may not have the same instant recognition and cachet as Nintendo’s, but they’re just as sweet and snuggly, and they’re made by Aurora World (which has created some of our very favorite stuffies). The new 17-piece Precious Baby line is perfect for even the smallest cuddle monsters, and includes a blanket puppet, wind up musical toys, plush rattles, toys that recite prayers (in either English or Spanish), and a number of traditional plush toys. Prices typically range from $12-24. Visit Aurora’s website, www.auroragift.com, to see their full line of baby items as well as stuffed animals for older children.

Zootopia figures (Tomy)

zootopia If your kids loved Zootopia (is there anyone who didn’t?), you can’t go wrong with these figures. There are plush toys, character sets, and more. There are even vehicles, like Nick’s convertible and Judy’s Police Cruiser, which has a little jail cell in the back. Characters some in sets of two, three, and more. Prices vary. Available at your favorite retailer or http://tomy.com/

 

 

 

Marvel’s The Avengers Big Wheel

Marvel’s The Avengers 16-Inch Big WheelWith summer here, you’ll probably want to be outdoors as much as possible. For some parents, getting the kids away from screens can be a challenge, but you’ll be able to remedy that situation by making going outside an event for the whole family. Grown-ups and big kids usually have bikes, but what about your little one—you know, the one with the short legs and less coordination? Well, a Big Wheels trike might be just the ticket—and it’ll be a fun blast from the past for mom and dad as well. With the new Marvel’s The Avengers Big Wheel, your kids can ride with their favorite superheroes. These Big Wheels are easy to assemble (even for non-techies) and they’re sturdy, so when your helmet-wearing Captain America wannabe decides to take on a tree, the Big Wheels will survive to ride another day. These new Big Wheels have a “Grow With Me” seat that can be positioned up to three times. Retails for about $60 at stores such as Amazon and Walmart.

New from Nintendo

If you’re looking for some fun, new video games, your search is over. Here’s what we’re playing with right now. All are great picks for kids of all ages and all are available at the Nintendo eShop, http://www.nintendo.com/3ds/eshop

Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (for Nintendo 3DS)

Pokemon Mystery DungeonIn many Pokémon games, you play as a trainer (a human who trains and cares for the Pokémon). But there’s also an RPG series where you play as Pokémon, exploring, battling, and earning treasure. The most recent game in that series is Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon. Pick your character and a Pokémon friend, and you’re transformed into a young Pokémon who must explore dungeons to help solve a major crisis: Pokémon are being turned into stone. Throughout Mystery Dungeon, you can meet all 720 known Pokémon—even the rare ones. Wonder Mail players can receive special items via QR codes. This game is available now for $39.99 in the e Shop or your favorite retailer.

Fire Emblem Fates

fireemblem FatesHere’s a little something for the dads. Fire Emblem is the long running RPG series (now over 15 games) with tactical movements on a grid environment. Each environment has a variety of obstacles and story elements, from Dragon Veins to deep canyons. The most striking element of this game is the story line, which starts out as many role playing games do, with a lost main character just trying to fit in. Your first decision is whether to stay with the family that raised you, side with your biological family, or choose neither. Each choice triggers a different path, which takes your player on some interesting adventures and situations. Fire Emblem Fates Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates Conquest retail for $39.99 each and the 3-game Special Edition is $79.99.

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam (for Nintendo 3DS)

Mario and Luigi paper jamMario and the crew are back for a brand new adventure that pairs the 3-dimensional Mario with his paper version. The action in this game is played out in role playing style where players take turns attacking with various skills to defeat their enemy. Battles are action-based, rather than having to wait for your next turn. The funny dialogue and silly interactions make this game fun for both younger players and those with more experience. Be warned, though: Once you start playing, you’re not going to want to stop. Paper Jam also supports Amiibos as special power ups that can be used in battle. Each Amiibo can store character cards, and during battles, players can call upon these cards to get powers. Amiibos definitely make the game more interesting, and we highly recommend them because you can use them on multiple current generation Nintendo systems, from the new 3DS XL to the Wii U. Mario and Luigi Paper Jam retails for $39.99 at both the eShop and retail locations.

Mario Tennis Ultra Smash (for Wii U)

Mario ultra smash tennisMario Tennis has been an evolving franchise since the Nintendo 64, and with each iteration, the graphics get slicker and the game play tighter, with plenty of new bells and whistles. The most prominent addition to the Ultra Smash is the Mega Mushroom, which makes your character explode to triple your original size. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your skill level. A total of 16 characters are available in Ultra Smash, some of which you unlock by completing specific tasks. The game also lets you level-up your Amiibos, improving their stats and giving them new skills. Retails for $49.99 at the eShop or wherever you buy your games.

Nintendo video games in action

(Video) Game On!

Is there ever a bad time for video games (except bed time, of course)? Here are four new games that your kids will love, assuming you’ll stop playing them by yourself and give them a chance.

yo-kai watchYo-Kai Watch
The city of Springdale is inhabited by humans and creatures called Yo-Kai, some of whom are mischievous, while others cause real harm. The problem is that Yo-Kai are usually invisible. You play as either Nate or Kate and your task is to keep Springdale safe. Fortunately, you meet a nice Yo-Kai named Whisper who gives you a special watch that allows you to see other Yo-Kai. You and Whisper befriend Yo-Kai and put together a strong team that can do battle with the not-so-nice Yo-Kai. This is not your traditional “capturing creatures” or battle game. Instead of directly controlling the action, you’re more of a manager, telling your Yo-Kai how and where to attack and giving them special items to make them stronger. Yo-Kai Watch is available for the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS and sells for $39.99 at your favorite retailer or the eShop. http://www.nintendo.com/

runbowRunbow
This new game from 13AM Games brings a fun and interesting party platformer for the WiiU. Each player (from 1-9) is a different color and it’s a mad dash for the finish line. But this is no simple foot race. Obstacles like moving platforms and lava come and go. Runbow is perfect for classic game players who’ve got a pretty good handle on how to time their jumps. Younger players may find the game a bit frustrating, at least in the beginning. The more players you have—either locally online—the more fun and frenetic it’ll be. Pick it up for $14.99 in the eShop. http://www.13amgames.com/

yoshi's woolly worldYoshi’s Woolly World
If you’re looking for a calmer, cuddlier platforming game, you’ll love Yoshi’s Woolly World, which stars one of the Mushroom Kingdom’s most beloved characters. Yoshi’s takes Kirby’s Epic Yarn to a new level. Each character and environment has a handmade touch that’s visually pretty cool. As Yoshi, you must reach the end each level, gathering as many collectibles on the way as possible, and turning your enemies into yarn balls by swallowing them. For beginners, just finishing the level will be enough. For more experienced players, collectibles are key. There are also Amiibo extras where you can add a second Yoshi in the form of Samus, Woolly Yoshi, or even Mario, just to name a few. The game itself is available at retailers and the eShop for $49.99, or in a special pack which includes a Wooly Yoshi for $59.99.

disney infinity 3-0Disney Infinity 3.0
This is the third installment of the always-fun Disney Infinity line, and brings in characters from Marvel, Disney, and Star Wars, including Yoda, Darth Vader, and Han Solo. This game is great for beginner gamers because it’s so easy to pick up and play. Each player picks a character from the Disney Infinity figures they own (characters from the two previous games work in this one), and play as him or her throughout the game. Certain game levels work with specific characters. But our favorite part of the game is the Toy Box, which is filled with the very best creations from players all over the world Disney Infinity 3.0 is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. There’s a Star Wars-themed starter pack that includes the Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition video game, Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition base, Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker figures, Twilight of the Republic play set piece, and a Web Code card. Prices vary.

Time to Bring It on In

As the days grow shorter and chillier, you and the family are going to be spending more time indoors. This week, we look at some games that will keep kids and kids-at-heart entertained at home or on the road.

chibi robo zip lashChibi Robo Zip Lash (Nintendo)
Aliens have invaded and stolen all the snacks. As Chibi Robo, your job is to move through the game, using your cord and plug to take out enemies (ouch) and obstacles. Plug that cord in and you can power up to Fire Chibi-Robo and Ice Chibi-Robo, both of whom add some really fun elements to the game. For the most part, game play is of the 2D-platforming variety. But Chibi also has amiibo support. Just tap Chibi on your console and you can unlock Super Chibi Robo, collect in-game figurines, and open bonus levels. Available by itself ($29.99) or in a game bundle ($39.99). http://www.nintendo.com/

animal crossoing happy home designerAnimal Crossing Happy Home Designer
In the latest incarnation of Animal Crossing, players help design their very own town, including exteriors, interiors, and gardens. In the process, they’ll be helping the sometimes-design-impaired locals of Animal Town with their artistic challenges. Each of those challenges is different and players need to use their own personal style to accommodate the clients’ requests. Finish one challenges and you’re on to the next one. With hundreds of clients to work with, the game can be as long or as short as you’d like. Happy Home Designer also supports the new amiibo cards (similar to the amiibo figurines, but not actual toys), which unlock special characters who serve up even more design challenges. This is a great intro to gaming for young kids or for adults who’ve been waiting for something easy. Available everywhere either as a stand-alone or part of a bundle that includes a specially designed 3DS XL. http://animal-crossing.com/

skylanders superchargersSkylanders SuperChargers (Skylanders)
How do you put a new fresh face onto a game that’s already been updated four times? Easy: SuperCharge it! Skyland is in trouble (what a surprise) and Kaos is at it again (really?) This time, your Skylanders can get off their feet and into a vehicle. Then, you’re off, following race tracks or flying through the air, trying to defeat Kaos’s Doom Station of Ultimate Doomstruction. There are plenty of obstacles along the way, as well as a new currency, Gearbits, which allows you to buy supercool upgrades for your vehicle. In addition to other new characters, there are Donkey and Bowser figurines that you can use in Skyland or as amiibos in other games. It’s like getting two toys in one. Available everywhere for Wii U, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One for about $75. https://www.skylanders.com/

super mario maker nintendoSuper Mario Maker (Nintendo)
If you’ve ever been playing a Super Mario game and thought, “I could do better than that,” now’s your chance to show your stuff. In this game, players actually create new levels that they can share with friends or other players around the world. It’s fun and simple, but beware: creating the perfect level is definitely not easy. We suggest that you try one of your own, then spend some time exploring what other players have created. You’ll be amazed at the variety, from easy or super hard to plain or beautiful. Super Mario Maker is amiibo compatible, so if you put your Sonic the Hedgehog figure on the controller, Mario changes to Sonic and the background music changes accordingly. For Wii U. $59.99 at retail stores or the Nintendo eShop. http://www.nintendo.com/

Last-Minute Father’s Day Gifts

assassin's creed chronicles chinaFor the gamer dad (to be used only after the kids go to bed): Asassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (Ubisoft)

We’re long-time fans of the Assassin’s Creed series, with its intricate plot that weaves through time, the mysterious assassins with their awesome hoodies and incredible skills, and the incredible action adventure game play. In a nutshell, it’s assassins vs. knights. But it’s really much more complex than that, as each game in the series feed into the next. The game style of Chronicles China is markedly different from most games in the line, as this is a 2.5D platformer, where jumping and doing all things assassin is a blast, intricately detailed, and wonderfully illustrated. This is the first in the Chronicles trilogy; India and Russia will follow. China rated T for teen and is a tad violent. Prices vary. http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/

 

nintendo 3ds xlFor the dad who takes his entertainment on the go: Nintendo 3DS XL (Nintendo)

Nintendo’s new-and-improved 3D XL system (called, simply enough, 3DS XL) sports more gaming power, faster hardware, and even a few new buttons for more precise control. These include a new c-stick (a smaller, flatter joystick) and two shoulder buttons, which is awesome. There’s also a new face-tracking feature, which gives you the full 3D experience without you having to be right in front of the console. That makes the 3D more realistic and the picture much sharper. $200. http://www.nintendo.com/

 

dyson v6 absoluteFor the neat-freak dad: Dyson v6 Absolute (Dyson)

You might think your vacuum is fine, but unless you have a Dyson V6 Absolute, it probably isn’t. Most vacuums will either pick up tiny dust or the biggest stuff, but not much in between. This one, well, this one is amazing. It’s only five pounds and cordless, two features that might make you think it’s not very powerful. But you’d be wrong. The Absolute has two heads, including a soft, non-scratching roller so it can handle everything from wood to carpet. It also has a clear canister that’s easy to empty and lets you see all the junk you’re vacuuming up, which makes it easy to retrieve those LEGO pieces. And HEPA filtration cleans a lot of allergens out of the air. Runs for 20 minutes on a charge. $600. http://www.dyson.com

 

heart attackFor the dad you’d like to have around for a long, long time: Preventive Heart Attack Screening

Every year, more than half a million Americans suffer a first heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than half of those first heart attack victims die within an hour. Fortunately, about 80% of those deaths could be prevented with early detection and aggressive treatment. If your dad is 55-75, have a heart-to-heart talk and encourage him to learn about the dangers of plaque buildup in the arteries and get screened. Experts recommend one of two non-invasive tests that can detect problems and give dad’s healthcare provider an opportunity to get dad to take steps to reduce his risks: Calcium Scoring CT Heart Scan and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) Ultrasound. Prices vary and may or may not be covered by your insurance, so check with your provider. That call could save dad’s life.

 

spot traceFor the dad who always wants to know where his stuff is: SPOT Trace

SPOT Trace is a small GPS device that dad can use to track objects (like his car) and people (like dad and you when you’re in the wilderness, miles from anywhere). According the SPOT, more than 3,400 rescues have been initiated thanks to SPOT products. $99. SPOT has many other GPS/satellite trackers and phones. http://www.findmespot.com