Classic gameplay, challenging levels and some fun multiplayer make New Super Mario Bros. Wii another stellar outing for the Italian plumber. While it feels and plays like its esteemed side-scrolling predecessors, there are enough additions here - such as the ability to have four players at the same time - to make it an engaging game for the entire family. Whether you decide to tackle it solo or give the fun - but at-times frustrating - multiplayer a chance, the game is a thoroughly worthwhile experience.
Monopoly Streets ably brings the famed board game to life. The game takes the familiar game board on a gigantic block in Monopoly City, which features three-dimensional structures instead of the simple virtual boards of previous video game version of Monopoly. With entertaining minigame auctions and plenty of options for custom play, it's a game that can easily entertain the family.
Kinect Sports is a collection of six sport games (bowling, boxing, track and field, table tennis, football and volleyball) that not only serves as a great way to get in shape using Microsoft's new motion controller, but is also accessible and fun for the whole family. There's not nearly as much fun to be had here solo as there is playing with friends, but provided you have plenty of space in front of your TV, and you're OK with working up a sweat while playing, you're sure to have a good time. What makes this game different from other motion controlled sports games, like Wii Sports or PS3's Sports Champion, is that your entire body is a controller. That's means you can't simply sit on the couch to play this game.
With Wii Sports Resort, Nintendo has created another winner that can be picked up and enjoyed by gamers of all skill sets. Like its predecessor Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort is a collection of mini games, including table archery, tennis, air sports, swordplay, wakeboarding and Frisbee. Most of the minigames in Resort are brand new, but two (bowling and golf) are enhanced versions of Wii Sports activities. You'll need Nintendo's MotionPlus accessory for the game, because none of the minigames in Wii Sports Resort can be played without it. One MotionPlus is bundled with the game.
This is a fun version of the well-known board game of quick sketches and crazy guesses. Pictionary uses a tablet peripheral to let players draw their clues using a plastic stylus and pad and see them appear on their television screens. To play, you need to buy the uDraw tablet ($69.99) and then a copy of the game itself ($29.99). This may prove too high a price barrier for many, but there is still a lot to like here. This video game version of Pictionary is not just a faithful translation of the original, but it also throws in some enjoyable new elements that encourage players not to take the game too seriously.
No matter how many parties you have going on your Wii already, this is one that you don't want to miss. Wii Party is a blast if you've got a full room of family and friends. There's a huge variety of minigames to play; everything from kart racing to vegetable chopping. The wide breadth of games - and unique ways to experience them - makes it fun for the whole family. But some of the cooperative games are difficult to win if you're not playing with someone of equal skill. If you own a Wii but don't have a party game on your shelf, Wii Party is a party you'll want to attend.
Mario Kart Wii is yet another great Nintendo game for the whole family. The gameplay is similar to previous versions of Mario Kart - in fact, some levels of the game are taken from older versions - but you steer your "kart" with a Wiimote tucked into a plastic steering wheel. There's a lot here to encourage replay: The candy-colored levels range in location from the inside of a mall to an abandoned mine, the goofy "karts" offer a wide variation in driving style and multiplayer mode lets you race with friends and family. The gameplay hits that sweet spot that Nintendo is known for: it's easy to learn and rarely frustrating, but mastering every trick takes a fair amount of time. Nintendo didn't reinvent Mario Kart for this outing - and that's a good thing.
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)
So you want to play Mario Kart, but only have an Xbox 360 or PS3? This is your best bet. Although the core of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is obviously pulled from of the Nintendo classic, this wacky racer can stand on its own four wheels. The tight controls and excellent track design ensure that head-to-head competition is always exciting, but it's so fun just to play around with these karts that it's easy to lose hours climbing the online leaderboards in Time Trial mode. Like Mario Kart Wii, All-Star Racing may not push the genre forward in any meaningful way, but it builds so well on established themes that you won't care.
Admit it - you love Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune! Well, now the two iconic game shows have made their way on the Wii. Both games recreate the show's famous set and challenges players' intellects with three-player completion. With voice acting from Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek, the games deliver an authentic game show experience. Shouting out your answers using the Wii Speak microphone (sold separately) is much more fun with family and friends than all by yourself.
Dance Central (Xbox 360)
It can be tough to get the whole family playing a dancing game, because someone will always find it a bit intimidating. But out of all the dancing titles available for the home consoles, "Dance Central" may be the best. The game is simple: players mimic the on-screen character's dance moves for high scores while jumping and gyrating to songs from artists like Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue. You can master the moves individually and then launch into a dance battle to string them together to the music. A circle beneath the on-screen feet glows green when you hit the moves correctly and glows red when you mess them up. This is a top-shelf dancing title and is essential for Xbox Kinect users.