1. Super Smash Bros.
Oh Smash Bros. You were there for me as a child, you were there for me in college, and you’re there for me now. These are some of the few games that are as fun alone as it is with friends, as fun inebriated as it is sober, and as fun old as it is young. That nobody has to die from all this delicious cartoon violence is just the cherry on top that let’s you invite your little cousins in to join the button mashing.
2. Katamari Damacy
You’ve seen this game. You may not have ever played this game, but you’ve seen it. This game series involves rolling everything in the entire world into an increasingly large ball. You’ll have to solve your way out of puzzles, but feel safe in the knowledge that everything, everything, will be rolled into your giant ball eventually.
3. Gone Home
Gone Home is a first-person non-linear interactive story game. You’re been given a chance to explore some property and sort out what’s recently occurred based solely on what you see and hear. There aren’t many goals in this game; it’s more observational. What you put into the experience is what you’ll get out of it.
For the uninitiated: Minecraft is essentially the video game version of Legos and people take it very seriously. People have built castles, Disneyland, and even working Rube Goldberg machines in these little worlds. There are some zombies you can fight and spiders and creatures you have fend off but it’s far more fun to find elaborate ways to keep them away.
You wake up in a chamber with an artificial intelligence talking to you and a gun that can create portals anywhere you like. You’re promised a cake if you can make it through the puzzle. That’s the amazing premise of Portal, a physics based puzzle game that will have you glued to your seat until the very end.
This is a puzzle game and platformer that sources user-generated content for much of its charm. You can build and share your own levels and download the levels other players have cooked up. Also, Sackboy is the cutest character Sony has ever launched.
Alright, before you go speechifying I will point out that this game does sort of involve cock fighting and dog fighting metaphors. So before you hand it to your kid please have a long talk about how Pokémon are fictional fantasy creatures that like fighting and that real-life animals are different. Once that’s out of the way, battle and catch them all! Not a single Pokémon was killed in the making of this series.
8. Sonic the Hedgehog
Play as the iconic speedy blue hedgehog and free all the other animals from Dr. Eggman’s contraptions. There are dozens of games of varying quality in the Sonic series but the ports of the originals hold up great. Sonic was once faster and cooler than Mario ever was.
9. Mario Kart
I hate the monotony of racing games. Mario Kart is barely a racing game. Mario Kart is a game of go-kart battles that involves some racing. It is also the game that has caused the most controllers to be slammed down in the history of time. Only play with friends you’re willing to argue with.
10. Batman: Arkham Series
This is a fully-fledged, all-grown-up, triple AAA, action series. Batman is an action hero that is strictly against killing his foes… which makes the variety of ways he incapacitates and avoids them all the more exciting. This is a stunning family of games you won’t be able to put down. Any deaths that may occur are ambiguous and very much against our hero’s wishes.
11. Dance Central
Dance Central is basically the karaoke of dance. Similar titles like Just Dance exist but Dance Central is, in my opinion, unmatched in it’s realism and catalog. The games come with the service that allow you to download popular music to dance to. You’ll even burn calories without even noticing.
12. The Sims
Everybody loves The Sims for one reason or another. Maybe you love making characters who look like celebrities or your friends, maybe you like designing houses, maybe you’re in it for the pee simulator. Whatever you enjoy The Sims will provide. Technically you can kill a Sim but it comes with some sad and permanent consequences.
Technically all athletic games fall into this category, from Madden to Wii Sports, but FIFA is just undeniably the most fun and popular worldwide. It has all the appeal of soccer without any of the exercise and blisters. It’s been basically the same game with slightly better graphics every year since it’s inception but that’s fine.
Name something, anything! Poof, it falls down from the sky. Imagine having this power in the palm of your hands. You’d able to solve anything problem, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not.