The best new family PS4 games #SomethingForTheWeekend – by Jim Pople

The best new family PS4 games #SomethingForTheWeekend


Sonic Mania

The appeal of reviewing Sonic Mania, as a 1990s-born and raised 28-year-old was immediate. You just don’t receive the instant pick up and playability that Sega’s most recognisable hedgehog can give you, in today’s games.

The arcade nature of the game, released to coincide with the franchise’s 25th anniversary, really does remind you of simpler times. You’re almost shocked by the classic ‘Segaaaaaaa’ chime that appears immediately after start-up, making you momentarily think that you’re actually sitting in front of the wired, short and stubby controllers of Sega’s Master System and Mega Drive, instead of the Sony’s PS4. However, the recent taste for nostalgia that the video games industry has been experiencing, leading to many miniature retro consoles, make this feel familiar.

This is also the case with the similarly 1990s sound effects whenever you move between menu options, and the buzzy clunks of selecting these options. This probably isn’t one for the new gamers of today, who expect big storylines and slick interfaces! With no deep, hidden meanings behind the platform games of today, this fast-paced, side scrolling adventure begins with a choice between ‘Encore Mode’ and ‘Mania Mode’. 

A button basher

This immediately takes you into an epilepsy-inducing intro, thereafter with Sonic and sidekick Tails starting to barrel-roll and spin their way through the first level; classic Sonic moves! With only a few select buttons actually doing anything, with the quadrant of buttons making Sonic move in all directions, it’s certainly a button-basher, increasing the fun no-end!

The novelty of Sonic never wears off when playing with family; it’s an instant hit. So much so that my wife was expecting something a bit more modern – this is no re-imagination of Sonic in the same way that Crash Bandicoot has been brought onto the modern platforms. 

Appealing to the whole family

However, we all enjoyed the fast nature, and the laughs when scrambling to move Sonic forward; on some levels, where the character can switch between playing as Sonic or Knuckles, it is genuinely difficult to know where to bounce and run to next. It’s no walk in the park, even for the seasoned gamer, but it actively engages you in a way similar to the offerings of today, validating the appeal of retro games.

The soundtrack and fast-paced nature of the game also appeals to the much younger generation. The constant sounds of capturing rings, attracts the attention of the kids, as does the rainbow of colours and the upbeat soundtrack.

This was my first taste of retro gaming on the PlayStation, and for the family at least, it’s a great pick-up-and-play title that is refreshing from today’s mostly overly complicated games. 


W2K19

The family-review of WWE 2K19 was somewhat limited; this was definitely one for the adults! However, I managed to wrangle a family friend of a similar age to experience 2K Sports’ latest wrestling offering. Before picking it up, you just knew that it was going to be full to the brim with functionality and customisation, such is 2K’s reputation in sports gaming.

I’ll admit from the beginning that I am not the biggest fan of WWE Wrestling. First watching it in the early 2000s when it seemed to enjoy a second boom in the UK, the memories of The Rock, Kane and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin were enough to make want to have a go. After all, everyone loves a bit of play-acting that involves throwing a chair across the ring at your opponent, or jumping off the ropes to body slam or kick someone in the head.

Lots of options – lots to learn!

Like other 2K titles, you could happily spend 30 minutes looking around and exploring the menus, with an infinite number of videos, tournaments and player customisation options to go through. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, but the ‘Play’ option takes you straight into a scenario of your choice.

Similar to other titles I have reviewed recently, there are no limits to the amount of button combinations you can throw in WWE, with a number of special combinations offered to you in real-time. This makes the game all the more pleasurable, in terms of trying to floor your opponent as quickly as possible. However, experience of previous titles in the 2K Sports series is preferable here, in order to get off to a flying start.

Fun inside, and outside, the ring

It’s surprisingly hard to recover from getting hit without throwing some quick moves to block your opponent’s next move, but it makes it all the more fun when you do. And as in real life, everything inside – and outside – of the ring can be used to attack your opponent. In fact, we spent more time outside of the ring than in it! 

The seemingly endless number of characters also means there is plenty to explore in potential rematches, although with our skill level, it could be some time before we get to unlock all of the classic characters, bringing us back to our youth.

While you may need to be an experienced player with this series of games, it’s easy enough to pick up and play individual games. Career mode? That’s no match for bantering with mates and family in trying to get that Smackdown!


ChimParty

Finally, one for the wife to properly enjoy! I was sceptical about playing ChimParty before reviewing; I thought it would be another platform game with no oomph or depth to it, but in fact, it opened my eyes to the direction in which console games are going.

With an increasing number of games on mobile platforms, it has been an on-going problem to engage the console generation with games played on the television, instead of phones. PlayStation has solved this by introducing the PlayLink app, bringing the game to everyone in the living room with a smartphone. This also eliminates any problems for those with not enough controllers. 

It also uses your camera, so you can take a quick selfie as your profile. Even for someone who is quite set in his ways, I couldn’t resist taking a cheeky snap!

Even the wife loved it!

For the wife, who is as alien to a PS4 controller as she is to any other piece of gaming paraphernalia, this was an attractive option. In fact, you hardly need the controller at all during ChimParty, only at the start-up stage. All of the on-screen menus are replicated in the palm of your hand – you only need look at the screen when actually directing your monkey around.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds, so it takes a while to get use to everything when you are all running in different directions. For instance, you have to press a button to get your chimp to run – but let go to turn him/her. 

Real family fun

Turning your phone around the full 360 degrees moves your chimp in a semi-accurate way. It’s hilarious to be bumping into each other on screen, while your elbows bash with your family as your sway in your seat to navigate the maps.

Everything about this surprisingly enjoyable arcade game is dependent on the fun you have with people in the room. Similar to the Mario Party titles of the early 2000s, there is a real enjoyment to putting as much energy as possible through the controller – or phone – to beat your opponents for bragging rights. 

If you’ve got the family around for Christmas, especially younger children, this is a great title to get everyone involved. It’s essentially a digital board game!


Written by Jim Pople

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