Gone are the days when video games rot the mind and body. The Nintendo Wii for example has been hailed as a great family gaming system because most of its games are kid-friendly, the controls are intuitive and it can get everyone up and movingónot something youíd expect from a next-gen gaming system.
"The interaction isnít only between us and the Wii, but between each other," says Benjamin Higgins, who plays Wii with his wife, Kathy.
Even parents who are usually strict about how much time their kids spend in front of a console are apt to let them linger a little longer. "I like it because the kids are standing up and moving around," says Cooper Munroe.
So what games are couples and families raving about? We spoke with Jeff Gerstmann, editorial director of GameSpot (www.gamespot.com), to help get the lowdown on the top couple and family-friendly Wii games.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Big Brain Academy might be beyond your little ones, but itíll let you test your brains against your spouse to finally settle the battle of whoís smartest. The game is a collection of brainteasers presented in a way thatís more fun than educational, and it can get seriously competitive.
"We play head-to-head and see who can get the problems faster," says Kristin Brandt. "My husbandís an engineer and Iím in marketingóheís good at the math ones and Iím good visually, so we tend to come out even in the end. Much to our chagrin, though, weíre not as smart as we thought we were." If youíre prepared for the potential blow to your ego, you can compete with up to seven other players.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Winning the best sense of humor award is WarioWare. Itís a collection of quick and easy games that come in rapid fire and use the Wiimote in new and unexpected ways, twisting players into all sorts of funny positions. It also has stripped down versions of Nintendo classics and up to four people can play at once.
Plus, even if itís not your turn, youíll still be entertained. "Itís probably more fun to watch than play, since the person is trying to keep up with the fast paced game as well as do the silly movement the game is telling them to do," says Danielle Doherty.
Just be prepared for the gross-out factor, says Kristin, who says the game is "too icky" for her son. Though it uses cartoon characters, it has you doing things like getting a finger up a nose.
Wii Sports seems to be everyoneís favorite Wii game. Encompassing baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis, the games are simple but addictive. Best of all, it comes free with the console and up to four players can compete at once. "The first night I got the thing, we were up until four in the morning bowling and playing tennis against each other," says Matthew Karsh.
Itís one of the best family-friendly games because itís easy for everyone to play. "Wii Sports has been great for my 4-year-old daughter and me to play together," says C. David Gammel. "Within a week, she was beating me at boxing and bowling pretty regularly."
One downside of the game is that with all the wild sport motions made, you need plenty of room free of obstaclesósmaller motions work, but arenít as intuitive or fun. Oh, and watch out for your kids. "Our son has gotten clocked in the head a couple of times," says Kristin. Itís so real you can even get Wii Sports injuries.
Mario Party 8
Mario Party 8 is like a board game turned into a video game. Unlike board games, though, you get to skip the setup, lost parts, and fights about cheating and cleanup. There are a bunch of different boards to choose from, so you wonít get tired of it quickly, and itís great for all ages, though itís probably best for younger kids.
Basically, you roll the dice and after your turn, everyone plays a party game. The best part: "It evens the playing field because thereís an element of chance," says Kristin. Plus, the party games are fun and active for a short amount of time.
Rayman Raving Rabbids
Rayman Raving Rabbids is "kind of a weird one," says Jeff. "There are all these rabid screaming bunnies. Itís really cute." With clever and funny animation, and ways to use the Wiimote you never wouldíve thought Nintendo would authorizeólike swinging it like a lassoóyouíll likely get hooked on this four-player, cow-tossing, pig-milking adventure. Kathy and Benjamin also say itís one of their favorites and theyíre looking forward to Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, which comes out this fall.
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
This set of games is another showcase for the Wiiís unique remote. Itíll have you doing things like jumping rope, playing ring toss and throwing hammers. "I especially like the darts game," says Jeff. "You make a throwing motionóbut you donít actually throw the controller, of course." And you donít have to worry about holes in your wall. Jeff also recommends the baseball and flying games.
The fun doesn't stop here. There will be plenty more family-friendly games coming out this fall, like Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party.