Five great family-friendly Xbox and PlayStation games
Buying a video-game for your kids isn't easy. The 18-rated likes of GTA V and Far Cry 4 are clearly off limits, but at the same time – let's face it – you want to pick up something you can play with them as well. Here we pick out five outstanding recent family releases that will keep everyone happy
The Lego Movie Videogame
Xbox One/X360/PS3/PS4/Vita/Wii U/3DS/PC
If your kids are still joyously humming 'Everything is Awesome', then this revisiting of the Lego Movie will be right up their street. Lego has carved out a cosy little niche in creating movie tribute games, with everything from Indiana Jones to Batman having been covered in the past. Now it's the turn of its own movie to be transported onto consoles. The game itself follows the plot of the Lego Movie: players control lead character Emmet as he attempts to save the world, while cameos from other characters such as Superman and Gandalf pop up throughout. The two-player mode makes this a game that's fun to play with your youngsters, with a split-screen presentation allowing each player to explore independently.
Just Dance 2015
Wii/Wii U/PS3/PS$/X360/Xbox One
For anyone who's played any other version of Just Dance, this latest addition to the series will be reassuringly familiar. As usual, the only really notable change in the annual update is a selection of new songs to which you can gyrate. It's pop hits aplenty, with the likes of Pharrell Williams' Happy, Ellie Goulding's Burn and John Newman's Love Me Again leading the line. Even if you've never played Just Dance before, the gameplay takes about five seconds to understand – just pick up your motion-sensitive controller (or stand in front of your Kinect) and bust some moves. With four-person dance routines to play, it's genuinely a game for all the family.
Wii U/PC/PS4/Vita/PS3/X360/Xbox One
Another title that supports up to four players, Rayman Legends is a slice of pure cartoony platform fun. Its gameplay is a nod back to the old school – at its roots it's simple run-and-jump action – but it's delivered with feverish aplomb. You'll love the attention to detail: the stunningly drawn characters and backdrops, and you'll grin inanely at levels for which the word 'madcap' seems to have been invented. Particular highlights are the unlockable musical levels – where your successful progress plays a Rayman-ised version of a well-known song, such as a mariachi guitar version of Eye of the Tiger. The coordination required means this is one for slightly older kids – those younger than seven may just get frustrated – but for sheer fun Rayman Legends is hard to beat.
Considering the gaming world's obsession with photo-realistic graphics, the success of Minecraft is all the more remarkable. But, as with any great game, once you slice away all the frills it's the gameplay that really matters. Here, that gameplay is simple – make your way through the endless world building anything your imagination can serve up. Minecraft has hooked millions into its blocky gameworld, but seems to inspire a particularly peculiar fascination among children under the age of 10. If they're not already within its game world, then proceed with caution...you may find it difficult to extract them from in front of the TV once initiated. No matter though – the multi-player option means up to four of you can play at the same time, cooperating to build structures.
Those of you with football-addicted kids are probably already being begged for a copy of this one. The annual release of the FIFA franchise comes this year with faithfully recreated versions of all the Premier League clubs' stadiums – so if you support a top-flight team, you can live out your dreams with more realism than ever. It's a great game for playing with kids – but do bear in the mind the ever-popular 'Ultimate Team' mode is built around a card-buying mechanic where faster progress can be made by making in-game purchases with real cash.