Five of the best family-friendly games of 2015
Perfect titles for some last-minute Christmas present shopping
The shelves of high street video game shops are dominated by big-budget shooters - with the likes of Just Cause 3, Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III top of many teenagers' wishlists this Christmas. But what about those of us with younger kids? A quick blast of CoD is obviously out of the question - but there are plenty of family-friendly titles around that would be just right for popping in their stocking. Here are five of the best to have come out in the past 12 months.
Rock Band 4
This one is something of an investment, since buying the game itself is not enough. You'll also need to shell out for at least one of the plastic instrument peripherals, such as a guitar or drum-kit controller (although, if you've previously owned a Rock Band game, you will be able to use those controllers). The game comes with 65 songs to play through, as well as thousands more that can be downloaded at an additional cost. It's something all the family can play together - with a 'no fail' option available for any band members who don't know what they're doing.
Super Mario Maker
Nintendo's latest Mario title is an absolute corker - a classic 2D side-scrolling platformer with one magic ingredient: you get to create your own levels. It scratches the same kind of game-building itch as the insanely successful Minecraft, but with the familiar veneer of a Mario world laid on top. The complexity of the level creation system isn't too scary, but it's probably still best for slightly older children. Once they have built their levels (and played through them at least once, to prove they are beatable) they can share them online for the whole world to enjoy.
Ever wondered what happens if you combine football and fast (rocket-powered) cars? Here's your answer; a ridiculously addictive arcade game that can be played either single player, multi-player or online. The simplicity of Rocket League is what will keep you hooked - zooming round the pitch for five minutes at a time desperately trying to doink the ball into the net with your car; it's enormous fun.
While most shooters aren't suitable for a younger crowd, this one certainly is. Replace all the blood and gore with a technicolour landscape of paint splats and you get Splatoon. Gameplay is a bit bonkers - your character can transform themselves into squid for one thing - but it's great for online multiplayer and also local 1v1 gameplay.
Majora's Mask 3D
If you loved gaming back in 2000, you probably played the original Majora's Mask. Pick up this remake for the 3DS and show your kids what gaming is really all about. Its somewhat complex control scheme and gameplay make this suitable for older kids, but it's sure to keep those who enjoy a more thoughtful style of gaming busy throughout the Christmas break and beyond.