Gaming Goods 2022: Plugged In’s Year-End Picks

I’m way ahead of the game.

The game is up, ya rats!

In my opinion, his position is fair game.

Yeah, well that’s a game two can play.

Have you ever wondered why we love to talk about games so much when we’re chatting, opining or arguing? I mean life is, after all, a game they say. Well, I’d suggest that our obsession is connected to the fact that we enjoy a good game. They challenge us. They can be fun.

And if you’ve reached the holiday season with a hankering for a video game with appeal, I might be able to set you up with a solid suggestion … or five.

Plugged In reviewed some goodies this year, so here’s a fistful of the most family friendly fare of 2022. (But, of course, be sure to check out our full reviews to make sure it’s fit for yours.)

Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet

(Nintendo Switch. Rated: E)

Gimme a good Poké game formula, I say. And this pair of identical games (except for a character or two) sticks to the rock-paper-scissors battling formula while throwing in a whole lot of extra fun bits. For one, this Pokémon entry gives us a truly open world to wander around in at our pleasure. The in-game action and questlines are fun and varied. Of course, Mom may take it away from the kids more often than the average game. (To play herself.)

Sonic Frontiers

(Nintendo Switch, PC, PS 4, PS 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X. Rated: E10+)

Back in the 1990’s, Sonic the Hedgehog games were a beloved loop-de-loop staple on the SEGA Genesis gaming systems. And now Sonic is back and running with this new title. Of course, if you’re an old school fan expecting a lot of linear platforming, you won’t find as much here (though there’s still some). This version plops our speedy blue hero down in a wide-open world (think Zelda: Breath of the Wild) filled with built-in rails, looping pathways, gold ring-gathering challenges and huge, big-boss battles. The scenery is beautiful, and the fun is still zippy.

LEGO Bricktales

(Nintendo Switch, PS 4, PS 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X. Rated: E)

When you first think of LEGO games, you might harken back to a bunch of blocky adventure titles that humorously recreated well-known action movies. Bricktales is something different. There’s still a story in the mix, but gameplay here is all about exploration, puzzle solving and using lots of LEGOs to build bridges, staircases, vehicles, lookout towers, amusement park rides, etc. LEGO Bricktales breathes new life into the LEGO game, uh, construct.

Splatoon 3

(Nintendo Switch. Rated: E10+)

So you’re looking for a shooter but want to steer clear of the goopy red stuff. Then how about some goopy paint stuff? This online competitor is focused on teams of up to four players attempting to dominate an arena by coloring as much of the floorspace as possible before the short-lived timer runs out. (It includes other paint-spreading and spraying challenges as well.) This ink-squirting “shooter” has grown into a colorful franchise that parents can appreciate, and hey, even join in and enjoy themselves.

Horizon Forbidden West

(PS4, PS5. Rated: T)

Aloy, the young, adventuring female hero of Horizon Zero Dawnis back to fight a world of machines and some human baddies, too. This is unquestionably an enjoyable, well-made and often beautiful adventuring game. It takes on its sequel duties with an immersive story and appealing characters that gamers can feel an emotional bond with. But there is a warning to be held up, too. This game earns its T-rating in the areas of thumping violence, some bloody bits and a dash of foul language. If you don’t mind some ducking, Aloy has a lot to throw at you.

And as always, I like to stretch the “only five” rules and toss you another game for extra credit:

Riff Trax: The Game

(PC. Rated: T)

If you’ve ever watched the talk-over-a-bad-movie hijinks of a show called Mystery Science Theater 3000—the creators of which went on to design the online entity RiffTrax—you have a pretty good idea of what to expect with this casual party game. You watch movie clips with your friends and toss in your funniest lines. And if you’re not the funniest turnip in the garden, the game gives you some chuckle-worthy options. It’s just plain, quirky fun that doesn’t require a family of comedy writers or a group of stand-up comedian friends to enjoy.

And that’s the, uh, ballgame. Hope you found something worthy of your game room.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

3 Responses

  1. -I’m glad to see Sonic Frontiers and Horizon Forbidden West on here, though I recommend anyone interested in the latter to play through Horizon Zero Dawn first, as Forbidden West leans heavily on Zero Dawn to fully understand its story.

    Also, I would add TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge on this list. Tons of fun to play, and I’m not even that much of a TMNT guy!

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