Family-friendly games for Thanksgiving

Between stuffing your face full of delicious turkey and spending quality time with your family, chances are there’s a videogame console in your home and at some point during the long weekend you’re going to boot it up. Thanksgiving is a time when people gather together because there’s food involved; but it’s not just about seeing how fast you can shovel food in your mouth. To avoid being an anti-social jerk that hogs the couch and plays Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 the entire day, here are a list of family-friendly cooperative games that you should try where kids of all ages can participate – and potentially burn a few calories in the process.

Disney Universe

An obvious choice for any Disney fan in the household, this action-oriented button-masher with light platforming elements is sure to put a smile on your face – if not yours then someone else’s. With more than 50 classic Disney character costumes (including Pixar outfits) to unlock, and four player co-op, you’ll easily get suckered into dressing up as one of your favorite mascots while exploring six themed worlds. It’s cute, hectic, and fun with a full group so if you’re looking for a kid-friendly romp through Aladdin or The Lion King-inspired levels pick this one up for the Wii, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded

Now if you have an itchy trigger finger and just need to shoot something, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is rated T for teen and may let you fly under the radar if there are younger children present. If you’re willing to share a screen, Reloaded does offer splitscreen multiplayer so up to four people can go at it.

Just Dance 3

Ubisoft’s megahit dancing series is still going strong with Just Dance 3. Probably best played before you eat an entire turkey with all of the fixings, Just Dance 3 continues the trend of getting you to let loose in your living room. Originally on the Nintendo Wii, if you have a Kinect, up to four players can get up and boogie to beats like “Boogie Wonderland” or something by C+C Music Factory (remember them?)

Rayman Origins

This beautiful and vibrant platformer may unfortunately go ignored during this busy holiday season, but what you’d be missing out on is an expertly crafted platforming experience that is challenging yet satisfying. Suffer with up to three of your friends and gawk at the gorgeous visuals as you weave your way through this wacky adventure on any of the three platforms.

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland

Last year we were treated with the delightful Kirby’s Epic Yarn, where we frolicked within a hand-crafted world full of pretty beads and shiny jewels. This year’s entry into the series, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, returns to a more familiar formula, where our favorite pink protagonist eats and charges his way through colorful levels with his super abilities. A cooperative game for up to four people, players can choose to be the iconic Kirby or choose to play as his pals King Dedede, Meta Knight or Waddle Dee. Kirby comes highly recommended if you’re looking for something less challenging and ultra-adorable.

Dance Central 2

Dancing is the way to go for anyone who owns a Kinect, and Dance Central 2 is the best one out there. A follow-up to the successful Dance Central, you’ll learn some real dance moves as you move your body to Lady Gaga or Usher. You may want to digest the turkey first; you’re going to work up a sweat in this one.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster

For something a little less strenuous with Kinect and for families with really young children in the house, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster is the perfect game for siblings or parents to play with the little ones who want to just wave their arms around and see their favorite Sesame Street monsters. Elmo and Cookie Monster accompany you through a vivid storybook, teaching children lessons that expand beyond the traditional ABCs by showing kids the meaning of empathy, sharing, friendship and other important life lessons.

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7

LEGO fans should know what to expect here as the formula hasn’t changed much from one game to the next. That’s not a bad thing though, because LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 is a great cooperative game that has you casting spells, busting up LEGO studs and solving clever puzzles. It’s charming, funny and easy to pick up, so you’ll be able to team up with anyone in your family and take on the evil Voldemort.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Keeping up with the four-player cooperative theme, Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One changes up the traditional platform/puzzler formula and lets you play drop-in, drop-out co-op with your friends. It may seem odd to team up Dr. Nefarious (who is usually your nemesis) and the bumbling Captain Qwark, but it remains true to the series quirky sense of humor.

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure

Definitely not the cheapest game on the market, this game and toy bundle will start to add up if you (or your kids) want to collect all the figurines. Each pack comes with three action figures, so that’s enough to get you started and Skylanders is a fun game to boot. Sure it’s kind of a ploy to get you to buy more figurines, but it’s an entertaining and unique concept that could be a treat for younger players.

So what games do you plan on playing with your family over the holidays?

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