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2017 Nerd Dads Games of the Year

The Games Ever Dad Can Play in Front of the Kids

Another year has come and gone. As parents, we recognize that time doesn’t slow down. In fact, it becomes more and more valuable with every passing year. Our time becomes so valuable that when we waste it on a useless activity that we thought was going to be great we feel very disappointed and annoyed when it isn’t. This rings true with video games, especially. How do we decide which games to spend our expensive free time with and at what monetary cost are those games worth for your time? To help you decide to those questions, we put together this list of the Best Nerd Dads Games of 2017.

Every gaming website has a “best games of the year” list. You will no doubt find many great articles and countdowns of the best video games to be released this year, but what makes this list different is that we look at a variety factors that matter to fathers who game. We grade each game by the following category:

  • Is it easy to pick up and put down?
  • Is it easy to find discounted?
  • Is it clean enough to play in front of the kids (toddlers and up)?
  • Does it have multiplayer?
Just as a disclaimer, there were MANY great games released this year, and we were not able to play all of them (I mean come on, we’re dads too!) However, with this rubric in mind, let’s jump in and show you what we got!

HORIZON ZERO DAWN by GUERRILLA GAMES (PS4 Only)

Synopsis: You play as a young woman named Aloy set on a very primitive earth in the future. Mankind has been virtually reset to tribal living and among them live this giant robot beasts. It is Aloy’s goal to save her people from an evil organism corrupting the robot beasts and find out the truth about her real mother.

Opinion: This is game is visually stunning and the storyline is extremely compelling. The game play and controls are very fluid and tight. I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for an action-adventure game, in the vein of Ocarina of Time. It is a very big open world with lots to do without it ever feeling overwhelming. The side-quests are very well thought out and they feel like they lend themselves to the world without feeling like chores or busy work.

  • Is it easy to pick up and put down? = 7
    In order to save your progress you need to find a camp fire which are scattered densely across the world. Otherwise you have to put your PlayStation in “suspend mode” and hope your kids or your spouse don’t unplug the console or switch games. So, yes It is quite easy to pick up and put down for the most part, but sometimes finding that save point can be a little irritating, especially since fast travelling to them is limited.
  • Is it easy to find discounted? = 8
    It was released in February of this year, so it will be especially easy to find discounted. We suggest checking Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. Or even check the PSN store every Tuesday for digital discounts. We’ve seen it go for as low as $25.
  • Is it clean enough to play in front of the kids? = 6
    It is rated T for Teen. The game is totally cool to play in front toddlers, if you are just fighting big robots. However, be warned that sometimes human bandits will pop up out of nowhere and attack you sometimes, so if you don’t want your 4-year-old watching decently brutal human killing than maybe consider not playing this until your toddlers go down for a nap. Otherwise, it is a very light T rating and perfectly good for a teenager to play, at your discretion of course.
  • Is it multiplayer? = 1
    No. There is no multiplayer.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD by NINTENDO (Nintendo Switch)

Synopsis: Link awakens 100 years after his great battle with Ganon. Now he must save Princess Zelda and free the world from Ganon’s control. To do so, he must first find and activate the four divine beasts and regain his power.

Opinion: The synopsis above doesn’t do this game justice, especially since it should be noted that this game won the 2017 Game of the Year. Yes, it is the story of a young hero who needs to save a princess, but this game is literally in a league of its own. It takes open-world adventuring to a level never seen in a video game before. In most open world games, like Fallout for example, you will come across terrain or buildings that any regular human would be able to interact with but due the design of the game you are not permitted to jump a certain fence, or go through a certain door or move some debris out their path. However, in Zelda: BotW the whole world is truly open. If you look out on the horizon and see a mountain you can go to that mountain and climb that mountain. If there’s debris in your way, you can move it. If there is a day, you can go through it. And the best thing is that you are frequently rewarded for your exploration. The story is told in a very fresh and new way. With plot twists, lovable characters, and great cut scenes. This is not only my favorite game of the year, but objectively speaking I feel it is the greatest Zelda game of all time, if not the greatest open-world game of all time.

  • Is it easy to pick up and put down? = 10
    You can save at any time and pick up right where you let off. It’s also on a Nintendo Switch so the suspend feature is as simple as hitting a button.
  • Is it easy to find discounted? = 1
    This game was released in March and I haven’t seen very many discounts on it. Perhaps going in to 2018 there might be, but keep in mind you also need to purchase a Nintendo Switch. (Totally worth the $300 to play this game, but that’s just my opinion)
  • Is it clean enough to play in front of the kids? = 10
    Yes, this game is like playing a cartoon where even the bad guys look fearsome, but not too realistic, so they shouldn’t give your 2-year-old nightmares. I play it in front of my children (Ages 1, 3, and 4) all the time and they love watching me fight the bosses. Plus, its Nintendo so there is no swearing or “adult situations”
  • Is it multiplayer? = 1
    No multiplayer

CUPHEAD by STUDIO MDHR (Xbox One)

Synopsis: This game takes place in a fantasy world where you play as one of two brothers – Cuphead and Mugman. They find themselves in debt to the Devil and must do his bidding till they can earn their freedom.

Opinion: Cuphead is a 1-2 player cooperative game in the same vein as Contra. Most known for its 1930s-animated graphical style, it is probably just as known for being one this year’s most difficult games to beat. The levels and bosses take maybe 1-5 minutes to get through, but you will play for hours because you will die many, many times trying to beat each boss and level. We highly recommended this for people looking for an old-school style shooter for a modern-day console.

  • Is it easy to pick up and put down? = 9

    The short levels and auto saves make it easy to pop in and out, but you cannot save in the middle of a level.
  • Is it easy to find discounted? = 5

    It is a new release and is sold digitally for $20. But there have been a few sales on the Xbox digital store that have brought the price down to $16 or $18.
  • Is it ok to play in front of the kids? = 9

    Unless 1930s cartoons scare your children (no sarcasm - some of the art looks like the artist was on acid), then they should be fine.
  • Is it multiplayer? = 8

    It is a two-player maximum. And could potentially be frustrating for people who are not the same skill level as you are for platformers.

  • SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY by NINTENDO (Nintendo Switch)

    Synopsis: Mario must once again save Princess Peach from Bowser. This time he is accompanied by a little ghost, named Cappy that can help Mario control other creatures. Together they must collect power moons to fuel their ship and reach Bowser before he marries Princess Peach.

    Opinion: This game is outstanding. It was nominated (along with Breath of the Wild) for the 2017 Game of the Year. The puzzles are outstanding, the characters are fun, the worlds are new and fresh, and the gameplay is so solid you will have a hard time putting it down. My children love watching me play it too. It’s like playing a Pixar version of Mario, so it’s a good way to keep the kids entertained without having to watch Frozen for the 8,000,000 time.

    • Is it easy to pick up and put down? = Yes.
      You can save whenever and wherever you are. Plus, it’s on the Nintendo Switch so you can always just set it in suspend mode and walk away.
    • Is it easy to find discounted? = 3
      Right now, it is difficult to find discounted, but as the months go on, it’ll probably be a little bit easier.
    • Is it ok to play in front of the kids? = 10
      Yes, undoubtedly.
    • Is it multiplayer? = 4
      The multiplayer is 2 player co-op only and the second player is very limited in their abilities, since they play as Cappy. But it is still very fun, especially if you want to play a game with your 5-year-old.

    YOOKA-LAYLEE by TEAM 17 (PS4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH)

    Synopsis: You play as a Chameleon (named Yooka) who has a bat on his back (named Laylee - is this starting to seem a bit familiar?). They are on a mission to recover the lost pages of a magical book from an evil villain who is bent on taking over the world.

    Opinion: This game was created by the same team who made Banjo-Kazooie back in the Nintendo 64 days. It doesn’t quite live up to the greatness that was Banjo-Kazooie, but it is still a great 3D platformer. The humor is very tongue-in-cheek and at times it is laugh out loud funny. The controls and gameplay are tight and smooth. The story is a little weak, which is disappointing, but what does one truly expect from a game that is about a chameleon with a bat on his back. The nostalgia factor is very real in this game as it pulls many of its ideas from the old Banjo-Kazooie games.

    • Is it easy to pick up and put down? = 8
      Yes, for the most part. It doesn’t require too much of a time commitment, but if you start a puzzle, be sure to finish it. If the game gets turned off, you’ll be back at square one.
    • Is it easy to find discounted? = 7
      It is getting easier to find it cheaper. It’s starting retail price is $40 but we’ve seen it go for as low as $20. Best Buy, Target, and Walmart usually have it on sale too.
    • Is it ok to play in front of the kids? = 10
      Yes. It is much like Mario where it looks like a Pixar movie. Especially, with the sense of humor it brings.
    • Is it multiplayer? = 8
      Yes, there are competitive modes and co-op modes. The complexity of the multiplayer games range from easy arcade games to semi-difficult arcade games, so you can find something in there that is fun to play with the kids too.

    And that’s it! 2017 was an amazing year for games. There were plenty of games released this year that are great to play after the children go to bed too, but those will be featured in a separate blog post. Let us know your personal picks and we’ll be sure to mention them on the podcast! Email us at nerddads@gmail.com or reach out to us via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Find out the winner of this year’s 2017 Game of the Year on January’s episode of the Nerd Dads Podcast.

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