GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #5: Video Games and Apps

Since Pong, video games have been of great interest to the geek community. The games and graphics have gotten much more sophisticated, but the appeal hasn’t waned. See what games the GeekMoms are playing this year!

Image: Telltale Games
Image: Telltale Games

Back to the Future: The Game (30th Anniversary Edition)
About $20
If you haven’t yet gotten enough of Back to the Future this year (and who has?), check out Telltale Games’ fantastic Back to the Future: The Game, put out in a 30th Anniversary (for the movie) edition. Set six months after the story of Back to the Future III, you’ll take Marty through time once again to save Doc Brown, making choices for him as he tries to stay out of trouble himself. It’s a bit like the old Secret of Monkey Island game, except much more up to date, and with time travel!

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo
Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle © Nintendo

Super Mario Maker Wii U Bundle
$299.99
Super Mario Maker not only puts all of your game designer dreams to the test, it also challenges all of your Mario skills with a staggering amount of brilliant levels created by players around the world. If you don’t already have a Wii U, there’s no better time to buy one than now with this bundle including both the game and the console.

Lego Jurassic Park © Warner Brothers Games (Fair Use)
Lego Jurassic Park © Warner Brothers Games (Fair Use)

Lego Jurassic World
$20 to $40 depending on games system
As the latest installment in the Lego games series, you probably already know what to expect from Lego Jurassic World. Play through all four movies from the film series, and explore both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna in detail. Alongside the unique skills of different characters from the films (Ellie can find useful objects in dino poop, Alan can reassemble skeletons, etc.), this game also gives you the option to play as the dinos themselves. Kids (and adults) will find immense joy in becoming a T-Rex and exploding rocks with the sheer power of a roar. Or create your own custom dino, and give that mighty roar to a chicken-sized compsognathus for even more hilarity! The lack of violence and the excellent multiplayer system makes the Lego games fantastic introductions to gaming for younger kids, and good solo games for slightly older children and adults.

Courtesy of Activision.
Courtesy of Activision.

Snoopy’s Grand Adventure
$28-$40
Looking for a good game of hide-and-seek? Ask the Peanuts gang! Activision’s latest has Snoopy on a quest to find Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and the rest of Charles M. Schulz’s beloved characters. Players help track them down by navigating through the many worlds in Snoopy’s imagination, avoiding obstacles, and picking up jellybeans and Beagle Scouts along the way. There are costumes, alter egos, and options for a second player to take on the role of Woodstock. This one was at the top of the list for GeekMom Rachel’s family. It can get a little challenging, but there are plenty of videos online to help guide you through. If you have a Charlie Brown fan in the house, this provides hours of adorable, animated entertainment. Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.

Image: ArenaNet
Image: ArenaNet

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
$49.99

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
is an expansion for the (now free-to-play) Guild Wars 2 MMORPG. The expansion provides access to new abilities, mechanics, and a new class: the Revenant. Players are tasked with the unthinkable: Enter Mordremoth’s jungle-warped territories, rescue your friends, and defeat the ancient power of the Elder Dragon. The task won’t be an easy one. Players will need to learn to speak new languages, foster relations with new cultures, navigate new dangerous terrain, and fight the twisted creations of Mordremoth.  Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns makes a great gift for gamers who want a world-class gaming experience without a subscription.

Image: Amanita Design
Image: Amanita Design

Botanicula
$2.99-9.99
This beautiful, relaxing game will have you directing little plant shapes on a mildly wild adventure around a tree, picking up clues and items and avoiding dark scary things. A great puzzler intro for kids or for those who want a gentler experience, players need to use their creativity and critical thinking skills to figure out what to do next. The game music is so beautiful that they’ve also released it for download!

Photo courtesy of Next Issue, used with permission.
Photo courtesy of Next Issue, used with permission.

Texture
$9.99/month
The newly-rebranded Texture is an updated version of Next Issue‘s fabulous magazine app. If you’re a magazine junkie, this is an easy way to access hundreds of titles for one very reasonable monthly price. For $9.99 a month you get unlimited monthly magazines from the Texture catalog, and $14.99 a month adds in all of the weeklies, too. It’s fun to use, and it looks great. Gift subscriptions are also available.

Splatoon © Nintendo
Splatoon © Nintendo

Splatoon
$59.99
It’s an all-out, all-ages turf war in Splatoon, exclusively on the Wii U! Every member of your family will love taking control of an Inkling to spray, splat, and roll their ink to claim their territory and battle it out with players worldwide. Splatoon is a completely family-friendly shooter that parents can feel good about while kids have a blast.

Big Pharma ® Positech Games (Fair Use)
Big Pharma ® Positech Games (Fair Use)

Big Pharma
$24.99
If you’re looking for a holiday present that will turn its recipient into a hunchbacked hermit, staring wild-eyed into the glow of a monitor for hours and hours at a time forgoing both dinner and sleep, but Fallout 4 is out of your budget, then consider Big Pharma. A management game focused on a pharmaceuticals factory doesn’t sound like fun, but it is strangely addictive. Research new ingredients, build processing lines, and refine your products to create new, better, and more expensive drugs. This is a game with a modern morality tale at its heart, but an immensely enjoyable one at that.

Image: Bethesda
Image: Bethesda

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition
$9.99
Skyrim is the winner of over 200 Game of the Year awards, and now has three official add-ons: Dawnguard, Hearthfire, and Dragonborn. Get the complete package with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Legendary Edition. It may seem odd for a game that was released several years ago to find its way onto the 2015 Gift Guide, but Skyrim is worth the exception. New features and content bring it to the front again, and now at a paltry $9.99, Skyrim is a fabulous low-cost gift for your beloved gamer.

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Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.