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The best casual social games for groups this holiday season

Tis the season for friend and family gatherings. With the holidays on the horizon, you’ll probably be surrounded by jolly loved ones before you know it. Whether you’re the host or a guest, entertainment is always a must at these meetings. An easy choice to fill that void is video games. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the perfect casual group games that anyone can pick up and play. Just don’t get jealous when your console becomes the life of the party.

Mario Party Superstars

Mario Party Superstars - Overview Trailer

Mario Party is a series that is synonymous with group gaming fun. The long-running party game series recently received a new entry in Mario Party Superstars, which very well may be the best title in the entire series. If you’re new to the Mario Party series, the game is basically a digital board game with a wide variety of nutty interactive minigames after each turn. The boards all have their own twists that add even more drama to every playthrough. But tread this title with extreme caution. The chaos that will ensue may build closer friendships with your co-players, but there’s an even greater chance that it will destroy those relationships.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Overview Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Speaking of games that can destroy friendships, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is another great game to play with a group. Whether you’re a beginner driver or a longtime Mario Kart fan, this game doesn’t fail to deliver an exciting time to add to your shindig. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an enhanced edition of the Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 for the Nintendo Switch. This version offers hours of entertainment, packaging in all the DLC previously released with the original Mario Kart 8 release. There are more courses, battle arenas, modes, and characters than anyone could ask for at a great price. Thanks to the Joy-cons, it’s easier than ever to have four controllers, so you and all your guests can get in on the fun.

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Overcooked 2

Overcooked! 2 - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

If you haven’t gotten enough of cooking for your actual guests, then how about inviting them to the kitchen to help you feed even more in Overcooked 2. In this sequel to the original Overcooked, up to four players can team up in a Diner Dash-esque game where you all have to work together and around one another to get various dishes ready and served to hungry customers in ample time. Though, things aren’t as simple as they sound. Just be ready to cook on rocking boats, moving vehicles, and in the middle of the road.

Among Us

Among Us Roles Trailer (Standalone)

Among Us is a game that needs no introduction. It may have already been the life of your party plenty of times before now. However, just in time for the holiday season the game added an update that gives players even more to do besides finishing tasks and getting the drop on unsuspecting crewmates. Those additions include cosmetics, items, currencies for unlockables, and roles like vital checking scientists or vent-using engineers. The Imposter also got a buff, allowing it to shapeshift into any character in the game. With Among Us being on so many platforms and making its way to Xbox and PlayStation on December 14, there’s no reason this can’t entertain at any gathering.

The Jackbox Party Pack 8

The Jackbox Party Pack 8 Official Trailer

The Jackbox line of games is a series that was literally made to give a good time to groups of casual gamers. It even allows players to join in on the fun with their tablets and smartphones if they’re lacking controllers. The latest entry in the series, The Jackbox Party Pack 8, includes five party games that fit any occasion. The best part about Jackbox is that the featured games can be played with up to eight or 10 players, depending on what game is chosen. The games go from a parody on job interviews to a murder mystery.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Launch Trailer

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is similar to the Jackbox Party games. This game puts you and a group of co-players in charge of defusing a bomb. However, the catch is that only one player can defuse the bomb while the “experts” with the defusing manual are unable to see it. That’s where the “keep talking” part comes into play. This game will turn any party into a frantic and stressful experience, in a good way.

Hidden Agenda

Hidden Agenda | Gameplay Trailer | PS4

If the party is more in-tune with mature and dramatic games then the PlayStation 4 exclusive, Hidden Agenda is the game for you. This game is similar to titles like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, with the twist being the entire group being able to vote on the outcome of decisions. Adding an extra layer to an already proven gold type of gameplay. Each player can also lend a hand with the investigation and puzzle portions of the game. Thankfully, Hidden Agenda is a cheaper title, at just $10 on the PlayStation Store. It supports up to five players, who join in on their Android phones.

Wii Sports

Wii Sports Trailer

When it comes to casual games that haven’t lost their luster, Wii Sports may just be the king. This is one game that has stood the test of time, still holding up as one of the best titles to throw on at a party for a good time. From golf to bowling and baseball, the sheer simplicity of the various minigames in Wii Sports makes it an incredibly simple game to pick up and play with a group of friends while still being able to engage in conversations or having to split your brain too much. The only downside of this game is that it is only available on Nintendo Wii, an older generation console that some may have gotten rid of. Speaking of that… Nintendo, where is our Switch Sports?

DeAngelo Epps
Former Digital Trends Contributor
De'Angelo Epps is a gaming writer passionate about the culture, communities, and industry surrounding gaming. His work ranges…
Knockout City Season 7: Mutant Mutiny stars Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The teenage mutant ninja turtles in knockout city holding dodgeballs.

Season 7 of the free-to-play dodgeball game Knockout City is mutant-themed, and it will cross over with some of the most famous mutants around: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In addition to earnable in-game cosmetics, players can buy the TMNT Bundle for $20 to get outfits and posses based on Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello.

Season 7 of Knockout City introduces four new characters called the "Mutant Crew," including the four mutates Neon, Susan, Ratfink, and Goober. These series originals are joined by Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo of TMNT fame. The new season of the game also comes packed with a Knockout City x TMNT crossover event, a new Premium Brawl Pass featuring TMNT unlockables, more Hideout customization, a new map, and more to be shared on the Season 7 road map.

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God of War Ragnarok isn’t the only great game 2022 has left

Because Elden Ring and some other fantastic games made a strong impression early in 2022, it's easy to feel like there's not much left in store this year outside of God of War Ragnarok, which just got a release date. Fortunately, a quick look at this fall's game lineup reveals that this couldn't be further from the truth.
From experimental indie and AA games to remakes of great games to sequels for some critically acclaimed AAA titles, it's clear that we're in for a busy holiday season. Even outside of God of War Ragnarok, fall 2022's game lineup features a wide variety of titles that should please all types of players. Although few of these games will probably be as revolutionary as Elden Ring, there are still plenty of reasons to get excited about what's on the horizon.
A strong start ...
By pairing Dark Souls' tried-and-true difficult action formula with a vast open world that players can explore without much direction, FromSoftware scored a massive hit this year with Elden Ring. Once-in-a-generation games obviously don't come along very often, and they also make it harder for the rest of a given year's games to stand out. Elden Ring will be the measuring stick every other game is compared to this holiday season, and few (if any) games will topple it in the public's eye. We've already gotten a taste of that early in the year, as the game overshadowed great titles like Horizon Forbidden West, Sifu, OlliOlli World, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land that launched around it in February and March. 

As such, it's understandable why some people are having trouble getting excited about what's still in store despite the fact that May and June had some standout games. That stigma worsened as some highly anticipated games like Starfield, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Forspoken, and Redfall were delayed into 2023. While the absence of those games is disappointing, look a little bit closer, and you'll find that there's still plenty to look forward to on every platform later this year.
... and a strong finish
While you might not be playing the new Zelda or Bethesda game this fall, many notable AAA titles are still launching. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will probably be one of the year's biggest games because of that franchise's stature. God of War Ragnarok looks like a grand follow-up to one of the best games of the last decade. And for those looking to revisit a classic, The Last of Us Part 1 will bring the PS3 classic to the technical level of its equally lauded sequel. Those three games alone make this fall pretty great for gaming, but they aren't the only AAA titles set to be released.
On the Nintendo front, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, Splatoon 3, Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, and Bayonetta 3 (the latter still doesn't have a firm release date) will give Switch players plenty to enjoy in lieu of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. As for offerings from third-party developers, Skull and Bones, Digimon Survive, Saints Row, Soul Hackers 2, Madden NFL 23, NBA 2K 23, Valkyrie Elysium, Sonic Frontiers, Marvel's Midnight Suns, Gotham Knights, Star Ocean: The Divine Force, The Callisto Protocol, and Dragon Quest Treasures help round out a varied AAA lineup.

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The best video games of June 2022: TMNT, Fire Emblem, and more
An image of the TMNT in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Following all of the major summer showcases, there's a general feeling that gaming in 2022 already peaked earlier this year with games like Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. That said, this mindset isn't really that accurate because June contained several of 2022's best games.
From beat 'em ups to simple mobiles games to grand Musou adventures, there were a lot of games to enjoy alongside all of the announcements this month. If you haven't played anything new this month because you thought 2022 gaming couldn't get any better than Elden Ring, we recommend the following six games.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge - Gameplay overview
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge isn’t a super complex game; it’s just almost perfectly executed for what it is. This beat ’em up calls back to classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time while paying respect to the popular franchise with a variety of Easter eggs and beautiful pixel art. Anyone can pick up and enjoy its beat-’em-up combat, and it’s filled with every hero or enemy you’d expect to see in a TMNT game.
We even gave Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge our first five-star review of 2022. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is a must-play for both TMNT and beat-’em-up fans alike,” Digital Trends contributor De’Angelo Epps wrote in his review. “It’s a game that takes what worked in the past, but still finds space to innovate beyond its fan service and nostalgia play.”
Surprisingly, the game features six-player co-op, so all of your friends who are TMNT fans can get in on the fun. It’s a near-perfect beat ’em up that succeeds at precisely what it was out to achieve and shouldn’t be overlooked because of that. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It’s even on Xbox Game Pass, so it’s easy to try out if you’re curious.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Persona 5 Strikers, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes incorporates enough elements from the game it’s based on and tells a compelling enough story to stand on its own. Fire Emblem mechanics such as permadeath, distinct character classes and abilities, and support conversations combined with the high-octane Musou action players have come to expect from Koei Tecmo’s Musou games to make something special.
“This is a high-effort hack-and-slash that convincingly functions as a full-fledged sequel to Fire Emblem: Three Houses,” gaming editor Giovanni Colantonio wrote in its four-star Digital Trends review. “While its core action gets repetitive due to a lack of overall variety, there are plenty of familiar RPG hooks around it that keep the adventure engaging. For those who want a good reason to revisit the land of Fódlan, Three Hopes is much deeper than a reunion special.”
The game’s narrative, in particular, stands out as Three Houses’ protagonist Byleth is now the villain. Like Three Houses, You can also play Three Hopes multiple times over if you want to see the story from each house’s perspective. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is available now for Nintendo Switch. If you want to try it, a free demo with several hours’ worth of content is available on the eShop.
Poinpy
Poinpy | Official Game Trailer | Netflix
Poinpy is much more obscure than the other games on this list because it’s tucked away as a Netflix exclusive for iOS and Android. If you search for it in the Games tab of your Netflix app on mobile, you’ll be able to jump to the App Store and Google Play Store and download it. If you go through the effort to do all that, you’ll find a simple but enthralling mobile game about collecting fruit to keep a monster at bay as you continuously climb to escape it.
It’s from the creator of the challenging but equally satisfying Downwell. Instead of descending into a dark and dreary well, Poinpy is a much more cute and colorful experience where your focus is on launching your character up to collect fruit and escape. A monster is always chasing you, so you’ll have to collect certain combinations of fruit to feed it and keep it at bay. Once you get the hang of swiping to jump and tapping your phone to stomp into the ground, you won’t want to put Poinpy down.
Netflix’s video game initiative hasn’t quite caught on yet, which is why Poinpy is relatively obscure. If Netflix can keep delivering games of this quality, people will start to notice. Poinpy is available now for iOS and Android via Netflix. Simply get a Netflix subscription, and you’ll be able to access the game without any ads or microtransactions.
Neon White
NEON WHITE | Launch Trailer
Neon White presents itself as a first-person shooter with an edgy story and intense platforming, but it really just wants you to have a good time. This game is about a bunch of criminals trying to earn their place in heaven by competing in a contest to kill the most demons. As you do this, you’ll be platforming around heavenly levels and taking out demons with guns that come from cards strewn about the level. It’s an odd mix of genres, but it works.
“Neon White takes some big swings with its card-shooter/platformer premise and fortunately doesn’t miss,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote in his four-star Neon White review. “Its execution-heavy action is wildly fast and fun, pushing players to complete complex demon-slaying gauntlets that pepper in exciting twists through the game’s last moments.”
Neon White will be up your alley if you love games like Mirror’s Edge and Clustertruck that challenge your first-person platforming skills. Visual novel fans will get a kick out of the game, too, thanks to its compelling story about who deserves forgiveness and gift system that lets the player unlock extra conversations and memories with Neon White’s supporting cast. Neon White is available now for PC and Nintendo Switch.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative
AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES - nirvanA Initiative Gameplay Trailer
A follow-up to a 2019 cult classic mystery adventure game, AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative has been a low-key critical darling this month. Sitting at an 85 on Metacritic, fans of the Danganronpa series or other similar anime-inspired games should check AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative out. In it, you’re trying to track down a serial killer who is literally tearing people in half.
To find out who did this, you must investigate the crime scene to look for evidence and delve into people’s minds to extract more information that could help with the case. Its intense anime stylings and frequent innuendo-filled jokes aren’t for everyone, but if AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, it could scratch that detective gaming itch and be one of your favorites of the year.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative is available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Card Shark
Card Shark - Release Date Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Like Neon White, Card Shark puts a spin on the card game formula. Instead of blending shooting and platforming mechanics, Card Shark is all about cheating at traditional card games with different tactics. It’s also a beautiful game, as Card Shark is styled after the paintings from 18th century France, where the game is set.
“Card Shark is one of the most inventive video games I’ve played this year, completely spinning the concept of genre on its head,” Giovanni Colantonio wrote about the game earlier this month. “Despite having cards, I can’t really call it a 'card game.' It’s an unclassifiable title that’s more about finding a compelling way to turn real-world sleight of hand into engaging gameplay. Whenever I could successfully pull off a trick without arousing too much suspicion, I felt like an overconfident mastermind.”
If you enjoy card games (or maybe want to pick up a few cheating tricks of your own), Card Shark is worth checking out on PC or Nintendo Switch. While it’s been somewhat forgotten as it came out early in the month ahead of Summer Game Fest, it helps show that times of the year that are considered quiet by many gamers can contain some of its best games.

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