Online multiplayer gaming is fine and dandy, but playing with friends and family all together in one room has always been way more fun. And if you're looking to add a little participatory entertainment after everyone has finished their serving (or two) of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie next week, these favorite party-friendly video games can get everyone in on the action...and maybe even off the couch!
Kinect Party - Xbox Marketplace
Just watch a few seconds of the video above recorded by YouTube gaming vloggers, PewDiePie, of Kinect Party in action and you'll quickly realize the LOL...no make that ROFL...potential of playing this with friends and relatives over the holiday (up to 6 players at once!). The highest rated party game title over at MetaCritic, Kinect Party is non-stop motion-controlled absurdity in a package of 36 mini-games which paste your likenesses into interactive environments.
Lips - XBox 360
People LOVE karaoke, especially at parties, where guests can belt away to their favorite tunes and pretend they can hold a note or two (and some do end up surprising with their hidden talents once they do take the mic). Lips is a party vocalist's dream: the game initiates song lyrics and music for players to sing along to as soon the microphone controller is picked up, allowing for tandem and groups of singers to "pass the mic". And as the video above illustrates, the game has the potential to get the shy and couch-bound up and singing.
Dance Central - XBox 360 Kinect
Hailed as the best (and most fun) Kinect game by many, Dance Central is the poster child for what Microsoft's motion capturing system is capable of offering (and soon to be updated Xbox One Kinect camera), and should prove lots of fun for anyone, young or old, to participate and play. Created by Harmonix (the same company that brought us Rock Band, our next pick) Dance Central uses Kinect's hardware and XBox 360's graphical prowess to deliver a dance-centric game that is easy for both veteran dancers and rhythm-challenged players to get into.
Rock Band - Sony PS3 / XBox 360 / Nintendo Wii
Everyone at some point has dreamt of being in a band, and Harmonix's music taps into this fantasy by allowing groups of gamers to don a guitar, the drums and a microphone peripheral to form a virtual band. Play through a variety of classic and current rock hits from Black Sabbath, Metallica, Green Day, and many more by hitting the right prompts as they appear on screen to really rock the party! All the more hilarious when your uncle is kicking while air guitaring and your little niece is your lead singer!
Super Mario Bros Wii U - Nintendo Wii U
There's no genre of gaming which brings out the emotions in one room like a good multiplayer platform game, which can bring friends closer or turn them into sworn enemies when underhanded tactics are employed. Just remember it's all in good fun! With the Wii U Gamepad, one player can be the game master, setting platforms with a tap of the screen for up to four other players to traverse through the level. Expect a lot of shouting, laughing, and other multiplayer mischief.
Mario Kart - Nintendo Wii / ModNation Racers - Sony PS3
This gaming list would be incomplete without the inclusion of the best go-kart racing games of all time. Depending on whether you have a Wii or PS3, both Mario Kart and ModNation Racers are the best of the multiplayer racer genre, each showcasing tight controls, creative weapons to unleash on fellow racers, and imaginative track design. What it all boils down to is an intense racing experience that is sure to have party guests on the edge of their seats.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Nintendo Wii
Who would have ever predicted a game that features Mario, Samus, and Link going toe-to-toe to beat the snot out of each other would ever exist? Nintendo's family-friendly image is pushed to the boundaries with their Super Smash Bros. franchise, cartoonish fighting title which consists of various characters from the Nintendo universe coming together to duke it out in exaggerated cartoon style. Another title with a high "shouting while playing" potential amongst participants.
Hot Shots Golf - Sony PS3
Just because the weather outside is frightful doesn't mean that you and friends and family can't sneak in a game of links together. I reviewed Hot Shots Golf a few months back and I still pick it up from time to time, enjoying playing a round or two with my wife when we're in the mood for some competitive-player gaming. If there's a Playstation Move set handy, you can wow party guests with your mean power drive or skilled putting, but the casual nature of the game makes it appealing for anyone and everyone to play a hole or two.
NBA Jam: On Fire Edition - PS3 / XBox 360 / Wii
A longtime fantasy sports classic (meaning, you don't really need to know the rules of basketball to play), the latest NBA Jam will have guests shouting 'Boom-shaka-laka' for weeks. NBA Jam made a big comeback several years ago after a rerelease with a new graphical style and a whole new catalog of over-the-top dunks, flaming shots, and shattered backboard action. The two-against-two 4-player action makes this sports title a lot of fun for random pairings amongst guests, and a lot of smack talking is sure to ensue once everyone gets the hang of what boilds down to a very simple game (shoot the ball and score).
Game & Wario - Wii U
"Absurdly ridiculous" sums up Game & Wario in a nutshell. The Wii U game revolves around the greedy mustachioed arch-villain, Wario, who sets out to get rich by releasing as many games for participants to solve. The result? Bizarre, yet always fun mini-games that require quick reflexes using single button presses to progress (making it an ideal titles to enjoy with non-gamers).
(Image credits: Microsoft, Nintendo, Harmonix, SCEA)