SuperParent’s 2021 Xbox Series X/S Games Holiday Gift Guide

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 6:00 am

Check out our family-friendly recommendations for Xbox Series X/S.

If someone in your life is receiving an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S for the holidays this year, or you’re just looking for a great, family-friendly video game to fill out their existing collection, here are our recommendations for some of the best family-friendly games that came out on Xbox platforms this year.

Forza Horizon 5
Rated E for Everyone

Forza Horizon 5 drifted onto Xbox consoles and PC on November 9 and it’s already making a splash. If your family enjoys racing games or you’d just like cruising around and soaking in the scenic views Mexico has to offer, then this game will be right up your alley.

Forza Horizon 5 is an incredibly accessible racing game for players who have never played a racing game. It has an incredible amount of options when it comes to tuning the difficulty and speed of the game, which makes it perfect for all ages. It’s far more bombastic and over-the-top than other games in the genre, lending itself to have more widespread appeal.

If you’re trying to jump off a volcano in a Jeep that has the Jurassic Park logo on it, then you’re in luck. Plus, the game lets you cruise by yourself or with a convoy of friends.

The Wild at Heart
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+

The Wild at Heart is an adventure and puzzle game that’s similar to games in the Pikmin franchise. It follows two kids, Wake and Kirby, on an adventure through a magical hidden world within the forest behind Wake’s house. Players will meet a variety of Spritelings on their adventure, which they can command to perform actions, like removing obstacles from the path or attacking enemies. There are multiple varieties of Spritelings to befriend, and each one has different abilities or perks. Players will also be able to collect a variety of resources as they play, which they can use for crafting and more. You can learn more about The Wild at Heart in our SuperParent First Look.

Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers
Rated E for Everyone

This kart-racing game for preschoolers is inspired by the Nick Jr. show Blaze and the Monster Machines. The game allows littles (and adults) to race as seven different characters, including Blaze, Crusher, Pickle, Darington, Zeg, Starla, Stripes, and Watts. Kids can race on their own against computer-controlled opponents in the game’s Adventure and Quick Race modes, and they can also race against friends and family in the same room through the Play with Friends mode, which supports up to four players. While racing, players can collect wrenches that allow them to trigger their vehicle’s special ability (each vehicle has a different one). Plus, the game’s loading screens feature STEM facts that teach littles about topics like “Force,” “Recycling,” and more.

Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers isn’t as complicated as kart-racing games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (which is also a wonderful game), but it’s a great option for very young players. You can learn more about Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers in our review.

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town
Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+

Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town was originally released on Switch and PC in 2020, but it came out on Xbox this year. The farming and life simulation game allows players to grow crops, take care of animals, go fishing, mine for resources, and more. Players can also befriend the citizens of Mineral Town and even develop a romance with their favorite marriage candidate (there are multiple marriage candidates to meet, and, as reported by TheGamer, the game allows players to have “same-sex marriages”).

My Friend Peppa Pig
Rated E for Everyone

My Friend Peppa Pig is more of a virtual toy than a traditional video game, but that’s not a bad thing! Designed for preschoolers, My Friend Peppa Pig allows players to create their own animal character and explore Peppa’s world alongside Peppa and her family. Kids can visit Peppa’s house, Potato City, Granny and Grandpa’s house, the beach and more, where they can complete a variety of simple and wholesome activities, such as playing dress-up, helping Grandpa Pig in his garden, splashing in mud puddles, and building a sandcastle.

My Friend Peppa Pig likely won’t appeal to older kids, teens, or adults, but if you have a very young gamer in your life (who also happens to love Peppa Pig), we recommend checking this one out! You can learn more about My Friend Peppa Pig in our review.

Lost Words: Beyond the Page
Rated E for Everyone

Lost Words: Beyond the Page is one of the most touching and emotional games SuperParent played this year. This narrative adventure game takes place in the journal of a young girl named Izzy. Izzy is an aspiring writer who is drafting a fantasy story in her journal, but she’s also dealing with a difficult and emotional situation in her real-world life, which she writes about in journal entries.

The gameplay in Lost Words: Beyond the Page is split into two areas: the fantasy world of Estoria where Izzy’s fictional story is set, and the pages of Izzy’s journal. Both areas offer side-scrolling platforming gameplay that focuses on using words to interact with the environment.

While Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a pretty short experience (around four hours), it’s deeply moving and absolutely worth playing. At the same time, parents should know that even though the game is rated E for Everyone, the game’s story deals with mature, emotional topics such as loss and grief, so we encourage families (both adults and children) to play the game together so parents can help younger players if they have questions about the game’s themes. You can learn more about Lost Words: Beyond the Page and watch a gameplay video in our SuperParent First Look.

PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night
Rated E for Everyone

Inspired by the PJ Masks animated series for preschoolers, PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night challenges littles to help the PJ Masks foil the plans of villains like Romeo and Luna Girl. The game’s missions allow players to drive one of the PJ Masks’ vehicles as well as complete a side-scrolling platforming section to reach the villain at the end of each stage. As players progress, they can help the PJ Masks use their special abilities, as well as collect gems and amulets that are scattered throughout each level. PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night is a very simple platformer that likely won’t appeal to older kids, but we recommend it for the very young gamers in your life. You can learn more about PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night in our review.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Rated E for Everyone to M for Mature

Xbox Game Pass is Xbox’s game subscription service that allows subscribers to play over 100 games on Xbox, PC, and mobile devices (mobile gaming is achieved through cloud streaming). If your family is picking up your first Xbox console this holiday season, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription is one of the best accessories you can buy for the system, since you’ll be able to try dozens of games for a single price. Some games are even released on Xbox Game Pass on the same day they’re released in stores.

An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription costs $14.99, but you can purchase your first month for just $1. You can also give an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription to someone else as a gift.

Parents should know that some of the games in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated M for Mature, meaning they aren’t appropriate for kids. In addition, while new games are added to the service on a regular basis, games can be removed as well.

As of this writing, here are just a few of the great family-friendly games you can check out on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:

Disneyland Adventures (Rated E10+ for Everyone 10+) – Explore a virtual version of Disneyland, play mini-games inspired by the theme park’s attractions, complete quests, and more.

New Super Lucky’s Tale (Rated E for Everyone) – This 3D platformer asks players to help a fox named Lucky on his quest through the Book of Ages.

Unpacking (Rated E for Everyone) – This puzzle game asks players to unpack a person’s belongings as they grow up and move from home to home.

You can learn more about the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription in our complete guide to Xbox Game Pass.

Disclosure: SuperParent received The Wild at Heart, Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers, My Friend Peppa Pig, Lost Words: Beyond the Page, PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night, and the demo for Unpacking for coverage purposes. Our coverage remains objective.

Brandy Berthelson and Jesse Vitelli contributed to this article.

Top image © photoguns / Adobe Stock

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