Trains, shapes, and ‘Mario’ Parties

7 board and video games for summer fun

COVID–19 severely limited outdoor activities this year, so people are going back to tabletop games and other forms of indoor family entertainment during these long days of summer. If you’re done playing well-known games such as Uno or Monopoly, this can be a good time to give the following board and family–friendly video games a try.

Board games

Ticket to Ride

This game lets players travel across the United States and collect tickets by building color-coded railroad tracks. To beat your opponents and win the game, be the first to connect major American cities by building a railroad network. Ticket to Ride also comes in versions set in Europe, Africa, India, the United Kingdom, and other venues. There is even a version for younger players called Ticket to Ride: First Journey. It offers shorter tracks that kids can build easier and faster.



One of the most well-known board games of the past decade is Catan, formerly known as Settlers of Catan. Players try to create the largest civilization on this fictional island by building settlements, roads, cities, and armies. Resources to build these infrastructures come from drawing cards and trading them with other players. There are a variety of theme versions of the game, including Catan Jr. for children.



In Pandemic, several viral diseases have broken out in major cities across the world. Gamers play the roles of scientists and specialists who treat viral “hot spots” while they also research cures to combat each disease. If this sounds similar to recent world events, you’ll understand why Pandemic has seen a rise in popularity this year. Unlike many other board games, Pandemic requires cooperation and teamwork by all players; everyone wins or loses together.



Qwirkle can be described as Scrabble without the words and board. Players use tiles painted with six shapes in six different colors to either make lines of all the same color or the same shape. They score points for each tile placed. Scoring a line of six shapes, made of all six colors is called making a Qwirkle. This easy–to–learn game has surprising depth and is perfect for families with younger children. For playing on the go, there is Travel Qwirkle, which comes with smaller tiles and a convenient carrying case.

 Video Games

Super Mario Party

For over 20 years, Nintendo’s popular characters have been starring in Mario Party, a mix of traditional board games and carnival–style competitions. Its latest edition on Nintendo’s Switch video game system allows up to four players to compete against each other to collect the most coins and stars. Super Mario Party’s varied modes lets you have a full gaming session no matter how much time you have to play, be it 15 minutes or two hours.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

As COVID–19 stay–at–home orders locked the entire country down, sales of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons went up, making it an immediate hit. It sold 5 million copies in the first month of its debute. In this life simulation game, you create your character, explore your island, build a home, plant a garden, meet talking animal neighbors, and even pick out your daily clothing. You can also go online and visit the island homes of other players. New Horizon encourages you to create your world and advance it at your own pace. This aspect makes it a perfect game for younger players or people who are playing video games for the first time.


Just Dance

Just Dance is a movement-based game that comes with a collection of songs, ranging from 70s’ hits to kids’ tunes to radio pop songs. As each song plays, you mirror dance routines performed by actors on the screen. The more accurate you are, the higher your scores. Its online mode, Just Dance Unlimited, has a growing collection of over 400 songs, so you never have to do the same dance twice. You can even turn on a calorie counter during your dances, so each gaming session can be your next workout.


This array of intriguing game options will keep you going all day—even as you shelter in place.

by Hugo Bravo

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