The Best New Party Games to Play This Holiday

Games Super Mario
Games Super Mario Nintendo

Ah, the holidays. That special time of year that brings familiar together. If you’re a gamer, these family get togethers may serve as a minor annoyance taking you away from the many holiday releases coming out this time of year. Might we suggest an alternate way of looking at things? The holidays present the perfect opportunity to get together and play some outrageously fun party games. These types of games don’t work as solo affairs and are meant to be played by large groups of people.

Here are six of the best new party games to play this holiday season:

Jackbox Party Pack 3 

Developer Jackbox made a name for itself years ago with the fantastic trivia game franchise You Don’t Know Jack. The last few years has seen the Chicago-based team go beyond their roots and reinvent trivia video games once more with the Jackbox Party Pack. Even better, it’s a multiplayer game that only needs a console and phones to work — no extra hardware required.

Download the most recent entry, Jackbox Party Pack 3, to your current-gen console or PC and tell your family to pull out their phones. In an instant they’ll sign into the web-based interface and play along to the dirty joke machine Quiplash 2, the trickster-focused Fakin’ It, the tense questions of Trivia Murder Party, and more. It’s a fun time with no barrier to entry either with controllers or gameplay skill. Seriously, few bring together a party better than Jackbox.

[Henry Gilbert, Senior Games Editor]

Hasbro Family Fun Pack: Conquest Edition

Long before the existence of video games, board games have been bringing families together. They have also had a knack for bringing out the ruthless, competitive side of people. Board games have been responsible for more than their fair share of family feuds and grudges, and their digital counterparts are no different.

Hasbro Family Fun Pack: Conquest Edition runs with that premise, delivering four hyper-competitive games to bring out the worst in people. Send your sweet, quiet old auntie to Davey Jones’ locker in Battleship. Then try to convince everyone that “flavorite” is a perfectly legitimate way to describe your favorite flavor of pie after the holiday meal.

Once you’ve gotten warmed up with those two classics, move on to two new twists on old favorites with Monopoly Plus and Risk: Urban Assault. Remember, all’s fair in love, war, and board games.

[Matthew Allen, Executive Games Editor]

Mario Party: Star Rush 

The Mario Party games have a long history of being both exciting and agonizing. For every fun minigame you play, there’s another unfair random twist that steals away a win. Well, with the most recent 3DS entry, Nintendo might have finally cut the fat from the worst parts of the series to turn it into the best entry to date.

In Mario Party: Star Rush, turns happen much faster, so no more wasted time waiting for your opponents to move. Many classic games are back, but have been tweaked for balance and speed. Best of all, now every player can experience the full Mario Party game even if only one player actually owns the game. So pull together four Nintendo 3DS handhelds for your loved ones and give Mario Party another chance.

[Henry Gilbert, Senior Games Editor]

Just Dance 2017

Need a way to burn off those extra calories after a huge holiday meal? Just Dance 2017 should do the trick. The world’s #1 dancing game returns to once again turn any get together into a dance party.

This year’s entry in the annual franchise introduces an all-new Just Dance Machine story mode, where you must dance to help aliens fill their spaceships batteries using your dance energy. As if you needed a reason to get up and shake your booty other than the diverse set list that includes songs from the likes of Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Hatsune Miku, Maroon 5, and Queen.

Don’t worry about looking silly, either. It’s now easier than ever for up to six people to groove together using nothing but their smartphones, no need for a Wiimote or camera. If you aren’t sure your family members are the dancing types, there’s even a free demo to try before you buy.

[Matthew Allen, Executive Games Editor]

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

So, if you’ve got a fancy VR unit and you’re showing it off at a family get together. You’ve played all the flight simulators you can stand, and you don’t want to show grandma the dating games. So why not up the intensity by busting out a game where you have to asynchronously disarm a bomb. That’s the intense fun of Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes.

One player straps on a VR headset and gets a controller in hand, staring at a complicated ticking time bomb, but they don’t know what to do. Someone else has a physical copy of a complex guidebook to how to disarm it and has to give instructions fast. It’s all about communication and quick thinking in this smart use of the fresh VR technology. If your family can live through it, they’ll surely be impressed.

[Henry Gilbert, Senior Games Editor]


Odds are, not everyone in your holiday party will be into video games. Sportsfriends exists for that very reason: It’s as fun to watch as it is to play. This collection pulls together a handful of zany, colorful mini-games for what feels like a trippier version of Wii Sports.

All in all, Sportsfriends includes four different experiences. BaraBariBall takes the form of a hybrid of volleyball and a Street Fighter-style experience, but delivered via the visuals of an old Atari game. Super Pole Riders mixes pole vaulting with tetherball in a wacky physics challenge, while Hokra feels like a minimalist video game take on keep away.

If you’ve worked the turkey through your system, Johann Sebastian Joust makes for an incredibly fun time. Essentially, you try to hold your PlayStation Move controller still while other players attempt to get touch it with theirs. Though matches often devolve into a full-contact sport, it could be just what the doctor ordered after a day of overeating.

[Bob Mackey, Games Editor]