Sunday, August 24, 2008

Twenty games for kids (and adults too) - part one

So now you’ve read the reasons why you don’t need to worry about your child playing videogames, how about choosing some games for them to play? To this end, I’ve put together a list of titles that are suitable for grown-ups as well as kids – you can play many of them together. Below is part one of what’s an unapologetically subjective collection (in alphabetical order), all of which are still available (links take you to

For each game, the European (PEGI) age rating is given first, followed by the US (ESRB) rating.

1. Animal Crossing: Wild World
DS; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; multiplayer via WiFi
See this post for more info. As a bonus, it offers painless practice at reading and writing (via tapping the onscreen keyboard). (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Animal Crossing: Wild World

2. Beautiful Katamari
Xbox 360; Namco; 3+/Everyone; 1– 2 players, up to 4 online
The latest, HD entry in the Katamari series; it may be getting dull for old-timers, but for anyone who’s not played before it’s well worth getting hold of. A gorgeous, stylized game with surreal humour, its basic premise involves rolling a ball around to pick up everyday items of increasing size. And it’s accompanied by some insanely hummable tunes.
Beautiful Katamari

3. Brain Age/Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training
DS; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; 1 player
This is a game that’s been hijacked for educational purposes, and some may feel it’s a bit too much like school. Despite the age rating, maths and reading are involved in some of the tests.
Brain Training

4. Buzz! Junior Jungle Party
PS2; Magenta Software, Sony; 3+/Everyone; 1–4 players
As well as more adult quizzes on general knowledge, music and film, the Buzz! series extends to several junior versions, including the Schools Quiz that’s used in British classrooms to practice test ages 7–11. This one revolves around monkeys in a set of minigames, but its wicked humour makes it bearable for the older gamer too. The same buzzer peripherals work for all games.
Buzz! Junior Jungle Party

5. CTR: Crash Team Racing
PS3, PSP; Naughty Dog, Sony; 3+/Everyone; 1–2 players
Fast and furious, the original PlayStation game from the last century is now available to download from the PlayStation Network for PSP or PS3 (though the big-screen version is inevitably pixellated). As well as themed kart-racing courses, there are battle arenas for full-on warfare and plenty of dastardly villains to dispatch.

6. Elite Beat Agents
DS; iNiS, Nintendo; 12+/Everyone 10+; 1–4 players
See the writeup here. Some reading is involved, as well as a love of cheesy pop. Note that the difficulty level ramps up quite a bit.
Elite Beat Agents

7. FIFA 08
PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, DS, PC, Wii; Electronic Arts; 3+/Everyone; 1–4 players, up to 32 online
The game of choice for junior footie fans, though the cognoscenti rate it lower than Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. It’s the big one, nonetheless, with the official licences, the lifelike player models and annual updates to ensure it’s as true to life as possible.

8. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King
Wii via Virtual Console; Square Enix; 7+/Everyone; 1 player
Wii owners can download this medieval city-building sim set in the Final Fantasy universe, which means a well-developed world and cute anime stylings. City improvements are just part of the king’s job: you need to send a band of adventurers out for treasure to fund building, and keep them happy too.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
DS; Nintendo; 7+/Everyone; 1–2 players
With its cartoony looks, this is a charming, funny adventure game making great use of the DS’s two screens. Reading is involved, as well as some patience for puzzle-solving. A good starting point for a series that has an extensive backlist, available via Wii Virtual Console and on Game Boy Advance cartridges (playable with the DS). (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

10. Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PSP, PC, GC, DS; Travellers’ Tales, LucasArts; 3+/Everyone 10+; 1–2 players
You could go for the Complete Saga (all six films) if it’s on special offer (or if you want it for the PS3 or the Wii), thought it’s maybe too much of a good thing. Sticking with the original trilogy, the films are played out with oodles of slapstick humour and silly additions like disguises. Different characters are central to the action, but there are always two of them, making it perfect for playing cooperatively. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

1 comment:

geoffoh said...

Lego Star Wars II is great for 30-40 somethings as well as kids. Or, rather, it takes us 30-40 somethings back to their childhoods.

Liked your take on FIFA 08 as a kid-friendly game - hadn't thought of it in that way before, but having played it I'd agree that's a defining point of difference between Pro Evo and FIFA. I've heard rumours that FIFA 09 may bridge that gap ... but I think that particular rumour mill always starts up before a FIFA release.