Friday, August 29, 2008

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

This is part two of a list of games suitable for grown-ups as well as kids – many of them can be played together. It’s an unapologetically subjective collection, all of which are still available (links take you to You can find part one here.

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

11. LocoRoco
PSP; SCEJ, Sony; 3+/Everyone; 1 player
Propel your cute little LocoRoco through forty short levels using the PSP’s shoulder buttons to tilt the screen, gradually picking up more members to make a big LocoRoco. A gorgeous design and catchy soundtrack (there’s a CD available) pile on the charm.

12. Mario Kart DS
DS; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; multiplayer via WiFi
Born on the SNES in 1992, a new version of Mario Kart has turned up on every subsequent Nintendo system; this one is a culmination – and celebration – of all that history, with 32 tracks making for amazing racing experience, whether single-player or against real-life opponents. The Wii version has an optional steering wheel controller, and allows four-player racing without an Internet connection. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart Wii

13. Nintendogs
DS; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; 1 player
An adorable, anti-allergy puppy you can play with, then put away as soon as you get bored – what more could anyone want in a pet? There are several editions of the game out there, covering different breeds (Chihuahua to Dalmation) but otherwise the same. Absorbing and gratifying for kids and adults alike, it’s worth noting younger players might find the voice command training a little tricky to pick up on their own. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)

14. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl
DS; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; 1 player, up to 8 online
When the media coverage is all about marketing and materialistic fervour, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Pokémon is a classic (if simplified) Japanese roleplaying game, as much about world exploration and nurturing the monsters as about collecting them. It’s got a long life too, with hundreds of pokémon (different in each edition of the game) to collect and swap online after the main game is over.
Pokémon Diamond

15. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV
PC, Mac; Firaxis, 2K Games; 12+/Everyone 10+; 1 player, multiplayer online
The strategic computer game that persuaded parents there was a benevolent side to gaming. It’s impossible to get through an entire game without learning something about the history of the world and its peoples, as you build a civilization from an inauspicious patch of grassland to a high-tech, spacefaring nation, via science and warfare. There’s also a streamlined, simplified and quicker version, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution (12+/Everyone 10+) for DS, Xbox 360 and PS3. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Sid Meier's Civilization IV
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution

16. Super Mario Galaxy
Wii; Nintendo; 3+/Everyone; 1–2 players
Mario’s Wii escapade is a landmark game, made even better by the clever two-player option that allows the weaker player (parent or child) to join in by collecting Star Bits and pointing at things, while the stronger player controls Mario’s running and jumping. The sumptuous universe is a blast to explore. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Super Mario Galaxy

17. Viva Piñata
Xbox 360, PC; Rare, Microsoft; 3+/Everyone; 1–4 players
It may be aimed at kids and have its own TV cartoon, but its cute appearance belies quite a complex game. The point is to create and nurture a garden of papier-mâché creatures (piñatas), making sure all their needs are catered for through judicious clearing, building, planting and watering. Breeding them results in new varieties you can name yourself. A pocket version is about to be released for DS, along with a sequel for the Xbox 360.
Viva Piñata

18. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves
Wii; Intelligent Systems, Nintendo; 7+/Everyone 10+; as many as 12 players
With a number of titles for the Game Boy Advance and now the DS, this is a hilarious party game that in its Wii incarnation relies on using the remote in a number of ways to beat a minigame, whether it’s to shave a beard, pop balloons or pick a nose – there are over 200 of them. Anyone can play and even less skill is needed than for Wii Sports, at least in the early stages.
WarioWare: Smooth Moves

19. Wii Sports
Wii; Nintendo; 7+/Everyone; 1–4 players
Everyone’s seen it on TV and most have played it too, as it comes packaged with the Wii. Five sports are included (bowling, golf, tennis, baseball and boxing) and it’s simple to learn, though kids will beat the adults every time in my expereince. Definitely worth picking up an extra Wii remote for.
Wii Sports

20. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
Wii; Capcom; 7+/Everyone; 1–4 players
It may sport a cute pirate theme, but this is a puzzle game that can get quite tricky at times – younger kids may want you at their side, and you may want a walkthrough at yours. It’s highly entertaining, though, using the motion-sensing remote in various ways to solve the gradually more complex levels, while a second player waves a remote to helpfully point things out onscreen. (This is a canon game, covered in more depth in the Rough Guide to Videogames.)
Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

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