Top 10 Video Games for Kids — and Some Extras
I loved video games when I was a kid so it’s no surprise that my kids also love them. The problem with newer generation gaming though is selecting the right game. When I (we) were 6 years old the only games we had were Pac-Man, Defender, Pong, and other equally standard games; there are so many games to choose from these days that it’s hard to know where to start. It can be difficult finding games suitable for kids that are not also mind numbingly stupid. How do we find clever games that kids can enjoy? Never fear — I have wasted many dollars on video games and I know what my kids like. I suspect other kids are probably very similar in their tastes. Out of the over 50 games we own, these are the ones that get the most play time.
1. Lego Star Wars I and II (Gamecube and Wii)
Both of my kids love this game. This is far and away number one in our household when it comes to hours spent playing. It’s cute and it’s endlessly re-playable. There are also two other Lego games available, Indiana Jones and Batman. We own them both and I enjoy playing them. But, somehow the boys never got into them. I should have another list of the games I like to play.
2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Super Mario Galaxy takes the number two spot because, like Lego Star Wars, it is an almost endless challenge that is presented in a cute, easy to control video game that even my 4 year old could easily understand. The beginning of the story takes a little parental involvement because it is heavy on dialogue boxes that parents will need to read. After that though my kids both completed the game without any of my help (aged 4 and 5 at the time).
3. Mario Kart Double Dash (Gamecube) and Mario Kart (Wii)
I am including Mario Kart for both the Wii and the Gamecube because they are equally fun to play and Wii has backward compatibility anyway. The Wii version allows for the use of a little steering wheel which the kids found amusing for a while because they could pretend they were driving. However, the novelty wore off eventually and they reverted back to using the regular controllers. They play both the Wii and Gamecube Mario Karts frequently and interchangeably. We’ve had them for over a year.
4. Super Smash Brothers (Wii)
It’s a kid friendly fighting game that gets tons of playtime at my house. There are several dozen characters to pick from each with his/her own special abilities. There is no death, just defeat, in the game so there is no worry about corrupting young minds (which I’m not terribly concerned about anyway). It’s all staged in a very cutesy Nintendo sort of way. Tons of fun from this game. It’s a must for a house with two boys.
5. Peggle and the Pop Cap games (Xbox 360)
Talk about mindless fun! These Pop Cap games keep me entertained. My kids discovered them one day when I was playing. Now I’m not surprised when I see them playing the Xbox instead of Nintendo. Peggle and Feeding Frenzy are the two they spend the most hours playing. And they can be bought from the Xbox live Arcade for just a few bucks each. Not bad.
6. Sonic the Hedgehog (Xbox 360)
I bought this game on a whim because it was in the bargain bucket and Game Stop. It has fast become one of my older son’s favorite games. The player gets to control sonic and several of his friends on a quest to save the princess of Soleana (or something like that). Anyway, the kid has really gotten into it.
7. Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360)
I wouldn’t normally include a war game in a top 10 for kids list. I’m making an exception in this case. There are some things that are cut and dry and beyond question. In WWII there were bad guys and good guys. COD2 chronicles the epic battle against the Nazis through the eyes of a Russian Private, a British Lieutenant (I think), and an American Corporal. It also includes cut scenes from the History Channel and super accurate terrain from the three main fronts (Russian, African, and French). Both my boys play it; I was pleased when they started playing with their army men and calling the bad guys “The Nazis”. It is somewhat violent, but I don’t have a problem with violence; I have a problem with unjust violence.
8. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
We just purchased the new Wii motion plus controller and Wii resort came packaged with it. It is a huge improvement over the regular Wii controller and the Wii Resort is a much improved version of Wii play. It’s not surprising that the boys’ favorite mini-game is the sword fighting duel. They can spend an hour virtually whacking each other and getting great exercise to boot. The also enjoy the archery (we practice archers for real as a family so that’s no surprising either) and the ping pong.
9. Zelda Wind Waker (Gamecube) and Twilight Princess (Wii)
I know, two games. So sue me. I was tempted to put these much higher in my list but I suspect that there are many parents who don’t want to sit with their kids as they play games. I am not one of those parents. My older child completed Twilight Princess just before his 6th birthday. He controlled Link while I helped from a lazyboy with directions and reading text boxes. My younger child, Alan, just started playing Wind Waker and he is getting similar enjoyment out of it. They are both extremely long and involved games that require a parent’s presence. That is not a negative in my book. I love that we can work together on something. For some older kids these games (and the three in the number 10 spot) could very well rank number one and two.
10. Metroid Prime (Gamecube) and Metroid Prime Corruption (Wii)
This gets the same review as the Zelda Games (It likewise deserves a much higher ranking). It requires parental assistance. The game revolves around a female bounty hunter named Samus who is out to control the outbreak of a substance known as Phazon. There’s lots of shooting and puzzles to solve. I know there are loads of parents who are concerned about corrupting young minds, but this series really doesn’t fall into the “bad” category. The only things that get blasted are aliens (and who doesn’t love killing aliens?) and there is not much blood or gratuitous writhing around death scenes. Both of these games are some of the best that Nintendo has to offer. It would be a shame to let them slip by simply because of the misconception of violence which doesn’t even come close to Gears of War.
11. Prince of Persia (Xbox 360)
I enjoy Prince of Persia also. But what really makes this game a gem is the game designers’ decision to make it fail proof. In other words the main character (thePrince) cannot die. The graphics are really good and the game design is top notch. It centers around the Prince (as always) who has to go collect light orbs from around his world to put the big bad guy (who I’m drawing a blank on the name) back into prison. Anyway — totally kid safe and nobody get’s hurt — except the bad guys.
12. Family Game Night (Xbox 360)
OK, I admit it. All the games on Family Game Night are a rip off. But, once you’ve swallowed the pain of buying electronic versions of old fashioned classic board games, they really are fun. It’s convenient to play Sorry and Connect 4 and then not have to pick up after yourself. I know, I’ve gotta be super lazy to buy a game for that reason. Well, the boys like it, and they play it frequently. I’m not sure I’d make the expense again if given the chance, but since the boys play it a lot I have to include it in the list
13. Mario & Sonic at the Olympics (Xbox 360)
This game got lots and lots of game play when we first bought it but has recently been a bit neglected. For about a month it was the kids’ favorite game, and for another three months it got pretty solid use. But after that it hasn’t been played. Still, it makes the list because it provided plenty of bang for the buck in the first few months. It was well worth the purchase.
14. Kung Fu Panda (Xbox 360)
This game also comes for Wii, but we only have it on Xbox so I don’t know how the gameplay is for everyone who is considering it on Wii. I am really surprised that a game based on a movie could be so entertaining and fun. We got this game recently so I don’t know how it’ll hold up long term. For now it gets a lot of use.
15. De Blob (Wii)
De Blob is a one player game that is all about a blob who has to save his home world from being drained of color by monochromatic aliens who disdain all color. It’s exceedingly cute and addictive to manipulate this blob all over the city painting buildings in every crazy color imaginable. The kids play this and giggle at the same time. I also enjoy playing it.
16. Mario Super Sluggers (Wii)
One of my kids loves it, the other hates it. I don’t really want to include it in my official top 10 because I think it could be a risky buy. I bought it because it’s a two player and both of my kids like baseball. But, it turns out that my younger kid just doesn’t like that there are so many flashing lights and crazy Nintendo action (Mario Tennis is much the same) going on. I think he would have preferred a more traditional gameplay for a sports game. But, that being said, my other boy loves it.
17. Playground (Wii)
This gets a bonus spot on my list for the sole purpose that it’s an easy to play collection of mini-games that does not require hours of involvement. My kids play this game when they have a quick 10 minutes to screw around and don’t want to get involved in a big story. It’s somewhat mindless but my kids both seem to like it.