We all remember the games we grew up with. Here’s our list of games to turn your little sister or brother into life-long gamers.
1. Rocket League
One of the less obvious titles on this list, Rocket League is the latest title from Psyonix. A sequel to one of their first titles on the PS3, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket Powered Battle Cars (SARPBC), in a nutshell it’s football with flying cars. Cool, right?
With the main experience coming in the online mode playing against other competitors, Rocket League is one of the most refined multiplayer experiences around today.
At the core it’s such a simple concept, but the beauty of it is that absolutely anyone can jump in and start playing, yet the skill ceiling is essentially endless. There’s little to no violence, unlike most multiplayer experiences today, with the most excessive aspect being crashing into other players, sometimes destroying their car if you’re going fast enough. It’s football, with cars. And it’s glorious.
Various modes are in the game too, with varying team sizes from 1v1 to 4v4, meaning you can go solo if you don’t want to deal with lacklustre teammates. There’s an ice hockey mode, where the ball turns into a puck, and the Rocket Labs playlist features experimental modes where the physics are changed, such as the size of the ball and the level of gravity.
While saying Rocket League can teach kids a life lesson is a stretch, it is definitely one of the best and friendliest communities around. The content of the game is appropriate for everyone, and its rising popularity as an eSport means you could be the next big Rocket League player and not even know it yet.
Available here: Rocket League [Online Game Code]
By Ford James
2. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Lego games created by Traveller’s Tales have been games that are able to capture their source material charmingly. The series has covered franchises such as Star Wars and Harry Potter.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the where I started in the Lego series, and it did not disappoint. The games takes you through all six movies (the prequels as well as the original trilogy), and gives you a very good understanding of the general story.
You get introduced to all the memorable characters of the Star Wars universe, such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Han Solo. As the characters don’t talk, they have to use movements and gestures to communicate with each other. However, certain characters retain their quirks, such as Chewbacca’s roar or R2-D2’s beeps.
This is a game every kid should play, because not only does it introduce younger audiences to the Star Wars universe, but because the game is a great pleasure to invest in and the themes of friendship, love and camaraderie are translated well into Lego form. The Lego games also have a drop in drop out co-op system which allows you to seamlessly switch between characters, encouraging cooperative play.
Playing a Lego game never feels like a slog through a swamp; it’s more akin to a delightful stroll through a meadow. The Lego video game series is a unique and welcomed franchise that presents other franchises to a more accessible audience and binds it all together with rewarding, and innocent gameplay.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is available on Nintendo Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, Android, and OS X, and can be bought from Game here and Amazon:LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360)
By Ebenezer Nkengfack
In 2009, a man named Markus ‘Notch’ Persson released a creation that unbeknownst to him, would make him a multi-millionaire in just a few years. Minecraft captivated the hearts and minds of children and adults around the world.
Minecraft is a vital experience for the pre-teens of today to enjoy due to the lack of artificial limitations in the near-infinite world. Players can be as creative as they like with their builds and machines, with the only restriction being their mind. Enormous, sprawling cities and towns, or something more complex with redstone, such as a working calculator – the possibilities really are endless.
If creativity isn’t your strong point, Minecraft also features a lot of exploration in the survival mode, arguably where the meat of the game is. Players have to hunt for rare materials such as diamonds in the depths of caves, with the end goal being the hunt for the Ender Dragon; the ultimate boss in another dimension. All whilst dodging and weaving attacks from exploding creepers, bow-wielding skeletons and fireball-shooting ghasts on their journey.
Minecraft is undoubtedly the ultimate gaming experience for the children of today. It’s utilised by schools to teach, and combined with the multiplayer function, children can learn to share and how to be part of a community, working together with others on agreed goals. It’s a must-play in today’s gaming world, even for adults.
By Ford James
4. Kingdom Hearts
I’ll admit now Kingdom Hearts is not an easy franchise to get into. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the more difficult games to get into.
However don’t let that push you away from this truly magical series, Kingdom Hearts serves as a perfect game for people wanting their kids to play something more mature. The game also serves as a nice introduction into one of gaming’s biggest franchises, Final Fantasy.
Kingdom Hearts blends Final Fantasy with Disney and also with its own original characters and settings. For those wondering which Disney characters are in Kingdom Hearts, I’ll name a few: Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pete, Maleficent, and many, many more. The Disney characters and settings aren’t there just as a backdrop, they actually play a role in the story, some more than others.
You could say that Kingdom Hearts in some way teaches you some life lessons. Kingdom Hearts has a strong emphasis on friendship. It plays a huge role in all the games in the series, and one thing that I personally have taken from the series is the value of friendship. Since playing Kingdom Hearts I value my friends a lot more.
The story is dark and convoluted yes, but it’s a story that a generation of kids have grown up with and the story has grown up with them. Today’s youngsters will experience the same thrill and admiration of playing this game as the generation before.
Available in several formats, including Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue (PS4), and older PS2, PS3 and Nintendo DS. (Note: game is PEGI rating 12).
By Brandon Green
5. Super Mario Maker
A convincing case could probably be made for most of the Mario games to be in this spot. From the classic 2D sidescrollers that started it all, to the first bold jump into the third dimension, the one that redefined the franchise in scale, or the one where he teaches typing.
There’s no denying that Mario is perhaps the defining video game series to grow up with thanks to its simplistic design, universal themes, and sheer staying power in an ever-changing industry.
The reason Super Mario Maker has secured an entry on this list is that while most of us grew up with Mario games, SMM is the Mario game we wish we grew up with. Level editors are no new thing with community-made maps for popular games stretching back as far as Doom, but usually whenever developers release official map makers for popular games they’ve made, the tools and interface are often unwieldly and unintuitive.
Mario Maker surpasses these expectations by being perhaps the first game to utilise the Wii U game pad to its maximum potential, making what used to require some coding experience feel so natural and seamless that the tools provided eventually start to feel like extensions of your own mind.
So, take the creativity this game nurtures in children and combine it with the crisp 60 frame visuals and the possibility for never ending Mario and we can confidently say that Super Mario Maker is a game that every kid today should grow up playing.
The game can be found in most online stores, including here: Super Mario Maker (Nintendo Wii U)
By Thomas Shepherd
6. The Sims
When it comes to games kids should be playing, The Sims is definitely a top pick. Why? Because the franchise teaches life lessons such as saving money, maintaining a house and basic skills that we will all use at some point in our lives.
The quirky simulation game has been going strong now for some years with many fans of the series staying loyal. As well as teaching valuable skills for life, The Sims also adds pets and children into the mix, giving the player a sense of responsibility with no risk thanks to the virtual world.
Crafting houses, raising a family, maintaining a glowing career… these are just some of the activities at your disposal in EA’s life sim.
The Sims is a cultural marvel. It should be played by today’s youth.
Available in several formats across the series, including older platforms. The Sims 2: Pets (Nintendo DS)
By Joshua Rawlings
7. Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing is a series developed and published by Nintendo that has always focused on community and togetherness. These morals are perfectly displayed throughout the game, making it a great video game for a child to play.
The game starts off by selecting a gender and name for your character, with your avatar becoming increasingly customisable in appearance as you progress through the game (in Animal Crossing: Wild World, hair customisation becomes available). From there, the ‘objective’ isn’t set in stone; the goal is whatever you want it to be, whether it be trading, farming, fishing, there are always activities to take part in. The world is your playground.
The series also utilises the system’s internal calendar and clock in order for the game to progress in real time. This aspect of utilising time as a mechanic in the game lends itself to time management, a key skill that kids would be better off knowing earlier rather than later.
Spawning numerous entries in the series, Animal Crossing has always had a message to get across; communities, neighbours, the world around you is important and should be acknowledged. The game does this by allowing you to visit characters across the world, even allowing access to friends’ houses.
The community aspect runs throughout the world, the characters, the activities and mini games. They all contribute to a living, breathing world filled with genuine characters and engrossing gameplay that a child (or adult) would greatly enjoy playing.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf is available on Nintendo 3DS at: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo 3DS)
By Ebenezer Nkengfack
In today’s game industry, team-based shooters are one of the most popular genres of competitive games. Of course, anyone who has ever played a team-based game probably has stories of team mates who see their allies as extras in their own action hero blockbuster. It’s a cultural thing more than anything, we tend to romanticise the actions of individuals rather than teams. So, to save the next generation this particular headache, it would be ideal to teach them early that you don’t win by being the best but by working together to become better than any one player could ever be.
This, I can only assume, was the main line of thinking behind Splatoon. Nintendo’s competitive team-based shooter…or ‘paintballer’ I guess. While the game has a high enough skill cap for one person to completely dominate the opposition, you don’t win Splatoon by having the most kills. Rather, each weapon serves double duty of killing the enemy team and slathering the map in your team’s colour which is not only what decides the match but, unlike the former, teamwork is far more efficient than one God-tier player.
So lone wolves learn quickly that glory hunting hurts your chances more than anything, and if the new generation of gamers takes that mentality into more established team based games then that easily qualifies Splatoon for this list.
The game can be picked up here: Splatoon (Nintendo Wii U)
By Thomas Shepherd
Who hasn’t heard of, or even played Pokémon? Perhaps one of the biggest RPGs to ever grace our screens, it was a straight hit with fans across the globe.
The 8-bit classic showed us that we don’t need all-out violence, which at the time was controversial, to make a compelling experience. It used simple mechanics and intuition such as exploration to get the inquisitive side of you going. “Gotta’ catch em all”, the quintessential slogan which put the game on the map. Pokémon raised the bar for future RPGs and made it the top competitor in the bracket.
Every child will have heard of it, therefore they should at least give it a try.
Multiple versions and extensions available, try: Pokémon X (Nintendo 3DS)
By Joshua Rawlings