Children are the future, or something like that.
While it’s may sound trite it’s also kind of true, isn’t it? Although arguably every day is a children’s day (varies by location, certainly), there’s also probably an argument to be made about preparing your children to get gifts on special occasions such as a Children’s Day.
Although the world can’t seem to agree when to celebrate it, and the USA is oddly lukewarm about the idea, so many folks may not even know that in the USA Children’s Day is coming this Sunday, June 10th. To help you deal with this new information we’ve prepared a shortlist of ten games you North American folks can get your offspring, nephews, nieces, or the inner child that slumbers in all of us gamers and could use waking up to something nice instead.
Here come the ideas for a great gaming Children’s Day gift, in no particular order.
Yookan’t resist the charm
There has been a time, when animal-based platform games were all the rage, and folks like Sonic, Crash, or Ratchet were the big names in the gaming world. Not so now, but Yooka-Laylee sought to alter the landscape and revive some of that early 2000s feel in a new generation.
Unashamedly inspired by Banjo-Kazooie (1998) Yooka-Laylee is a story about Yooka, a chameleon, and Laylee, a bat. It’s also an obvious play on the greatest musical instrument of all time, ukulele. Banjo(-Kazooie) has nothing on that.
Y-L is a TPP platform game set in a bright and admittedly, pretty cartoonish world. It’s a pretty standard fare as far as the gameplay is concerned, what with collecting items, hopping on platforms, and solving puzzles, but it has an undeniable charm to it, and looks friendly enough to leave your kids alone while they play it, assuming you help them get used to admittedly, ahem, classic control scheme.
Vlad to be included
Yes, the game had ludicrous gibs, but hear me out. Bloody though it may occasionally be, it’s never gruesome, and only happens every once in a while when you overdo it with a spell. Otherwise it’s just absurd enough to play it with an offspring in their early teen and keep them engaged.
Gameplay-wise Magicka 2 much like its predecessor gives you control over a robe-clad wizard able to control eight distinct elements and combine them to achieve outstanding and frequently devastating effects, typically against overwhelming numbers of squishy enemies. Or other players, but the first thing you get is a Resurrect magick.
It’s also filled to the brim with a cheeky humour poking fun at all manners of geeky classics, from myths, to literature and movies. Characters speak in a charming gibberish based vaguely on Swedish, where the developer (Arrowhead Game Studios for Magicka 1, Pieces Interactive for M2) and publisher (Paradox Interactive) are located.
It also has a spectacular co-op, so you can play it the whole family, assuming there’s four of you. Knockouts are cheap, but won’t make you argue nearly as much as even the most casual game of Monopoly.
|Developer:||Ghost Town Games|
Raise the steaks
We’re written about Overcooked before, because of course we did. It’s a neat little game which will bring the healthy conflict and strife that Magicka won’t. Oh yeah, Overcooked can get intense!
Four cooks, numerous orders, time pressure, and a kitchen that’s just chaotic enough to introduce complications. See, there is a number of stages in the game, and some of them change the layout of the kitchen every now and then. Tables slide, cutting you off, or kitchen splits in two just when you were rushing over to clean the plates.
Overcooked can handle a four-player co-op without issue, but can YOU handle it? It takes some guidance, but the cutesy visual style and very low stakes make it outstandingly friendly.
A Hat in Time
|Developer:||Gears for Breakfast|
Let’s get one thing clear here, yeah? This game is delightful, start to finish. The protagonist is a young girl, whom we only know as “Hat Kid”, who’s also a time traveller thanks to her cozy space ship.
Yep, it doesn’t make much sense in the traditional meaning, but it brings back the bizarre vibes the genre hasn’t seen since the good old days of Psychonauts. Hat Kid has to reclaim the time pieces fuelling her ship so that she can get home, and there are four planets she has to visit to get them all. Simple premise, fantastic execution.
If the above trailer doesn’t convince you, you’re heartless and it’s surprising you’re even looking for a game for your kid. On a more serious note, this game is, by the developer’s own admission, cute as heck, and honestly my day gets brighter every time I hear the “choo-choo” in the trailer. It’s bright, friendly, absurdly funny, and creative. Just go and get it. You’ll get hooked as much as your offpsring.
|Developer:||Unknown Worlds Entertainment|
Another returning title, and so soon, too! Subnautica is the kind of game you get for yourself when you want to play a game on your own but at the same time spend quality time with your child.
As long as you stay in the shallow waters, where sunlight still can reach, it’s an undeniably gorgeous production, and a fresh environment to offset all the forests and plains of other games.
The game certainly has a story to follow, and the darker areas, but you’ll be perfectly fine staying where the light still reaches. There’s even a fish you can hatch in your base (of course there is base building) and teach it to give you high fives. Why? Why not?
Beats and pieces
Hey, did you know that Rayman is back? No? Then hear this: Rayman’s back! Has been since 2013, where have you been?
Rayman Legends is a solid dose of the classic 2D side scrolling platforming goodness, and it’s bleeping brilliant, too. Nowhere is this more visible than during the music levels, which take your chosen character (there are several) on a journey perfectly synchronized with the stage’s soundtrack. It’s a rhythm game done right. Just take a look.
Any game that has this level of creativity is worth checking out, and thanks to the colourful cast and outstanding level design your kid will have a great time, too.
LEGO video games
Building blocks of childhood
Over the years there’s been a ton of Lego games, adapting famous movies, or otherwise presenting a unique take on one franchise or another.
There’s been Lego Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, a bunch of Marvel and DC releases, something for everyone. Each of them has dozens of characters to play as, loads and loads of secrets to discover by replaying cleared levels with a character who may have an ability needed to remove a wall or jump in a weird place.
A great example is Lego Hobbit, which takes the contentious Peter Jackson adaptation and presents it in a way that is appropriately tongue-in-cheek and upbeat about the whole thing. Much more digestible this way. And it’s still a Lego game, a fun for all ages so, you know, great for children and their grandparents.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda franchise has been with us for decades, but few entries had the scope and flair of Nintendo Switch’s Breath of the Wild.
Probably one of the best open world sandboxes in memory, BotW captured the hearts of many, young and old alike. The premise is simple: Link has been asleep for a century or so, while Zelda held Ganon at bay. Of course, this couldn’t last forever, so now you have to defeat the old porkchop before Zelda’s strength fails to contain him.
Between exceptional physics engine and numerous tools allowing you to solve (and create) problems in creative ways, vivid and colourful design, Breath of the Wild is a phenomenal game, and is sure to capture your kid’s imagination.
There are only so many ways a human can write about Minecraft before hitting a brick pixelated wall. So I’ll cut it short.
Minecraft is a sure way to get your kids occupied for long stretches of time as long as he or she has a creative in their body. While the graphics are famously… cubical, the interactions between cubes and the wealth of things to craft and use is great, and people have done incredible things with it.
Super Mario Odyssey
Less than 10 years to complete
First Breath of the Wild, then Super Mario Odyssey, is there anything that could stop Nintendo Switch?
Bowser has kidnapped Princess peach again, what else is new? Well, Mario’s former paramour, Pauline, is now a mayor of a huge city, so she has that going for here, which is nice. Otherwise Super Mario Odyssey is just, oh, perhaps one of the best Mario games to date.
The diminutive ex-plumber is going to visit numerous locations on his journey, and make use of the excellent hat (called Cappy) which (who?) allows him to take temporary control of other denizens of the world, including their unique abilities. That’s crucial to many puzzles, and also provides plenty of fun.
SMO is a brilliant, funny, massive game, and a great way to get your child into gaming. You’re guaranteed to have a good time together discovering hidden stars to unlock everything the game has to offer.
Gear up for June 10th
And we’re done. A list of ten games you may want to get a child as a last minute Children’s Day gift. Bright, colourful, creative, and interesting, all of them are the kinds of games you can play together. Better yet: either of you is likely to have a great time with them too, but as usual, playing with someone can be much more engaging, and with the advances in technology and human thought playing a video game with a child is a pretty handy replacement for an IRL game, if handled well.
So go geddem, I say, enjoy the sweet childhood before your kid becomes a hormone-filled teenage monster, or something.