Console Gaming for the Under-10s
Sometimes buying consoles games for younger games can be a difficult task. George R Vaughan look at what’s out there for the under 10s because buying younger children in your family can sometimes be a difficult exercise.
Kinectimals (with new bears) (Xbox Kinect Exclusive)
One of last year’s flagship launch titles for the Kinect was the cute and hugely engaging Kinectimals, which proved a great hit with younger audiences.
The original allowed you to interact with tigers, leopards and jaguars via Kinect and now they are back again and they have brought some friends along in the form of a cuddly group of bears, including those of both the polar and Panda varieties. Cynics who are worried about this just being a hasty re-release with more of the same, will be pleased to know that there is an additional 10 hours of gaming to the original concept, with an new island to take your animals to and the bears behave vastly differently to their feline cousins.
Whether you are new to the game or looking for an update, Kinectimals with bears is a great title to introduce your children to and one that is thankfully completely free of violence and gore.
Cheaper, less messy and certainly without the hassle of responsibility, Kinectimals with new bears should be top of the list for anyone with young children who want a pet without the walks and litter trays!
Kinect Sports: Season Two (Xbox Kinect Exclsuive)
Another title that launched with Kinect last year was the engaging Kinect Sports, offering gamers the opportunity to participate in a selection of average to excellent sports games, ranging from football to volleyball and bowling.
Although it had its flaws, this was probably the only other title, along with Kinectimals and Dance Central that really showed off the potential of Microsoft’s motion.
Season Two features six new games to play alone or with friends, including golf, skiing, darts and American football. All of them are fairly easy to get involved in and the rewards are certainly evident, especially when playing in a group.
If you have the space, Kinect Sports: Season Two will help a group of excitable kids pass away the hours and yet again, demonstrates that not all console games need to equip you with a gun to be fun.
Kinect: Disneyland Adventures (Xbox Kinect Exclusive)
In the last of our 3 Kinect reviews, we look at the colourful and kid-friendly Disneyland Adventures.
In the past Disney themed games have been a bit of a mixed bag and the more cynical gamers might think the “House of Mouse” has been happy to exploit its characters in pursuit of a quick buck!
However, I have to say that this latest title is quite entertaining and certainly kept my six year old nephew amused for hours, with its mix of character interaction and mini games based around themes and rides at Disneyland.
For the under 10s – especially those who have visited one of Disney’s theme parks – this is a real treat, with all the favourites including Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Peter Pan and Cinderella available to interact with as you wander around the park.
The mini games also prove to be engaging and work exceptionally well with Kinect in general, capturing the intended spirit of the park and also proving challenging for younger gamers. We may not all be able to take our children to Disneyland this Christmas but by bringing it into the living room this is certainly the next best thing.
Carnival Island (PS3 Version Tested)
Sony’s alternative to the hands-free options of Kinect come in the form of the Move controller system, an incredibly accurate device that proves Microsoft’s alternative doesn’t quite have everything its own way.
As the name suggests, Carnival Island is all about fun fair tasks that will appeal to the younger gamer so any hardened veterans of the console world step away now. So whether you are tossing rings to grab prizes or piloting frogs across lily pads you get the drift, although there are only so many ways you can reinvent the process and many of the tasks do feel quite familiar.
Its cartoon like quality and soft visuals are initially appealing but look beyond the aesthetic and this title has a bit of a candyfloss heart at its centre.
If you want something to keep the young ones occupied for a little while over Christmas, the 35 mini-games within this title will do that but they may not keep the interest into the New Year. If they really wanted to do this right they should have taken a leaf out of the Disneyland Adventures title.
Rayman Origins (Xbox version tested)
Rayman has been around for so long now he’s almost part of the console furniture but in recent years his outings have become a little stifled and predictable. With platform titles moving towards 3D and more complex control systems, it was therefore a bit of a surprise to discover that developers Ubisoft opted for a return to traditional 2D layouts, not to mention a bit of a gamble.
However, we very quickly realised that this latest offering was nothing short of brilliant with its colourful, eye catching design, gorgeous animation and complete reinvention of a character that was very much a part of gaming folklore.
An adventure game at heart that your kids will love (and you will do to be honest) everything starts cheerily enough before events take a darker turn for the worst at the quest develops.
With challenging levels that continue to entertain at every turn and a central hero that has lost none of his charm over the years, we see Rayman Origins as the pick of the bunch of this week’s titles.
Ratchet & Clank – All 4 One (PS3 Exclusive)
Ratchet and Clank are not quite the console draw they once used to be. In a world of more dominant heroes in the Sony stable such as those from Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3, they are now considered a bit long in the tooth to still be seen as A list draws.
Still, their latest outing in All 4 One does attempt to spin the genre on its head a little by pushing the emphasis onto co-operative play, with everything from puzzles to combat engineered more towards this idea.
If the truth be told it does offer something fresh and new and certainly teaches younger gamers the benefits of team playing but you can’t help feeling there is something missing when you scratch beneath the glossy surface. It really is best enjoyed with friends so don’t expect your kids to get much mileage out of it if they are sitting at home alone.
But to completely dismiss the title would be unkind and certainly unwise because if you have three other players to hand (and the controllers of course) there is a lot to gain from the experience and it would still make a welcome addition to any one’s PS3 collection.
George R Vaughan