I have a nephew who is about 2 and a half. Now, I’m pretty sure he’s not ready for video games (at least nothing outside of being Tails in Sonic 2) but I know that he will get into playing games at some point.
After listening to Episode 15 of the Downpour Podcast and hearing the backstories for Jonathan, Jared and Randy, I started thinking back to when my brother and I were little and we would play video games. We were basically raised on Wolfenstein and Doom – you know, normal kid-friendly games of the 90s. While my brother and I turned out fine, I get the feeling he and his wife don’t want their son to play that when he’s 5.
So, with that in mind, I got to thinking about what games would be perfect for him to get into. It would have to be something that is not only fun but easy to get into and fairly kid-friendly. And with that in mind, I was able to come up with 10 games that I feel would be great for his first foray into gaming.
But before I get into the list, here were some of the games that, for one reason or another, were cut from the final list:
Handheld and Xbox games – This list will be made up of games that are on consoles that my brother and sister-in-law have right now. Ergo, no Pokemon, Zelda: Oracle games, or whatever Xbox has that would be kid-friendly.
Little Big Planet – It’s more of an issue of having quite a few platformers already on the list. And while it can be fun, I feel that the controls will make LBP difficult for him to get too far into the game before quitting.
Bonk’s Adventure – While I feel that it is a fun platformer, it suffers from the same problem of “too many platformers” on the list.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – This was ultimately cut because I don’t want him to become a Sonic kid just yet. Sure, the last two games were pretty good (Colors and Generations), but it’s not worth diving into right now.
MAYBE IN A FEW YEARS:
Super Castlevania IV – The lack of stiff controls makes this the recommended Castlevania to start with. However, since he’s still afraid when I try to show him Avatar: The Last Airbender, it may be until he’s in third grade before trying this game out.
Battalion Wars – Yes, I see that it has a T rating. But think back to when you were kids and played with Nerf guns and Super Soakers. There’s pretty much no difference. And compared to Doom and Wolfenstein, this is tame.
Super Star Wars – Loved and beat this as a kid; so I know that he’ll have a good time with this game. Besides, he’s going to get into Star Wars at some point (and perhaps Sci-fi in general, just to irk his dad).
Mega Man X series – Just a matter of numbers. I’m sure that he would do fine with these games. And if you’re wondering why not the original series, it’s because I like the X series better.
Here we go with the list. Remember, these are solely my choices.
10. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
The love for RPGs has to start somewhere and this is the perfect beginners RPG to start with (you know, instead of this one). It’s a colorful game with recognizable and lovable characters for all ages. Nothing gets too dark and it introduces basic RPG elements that he will find in other games in the genre.
This spot initially came down to this and Ys: Book I & II. While it’s not as lighthearted as Super Mario RPG, I think the story is something he can handle. Plus, the controls and gameplay are fairly simple to pick up. However, the reason Ys does not make the list is for grinding. I don’t think my nephew will want to grind as much as you need to in that game.
9. Gran Turismo 4
He lives in Michigan. He’s in a family of car guys – whether it’s people that like cars or have actually had a hand in designing and creating cars. He’s going to be a car guy. It might as well start here.
He could pretty much go with any of the Gran Turismo games. But I chose GT4 because that is my personal favorite. The game features hundreds of cars from different years, brands, and models. And if he gets tired of racing the cars, he can put it on auto-pilot and watch the cars go by.
8. Kirby Super Star
You probably could’ve guessed that a Kirby game would be on this list. But I’m not sure that you would’ve guessed this one. Well, to be fair, most Kirby games would be good.
So, why Super Star? Because it’s more than just one simple game; it’s a series of games all rolled into one. You want stages from the first game? You got it. An eating competition with King Dedede? No problem. A fight with Meta Knight? Grab your sword. Look for treasure? Happy hunting.
This is quite literally a virtual carnival. My nephew would definitely enjoy it.
7. DoReMi Fantasy: Milon’s DokiDoki Adventure
Wait a minute! Isn’t this a Japanese game? Yes, it is, and it wasn’t translated when the game came to North American via the Virtual Console.
Frankly, I don’t know the details of the story myself. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the game. And it doesn’t stop me from realizing what the game is about: this is a game about bringing music back to the land. And that’s something a son of music teachers (like my nephew) can get behind.
And even without the story, the game is fun to play. The platforming is arguably some of the best on its system, the music is fun to listen to, and the graphics are colorful.
6. Harvest Moon: Magical Melody
You could pretty much put any Harvest Moon game on here and it could work. However, I think my nephew would probably feel rushed with the SNES game, would be confused with the N64 game (Lord knows his dad had trouble playing it), and would find A Wonderful Life to be a bit too slow paced. And unfortunately, I don’t have much of a handle on what the other console games are like.
With that said, I feel that Magical Melody would be the perfect game to start out with in this series. The interface is simple to navigate, farming and raising livestock is easy to pick up, doing everyday activities is simple… You can see where I’m going with this, right? There’s just a simplicity to this game that I don’t get from other games in the series.
On top of that, there are the holidays that break up any of the monotony that comes from games like this. And then there are the notes that need to be collected to revive the Harvest Goddess. Those can help direct my nephew in how he should go about playing the game.