For the Younglings
What games would I show to younglings or my own children? This is a question I have thought about a few times over the years but I will try my best to answer it. I’m rather lucky that as someone born in the 80s I have been very fortunate to see gaming evolve from the simple white pixels, to these 3D artistic masterpieces that you see today. It must be kinda hard to grow up today as a youngster when there is so much gaming available from the get go. So if you’re a youngling or even just a dude or dudette getting into gaming for the first time this article may be for you. If I had five games to showcase to the younglings these would be my picks.
Pac Man – Various Systems
I once listened to a podcast a long time ago where the presenter said the first game he showed to his kid was Pac Man. The reason for this is Pac Man is a simple and very accessible game for anyone. You only use a directional controller and the goal is pretty simple.
Eat all the pellets on screen at once and occasionally eat a power pellet to eat the ghosts. The overall aim of the game is to get as high a score as possible. Pac Man is a great game to showcase to younglings because there isn’t any pressure on the player to get this 100% correct. Even just completing a single board is an impressive achievement. It’s also designed in such a way that even if the player does fail early on it’s easy to pick up and try again. With a little practice, everyone can finish that first board then move onto a game with a controller and several buttons maybe.
Bust a Move series – Arcade and several consoles including PSone and Game Boy
I wanted to put a puzzle game here. I was originally going to put Tetris as its pretty genius in its design and suitability for everyone. But I thought I would go for something more unique to me. Bust a Move (or Puzzle Bobble) is a spin-off puzzle series to the awesome Bubble Bobble arcade game. The premise is very simple; shoot coloured balls at matching colours at the top of the screen causing them to drop and rack up a high score. You can play alone in a more relaxed puzzle mode or go head to head with another player or AI (at least from the second game in the series and onward). Why I would show this to a youngling is this game is simple and innocent and shows that the simplest puzzle design can provide hours of entertainment. With games becoming more and more complex Bust a Move is a reminder that keeping things simple is still fun.
Valiant Hearts – PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PS4
Valiant Hearts is a 2D adventure game set during World War One. You follow various characters from a Father forced to fight for the French army, to his son in law forced to fight for the German side. The game is incredibly heart wrenching and a rare display that sees the Great War from multiple sides. Showing the horrors of the First World War while also offering small moments of hope. This is one of the very few adventure games I played that does an excellent job educating the player about the actual history surrounding the events of the game.
In each level, you explore you pick up collectables, like gas masks and read about them in the game’s codex. This was one of the only games that I finished that I thought to myself ‘this game should be shown to kids in schools.’ A rare example of an entertaining game that’s fun but also educational. It may also inspire your kid to drag you to the London Museum to learn more.
Tearaway – PS Vita and PS4
Tearaway was released on both the PS Vita and PS4. It’s a cuddly 3D platformer with a paper-like art style where you play a messenger on a quest to deliver a message to the player. The game makes excellent use of the Vita or PS4s hardware and engages the player in many moments of creativity.
Often you stop during quests to craft a crown for a squirrel or dress up your rideable pig. It’s a title that allows the player to exercise their creative muscles and in a way create their own fun. The more you invest in its features the more you get out. It’s not a hard game but an excellent title to share and enjoy together despite being a solo venture. If nothing else this game is guaranteed to make even the most hardened player smile.
Rayman Legends – Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PS3, PS4, PS Vita and PC
Lastly, for today I wanted to pick a classic platformer. My wife and I have played Rayman Legends co-op across multiple systems including 2 Xbox systems, the WiiU and even the Switch. This game is pure platforming brilliance and is suitable for absolutely everyone. With the ability to play with up to 4 other players, this is a platformer where you seamlessly run and jump through levels of artistic and musical genius. Controls are tight and easy to pick up. The best part for new folk is if you play co-op and make a mistake your character simply bubbles up and revives instantly by another player.
So if you are an adult playing this with a youngling struggling with a section you can get through the hard part for them and bring them back once it’s complete. On the WiiU one player can also play as the little fly character Marth who acts as more of an assistance which is great for players that want to take a more backseat approach. A fun game for the whole family that will make you laugh and hopefully create some great gaming memories together. Plus the music levels in this game are just brilliant.
The final thing I would want to recommend to the younglings is for them to honestly be themselves. If my kid turned around to me and said they weren’t into gaming and wanted to get into football or ballet or something else I would be totally cool with that.
Not all young people will be interested in gaming and that’s fine. I guess this advice extends to anybody of any age. Try a bit of everything, find what you love in life and lean into it. Be proud of it. I guarantee there will be a community of people waiting to support you in that venture. Love and happiness to you and thanks for reading.