It has only been recently that my children (6 and 4) have started showing an interest in video games. Commandeering my 3DS from time to time, asking plenty of questions when I’m trying to beat a quest in Fallout 4 and just generally showing that they would love to partake.
But, where to start?
For a lot of gamers my age, this is a challenge. They want to play ‘Daddy’s games’ but you know they can’t handle the difficulty, control or thought process required to beat The Witcher 3. That my friends, is where retro games come in!
Retro games with their simple controls, easy concepts (for the most part) and cute characters create a perfect little ecosystem where you can take your little ones and show them that games can be easy and fun while still enjoying yourself. So as a guide, today I’m going to take a look at some retro games that are perfect to help introduce your kids to button-mashing, turtle-stomping, game-rapping fun! (in no particular order, of course!)
Is there a better place to start?
Super Mario All-Stars (SNES/Virtual Console)
I could very easily list each Mario game, single out Mario 3 as being the best in the series, but why not get all the action in one simple cartridge (or download). Super Mario All-Stars would allow your kids to experience Mario’s humble beginnings in Super Mario Bros, the bizarro world that is Mario 2, the great success and weird mind warps that Mario 3 creates, and even get to experience something that most of us missed as kids with The Lost Levels (once they become a little more experienced).
This one game will help your kids build the foundation for everything they will ever experience in video games, it’s a must play. Just make sure their favorite ends up being Mario 3 and for the right reasons.
The Babe about to go deep!
Baseball Stars or Tecmo Bowl (NES)
Want something a little more competitive? Look no further than either of these 2 sports titles. Sports games on the NES were pretty simple to catch on to based on the fact that there are only 2 buttons on the controller, but these 2 games were the best of the best when it came to team sports.
Baseball Stars remains a cult classic favorite game almost 30 years later. It had excellent teams, great graphics and animations, and was one of the first games to offer a battery backup feature, which allowed players to save a season and play through up to 125 games.
Bo Knows NES
Tecmo Bowl featured the NFL license and cities. It was a simple game where you chose from 2 run or 2 pass plays in your attempt to score against the other team. We always had a ‘No Oakland” house rule when I was a kid based on how dominant running back Bo Jackson was in the game.
If you have a budding sports fan or two around the house, these games are can’t miss classics, and sports games are often the easiest genre for younger children to pick up and play.
Play this game for the excellent music alone!
Maniac Mansion (NES or PC)
Anyone who knows me, knows I love the hell out of this game. Maniac Mansion was the high water mark of point-and-click adventure games as far as I’m concerned. Based on the television show, you pick a team of three kids, including Dave and your choice of two others, in an attempt to free Dave’s girlfriend.
It was a great game, with an awesome soundtrack for the 8-bit era. There were so many ways to play the game, so many ways to die and so many endings that I still replay it occasionally to try a different strategy. If you have a little thinker on your hands, consider letting them have a go at this title.
For England indeed!
Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)
Do I really need to say much about the fun factor you would experience playing this game with your son or daughter?
Still the best multiplayer game of all-time and a necessity for Family Game Night. Just make sure you make the “No Oddjob” rule is very strict, right from the beginning.
Because of the complexity of the N64 controller, you might need an older child with some bigger hands for them not to be frustrated by the game but once they learn the controls, they won’t want to put this game down.
Luigi, or riot!
Super Mario Kart (SNES)
My daughter actually started showing an interest in video games when one time, she took my phone and loaded up Mario Kart on my SuperGNES emulator. While Mario Kart has evolved greatly over the span of eight games, the original is still a good starting point for younger audiences. The tracks are a bit simpler, no need to worry about kart customization and parts, and no blue turtle shells!
Although later installments of the game actually drive better, in most cases there is nothing like the original. It’s another fun game for families to enjoy together, and typically easy to come across. The Wii or WiiU version of the series supplies something a little different due to being able to use the controller as a steering wheel, which adds another little element of fun to the game. In all reality, there isn’t a bad Mario Kart game to play with your kids.
My son still doesn’t understand why he can’t shoot the dog…
Duck Hunt (NES)
The easiest of easy games. If you have a younger child, especially one who has a love of guns (which seem to be in just about every cartoon nowadays), this is the game for them.
It only took my son about three minutes for him to start disliking the dog responsible for collecting the ducks. Something we can all relate to. Duck Hunt is a simple game with a simple premise that is easy for kids to learn, play and enjoy
So there you have it, some games I recommend to start out with for getting your kids into gaming. Of course, there are so many other games that you can use to break your kids into the wonderful land of gaming, these are just some of my favorites. What are some others you can think of? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Until next time!