For the gamers: five great Nintendo DS games for kids

Guest post by Melissa

We know not everyone’s into video games, but now that the weather is shifting to colder temperatures in many parts of the world, we figured those who are may be interested in getting their kiddos involved. — Stephanie

MARIO KART! Photo by Fays cakes, used under Creative Commons license.

As an avid gamer I often find myself wandering the video game section and observing the myriad of parents attempting to choose a video game for their child. More often than not the parents choose a totally age inappropriate game (Resident Evil for a six year old?) or a game that is just plain bad. I understand that not everyone enjoys video games and that the sheer number of available games can be overwhelming so here is a list of five amazing, fun and educational (!!!) Nintendo DS games for kids that their parents might enjoy as well.

Mario Kart DS

(ESRB Rating: Everyone)

Photo by FHKE, used under Creative Commons license.
This fun racing game is sure to be a hit with kids. With its easy to learn controls even the most inexperienced gamer will be racing against the computer or their friends in minutes. Mario Kart DS offers one of the best multiplayer experiences on the Nintendo DS system. Unlike many multiplayer DS games that require each person to have their own copy of the game, Mario Kart DS allows up to eight people to play using only one copy of the game — this feature can be a big money saver if you have more than one child. Another benefit to this game is that it is a satisfying experience whether your child plays for five minutes at a time or several hours.

Pokémon Diamond/Pearl

(ESRB Rating: Everyone)
This game extends a popular franchise that some parents may remember from their own childhoods. The Pokémon formula still stands the test of time. Pokemon Diamond/Pearl has a fun story in which the main character (your child can choose to play as a boy or a girl) is sent on a mission by a Professor to collect data on the Pokémon that live in the game world. Pokémon are cute creatures that your child can capture and use to battle opponents. While the game involves competitive battling, nothing is killed (a Pokémon faints when it has been defeated and can be revived at a nearby Pokecenter) and the graphics are charming instead of violent. This game has a gripping story that is fun to complete, plus there is the added challenge of catching all the various kinds of Pokémon. This game also allows children to trade and battle Pokémon with other children who also own the game. Lastly, Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl are essentially the same game. The only difference is that each game has a unique collection of Pokémon — in order to “catch them all” your child will need to trade Pokemon with a friend who owns the other version.

The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass

(ESRB Rating: Everyone)
Using the Nintendo DS touch screen, in The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hour Glass, your child will guide the famous Nintendo hero, Link, on a quest to save the Princess Zelda. On this quest Link solves puzzles, fights monsters (who vanish in a puff of smoke when vanquished) and meets lots of interesting characters. If your child is stuck on how to solve a puzzle or defeat a monster, then Link’s faithful fairy companion will chime in with a helpful hint. In addition to using the touch screen to guide Link, your child will also have to speak or blow in to the microphone on the Nintendo DS in order to solve a puzzle. It is a quirky and fun way to interact with the game. This game has a lengthy but very entertaining story and would be perfect for a long car or plane trip.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

(ESRB Rating: Everyone)
You might find yourself sneaking off to play this game when your kids are not watching — it is that engaging! This game follows Professor Layton during his investigation of a crime that has been committed in the curious village of St. Mystere. In order to solve the crime your child must help him solve various brain-teaser style puzzles. The game’s 120 puzzles range in difficulty from very easy to quite challenging. However, there is no time limit and a good hint system to keep you (or your child) from becoming frustrated. This game is best for the older child who has a good grasp of simple problem solving and basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).

Animal Crossing: Wild World

(ESRB Rating: Everyone)

Photo by Lordcolus, used under Creative Commons license.
This quirky game is loved by adults and children alike. In Animal Crossing: Wild World, you create a character and move into a town full of idiosyncratic animal neighbours. The game begins with a few fun tasks to help your child learn the mechanics of the game which include planting flowers and trees; collecting shells, bugs and fossils; making friends with the neighbours; and purchasing items from the local store. After the tasks are complete, your child is free to explore and play as they wish. There is no right or wrong way to play Animal Crossing: Wild World — you can decorate your house with all the best pieces of furniture or spend all your money on planting flowers in the town.

Comments on For the gamers: five great Nintendo DS games for kids

  1. Ha, I gave my mom (definitely ranked among the “older” generations now) Professor Layton so that she could learn to use her new DS. I’d heard it was good and she loves puzzles, so it was perfect. She ended up loving it, and played it far more than I thought she would. She was telling me about it, and now I desperately want to play. I think these are all fantastic choices!

  2. Oh man, Professor Layton. Those are all great games, but be prepared for the waterworks at the end of the third one (really touching).

    Oh, and I would also reccommend: Okamiden, Scribblenauts, and Mechanic Master (which is a lot like the Incredible Machine).

    • I cried for about ten minutes at the end of the third game. I am a huge, huge, HUUUGE Professor Layton fan, and I never expected to be!

  3. 1st of all: that is the coolest cake in the whole world.

    2nd of all: great list and thanks for sharing! While I’ve heard/played the 1st three, never heard of Animal Crossing: Wild Word.

    It’d be cool if there were a list of games that are more suitable for older kids kind of in-between the younger games and ht rated M games. That can be kind of a touchy area and parents aren’t always 100% sure how much room they should give their kid in making their own gaming decisions.

  4. i love professor layton! my son and i both loooooooooove scribblenauts and super scribblenauts! they help him learn to spell too, bonus!

  5. My four year old loves Harvest Moon which she calls “the animal game” and Animal Crossing, which she calls “the walking around game” We tried Pokemon but she wasn’t that into it yet since she’s still preliterate and it requires a lot of reading. She also loves classic games and can beat the first two zones of the original Sonic herself. 🙂

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