The Best Games Console For Kids At Christmas
Whatever you do this Christmas, don’t ask your kids which console they would like to see tucked underneath the Christmas tree this year, as they will no doubt ask for one of the two most inappropriate systems for their age. A PS4 or Xbox One.
Believe it or not, but there is precious little on either of the next-gen consoles for kids under the age of 15, and barely anything that is appropriate for the very young. Sure, there is the latest Skylanders, on both new consoles, but it doesn’t do anything that it can’t do on the older, cheaper consoles. PS4 also has Knack, which is a pretty poor game, and both consoles also have the obligatory line up of sports games, such as FIFA 14, Madden and NBA.
Like Skylanders, these offer little more than graphical upgrades on the versions available for PS3 and Xbox 360. In fact, the only game that you can exclusively get on either of the new machines that is not available on anything else, is age appropriate and of high quality, is Forza Motorsport 5 on Xbox One; a game that is far too demanding and difficult for many children.
So, what to do? Simply put, don’t bother shelling out for either a PS4 or an Xbox One when they are currently twice the price of the previous generation of consoles, incredibly difficult to get hold of before Christmas, and can offer very little age appropriate games and content for your children.
Here are three alternative consoles that will save you loads of money and offer a greater range of decent kid’s games at a fraction of the price:
The PS4’s older brother, the PS3 still packs a graphical punch and has plenty of games. The three LittleBigPlanet games are not only decent, but they allow your child to create and build their own worlds, levels and racing tracks. The Wonderbook, an accessory that works with the PS3 camera, allows youngsters to become a wizard of Hogwarts in Book of Spells.
Cooperative creation is the order of the day in LittleBigPlanet
There are dozens of sports titles, and you can pick up older FIFA games like FIFA 11, 12 and 13, for a pittance. There are also many singing and dancing games, such as Singstar and Sing It, available for a small cash outlay.
The PS3 features free online play, and the use of sub accounts means you can keep an eye on what you child has access to.
Verdict: If you want to get your child creating, then with games like LittleBigPlanet and Modnation Racers, the PS3 is a very cheap and attractive option for parents, especially with the excellent parental controls in the sub accounts.
The predecessor to the Xbox One has a vast range of games for kids, although the majority of them are only available in the machine’s online store. The 360 has the same range of sports, fitness and singing games available at retail, along with a few kid’s gems like Banjo Kazooie and Viva Pinata, but the real quality is found in the extensive online library.
There is a diverse offering on Xbox 360
There are more than 200 games rated as suitable for everyone on the Xbox Live Arcade, with family games like Peggle, Fruit Ninja and Hasbro Family Game Night rubbing shoulders with classics like Pac-Man, MegaMan and Sonic the Hedgehog. The Kinect sensor is a limited but fun camera attachment that has a few games to keep the kids entertained on Christmas day, although getting it to work properly can be tough if you don’t have a spacious and bright room to use.
The Xbox 360 charges for online play, but does have excellent parental controls and even the option to have a ‘kid’s themed’ dashboard which shows content for family audiences.
Verdict: The Xbox 360 is a great choice, with the Kinect providing plenty for the kids to enjoy and the online store a lot of great games for a very low price.
Not as cheap as the Xbox 360 or PS3, the Wii U does offer free online play, the very best parental controls and an online community, Miiverse, that was built from the ground up for children to be safe in. The Wii U also allows you to play old Wii games on it and can be turned into a Wii at the touch of a button, meaning that you can keep your kid’s favourite games like Wii Sports. It is also possible to tranfer all their saves and downloads to the new console, although this is painful to do in practice.
The only place you can get classics like Mario 3D World
The Wii U plays host to the strongest line up of quality games that are age appropriate and currently supported. Super Mario 3D World, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Wii Party U and the superb Nintendoland are highlights that will make any child happy on Christmas day.
There is not a lot to shout about yet on the online store, and the sports game selection is easily the worst of any console available, but there is Wii U Karaoke, Wii Fit U and Wii Sports Club to add a bit of variety.
Verdict: The whole console was designed with family in mind and, although there are very few sports and big franchise games, Mario, Zelda and co more than make up for it.
Overall, if you are looking for a shiny new console to buy your kids this Christmas and are more concerned with getting them the appropriate product and not the system they want, then the Wii U comes out on top, with some stunning games for kids available that you genuinely can’t get anywhere else. If price is more of an issue, then you can pick up a PS3, which has more creative games to offer, or an Xbox 360, which has the Kinect and wider range of downloadable titles.
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.