There is a terrible blight plaguing the games industry today. No, it's not foul mouthed teens on XBox Live. No, it isn't guys with stubble shooting foreigners. And no, it's not waggle-based shovelware on the Wii. Well it's sort of that last one. I'm talking about the state of kids games today.
The videogames industry takes such a condescending attitude towards games geared toward children that anything colorful or not about shooting people to get points is automatically swept to the side without getting half a chance to prove itself. Fantastic games like Wayforward Technology's A Boy and His Blob and Capcom's Zack and Wiki are overlooked and doomed to sit in discount bins for the rest of their lives. I hate to sound like an old man but, it wasn't like this in my day. Remember when Capcom and Shiny made games based on Disney films? Before the status quo was about getting the graphics as close to real as possible first and gameplay second, the limitations of hardware forced developers to be more creative to make a game interesting. This lead to many more unique titles on the market. It was easier for a parent to pick a game that a kid would like because there was more of a correlation between games being palatable to a child and good.
Parents often protest violent games on the market or games with questionable themes and content. It's hard to disagree with them sometimes but if all the games made for children are bad or not marketed well, what alternative do they have? Most parents either aren't interested in videogames or don't have the time to make sure a game is appropriate for their kid and I don't know many people over 30 who read D-toid or have a subscription to EGM. If they always trusted the ESRB rating on the package they'd still end up bringing home a game like Madagascar Kartz that the kid will play for 5 minutes before switching right back to GTA when mom and dad are asleep. Children want to play games that are fun and unless there's someone to steer them in the right direction, they'll only see what their older brother is playing or whatever triple A game is being advertised on television. 13 year old girls read Twilight and listen to Justin Bieber because no one showed them Anne Rice or Rush at the right time in their life.
But, who do we have that can show parents and children the way? It would have to be someone with a critical eye that can look at games subjectively. Someone who not only has the experience needed for such a task but the ambition to make some change in this world even a little bit at a time. Someone with a passion for the subject and the minutiae surrounding it.
I don't know anyone like that so I'll have to do it. That's why I'll be using this blog as a handy guide to games made for or appeal to kids that are also GOOD games. Each post will feature one recent and one older game that not only a child will love but that a parent can sit down and play too. If you are a parent, have friends who are parents, want to be a 'cool uncle' or value your child's taste, you must read it.