7 video games, reviewed by my kids

7 video games, reviewed by my kids June 5, 2015

Hey, who wants to talk about SOMETHING ELSE?

How about vidya games? My kids play games on the Wii, PS2, and occasionally the iPad and PC. We have tons of the Lego Wii games, and they were all the rage at our house for a few years. These are cute, clever, and not too noisy or violent (people just turn back into separate pieces when they get killed). Have’t found a bad one yet.

Here are some of my kids’ other current favorite games. I asked them to give a quick description, plus their favorite and least favorite aspects of the game. Then I added my take, as someone who doesn’t especially like video games, who worries about bad influences on the kids, but who isn’t especially restrictive. We don’t have any particular interest in very violent, scary, or gross games like Resident Evil or Call of Duty. Bracketed comments are mine.


1. Õkami 

okami 2


17-year-old girl says:
It’s a Zelda-type action adventure, but everything looks like a Japanese sumi-e painting. You are Amaterasu, the sun goddess, incarnated as a white wolf, and you use celestial brush techniques to paint symbols. You draw symbols in the air to manipulate the world around you — like, you draw a swirly thing to summon a gust of wind. You can fill in gaps in bridges, trail fire from a torch to a pile of brushwood, stuff like that. The goal is to save Japan from evil spirits, which, you know. [I don’t actually know.]

Best part: The best part is that it’s a serious, hard-core adventure game that also rewards you for feeding animals and caring for plants. You collect praise points for helping to restore nature, or helping people, or just being nice, like feeding a kitten. That’s not the main point of the game, but I like that it’s this elaborate adventure, and you get points for being nice to kitties.

Worst part: I hate the sidekick. I want to kill him and I want him to shut up.

My take: Looks weird and gorgeous. I don’t mind having this one in the house at all.


2. Sly Cooper series for Playstation


sly cooper

11-year-old boy says:
It’s about a raccoon thief who beats people up and steals stuff, but he’s a good guy. Sort of. In the first one, he’s trying to steal back his family’s guide for how to be a sneaky thief.

Best thing about it: The graphics are great. The characters are very well thought out, and there is good voice acting, except for when they’re supposed to be surprised.

Something I don’t like: it’s kind of annoying that Sly always smiles, even when he falls off a cliff and dies.

My take: The voices are really obnoxious, and the few female characters strike me as unnecessarily sultry.  I would just as soon see these games go away, but both boys (the other one is 13) love these three game to pieces, so there must be something there. The fighting isn’t too graphic. It’s fairly flashy and the sound effects are kind of grating.


3. Just Dance 2


just dance 2

9-year-old girl says:
It’s a game where you pick a song to dance to, and you can earn points by dancing like they are dancing on the screen

Best thing about it: I’m not too good at games where you have to fix up a problem, and I’m pretty good at games where you just follow the moves of what is on the screen. It’s a good, easy game for all ages.

Something I don’t like: It doesn’t have Taylor Swift. Some of the dance moves are inapwo-pwo, and we have to skip some of the songs, like “Toxic,” “That’s Not My Name,” and a few others, because they’re sassy and weird and dumb, and sometimes the dances are just inappropriate.

My take: Silly, active fun, except for that one kid who discovered that you can get a perfect score while sitting in a chair and moving your wrist around. Great for an ice breaker at parties, because it gets you moving but everyone is looking at the screen, not at you. Most of the songs are just goofy; a few are too sexy (lyrics and dance moves), so we just skip those. (I actually prefer having the kids get used to the idea that you have to pick and choose and say “no” to some things and “yes” to others, rather than just flat-out forbidding anything that might be, well, inapwopwo, because eventually they’re going to have to tell themselves how to spend their time.)

4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (link is for the WiiU version)

legend of zelda wind waker

15-year-old girl says:
It’s made for Gamecube, so if you’re using the Wii, you have to use a Gamecube controller instead of a Wii remote. You also need a memory stick for the Wii. There is also an HD version for the Wii U.

It’s an adventure game and a puzzle game, and you have to defeat puzzles and dungeons and bosses, to get different items.  The point of the game is to defeat Gannandorf, the evil bad guy, and save Hyrule and your sister, and make your grandma proud of you.

Best part: It’s an exciting game, but the graphics are absolutely adorable, and the characters are all really funny. I like the Snot Kid, and the way all the characters look.

Something I don’t like: It’s set in a sea, and it takes a while to get from island to island, and you get lost really easily.

My take: I honestly don’t get what the big deal is about all this Zelda stuff, but it doesn’t bother me. A few of the videos are quite pretty. The music isn’t too loud or annoying, and it’s not one of those awful frenetic games. Just a lot of running and hopping, as far as I can see.


5. Epic Mickey


epic mickey 1


15-year-old girl says:
It’s a sort of dark twist on forgotten old Disney cartoons, but in a cool way –  not a stupid emo hipster kind of thing. [You know. Stupid emo hipster.] You play as Mickey, and get sucked into a world called “Wasteland,” where all forgotten cartoon characters live, and you have to defeat the Mad Doctor and the Blot Creature. You have the power of ink and thinner so you can paint and erase things to your advantage.

Best part: It’s kind of dark and scary at times. It’s got this great morality thing, and sometimes you have a choice of helping a gremlin or getting money, and if you help, you get even more money, or a reward, and you also get the gremlin’s reward later in the game, so it’s got that going for it. It’s not a serious gamer game, but it’s still fun.

Don’t like: It encourages you to use paint more than thinner when defeating bosses, but it’s really difficult. It’s just frustrating.

 My take: She’s not kidding about dark twist! Some parts of this game scare the three-year-old. I hear a lot of frustration when they are playing this game, so it’s best for kids who are persistent. Graphics are super detailed and imaginative and have a lot of depth, and it’s fun for the kids to spot obscure cartoon characters.

6. Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb


indiana jones emperors tomb

14-year-old girl says:
It’s an action adventure game in the style of the Tomb Raider series, but it’s Indiana Jones. The goal is to get an artifact from the tomb of an emperor, but it’s really convoluted. (We have the PS2 and Windows versions. Apparently this game is “backwards compatible, which means that if you have a PS3 or 4, you can play this PS2 on it.)

What I like: Nice detailed graphics, and the combat is a lot of fun except for when you blow yourself right after Indy says, “Hope I don’t blow myself up.” It has good voice overs. You have to solve puzzles and beat up Nazis.

Don’t like: This is pretty much the only game I’ve played besides all the Lego games. I would make a setting for people who have never played video games before so it’s for them. [There is an easy mode. She may not be aware of this.]

My take: Meh, I’m not crazy about this one, but they’ve been playing it for years now, and no one has turned into a felon yet. My husband likes it.There is so, so much punching, but it’s not bloody or anything, and it seems like it takes a long time to beat all the levels, so that’s a plus. We have picked up a lot of family catch phrases from this game. The voice really does sound like Harrison Ford, and I get to wow the kids by putting my high school German to use (“The American! Kill him!”).

7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

zelda twilight princess

17-year-old girl says:
It’s my all time favorite game. It’s my first ever Zelda game, and you always think the first Zelda game you play is the best one. But objectively, I firmly believe it is the best one in the series. The main plot is that you’re trying to rescue Hyrule from this evil, alternate dimension that is trying to turn everyone into ghosts. It’s a very Japanese game.

Best part: It creates such an elaborate world, you can really get lost with everything you can interact with. It has a great plot and great characters. There’s one scene where one of the characters is dying and you have to bring her to the castle, and it’s the most concerned I’ve ever felt about a character. You get really emotionally involved. Also, it’s just gorgeous and the game play is crazy. It really feels like you’re doing these things. It makes me feel cool. Link does things I could never do. He has all these crazy abilities. That sounds lame, but that’s what they’re trying to do: get you immersed in rhe game.

Don’t like: Uh, I thought I mentioned that this has no flaws whatsoever? Probably the best cel shaded game I’ve ever seen, kind of crazy gorgeous, and so creepy sometimes. It sets you up, introduces you to this world to make you feel secure, and then changes the world suddenly. It really throws you off your balance. It has this innocent fairy tale vibe, and then really strange, creepy things happen.It has some really dark elements to it. The creepiest thing is when it kind of changes the rules on you, and shows you things that don’t belong. Unsettling in the best way.

My take: Take it easy, weirdo.


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  • Tori

    You may not get the Zelda games, but your daughter sure does! They are my all-time favorites. I am a 32 year old woman and I still love playing them. And Twilight Princess is everything she says it is. I totally want to sit down and talk Zelda with her, haha. I hope my kids love it that much someday! Boy, do I feel like a geek.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    The thing about Zelda games is that it is a lot of exploration and discovery. So watching someone play it for a bit might not look to interesting in the same way that watching Lewis and Clark walking around wouldn’t be too interesting. Just a lot wandering around and hiking… Plus there’s a lot of puzzle solving.. so I imagine watching me stand around and figure out how to open a door wouldn’t be fun… but it’s fun for me! The experience for the payer is much different.

    As to the part in Twilight Princess where you have to save the dying character…… I couldn’t stand that character. I took my sweet time bringing her to the castle!

  • anna lisa

    I used to find my five-year-old crouched stealth-like, next to the couch, watching his teenage brothers play Halo. When I confronted them, they fessed up to the fact that he was already a level 50 or something like that. His little brother, boy #6 is 8 now. I tried to keep him away from the war ones–I really did. But he plays them all. If I could have kept him from them just two more years, it would have been better, but he’s pretty mellow about them now. He actually likes to play the Wii Lego ones a little better.

    What I don’t get in the least is these famous you-tubers that play video games who have tons of followers. My 11-y.o. would watch them for a straight hour if I’d let him. I can’t figure out how that could be more fun than playing yourself.

    My two girls have absolutely zero desire to play video games, but probably only because the air around the boys is too thick with testosterone. The 8-y.o. who is the lowest on the totem pole has frequent breakdowns over not getting his turn, so I can see why his little sister doesn’t even try to get in the fray. I worry about her not being competitive enough. She doesn’t even try to win most of the time because she’s so used to being squelched by all of her overlords. She has a Kindle and plays girly games on it, or watches Beverly Hills Chihuahua on Netflix for the 10.000th time.

    • Cordelia

      I love hearing about your family…

      • anna lisa

        Cordelia, thank you! 🙂 The comment box sometimes feels like a confessional… without the absolution. :/ Comparing notes helps. 🙂

    • Eileen

      We really enjoy watching quick snippets of Arglefumph walk through a Nancy Drew title although most of our ND cheating is done via game boomers. But Arglefumph’s commentary is pretty funny. Sometimes my younger kids will watch 20 minutes or so of an action packed walkthrough but I haven’t (yet) seen them watch an entire game on YouTube.

      • anna lisa

        Eileen. I’m well advanced into my forties, and so much of this confuses me.
        What I do know is that you are a kindred spirit in the trenches of so much which is nearly inexplicable to me.
        You’re more on it than I am if you actually sit with them and watch it. That’s SO ADMIRABLE.
        It is so hard to just be a flake with your kids, but it’s EVERYTHING!

        I just got back from a b-day party for a little girl whose Dad writes the music scores for those games.
        Oh. my. word.
        There’s money in all that stuff.
        Wow. The guy has a couple of Emmys on his shelf.

        • Eileen

          Believe it or not I knew about the big bucks for video game music. My son’s old piano teacher was a very young man who had written music for a few television commercials and one song for Kanye West (whom I’d never heard of at the time) but he only quit giving lessons when he got contracted to do some video game. I Always knew he was going places because in spite of some ridiculous hair and a generally crazy appearance he was an excellent teacher and every time we gave him a little Christmas present, he’d send us a lovley handwritten thank you note.

          • anna lisa

            Haha. I love people like that. My fifth is a crazy-haired loveable, superfreak too. I expect great things from him, but he hates. school. Hates it with a passion. Every kid of mine gives me something unique to worry about…
            The gaming is probably about #6 on my worry list. :/

  • LCG

    Yay video games! Your kids and I sound like kindred spirits. +1 to Okami, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. Your kids might like the Kingdom Hearts games, too, if they haven’t tried them yet.

  • Eileen

    There’s a game for the ps2 called Magic Pengel that my big kids all enjoyed. It’s probably my daughter”s all time favorite video game. It’s a Japanese anime game where you draw doodles and then your doodles come to life and fight the game’s characters. Ultimately you have to face off against the doodle king. My daughter also enjoys exercising with the wii u and all my boys enjoy the wii sports and wii play games.

    My two oldest boys play a lot of Skyrim and Portal. All the kids play Just Dance and it’s great for when their friends come over. “Rah rah Ras-pew-teen Lover of the Russian queen!” All the boys love the Lego and the crash team racing games. I’d say my oldest son is, like his sister, moving away from video games and into binge watching Netflix for his zombie time except that he just told me that some new games will only work on the Xbox one and we’ve only got the 360 so we “probably want to get the Xbox one for Christmas this year.”

    One game series our entire family *loves* is the Nancy Drew PC video games by HerInteractive. We count down the days for each new release and put the notice prominently on our mud room calendar so we’ll know to avoid scheduling anything for the two days after release. The last title put in a reference to gay marriage which made me roll my eyes but that is something my kids have been exposed to for many years so not a reason for us not to play future titles. On the whole, a very wholesome and educational series with puzzles and mysteries that really hit the sweet spot for hours of fun in our home. The games are intended for girls but my boys love them just as much as their sister. We’ll replay titles just for fun. Or we’ll each go to a specific part of a game that we really enjoyed. For instance, my daughter will often return to the Phantom of Venice game just to play Scopa (an Italian card game).

  • calvinandhobbesforever

    You’re clearly doing something right if your seventeen year old daughter can show how excited she is about something “nerdy” without the least bit of embarrassment or self-consciousness. That’s a wonderful trait to have, and especially rare in teenage girls. Kudos!