Wonderbook: Book of Spells
The idea of an interactive Harry Potter themed story book was always going to be popular. More surprising is how well the Wonderbook technology works. Even in the hands of younger players the PlayStation Eye camera tracks movements perfectly and creates a magical experience with the promise of more books to come.
Platform: Sony PS3 with PlayStation Move | Price: £50 | PlayStation
Kinect Sesame Street TV
Super young gamers are often overlooked but Kinect Sesame Street TV offers pre-schoolers a tailor made experience. Not only are the interactions simple and fun but the game-meets-TV-show has its own momentum so things don’t grind to a halt if you don’t get it right.
Platform: Xbox 360 with Kinect | Price: £9.99 | Xbox Marketplace
It’s easy for families to overlook download games because they can be hard to find. Mutant Mudds is a great example, its pixel perfect platforming and 3D puzzle solving make it great fun for kids. Then there is its retro gameplay and visuals that will also attract parents who remember these types of games back from their youth.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS eShop and iOS | Price: £8.10 (3DS), £0.69 (iOS) | Nintendo
New Little King’s Story
The overlooked Wii strategy game finds its home on the PlayStation Vita. New Little King’s Story updates the original with improved visuals and cut scenes while continuing the same classic real time strategy fun. Don’t be fooled by the cute cartoon graphics this is a fully fledged strategy experience as deep as any you will find.
Platform: PS Vita | Price: £40 | Konami
This is much more than a collection of tech demos. Each of the games offers a unique way to use the new Wii U Game-pad with classic Nintendo game-play. Whether you want five player family fun, or a single player challenge, Nintendo Land quickly convinces that the new controller creates genuinely new ways to play.
Platform: Nintendo Wii U | Price: £38 | Nintendo
Paper Mario Sticker Stars
Paper Mario Sticker Stars walks a narrow path between platforming and role-play, but for children its slower pace and collect-em-all power-ups are a perfect match. Play this on the larger 3DS XL screens and the whole family can get involved suggesting where to go and which attack to select. Marvellous writing, music and visuals top off this miniature Mario marvel.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS | Price: £30 | Nintendo
While other rhythm action games may get players interested in music Rocksmith actually teaches them guitar. Although the gameplay is similar to Guitar Hero and Rockband, it is played not with a plastic controller but a real electric guitar. By adjusting the difficulty of each song for the current player Rocksmith is a great way to enjoy learning an instrument.
Platform: PS3 and Xbox 360 | Price: £48 | Rocksmith
Sifteo Game Cubes
A totally new way to play that fits families perfectly. These blocks each have a touch screen and tilt controls. But the magic really happens when you put them next to each other – they communicate to create all sorts of adventure, puzzle and action games. Add more blocks for more fun, and download games via your computer. Sifteo cubes are inventive family fun with an exciting future.
Platform: PC and Mac | Price: £130 | Sifteo
Something of a playground phenomenon, Skylanders Giants offers an endless streams of figures to collect and clever technology that saves videogame progress back to the toys. Backing all this up though is a very strong family videogame. Two player exploration and puzzle solving make it great to play together and ideal for children of different abilities.
Platform: Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS | Price: From £50 | Skylanders
The Unfinished Swan
This works on two levels, as a non-violent shooting puzzle game as well as a storybook for younger players. You control the game with either Move or Sixaxis controller and explore the world by firing paint at walls to reveal architecture and puzzles. As you progress an endearing story about a mother and her child unfolds.
Platform: Sony PlayStation 3 with Move | Price: £9.99 (PSN download only) | Giant Sparrow