If you’re on the hunt for games for kids that aren’t Roblox, you’re not alone.
I don’t like Roblox. Of all the things my kids have become obsessed with over the years – In the Night Garden, slime, weird nursery rhyme channels on YouTube – nothing makes me feel grumpier than Roblox. I don’t like the way it looks. I don’t like the weird wonky games. And I don’t like the fact that they constantly tempt players to buy stupid virtual items for their stupid virtual blocky man.
Phew. If like me, your kids have become obsessed with Roblox (especially during the various lockdowns), you might be looking for something else. Anything else. Something cute, something easy to play, and, crucially, something that doesn’t make your kids want to spend your actual money on their character being able to jump a bit higher.
5 Games for Kids That Won’t Drive You Crazy
One more thing before we start. I haven’t included Minecraft. I love it, my kids love it, everyone loves it, and it’s incredibly useful from an educational perspective. However, it probably doesn’t need more publicity at this point, and chances are, your kid already owns it.
Here are a few other games you can introduce to your kids instead:
Ooblets (Microsoft Windows, Xbox One)
Ooblets is a little bit Pokemon, a little bit Animal Crossing, and a little bit Harvest Moon. You’ll move into Badgetown, a colourful town inhabited by some, erm, interesting characters. Your main job is to grow resources on your farm, allowing you to create new recipes, and, crucially, attract the extremely collectible creatures known as Ooblets.
Groups of Ooblets will wander around Badgetown, and you can engage them in battle by holding the right types of food. This will kick off a dance battle because apparently, Ooblets live for dancing. Combat is a simple turn-based card game, in which you will draw cards and try to out-groove your opponent. If you win, they’ll pop out a little seed (this is as strange as it sounds) so you can grow a brand-new Ooblet of the same type on your farm.
You’ll also have to keep on top of a variety of tasks, either to gain money or to satisfy the locals. It’s sugary-sweet, but self-aware, and has just enough edge to stop your teeth from dissolving. Be prepared to wrap your mind around a whole lexicon of new words. It’s initially frustrating, but you’ll soon be saying things like ‘I need to get more Clothlets but I don’t want to spend my Wishies’ without breaking a sweat.
I played this during the beta phase with my daughter, who was seven at the time, and for a long time afterwards, all our doodles involved the perpetually grumpy Clickyclaws.
Untitled Goose Game (Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, macOS)
There was a point in time when Untitled Goose Game was being played by everyone, everywhere. In case you don’t know, you’ll play as a goose, causing chaos in an otherwise calm and orderly village in the countryside.
While I had a lot of fun with this game, I wasn’t prepared for how much my kids would love it. Looking back on it, it’s not surprising: Untitled Goose Game gives you the chance to be unashamedly, deliciously naughty. My kids tortured those villagers with a terrifying level of expertise, finding the most devious ways to annoy them, cackling madly until they turned red in the face. Scary, but also, quite funny.
The controls are intuitive, so it’s not too difficult for kids to potter around on. Buy it for them, and then conquer it yourself when they go to bed and enjoy being slightly evil for a little while. It’s fun for all ages!
Chuchel (Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS)
Chuchel has some tricky bits, but overall, it’s a great game for kids whose reading skills aren’t quite ready for text-heavy games. You play as a little orange creature desperately trying to find, and eat, a cherry. Of course, every time you get near the cherry, something happens to take it away again.
You’ll go on a merry journey to get that cherry back, scrambling through the mouth of a giant monster, riding birds, and transforming yourself into a spider. It’s funny and silly, and it’s all completely visual, with no reading required. My kids clicked with this game immediately, and I found it entertaining to see their thought processes as they tried to solve the puzzles.
Yooka-Laylee (PS4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
I had high hopes for Yooka-Laylee. I wanted it to slot neatly into the Banjo-Kazooie-shaped hole in my life. And while it’s not perfect, it’s reminiscent of the platformers of my youth. And, more importantly, it’s excellent for kids.
You’ll play as Yooka and Laylee, a chameleon and bat respectively, working together to collect Pagies in order to unlock new worlds and restore order. Or something. I can’t quite remember the plot, but I guess that isn’t the main draw here. It’s a funny, bright, colourful game with a sense of humour and self-awareness that I really love. It also has fun, varied gameplay that my kids find quite addictive.
Grapple Dog (Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch)
New on the scene, Grapple Dog is a fun platformer about a dog with a grapple hook. You get to swing around, collecting fruits and tokens and defeating interesting bosses. I didn’t think my kids would like this one, but they did: in fact, they liked it so much that they started playing ‘Real Life Grapple Dog’, a game that mostly involves jumping off the sofa.
Grapple Dog is satisfying but tricky in places, so be aware if you’re buying this for a kid that they might need you to get them past the more difficult stages.
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