Nintendo DS Games for Kids Part I
Nintendo DS Games for Kids
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you my video-game-addicted daughter, Lex. Her gaming experience involves the Nintendo DS, the XBox 360, and the Nintendo Wii. She began playing video games at age 4 and has had her hands glued to a controller ever since. While I do my best to purchase games that will teach her some sort of reading, math, or thinking skills, she prefers to play fast-paced, role-playing, adventure games. Her favorite place to hang out is the Video Game Exchange a block from her home and you may be able to catch glimpses of her between the hours of 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm.
OK, seriously now. My daughter's excessive game playing has placed me in the perfect position to review various games for the Nintendo DS, her favorite system because it is portable. As a side note, I want to mention my daughter was reading at age 4 and has been in her school's gifted programs since the middle of first grade. The games she plays may be better suited for a child a bit older than 7. I will attempt to place suitable age ranges for each game, but please use your own judgement. All of the following games work for Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo 3DS. For more game reviews please visit the second page in this set at Nintendo DS Games for Kids Part II
DS Game Review
Disney, Petz, and Sims DS games are a-plenty at any video game store and at my house. The following list contains games my daughter owns by each brand.
Finding Nemo- This game is appropriate for minimal readers and ages 5 and up. There are various mini-games in Finding Nemo. You can build your own fish tank or roll your bagged fish across a street and into the ocean. My daughter loved this game when she was 6 years old. She left it in her DS for a few weeks, which is a great indicator of how much fun the game truly is.
Madagascar - This game is also appropriate for minimal readers and ages 5 and up. In Madagascar you can explore different levels that have different goals. Each level lets you be a different character from the movie. Again, this game was a big hit and I even found myself playing it.
Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End - This DS game is better for advanced readers and ages 9 and up. This game proved to be a little too advanced for my daughter at first. But with a little coaching and help along the way she did great. It is actually my game, but I needed her help to beat it! It has mild violence because you use a sword to protect yourself from bad pirates and pirate zombies.
Petz DS Games
All of the Petz DS games require minimal reading and are suitable for ages 5 and up. They are all also very cute. Of the ones my daughter owns, Catz and Dogz are the most popular in my house. My 7 year old and my 4 year old both play the games and love them. Petz Catz and Petz Dogz are very interactive and let you decorate rooms, dress your pets, and accomplish small goals. The other Petz games quickly lost my daughter's attention because there wasn't much opportunity for interacting with the game. Other titles we own and that are available are Petz Bunnyz, Petz Hamsterz 2 Life, Petz Horsez, and Petz Wild Animals - Tigerz
Sims DS Games
Sims 2 Castaway- This game requires some advanced reading skills and is better suited for children ages 9 and up. In the game, your character is lost on a remote island and you must explore to find goodies to help you survive. You can make friends along the way and learn how to sew new clothes, go spear fishing, and paint with squished bugs. My daughter enjoyed the game and still has yet to beat it. That is a plus for me because she'll keep playing it longer and I'll get my money's worth out of it.
Sims 2 Pets - This game requires moderate reading skills but can still be played once the child learns the symptoms of the illnesses. I would recommend this game for children ages 6 and up. In Sims 2 Pets you get to run a pet care center. You can build your business up from the ground and buy bigger houses and offices, achieve different ranks to earn more and buy more, and treat patients (animals) for all sorts of illnesses. This is a fun game that never runs out of possibilities or patients.
Assorted DS Games
Other games my daughter owns that do not fit into a brand category are listed below in alphabetical order with age recommendations and short descriptions.
Animal Crossing - Wild World - Animal Crossing requires a lot of reading and may be better for kids ages 7 and up. This is a fun role playing game where you are the main character and you move into a new town. You can make new friends, learn new tricks for surviving in the town, and decorate your house. Sadly, your friends move out quickly. Good news, you get to make more friends again when your old friend is replaced. My daughter was addicted to this game for about 4 months before she would play anything else. Although it was cheaper for me not to have to buy a new game, it was a little crazy how much she loved it.
Charlotte's Web - This game, again, requires some reading skills. I would recommend it for children ages 7 and up. It is loaded with mini-games once you complete various levels within the full game. You get to play Wilbur the pig and use clues and chats with barn friends to achieve goals. My daughter has had the game for almost a year now and still plays it regularly.
Cooking Mama - This game ‘helps' you learn to cook by telling you what ingredients to add, mix, slice, dice, and cook. I would recommend it for ages 5 and up. However, it is a very slow moving game and may not keep a young child's interest for long. My daughter played it for a day and hasn't looked at it since.
Final Fantasy Fables - Chocobo Tales - I recommend this game for children ages 8 and up. It is a ‘play' on Final Fantasy and has a ton of levels, a ton of mini-games, lots of reading, and lots of cards. The cards follow the lines of Pokémon and let you do battle. My daughter loves this game more than any other game so far.
Imagine Teacher - I recommend this DS game for children ages 7 and up. It requires a lot of reading and part of the game is grading homework papers of your students. You get to be the teacher and make lesson plans, teach the pupils, grade their papers, and teach them art. It is a fun game but can be completed quickly.
My Little Pony - Pinky Pie's Party - I recommend this game for ages 4 - 6. It is very easy, requires no reading if you have the volume turned up, and is a no-lose game. I bought it for my daughter this last grading period for good grades and we were both disappointed when she solved the entire game in an hour.
Nintendogs - I recommend this DS game for ages 4 and up. When I say ‘up' that includes adults too. My daughter and I both have a copy and it is a wonderfully fun time. We can take our dogs onto each other's screens to visit and play together. We can also enter our own dogs in competitions, take them for walks, or give them baths. My 4 year old just started playing it on my DS and she loves it too. She has been begging for her own copy for a week now.
Paws and Claws Pet Vet - This game requires advanced reading and I would recommend it for ages 9 and up. In the game you run a vet office and you advertise, treat pets, build your office more, treat pets more, and so on. I was actually addicted to this game for a while. But once I finally handed it over to my daughter she never let go again. She has been playing it steadily for the past 8 months.
Other DS Games
Scooby-Doo, Who's Watching Who?- This game requires minimal reading. Even though there are parts to read, they are not necessary for successful game play. I would recommend this game for children ages 5 and up. In the game you get to play Scooby-doo and wander through spooky levels trying to get Scooby Snacks and trying to solve the overall mystery. The levels are not overly difficult and the graphics are great.
Sonic Rush - I would recommend Sonic Rush to children ages 5 and up. Reading is not necessary and as long as you go fast, you can beat the level in most cases. There are gold coins to collect, loops to fly around, and hills to rocket up. This game is the ultimate in fast-paced adventures. My daughter once dated Sonic, that's how much she loves the game. (Kids and their imaginations, huh?)
Spore Creatures- This game requires some reading but total understanding is not necessary to have fun with the levels. In the game, you are a creature who has to evolve to survive different planets to try to save your best pal Oogie from an alien invader. This game is a lot of fun and can be played over and over again once it is beat. My daughter has had Spore Creatures on the brain since we bought the game. She even talks about evolving now.
Strawberry Shortcake - Strawberryland Games - This game requires minimal reading and I would recommend it for ages 6 and up. In the game you play Strawberry Shortcake traveling different booths at a fair. Each booth has a mini-game and you can earn tickets to redeem at other booths. The game is very cute and very entertaining for a young girl.
Zoo Tycoon - This game requires moderate reading and reasoning skills. I would recommend it for children ages 8 and up. You get to build a zoo from the ground up in this game. You fill it with animals, fill it with guests, make money, and improve the park. My daughter and I both love this game and we each have our own copy because we kept fighting over it.
I did not include all the games my daughter has played, just all the ones I could actually find. If you have a question about a specific game not listed, drop me a comment and I will let you know whether or not either of my daughters have played it.
Latest DS Games Update
Due to the holiday season, my daughters and I have gotten even more Nintendo DS games, yes! So let the reviews begin...
Disney Friends- This game requires quite a bit of reading. I would recommend it for children ages 9 through 12. In the game you are designated as guardian to the 4 Disney characters Stitch, Simba, Pooh, and Dory from Finding Nemo. Each character has different mini-games and tasks to complete. The characters and their different levels must be unlocked by completing tasks. It is a cute game but it has not held my daughter's interest like I thought it would. It is slower paced and she is not interested in all the reading.
My Sims - Again, this game requires quite a bit of reading. I would recommend it for children ages 8 and up or advanced younger readers. This game follows the model of Animal Crossing except you are a newcomer to a resort island and you have to get it up and going. You interact with tourists, play multiple mini-games, and develop the island. Personally, I am addicted to this game and so is my 7 year old. The more you develop the island, the more items and areas you are able to interact with and the more mini-games you find.
Brain Age 2- This game is for advanced readers who are interested in challenging their minds and improving critical thinking skills. I would recommend it for children ages 10 up to adults. In the game you are challenged to improve your brain power by playing piano songs, memorizing numbers, completing math facts, and unscrambling words. It even includes a large set of Sudoku puzzles and a game called Virus Buster that mimics Doctor Mario's take of Tetris. My 7 year old enjoys playing it but can get frustrated at times when she doesn't perform as well as she thinks she should.
Imagine Rock Star - This game requires moderate reading, but it is not necessary for complete game play. I would recommend it for ages 6 and up. In the game you are a member of a new rock band that is trying to get gigs and buy new equipment and clothing at the local mall. You can choose between lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and keyboard. The game has three levels of easy, medium, and hard and you gain access to new playing venues and items as you progress in the game. At first my 7 year old was discouraged because the lead guitar is very difficult to play even on the easy setting. As she is trying the different instruments she is enjoying the game more because they are easier to play.
Stay tuned for more updates, we are continually adding to our collection.
The same daughter mentioned above is quite a bit older now and still loves her DS. However, she also loves her DSi. She can play all her regular DS games in the DSi plus now she can browse online. She also takes photographs with the DSi and stretches and distorts them into all kinds of funny images. We won't be buying the 3DS because of the information we read about the 3D damaging her eyesight.