Children’s video games always seem to leave something to be desired by parents. I find they’re either just too hard or just too easy, my kids lose interest. They also tend to be so far past anything I can enjoy as a parent, taking away the chances of a fun family game night. It’s hard to find balance when families—like mine—have so many ages and interests, we range from two to 35, but OG Games manages to have something for everyone, even games you can all play together.
This week, I got to sit in on five game previews during OG Unwrapped, showcasing some of their new big titles coming to release this fall. I wanted to share my thoughts on the games from my parent-perspective and talk a little about why they’d be great for different age ranges.
To be clear, this is not sponsored in any way, just my two cents on games made specifically with families in mind—it’s kind of my thing. Each game is going to be available for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC and PS4, with free upgrades to the Xbox Series X|S and PS5, so most gaming families will be able to check them out. Outright Games has some great things in store, and I think families will really be able to get behind some of these new titles together.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R by 3D Clouds
This was the game I was most curious about. I didn’t see how Fast and the Furious had—or needed—a home in children’s gaming. It turns out there is a Netflix series by the same name— its newest season being Fast & Furious: Spy Racers South Pacific—which is rated for ages seven and up, and this game ties into it perfectly. They brought all the same diverse characters and actors featured in the show to the game. I think the consistency will be great for kids to make the jump into this spinoff.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is a racing game that features story mode, couch co-op and online multiplayer. It feels like a grown-up take on Mario Kart, with 15 spy gear weapons—like paintball grenades—from the show helping you speed off to victory. With all of that tied up in cars that look far cooler than any kid’s racing game I’ve seen, children will feel more like they’re playing Need For Speed instead of something made for young kids.
I find Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R is perfect for that seven and up age range, because they are in that phase where they want to do what the grown-ups are doing, not their younger siblings. This fits that niche perfectly and helps move children into their next phase of gaming.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R comes out in November 2021.
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers by 3D Clouds
This is a racing game rated for everyone, making sure the whole family can dive in, big or small. Players get to choose one of their favourite characters (obviously Pickle) and race around different tracks like Axle City streets or the Monster Dome stunt track. Though this is clearly aimed towards younger people, the gameplay remains, again, very similar to Mario Kart, but without attacks. Any parent or older sibling can jump in and have fun, and they will all likely still beat me.
I told my six-year-old I got to play this game, and he was incredibly jealous, and rightly so. Axle City Racers is a lot of fun. Each character you choose has a different power-up, gathering coins will charge it up. Pickle has a shield, and Blaze obviously has a power boost, so there is a bit of strategy at play too. The game can be played solo, or with up to four other players in split-screen mode, so I felt some childhood nostalgia there. The game also features Auto Drive with optional controls for younger players, so there is no reason to leave anyone out!
It’s nice to see a game that can add a little challenge, but leave in options to make the game playable for all ages. It has three difficulties as well, so it can grow with the children as they master each track. Throughout the game, Blaze will give out little facts to go along with the popular show’s STEM theme, so it adds a little extra education on the side. What parent doesn’t love that?
Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers is out on October 16, 2021.
PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night by Petoons Studio
If racing games don’t thrill your family (I get it, I spend most of my time crashing), OG has you covered with PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night. This 3D action-adventure side-scroller is just the right amount of challenge for kids. This is a one-player adventure and players get to take on the roles of Catboy, Owlette and Gecko in each level, no need to choose. Each character’s unique power will help players on their journey to the big boss battle at the end of each round. Luna Girl, Night Ninja and Romeo all make an appearance, and it’s up to you to stop them!
“…it offers a different set of challenges for children compared to the other games I saw during OG Unwrapped.”
I enjoyed the change in pace with this game, and it offers a different set of challenges for children compared to the other games I saw during OG Unwrapped. In each level, you play each character, meaning players need to adapt to different abilities. Catboy jumps, Gecko climbs and Owlette flies, so each section of the level is built a little differently.
The controls are simple, making it a great jumping off point for younger kids. Collecting coins and finding the special hidden tokens in each level will make it a little more challenging for older kids. These small additions give the game a little replay value, similar to the LEGO series’ games. I can definitely see this game being popular for kids under seven or eight, especially if they’re a fan of the PJ Masks series. I wouldn’t recommend this as a beginner’s game though, as the youngest gamers usually haven’t mastered running and jumping at the same time!
PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night comes out on October 29th, 2021.
My Friend Peppa Pig by Petoons Studio
What to say about My Friend Peppa Pig…From an adult standpoint, it is exactly what I thought it would be, so any personal thoughts and feelings you have about Peppa Pig can be relayed here. However, the game does an amazing job of catering to the youngest gamers, making this an excellent starting point to get children into video games. My Friend Peppa Pig features a three-button control system, left, right and X. That’s it. It doesn’t overcomplicate anything, and the whole game is just about exploring.
You get to play as Peppa’s friend, design your own outfit and explore the area alongside her. There is no linear story or set of objectives, though in each area Peppa will suggest things to do like “follow the animal tracks in the forest”. Players are free to run around and interact with objects. You can jump in muddy puddles, bother Daddy Pig, or go for a nice bike ride with Peppa.
My friend Peppa Pig is ideal for kids around the age of three, but as they get older they will quickly outgrow the game. My six-year-old may be interested in playing, but it would only be to let his little sister watch, since she may be a bit too young at two-years-old. It is geared toward very young children and suits its purpose well.
My Friend Peppa Pig comes out on October 22, 2021.
The Addams Family Mansion Mayhem by PHL Collective
This was the last game I got the chance to check out at OG Unwrapped, and they definitely saved the best for last. I was really surprised with how much I liked it, especially because I don’t have any nostalgic ties to the franchise. This game can absolutely be fun for the whole family, as you can work in teams of up to four on one screen. One person could theoretically handle the entire workload, so if you bring the little ones in, you don’t have to worry about them not pulling their weight—you’ll still be able to succeed.
This game reminded me of the sort of gameplay you’d see with the LEGO games. The Addams Family runs through the game, collecting coins, smashing items and solving small puzzles to make it to the end. There are tons of levels and I see a lot of replay value in the game. Every area brings something different, with some even being a race against the camera as it continues scrolling while you run, jump and swing to the end. I absolutely, enthusiastically recommend this for family game nights, I know it will be a part of ours.
The Addams Family Mansion Mayhem comes out on September 24, 2021
I spend a lot of time in my columns talking about games we, as adults, enjoy, and what might be appropriate to bring our kids into. I don’t usually mention the ways we can get into their games. Granted, a lot of video games for young kids are strictly educational, which is great. But for us 30-somethings, it can be mind-numbing, so it’s important to look around for a balance.
Educational games are JUST as important as spending time together as a family. Outright Games has brought some great options to the table to get your whole family involved while letting your kids learn important lessons at the same time. There are a few that I may want to avoid joining in on, but we can’t have everything our way all the time, can we?