A SuperParent guide to Sony's best-selling game console.
The PlayStation 4 is the best-selling console on the market at the moment, and one of the reasons for that is its extensive library of games. Sony may not lead with their family-friendly games like Nintendo does, but the PS4 has a solid lineup of fun, engaging games that kids can play, too.
Overcooked is a frenetic favorite in our house. It was the first game that my youngest daughter really got into. The premise of Overcooked is to fill orders as quickly and accurately as you can. But it’s not like you can drop off an order and pick it up. No, no. You need to chop vegetables, tenderize meat, make sure the soup doesn’t burn, and oh yeah — your kitchen is split up between two moving semi-trucks so good luck coordinating. If you’ve ever played Diner Dash, you have a good idea of how intense the scramble can get. It’s an uproarious good time that teaches kids cooperation, leadership and great communication skills. There’s very little reading, so this is appropriate for pre-reading kiddos, too.
Dragon Quest Builders, Lego Worlds, and Terraria
There are four titles that fit into this fantastic category and I couldn’t choose just one of them. At the tippy top of this list is a game your kids are probably already playing: Minecraft! But if they’re looking for a little more of a challenge (and they can read), it might be time to introduce them to Dragon Quest Builders, Lego Worlds and Terraria. Each of these titles are multiplayer, so you can sit down and play with them. They’re similar to Minecraft in that you’re able to build things and interact with the world around you, but they’re far more story-driven than Minecraft is. If your kid loves anime, check out DQB. If they’re obsessed with Lego, Lego Worlds is a good move. And if Minecraft is starting to bore your kiddo, then introduce them to Terraria — there’s better ore, nastier baddies and much more challenge.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2
I could recommend almost every single Lego game from the last decade as a great game for kids, but Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is the one that’s stealing the show at the moment for us. With all the Infinity War hype, this a great way for your kids to get their Avengers fix without going to the movies. Not all kids are going to be able to see Infinity War, after all. (Spoiler alert: things get very emotional and it’s a lot for kids to unpack and handle.) Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 is a cooperative multiplayer experience that allows up to four people to sit down and play as franchise favorites like Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Gamora and Rocket Raccoon.
Towerfall is an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie. It’s got a similar frenetic energy as Overcooked, and also supports up to four players, but Towerfall is all about slaying bad guys without accidentally killing your teammates. Players need to jump, climb and teleport their way around a level in order to avoid baddies. Towerfall Ascension is old-school and levels are a single screen. As you and your kiddo make your way through the levels and worlds, the baddies ramp up in difficulty fairly quickly. So, if you’re looking to spend multiple sessions playing a wacky, action-heavy, retro-looking game, pick up Towerfall Ascension.
The story of LittleBigPlanet 3 is fairly straightforward — Sackboy (the protagonist) is exploring his own world when he gets sucked into a portal to a world called Bunkum. He goes on a journey to free Bunkum’s heroes, OddSock, Toggle and Swoop, so they can defeat the three evil Titans. My youngest son was enamored with LBP3 for a long, long time. It taught him incredible platforming proficiency, where now he’s able to pick up games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and The Adventure Pals with relative ease. It gave him the opportunity to hone his skills and teach his younger sister some of the skills needed to manipulate the LBP3 world. LittleBigPlanet 3 supports up to four players for puzzle-platforming goodness.
Journey is in my personal top-three games of all-time. I’ve played it through more times than I care to count. It’s made me weep with joy far more often than I care to admit. I introduced Journey to my youngest son in 2015. Initially, he was confused. What should he do? Where should he go? Journey is an experience, rather than a linear game. Part of the joy is in figuring out what to do and why it matters. It’s breathtaking, easy to pick up and play, and is just as much fun to watch as it is to play. Buckle up because there are Feelings here.
Trials Fusion is silliness incarnate. Before we had Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the kids to play, we had Trials for PS4. It’s a physics-based racing game where you can ride a dirtbike, an ATV or… be a cat riding a unicorn. (Yeah, that’s real.) Trials is distressingly fun, and has often ended with me on the floor with a stitch in my side because I’ve been laughing so hard. It’s an extremely challenging game to pick up, which is part of the fun. I spent hours with my youngest kids trying to teach them how to rock forward on their bikes so that they didn’t faceplant endlessly on the end of ramps (or up a hill). Now that they’re a little older, they’ve taught me a few things about how to best navigate a tricky track. I’m so proud.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix
I was a teenager when the first Kingdom Hearts game was released for PlayStation 2 and it quickly replaced Final Fantasy X as my favorite game of the moment. Fast-forward 15 years, and now I’m playing it with my kids. Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix wraps up six of the Kingdom Hearts games just in time for Kingdom Hearts 3. If your kids adore anything and everything Disney, this is a wonderful game to introduce them to. There’s quite a bit of reading, so it’s not appropriate for pre-reading kiddos, but they can pass the controller back and forth with older siblings no problem.
There are a number of games in this collection, but the one you’ll start with is, of course, Kingdom Hearts. You play as Sora and you get to team up with some fantastic Disney characters along the way, like Goofy and Donald Duck. The story is a bit obtuse for kids to follow, but it’s the gameplay and the environments that matter. Trust me when I say that they’ll flip for The Deep Jungle for Tarzan. Branch-surfing is great fun!