Geek Culture

Published on January 8th, 2015 | by Laura Giunta

10 Notable Children’s Games of 2014: Part I

While a lot of the games topping the 2014 lists from popular gaming sites are rated T and M, here are some of the notable family-friendly games that came out in 2014 that can be enjoyed by all ages:



1.) Minecraft

Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

Publisher: Microsoft Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment

Genre: Survival/Sand-box

Minecraft PS4 Announcement E3 2014 Trailer

Since its inception in 2011 on the PC, Minecraft has taken the gaming world by storm. While the PS3 and XBox 360 console versions were released in 2013, 2014 saw the release of Minecraft on the PS4, XBox One, and the PS Vita. Developed by 4JS Studios for the console versions, the game can be played as a survival game, but gamers can also opt to play in creative mode, where they can build and design. Considering the massive popularity of Minecraft among young people, adding Minecraft to your children’s circulating game collection seems like a no-brainer; it also provides an easy alternative for Minecraft programming for libraries without the tech support or available computers to run a Minecraft program using PCs. It should be noted that the Vita “physical” release is actually a digital game voucher in a case, and is therefore not recommended for purchase for circulation.


2.) Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby

Platforms: 3DS

ESRB Rating: Everyone

Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company

Genre: Turn-Based RPG

Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire E3 2014 Trailer

Developed by Game Freak, Pokémon continues to reign supreme as the king of handheld gaming, and this year’s release is no exception. While the games keep to the tried-and-true formula of turn-based RPG gameplay combined with tons of monster collecting, they also add the new elements of 2013’s Pokémon X/Y, including the improved graphics and the 3D models. These are enhanced remakes of the old Game Boy Advanced games Sapphire and Ruby, but they will likely be the first time children of this generation will experience them. With the popularity of Pokémon seemingly never-ending, these are both safe bets for your children’s circulating game collection. As the two games are very similar, but each feature a few Pokémon exclusive to the version, this will give children who have one version the opportunity to “catch ’em all,” without having to beg their parents to buy the other version. For more Pokémon -themed games, librarians may also consider adding this year’s Pokémon Art Academy for the 3DS (Rated: Everyone) to their library’s collection, which is a how-to-draw game.



3.) Super Smash Bros.

Platforms: 3DS, Wii U

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Fighting

Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS/Wii U First Trailer

Featuring all of Nintendo’s major characters like Mario, Link, and Pikachu, plus a handful of third-party favorites like Capcom’s Mega Man and SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Smash Bros. is the latest entry in the popular fighting game series. Without the excessive violence of fighting game franchises like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, Smash is accessible to all ages and remains a fun, high-energy button-smasher. The Wii U version includes, for the first time ever, 8-Player Smash, which allows up to 8 players to play at once, making it ideal for gaming programs for children, preteens, or teens at the library. Smash for the Wii U also includes the use of Nintendo’s new Amiibo figurines (sold separately), although they are not necessary to play the game (the 3DS version is expected to become compatible with Amiibo figurines sometime in 2015). However, children who have their own Amiibo figurines will be able to save the progress they have made with their characters so that, when they check the game out again, they won’t have to start from scratch.



4.) Skylanders: Trap Team

Platforms: 3DS, PS3, PS4, Tablet (Android/iOS/Fire), Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

Publisher: Activision

Genre: Action Adventure

Skylanders: Trap Team Overview Trailer

The popular action adventure series is back this year with Trap Team, featuring an all new starter set of Skylanders. As with Minecraft and Pokémon, Skylanders is at the forefront of popular, mainstream gaming for children and is therefore immensely popular with kids, making it a strong addition to your library’s children game collection. The starter pack includes both the game, a set of three figures necessary to play the game (other figures are optional), a traptanium portal, and two traptanium crystals (or traps). Therefore, libraries will have to circulate the game as a kit, including the three starter Skylander figures, the portal, the crystals, and the game. While there are sidequests and collectibles in the game that cannot be accessed without purchasing more toys and accessories, the main game can be played using just the starter pack. For a Disney-spun theme on the Skylanders formula, also consider 2014’s Disney INFINITY 2.0 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, and PS4 (Rated: Everyone 10+). Like with Skylanders: Trap Team, you will need to circulate it as a kit as children will need either the Toy Box Starter Pack or the Marvel Superheroes Starter Box to play the game.



5.) Disney Magical World

Platforms: 3DS

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Action RPG

Disney Magical World Launch Trailer

Originally published by Bandai Namco Games in Japan, Disney Magical World is an action RPG with life simulation elements where gamers get to design their own character, who then gets to interact with Disney favorites from Mickey Mouse to Lilo and Stitch. Players can also visit the worlds of Cinderella, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, and Winnie the Pooh and go on adventures and quests. With its plethora of Disney characters and never-too-challenging gameplay, Disney Magical World has wide appeal and would be solid addition to the children’s game collection at any library. For older children who are Disney fans, librarians should also consider 2014’s action RPG Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX for the PS3 (Rated: Everyone 10+), which is a remastered compilation of the classic PS2 game Kingdom Hearts II (this time as the never before released Final MIX edition) and the old PSP game Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, giving a new generation a chance to play Kingdom Hearts for the first time (Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX for the PS3 was released in 2013).

 Continued in Part II

About the Author

Laura Giunta is a children’s librarian at Garden City Public Library. She is the Chair of the Nassau County Library Association’s Pop Culture Committee, which she helped found in June 2014; the committee is currently helping to organize the first annual Long Island Libraries and Pop Culture Conference, scheduled to be held at St. John’s University in April 2015. An avid fan of gaming, comics, and anime, she organized and moderated the panel “Beyond Harry Potter and Percy Jackson: Great Middle Grade and Tween Fantasy Books” at New York Comic Con 2013 and served as a speaker on the panel “Why Should I Let My Child Read Comics?” at New York Comic Con 2014. She is also the Recording Secretary for the Nassau County Library Association, a member of the New York Library Association’s Pop Culture Round Table, and a book reviewer for School Library Journal. She graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and from St. John’s University with a Master’s Degree in Library Science. She has been working at Garden City Public Library for the last five years.

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