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10 kid-friendly video games for the young gamers in your life

Video games provide hours of entertainment, but not all titles are aimed at younger players. This makes it challenging when searching for kid-friendly games. But all isn't lost, as a few games perfectly suit this, spanning several video game consoles.

And don't think for a second that kid-friendly games are boring, uneventful or simplistic. Game development has advanced so much that many of the titles rated E are packed with logic puzzles, plots with consequences or underlying educational values.

In this article: Hot Wheels Unleashed, Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Nickelodeon Kart Racers.

How kid-friendly games work

The most critical aspect of a kid-friendly game is the Entertainment Software Rating Board rating. This means the game has been reviewed and classified according to strict guidelines. There are several ratings to denote the appropriate age groups, but generally, kid-friendly games fall into E for everyone and E10+ for games that are suitable for kids over 10 years old.

Games rated E contain minimal (or no) cartoon violence and no crude language, and the chances of seeing blood are minimal. The mechanics are often much easier than other games, making them more enjoyable for younger minds.

What to look for

A sticker on the box denotes the game's ESRB rating, and that must be the first thing to look for. Other elements that will help you decide if a game is suitable for your kids are the control mechanics, the complexity of the storyline and the in-game features, such as leveling up, character customization and choices.

But a great addition to any kid-friendly game is the inclusion of multiplayer features. Kids love to play games with others, letting them experience the story and mechanics with a friend. Generally, there are two kinds of multiplayer: online and local co-op.

Online multiplayer is where you play with others over the internet, either in a team or as competitors. There might be voice communications or team-based rewards for completing challenges.

Local co-op, also called couch co-op, is where up to four people can play together on the same video game system and screen. This often divides the screen into sections, which is called split-screen.

Best kid-friendly video games

Hot Wheels Unleashed - (PlayStation 5)

Many adults will have fond memories of playing with Hot Wheels cars in the backyard. Like many other toys, these have also made the leap to video games. Choosing from an iconic lineup of vehicles, players must race against the clock and each other to secure the top spot on the leaderboard.

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Sackboy: A Big Adventure (PlayStation 5)

The lovable Sackboy is back on the PS5 for another epic adventure. With beautiful graphics and an enchanting storyline, players must guide him through a maze of puzzles and quests while meeting strange creatures. The game features the franchise's distinctive handcrafted lands that are sure to thrill any player.

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The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf (PlayStation 5)

With beautifully crafted graphics and easy-to-learn controls, this videogame is perfect for kids of all ages. You take control of four iconic Smurfs (Smurfette, Hefty, Brainy and Chef) and must guide them through platformer puzzles in five environments to gather ingredients to save the forest. It has a limited multiplayer mechanic, where a second player controls a floating Smurf to help.

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Monster Truck Championship (PlayStation 5)

Is there anything better than steering a massive truck over dirt ramps and watching them do dangerous flips? Well, this game lets you do that. Choose from 18 monster trucks and personalize them whichever way you want while competing in three monster truck tournaments in 25 arenas. It features an online multiplayer mode where you can compete against seven other players.

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Team Sonic Racing  (Xbox One)

Take control of iconic characters from the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise and race against other players to score the ultimate prize. Working together in a team, players must use various power-ups and abilities to prevent opponents from beating them. The game features online multiplayer and four-player split-screen modes.

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Nickelodeon Kart Racers (Xbox One)

If you've always wanted to race as SpongeBob SquarePants against other popular Nickelodeon characters, here's your chance. Choose from 12 characters and race on any of 24 "Slimed" themed tracks, which include exciting cup races. You can customize your kart with multiple power-ups and special attacks, and the game features co-op and local multiplayer modes.

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Just Dance 2021 (Xbox Series X)

Get the whole family's feet stomping with the latest installment of the hugely popular Just Dance franchise. The Just Dance Unlimited subscription streaming service gives you access to over 600 songs, and each game comes with a one-month free subscription. This version features eight new kid-friendly songs and choreographies, ensuring memorable, fun moments.

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Gigantosaurus: The Game (Xbox One)

This video game is perfect for teaching kids about being a fearless leader and doing what's right for everybody. Joined by your other dinosaur friends, you must embark on an epic quest to save Giganto and prevent the dinosaurs' extinction. The game features a multiplayer mode where up to three other players can join in.

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Sonic Frontiers (Xbox Series X)

Take control of Sonic as you race across five massive overworld islands filled with hidden secrets and challenging puzzles. It features a new battle system and skill tree upgrades, so you are fully armed to take down enemies.

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"Ghostbusters": Spirits Unleashed (Xbox One and Xbox Series X)

When something goes bump in the night, grab your Xbox controller and clear out your house of ghosts from the popular franchise. But you don't have to protect everything, as you can also choose to haunt multiple locations. You can play with up to three friends to save the city from the paranormal. This kid-friendly game features the voices of original "Ghostbusters" movie actors Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson.

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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