If Snapchat is the new texting, and Tik-Tok is the new YouTube, what’s the new Angry Birds? Even the littles are tired of Where’s my Water. But how do you find new games while also avoiding the next Candy Crush? Here are eight fun and educational(ish) kids’ games you should definitely know about:
A pedagogic puzzle game like Angry Birds, Pettson’s Inventions focuses on helping Pettson and his cat solve their puzzling problems. Players must use their brains to create inventions out of silly objects and accomplish the task at hand. Graphics and game play are geared toward younger children but, like Angry Birds, this game is fun for all ages. The ad-free version costs $4.99 but a free version exists if you prefer spending time watching ads instead of spending cash.
Gumi the cat is running a restaurant, serving up tasty dishes to all kinds of animals. Customers pay in cod fish. Players help Gumi spend his cod fish wisely to increase the appeal of the restaurant and attract more customers. From learning new recipes to managing the stage acts, Animal Restaurant gives the player a unique look at balancing resources with common sense. There is always something going on in Animal Restaurant. Free with in-game ads.
The Toca Boca Universe
With quiet music and lots of in-game tweaks to make, the Toca Boca line of games has been a proven hit with kids and parents alike. These games will not annoy you with noise, flashes or strobes. Toca Boca games are simple and fun with graphics that make them accessible to many age levels. Some games, such as Toca Hair Salon 4 are free. Others, such as Toca Kitchen 2, are priced at $3.99 and up.
Weird art is always fun and the Fraksl app does not disappoint. The game opens with an epilepsy warning due to how quickly the patterns on screen distort and merge. If you dare to go beyond the warning, you’ll soon discover a picture of nested rectangles. After a short (two-instruction) tutorial, you are free to distort the rectangles and create fractal images for some weird, arty fun. The free version allows you to save and send your images. The pro version ($1.99 in-game purchase) allows you to add pictures from your camera and distort them as well.
Another pedagogic puzzle game, Transmission introduces players to the concept of directional flow of information, while still feeling very much like a game. The tutorial relies on a series of simple puzzles to teach the basics of moving information packets between senders and receivers. This game is more engaging than the pared-down graphics make it initially appear. And with fewer ads than expected from a free download, Transmission is a brain-bending puzzle game with real-world benefits. Free with in-game ads.
Battle of Polytopia
A clear precursor to more complicated empire-building games like Civilization, Battle of Polytopia focuses on resource management and strategy. Players get to pick a tribe, then build an empire with the goal of taking over the board. Investing resources into skills like blacksmithing and boat-making will help in battle. Turn-based with bright graphics, this game is rated for ages 12 and older but don’t be surprised if you start playing it while your kid isn’t looking. Battle of Polytopia is a fun little game that is free with in-app purchases.
Merge Dragons is an easy game to download in the dentist’s office! The game dynamic is based off the hugely popular Triple Town. Merge three objects to create an evolved object that will help clean up Gaia’s Garden. If you merge three dragon eggs, a baby dragon will hatch and help you clean up faster. A pattern matching and strategy game, Merge Dragons is free with in-game ads.
Epic books is not a game, but a digital library. From “The Princess in Black” to “Splat the Cat,” this app has a wide enough selection to keep your child entertained. The app offers the option for reading aloud, comics and picture books, so there’s no downside to having a little digital downtime with this app. Plans range from free to $9.99 per month.