Too often games geared towards a more youthful audience are rife with mediocrity and repetition. So we've tried to pick out a few games from the past twelve months that offer a little more in terms of quality. There's a range of titles to be had here and it should be noted that we've tried not to choose five titles that are only suitable for kids. Rather a couple of these games are quite simply experiences to be enjoyed by all ages, and all the better for it.
Super Mario 3D Land [3DS]
If your kids have been nagging you to get a 3DS - or they've already got one - Super Mario 3D land should be your very first port of call. This recently-released gem is good old fashioned platforming fun, but features a host of imaginative new gameplay features and innovative 3D options. Plus, you'll be able to enjoy it once they've gone to bed... if you can prise it out of their hands.
Kinect: Disneyland Adventures [Xbox 360]
One for the younglings rather than older children, but by all accounts, Frontier Developments have gone and created a incredibly detailed recreation of the Anaheim theme park. Put simply, if you've ever been (sadly this writer never has...*sob*), this will go some way to recreating the magic for your kids.
The Gunstringer [Xbox 360]
We love Twisted Pixel and, although it's a bit on the short side, The Gunstringer is a cracking addition to the Kinect lineup that finally seeks to make the most of the camera. The marionette romp through the Wild West is brief but highly entertaining sharpshooter action, and you even get the splendid Fruit Ninja Kinect thrown in for good measure. Check out Jon's Gunstringer review here.
For those of you with a PS3, I'd recommend checking out Medieval Moves, made by the same guys who did Sports Champions.
Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure [Multiplatform]
Skylanders is pretty much what you'd get if you crossed collectable toys with an action-platformer. In fact, it's exactly what you'd get if that happened. Starter packs come with three characters to play as, with additional packs available for purchase. All character data is stored in the toys and they can be used across systems. It's a fantastic and innovative combination, and the game's a lot of fun too.
De Blob 2 [Multiplatform]
De Blob 2 continued the simple, rainbow-coloured platforming exhibited by the amorphous painter in the first game. Once again, it's irrepressibly joyful, filled with slapstick humour and cute whimsy and now comes cross-platform with a co-op mode for family fun. It's not just a good game for the little ones, it's a good game in general, helped along by inventive mechanics (with a gentle learning curve), a cracking score that changes depending on your current colour of choice and a high concept premise that basically involves colouring in the world once more. Don't believe me? Check out our De Blob 2 review here.