The first game we tried was Disney Cuties Crazy Daze. In this you control three of the Disney babies, Baby Donald, Baby Mickey and Baby Minnie. The Cuties have a list of “errands” to do during their day. You have to move the Cuties around one block at a time toward their goal based on what they are thinking about. There are, of course, obstacles along the way. The Cuties don't like rain, and rain clouds seem to float over the area on a regular basis. You can avoid getting a wet Cutie by giving them a raincoat (which lasts for the whole level) or umbrella (which is temporary). What makes me chuckle is that Cuties are “chocolate fueled” just like the kids who play the game. If you move your Cutie over chocolate bar, they move faster for a short period of time.
Sound like a pretty simple game, right? Well let me tell you, it isn't!! You really have to think logically about how you are moving your cuties, especially at later levels, if you want to reach the goals. Cuties can't walk passed one another along the same path. If you move two Cuties next to one another, you have the option to combine them and have them move together until they enter a building, or make one Cutie wait while the other moves out of the way. Now this is a plus in that sometimes you'll have Cuties who want to go to the same place at the same time, and you can save time by partnering them up to go to their common goal. But if you aren't careful and plan out the route your Cuties will take to get to their various destinations, you can also make your Cuties angry by causing them to wait too long.
The lower levels are suitable for my youngest son, aged 5, who just has fun trying to move the Cuties around to the different places and isn't really trying to “beat” the game, all the way up to my oldest who is 11 and has to conquer every game he plays. The levels ramp up in difficulty pretty quickly, with the challenge coming from reaching increasing destinations in the same amount of time. My oldest has made it to about level 8 pretty easily, but he's now finding that he really has to both keep moving and think before he makes a move.
As a parent I like that the kids have to think logically and plan ahead while playing this game. I also like that they are very excited to play a game that is completely non-violent but still challenging for them. And what is very cool about this game is that it is one they enjoy watching one another play, so it is something that they do together. And, of course, best of all it is something they come back to again and again. Disney's Cuties Crazy Daze is reasonably priced, too. It makes a nice reward for kids who've worked hard at school because they'll still be exercising their brain even when playing a game. And any time a parent can sneak that by a kid it is a good thing.
The “glory days” of computer gaming for me were when games like Spectre Supreme, Pirate’s Gold, the Might and Magic series, the original Prince of Persia… those sorts of games were coming out on a regular basis. Back then I owned a Macintosh and was a die hard Mac fan. I was one of the first in my area to buy an iMac and on it learned the joy of playing games on the internet like daily crossword puzzle and “mind bender” type puzzles. My first online RPG was given to me for Christmas the year EQ was released, and I was hooked from day one. I played EQ for about a year. I started playing DaoC during late alpha testing, and was hooked on it.. well, to be honest I still am. I’ve tried pretty much every MMORPG I can get my hands on, from big names like EQ, to more obscure ones such as Underlight. I’ve been writing for IMGS since the first DaoC guide, and find I love the challenge of learning a game and presenting what I’ve learned (and sometimes my opinions), to other players.
I’m not a very strong player as far as learning PvE or quick reaction times, so I tend to stay away from games where I’m pitted against someone else in a way that requires physical (rather than mental) response. I still enjoy story and puzzle games, and in a way that’s how I still approach online games. I would much rather spend hours working through a quest than 5 minutes in combat against another player. I still get lost in simulation type games, obsessing over them until I’ve gotten them beaten. And I like being able to sit down at the computer when I’ve got less than half an hour and playing through a few levels of a puzzle game. I tend not to like first-person shooter type games, or anything with person to person violence, so I steer away from them unless they are fantasy based settings. All in all, I enjoy computer gaming so much that my life feels incomplete somehow when my computer is down.