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Top E rated video games for kids – 2012

Today is Cyber Monday, and there’s only 28 days left until Christmas! Time to get cracking on holiday shopping. While the older crowd is playing Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed III, you need some ideas for games for kids 10 and under.

The hottest video game item right now is the new Nintendo Wii U, just released on 11/18. The Wii U Basic/White has a retail price of $299.99, while the Wii U Deluxe/Black’s retail price is $349.99. I’m looking to buy one for our family for Christmas, but they are sold out everywhere – online and in stores. Checked eBay this morning, and the average selling price of a new Wii U deluxe is $900! One actually sold on 11/22 for $12,700!  Insanity. Again. The same thing as when the original Wii was released – everyone snapped them up to sell on eBay, and none were available to buy and wrap up for Christmas. I’ve got the phone numbers of 5 local stores on hand, and am hoping to get lucky and find one at retail price before 12/24. *crosses fingers* (For week of 11/8, Nintendo sold 400,000+ Wii U’s, 300,00 Wii’s, 275,000 DS’s, and 275,000 3DS’s.)

Here are my latest lists on the top selling and top rated video games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+. Everything is sorted by console, to make it easier for you.

iPad Video game reviews What's Hot

Reviews By Kids, For Kids: Minecraft

Review by Nick, age 15

A little more information about Minecraft

If you like Blockland, you should check out Minecraft.  All of my boys laid out their cash ($15 each) and purchased Minecraft (Alpha) over the weekend, after playing the free online version (Minecraft Classic) for a couple weeks.  They came home from school today, and said kids were sneak-playing Minecraft after school in the computer lab.

Minecraft is an online 3D sandbox style construction and survival adventure game with over 1,333,000 registered users, created by indie developer Markus “Notch” Persson from Sweden.  Everything – landscape, structures, mines, people / avatars, animals, and monsters (creepers, zombies, skeletons, spiders) – is built out of blocks or cubes, and you can play in single or multiplayer mode.  Built in Java, and published by Persson’s Mojang Specifications company, there are 2 versions:  Classic – released 5/17/09, and Alpha – released June 28, 2010.  Classic is only building with unlimited blocks; Alpha includes building, crafting, mining, and monsters.

According to the Minecraft official site at

“Minecraft is a game about placing blocks while running from skeletons. Or something like that.  The game…has has enemies and cave exploring and mining and farming and flowing water and dynamic lighting and a huge (huge) randomly generated world map. AND it has music!  Minecraft is still in alpha, but is rapidly nearing beta. I’ve only got one more feature to add; multiplayer support… The main branch of the game is currently called “Minecraft Alpha”, and is under heavy development. It can be a bit unstable at times, so don’t get too attached to your save files yet.”

For an excellent, in-depth review of Minecraft check out this article on Crave, the Gadget Blog from CNET:

“Minecraft has ancient-looking graphics, no plot, and generates massive, sandbox game worlds with seemingly infinite creative possibilities, but no clear instructions telling you what to do or how to get started.

Despite that seemingly user-unfriendly formula, Minecraft’s buzz is so strong the server hosting its Web site crashed this weekend under the weight of the incoming traffic. Spend an hour with Minecraft (which can easily spiral into two or three) and you’ll quickly understand the reason for the enthusiasm around this indie hit.

Minecraft puts you in the role of a nameless avatar. You begin the game in a randomly generated world of textured blocks that depict a gigantic, mountain-pocked environment bounded by water. You start with no inventory, and no clear concept of how to interact with the world. With a little experimentation you’ll likely soon discover that you can gather resources from the vast blocky landscape.

Spend a little time in Minecraft and the creative urge will likely take hold.”

Don’t forget to check out the comments section for the article, too, where players describe Minecraft as:

“The true beauty of this game lies in its multiplayer. When you’re on a server with 20 people, all of which are digging and building incredible creations, the game really turns into a virtual world. A very simple, and fun, virtual world.”

“What i really like about Minecraft is how anyone can play it. There is hardly any violence in Minecraft, so this is a game I could see children play as a way to express their creativity (unless you consider punching sheep for wool too violent).”

“I could see children play as a way to express their creativity…But don’t get your kids this game. It’s so addictive…

This game is more then addicting. I love it. The sandbox is really truly sandbox. No 2 games are ever alike (literally since the land is randomly generated) Its great how simplistic it all is yet can create so much.  I plan to populate many more islands/ areas and build anything I can imagine. your only limited by the resources you collect. (and what the creepers dont destroy) I cannot wait for multi-player. and invite my friends to my world along with me going to theirs. 


For more information: – official Minecraft site.

Minepedia – offers info on blocks, gameplay, servers, programs and editors, crafting recipes, and development resources, along with forums, museum, skins, development blog, IRC, and more.


Twitter – very active Minecraft Forums, along with links to Twitter, Status Blog, Play Minecraft!, Development Blog, Music Blog, Minepedia, and Minecraft IRC.

The Word of Notch – blog by indie developer Markus Persson

iPod apps:

Guide to Minecraft $.99

Minecraft Companion $.99


Your First Shelter in Minecraft (Tutorial Machinima) 

Building a starting house (Minecraft Tutorial) 

How to Survive your First Night (Minecraft Tutorial)   

What’s different between Blockland and Minecraft?

Blockland you have to install, but with Minecraft all you need is an internet connection and the executable file.  Also, you can play Minecraft in your browser because it’s made in Java.

Minecraft randomly autogenerates the landscape when you log in, and has building, crafting, mining.  The best part is the adventure game – when it becomes night, the monsters come out, and you have to stay alive (reminds me of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, when the Stalfos skeletons would come out at night…). 

Blockland has landscapes you can choose from – default ones, and custom built maps from RTB – and is basically building.  However, you can set up adventure games or building scenarios on your server as:  knife death match, TDM (Total Death Match), dodgeball game, mining, freebuild, dogfight, sniper/warfare battle, challenge, medieval RPG, city RPG, family, school, arcade, artwork, or anything else you can imagine.  You can download add-ons from RTB for maps, weapons, vehicles, games, and more, and create your own add-ons using TorqueScript.

Lastly, the Minecraft community (so far) seems to be a more friendly, less hostile group than you typically find on Blockland, with its foul language and “EPIC FAIL, NOOB!!!”


There are some amazing numbers associated with this game.  According to Wikipedia, as of October 2010, Minecraft has had over 415,000 purchases – that’s over $6.25 million!  After a recent “free to play” event, there were over 25,000 sales within a 24 hour period (that’s $375,000 in downloads in 1 day!).  Minecraft Alpha is currently 9.95 Euros, which is around $15 – a 50% discount off the price when it goes to Beta.

Clearly Minecraft is HOT and worth checking out, but keep in mind the game has some serious issues.  If you pay, don’t necessarily expect to be able to play without issues and an always-available-server.  Alpha version multiplayer has a lot of glitches – it’s alpha version, so expect it to be rough around the edges.  Also, Minecraft was down most of the day yesterday, and the website was unavailable due to hackers/DDoS attack.

Minecraft has also received many positive reviews, and there is huge interest in this creative and fun game right now.  The best thing about Minecraft is the joy of creating (building and crafting), mining resources, staying alive through the night, and playing with other people.  I’d recommend this game for ages 10 and up.

Have you played Minecraft?  What did you like/not like about it?  If you haven’t played, check it out (the free version, anyway) and tell us what you think in the comments.

iPad Video reviews What's Hot

What’s Hot: Simon’s Cat in ‘The Box’

Got an iPad?  Need something cute to keep your little one entertained for a couple minutes?  Cat lover?  Check out Simon’s Cat in ‘The Box’, a witty line-art animated short, by Simon Tofield.  And watch, while, a curious cat investigates an empty cardboard box.

iPad Video reviews

Review: Komaneko

Got an iPhone, iPod Touch, Droid Incredible, or, best-thing-ever, an iPad?
Got a preschooler, or elementary school aged kid?
Need something entertaining to watch on YouTube?

If so, you’ve got to check out Komaneko, an adorable Japanese stop-motion animation.  Perfect for little ones, and captivating even for big kids and adults.

Komaneko is a cat, made in stop-motion animation, that likes to make stop-motion animation films and lives with her grandfather in their home near the mountains.  She crafts her own characters and backgrounds, and sometimes, when she’s not looking, her creations come to life.  Sweet, with an amazing level of detail, a lovely original music soundtrack, and a thorough dose of humor, Komaneko reflects innocence, patience, and persistence, along with the importance of friendship.  “Komaneko” itself is made up of “koma”, meaning frame of film, and “neko”, meaning cat.

Although the clips are Japanese, there is no real “talking”, just some meowing and easily understandable sounds, so they are appropriate for any language viewers.

According to AnimeNewsNetwork, Tsuneo Goda conceived Komaneko in a 2003 short “Komaneko Hajime no Ippo” (Komaneko: The First Step) for the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography with his Dwarf production studio.

A full length movie, Komaneko: The Curious Cat, comprised of a series of animated shorts, was next in 2006.

Komaneko: The Curious Cat

2006, color, 1 hour, Japan

Komachan is a kind-hearted kitten who lives with her grandfather in a small house on a hill, who spends her time designing film sets for her dolls and making stop-motion animations with them and her 8mm film camera. Over a series of five episodes, this adorable cat, a stop motion animation herself, makes short films, grudgingly befriends a radio repairman’s son, and cheerfully befriends a strange creature who may be the Abominable Snowman. “Komaneko’s overarching theme is friendship which, coupled with the pleasant background music, delightful designs, enjoyable stories, and endearing characters, makes Komaneko: The Curious Cat just about the nicest thing I’ve ever watched in my life. One viewing is enough to turn even a cynic like me into a happy trooper. Komaneko has no dialogue other than the occasional meowing so it’s accessible to viewers of all ages and language backgrounds. It’s great for kids, and for adults like me who need to be periodically reminded by a stuffed cat that the world is a good place after all.” (Editor’s Pick,

And just this past winter (December 2009) a new stop-motion animated feature film, Komaneko Christmas: The Lost Present, was released in Japan.

Although both movies have been released on DVD in Japan, there is no english version, yet.  Luckily, several of the animated shorts are available on YouTube, and are actually viewable on an iPad or mobile phone — often when we try to view a YouTube video on our iPad, it won’t work, it says “not formatted for iPad viewing”, and it’s frustrating to click on video after video looking for one to actually play. 

So, add Komaneko to your YouTube Favorite’s, and enjoy some sweet peace and quiet next time you’ve  got 10 minutes to wait with your little one.