PC games for a 4 year-old?


#1

My 4 year-old nephew is currently visiting for 2 weeks. What are some PC games (educational or otherwise) that would catch his interest?

He has played and likes older games like Pac-Man, but gets easily frustrated because he can’t always react quickly enough to outrun the ghosts, so I’m looking for things where quick reaction times and game over screens are minimal.

He loves cars, so I set him down in the practice mode on Rocket League last night and he had a blast driving on walls and jumping around.

And when I loaded up Dirt 3 for him so he could look at the cars, he had a great time with Gymkhana and less so with actual races.

He also liked the practice mode on Tekken 7 because it allowed him to button mash and see cool stuff happen. In arcade mode, he manages to win pretty consistently on easy, but he gets bored after 3-4 matches.


#2

You can’t go wrong with the Lego games. Just pick a franchise he likes and let the coop fun begin!


#3

Sonic & All-Stars Racing is a decent kart racer on steam. Sounds like he is more into admiring cars than racing them, though. It does have split screen so you could play together. Maybe that would ease his frustration.


#4

My nephew just turned 5 in December. When he comes over he likes to play Tracks: The Train Set Game. He’s no good at building levels, so you might have to build some yourself and make sure there are enough branching paths for him to go loop around in.

He also just does flips and stuff in Rocket League without really paying attention to the ball.

He seemed to like Sonic The Hedgehog when he was here over the holidays, but I had him playing the original, and he’d get a game over after about 15 minutes and ask to play something else.

He seems to like Lego Harry Potter on ipad.

He likes to play Super Mega Baseball but he just throws the ball at the batter’s head.


#5

I second the lego recommendations, though they can be frustratingly obtuse, even for adults. Every kid is different, so try lots of different stuff. 4-year-olds are full of surprises. Mine doesn’t really care about cars, but has a bizarre fascination with retro/pixel art games, so Shovel Knight was a surprise hit last year. He also likes anything with a character creator… he’s spent countless hours customizing Skylanders in the free Imaginators app on iOS.

I don’t know what your patience is like, but my son’s favorite thing to play with me over the last few months has been Cuphead. It’s really put my skills to the test playing that co-op with him, trying to keep him alive as long as possible and beating all the bosses with increased health. He doesn’t get frustrated when he dies as he seems to enjoy watching what comes next just as much. YMMV.


#6

I had a number of those Humongous Entertainment games when I was around that age. Maybe he’d like the Putt-Putt series in particular.


#7

Quoted for truth. I really want to enjoy these games with my son (7) but have found a lot of them to be game-breaking buggy and/or stocked with build-the-mystery-object puzzles that are rage-inducingly obtuse. (Lego Force Awakens, I’m looking at you hard on both counts.)

Whew, there, I said it.

On the positive side, when he was about the same age, my kiddo loved Kerbal Space Program. The controls are a little tricky for a young kid, so he mostly directed the rocket building and launching while I steered.


#8

Bayonetta of course


#9

Yeah, Put-Put seems like a slam-dunk for a kid who loves cars.


#10

Ugh, and Lego Force Awakens had those poorly thought-out cover shooting sections, too. The recently released Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 finally added in a feature where if you need a character to perform a specific ability on an object, it not only tells you which character, but also how to do it if you click the left stick. I can’t believe it’s taken over a decade of these damn games for them to finally put something like that in.


#11

My daughter is six but I started playing some games with her when she was around that age.

General suggestions -

  • Anything that doesn’t require precision to interact with. Most of our games were on iPads or phones and the bigger the hit interface the better. She would get frustrated really quickly if she couldn’t find the hitbox.

  • As much interaction as possible. One of our favorite games when she was five was Hidden Folks. It’s basically an interactive Where’s Waldo, where you can play out these little scenes that play out when you touch people. it’s good fun.

  • Surprisingly, games like Burrito Bison have been a big hit! You don’t have to do much and there’s lots of stuff on screen. I think kids like to watch stuff in motion, you know?

  • Recently she’s been way into Animal Crossing, but she can read and likes to play by herself but she also previously liked to watch me play Stardew Valley, specifically to talk to all the kids and learn about them.

  • Minecraft! Kids fecking love Minecraft and even if they struggle with the controls they love moving around the world. It can also be surprisingly collaborative.
    “What do you want to build?”
    “A house!”
    [build house]
    “No, a BRICK house!”
    [build brick house]
    “With YELLOW AND PINK CARPET!”
    [brick house yellow and green-]
    "PUT A COW IN THERE!"
    You get the idea.

  • Abzu and Flower are both excellent for kids. There’s not penalty for playing poorly and the constant screen pretties keep them engaged.

We tried to play a Lego game but it was actually really frustrating. The objectives at any given time are super obtuse. If there’s one you have already played and loved, then definitely play it together but I wouldn’t recommend it if it’s not one you aren’t already familiar.


#12

While waiting for them to be picked up and taken to after school clubs I sometimes let the 5 year olds I work with play on my switch, where they all unanimously were into Sonic Mania. It was fun watching them get to the point where they could beat the first boss, swapping the controller around. Shovel Knight I found took a bit of explaining and not all of them could get a grasp of the idea of holding down in midair, they could just about manage moving at jumping. Those were the only games I’d let them on that are on PC though.

And obvs Minecraft, yeah. Don’t know a single kid in this damn school that doesn’t know more about that game than I do.


#13

There is seriously some kind of Minecraft-child-mind meld where they can play it for all of thirty minutes and be experts. It’s really astonishing.


#14

Lots of solid videogame-ass video games so far, so I’ll throw down something a bit more low key: Windosill (free first half, store links can be found by clicking the up-arrow). It’s a really neat click-and-something-happens game with a bunch of interactive vignettes. Although Windosill is a bit simpler, it’s reminiscent of Amanita Design and their adventure games, which are also totally worth exploring. I love Machinarium, but Botanicula is way more upbeat and the pacing might be friendlier for kids. The Samorost series is also super fun, but generally weirder, I think.


#15

@Navster I hadn’t considered the Lego games. He loves Spiderman, so I could definitely get him the Lego Marvel game.


@Crocosmia You’re right. He says he likes racing, but what he really likes is crashing into other cars. He got a kick of watching bumpers and doors break off in Dirt 3. I should pull up a video of Sonic & All-Stars Racing for him and see if he likes what he sees.


@mosespippy I had a similar experience with my nephew and Portal Bridge Connector. He’s no good at building levels, but likes to direct me and click the click the button to watch the ways the bridges fail.


@EmuPrime I pulled up Cuphead for him last night, and I gotta say Vinny from Giant Bomb is a saint for playing with his son Max. My nephew (and me too) had a lot more fun when I found a trainer and turned on invincibility.


@AlexLW, @Quartz_Movement I had almost forgotten about Putt-Putt! I grew up on these too. He liked a video I showed him of Putt-Putt, but he has trouble using a mouse in other games and doesn’t like it when people try to help him as he’s struggling.


@Homemade_Pizza He’d probably like Kerbal because he loves seeing the cars fly straight up like rockets.


@VulpesAbsurda Scrolling through my library, the Doom marine caught his eye. I firmly told him no, but a part of me was curious to see how he’d do.


@Gary_of_Nivea He liked Burrito Bison at first, but got bored fast, so a lot of interactivity is definitely a must.

He loved A Hat in Time because of the number of things he could do in the world: jumping into mud and water, going down slides, smacking enemies, collecting gems. He was surprisingly good at the platforming once he got the hang of it. It made me think he’d like stumbling around in Grow.

Hidden Folks might give he trouble since he can’t do precision stuff with a mouse, though. But Minecraft he would totally love, and I had completely forgotten about it.


@CaptainMorton Seeing how much he moves the controller around in the air makes me think he’d love the motion controls on the Switch. He’d have a blast with something like Odyssey.

As for Shovel Knight, he probably wouldn’t like it without invincibility enabled. But he adores pixel graphics.


#16

I don’t know why it took this long for me to remember Burnout Paradise is on Steam. Can’t imagine he’d do much with the actual racing, but he can just drive around the city and hit the self-destruct whenever he wants.


#17

That’ll be perfect for him and it’s already in my library. I don’t know how I missed that one!


#18

Windosil is my rec since it’s sort of a toy box that naturally progresses as you just interact with all the toys and it gives you great feedback.

Everything might also be fun since you can just kind of roll around and play in the sandbox in a similar vein.


#19

It isn’t on PC per se, eh hem, but Kirby All-Stars is a the PERFECT co-op game to play with a youngin. They can move around the world and not die, contribute in a meaningful way, and also enjoy the colorful world.


#20

@siegarettes, @Gary_of_Nivea Thanks for the additional suggestions!