Tag Archives: pokemon

Kids and Video Games: It’s All about Moderation, Quality, and Safety

There’s a lot of debate these days about kids and screen time. Since eliminating screen time altogether isn’t an option, it all comes down to three words: moderation, quality, and safety. Moderation, we’ll leave up to you. But here are three high-quality games and two tools that will help you ensure that your kids have the safest on-line experience possible.

 

Birthdays the Beginning

birthdays the beginningThis wonderful game is the brainchild of Yasuhiro Wada, creator of Harvest Moon, and to grasp what it’s like, imagine a combination of Minecraft, Sims, and evolution. There are two modes: Build and Macro. In Build mode, players create a world, with mountains, trees, valleys, statues, and so on. In Macro, you’re now in charge of time, temperature, climate, and life itself (there are more than 300 life forms, including plants, fuzzy mammals, and plenty of dinosaurs). As you move back and forth between the modes, you have a chance to see the intricate and delicate ways that the environment and everything in it affect each other. Too hot or too cold, your creatures could go extinct. Too many critters? They might run out of food. Available for PlayStation 4 and PC. http://www.birthdaysthebeginning.com/


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Figure This

Is your little one a cuddle monster—the kind of kid who falls asleep amid a pile of stuffed animals on the bed? If so, your child will love the plush toys we review this week. But wait, there’s more. We’ve got movie-themed characters and something to keep cuddle monsters entertained when you take them outside.

Nintendo Plush

nintendo character plushThese video-game themed toys have hit the trifecta: they’re cute, fun to play with, and encourage your child (and you) to act out scenes from his or her most beloved games. You’ll find just about any Nintendo character you can imagine—old ones, new ones, and even the most obscure ones—including Kirby, Mario, the coin box (really!), Koopa Troopa, Cat Toad, and regular Toad. Some make those well-known Nintendo game sounds like the coin bling and the Koopa Troopa “hit” sound. Prices vary, but most are under $10, and they’re available at any toy store.

Pokémon Collectibles

pokemon colectiblePokémon fans and collectors will love the new collectable Pokémon toys, which are being released to mark Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. Every month through December 2016, Nintendo will release one retailer-exclusive, Mythical Pokémon. These extremely rare plush figures will be 8-inches tall and made with a very special crushed velvet material. There will also be 2-inch pearlescent-finished figures that come with their own pearlescent-finished Poké Balls. The company will also release a number of limited-edition Pikachu products throughout the year, but you’ll have to move quickly because when they’re gone, that’s it! Visit http://tomycollections.com/ to see which Pokémon is being released in which month, and at which retailer. Prices will vary.

Precious Moments

precious moments plushThese plush toys may not have the same instant recognition and cachet as Nintendo’s, but they’re just as sweet and snuggly, and they’re made by Aurora World (which has created some of our very favorite stuffies). The new 17-piece Precious Baby line is perfect for even the smallest cuddle monsters, and includes a blanket puppet, wind up musical toys, plush rattles, toys that recite prayers (in either English or Spanish), and a number of traditional plush toys. Prices typically range from $12-24. Visit Aurora’s website, www.auroragift.com, to see their full line of baby items as well as stuffed animals for older children.

Zootopia figures (Tomy)

zootopia If your kids loved Zootopia (is there anyone who didn’t?), you can’t go wrong with these figures. There are plush toys, character sets, and more. There are even vehicles, like Nick’s convertible and Judy’s Police Cruiser, which has a little jail cell in the back. Characters some in sets of two, three, and more. Prices vary. Available at your favorite retailer or http://tomy.com/

 

 

 

Marvel’s The Avengers Big Wheel

Marvel’s The Avengers 16-Inch Big WheelWith summer here, you’ll probably want to be outdoors as much as possible. For some parents, getting the kids away from screens can be a challenge, but you’ll be able to remedy that situation by making going outside an event for the whole family. Grown-ups and big kids usually have bikes, but what about your little one—you know, the one with the short legs and less coordination? Well, a Big Wheels trike might be just the ticket—and it’ll be a fun blast from the past for mom and dad as well. With the new Marvel’s The Avengers Big Wheel, your kids can ride with their favorite superheroes. These Big Wheels are easy to assemble (even for non-techies) and they’re sturdy, so when your helmet-wearing Captain America wannabe decides to take on a tree, the Big Wheels will survive to ride another day. These new Big Wheels have a “Grow With Me” seat that can be positioned up to three times. Retails for about $60 at stores such as Amazon and Walmart.

Gentlemen—and Ladies—Start Your Consoles…

For many kids (and tweens, and teens, and—let’s face it—adults, too), gaming is a part of life. It can be a great way to unwind by yourself or (better yet) to log some major parent-child bonding time. As you put the finishing touches on this year’s Holiday lists, you may want to include a few of the following for your favorite gamers (or gamer wannabes).

wii deluxe bundleWii U Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Set Bundle (Nintendo)
Do you own a Wii U yet? If not, you won’t find a better way to start than with the Wii U Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Set Bundle, which includes the Mario Kart 8 and Nintendo Land games, an MK8 steering wheel, and, of course, the deluxe 32GB Wii U console, complete with a Mario-themed red Wii remote (or Wii-mote).
The Wii U is Nintendo’s sleek, new console, which has next-generation graphics that are comparable to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Images and textures are sharp, the sound is clear, and the characters look like they’re about ready to hop right off the screen to join you on the couch.

Speaking of screens, the Wii U GamePad controller, with its 6.2-inch touchscreen, is the star of the show. The GamePad has dual analog sticks, the usual buttons (A, B, X, Y, Home, Select, and more), as well as left- and right trigger buttons. Use it to control action on the TV screen or to access additional features such as in-game maps. Oh, and you can even use it as a TV remote control. If you’re just getting started, this bundle is a very good deal at $299.99. You’ll find it at your local retailer or http://happyholidays.nintendo.com

super smash bros.Super Smash Bros (Nintendo)
If you’re not ready for the Wii U or you just prefer to play on the 3DS, Super Smash Bros. is the way to go. This fighting game has a host of Nintendo and non-Nintendo characters who face off in multi-person, last-man-standing battles. Each character has different weapons, different speeds, different heights and weights, and different ways of attacking. That should make it pretty easy to decide who your favorite is—and who your arch-enemy is too. What’s especially nice about Smash Bros. is that there are just a few buttons, which makes it easy for players—even complete novices—to master their character fairly quickly. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is available now for $39.99 from all major retailers and the 3DS e-store.

pokemon art academyPokémon Art Academy (Nintendo)
For a somewhat less enervating gaming experience, take a look at Pokémon Art Academy, a Pokémon-themed version of Nintendo’s highly successful Art Academy. This one includes 40 lessons that will have anyone and everyone painting, sketching, and drawing the Pokémon characters you know and love. It starts with a stylus on the 3DS. But the Academy introduces kids (and their parents) to an incredible variety of media (including paint, pastel, pen, pencil, and a few others that don’t start with P), and teaches them skills and techniques that they’ll be able to use in real life and that go far beyond Pokémon. Pokémon Art Academy costs $30, and you can download it digitally or buy a hard copy at your favorite retailer or on the Art Academy website at http://artacademy.nintendo.com/pokemon/

Where Have All the Superheroes Gone?

In a word, everywhere (at least the little, plastic ones). If you’ve got a son, nephew, or superhero-loving child of either sex, you’ll find that there are tons of toys to go with movie blockbusters, TV shows, cartoons, and even a few just because.

marvel mashersMarvel Superhero Mashers (Hasbro)
Why is it that so many superheroes seem to have multiple personality disorders? They want to save the world, but they’re distraught and angry, filled with angst, feeling responsible and lonely, pushing people away, clinging to friends, and occasionally going off the rails (yes, we’re talking about you, Spiderman). Well, now you can make your own disjointed (literally) superheroes by mashing them up with other heroes and villains. Take the head of Iron Man, the body of Thor, the legs of Hulk, and the arms of Dr. Doom and you’ve got, well, we’re not sure. Prices range from $10 – $20 on http://www.hasbro.com or at your favorite toy retailer.

power rangers mega zordPower Rangers
Since they first appeared in 1992, Power Rangers have morphed through more incarnations than we can shake a stick at, if we were stick-shaking people. Two decades and nearly 100 Rangers later, the show is still going strong. The Power Rangers are an institution and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They’re still making movies and TV shows, and our children and their friends look forward to the new toys as much as we and our friends did a thousand years ago. So, what’s new in Power Rangers? Well, let’s start with the Legacy Megazord who’s celebrating 20 years of helping the Power Rangers saving the world. This latest Megazord has all the original details from the first toy, but beefs up the durability factor by using die cast metal pieces. The Megazord comes with a Ranger Key that can be used to open its chest. Good for collectors and fans of the current show alike. The Mystic Dragon Zord and Green Ranger set is also inspired by past seasons, and connects to other parts of the Zord Builder collection. Any four-inch figure or Power Ranger Key can work with the Dragon Zord. And the Legacy Megazord and Mystic Dragon Zord can be used together. Roughly $35 and $16, respectively, depending on where you buy them.

pokemon figuresPokemon (TOMY)
While we’re on the subject of toys (and TV shows) that have been around forever, does anyone (or everyone) out there remember Pokemon? Ash and his lovable companion Pikachu have been fascinating kids for a while now on several continents, and the latest versions (inspired by the hit Nintendo video games) are Pokemon X and Y. This generation of Pokemon lets you go head to head with the older Pokemon you have already “caught” as well as the newest ones, like Chespin and Fennekin. Kids (and their adult wranglers) learn at an early age that you’ve “Gotta Catch “em Al.”, And considering that they cost about $8 for a two-pack, that won’t be too hard. Each two pack contains two two-inch figures and two “Attack Tags” for game play. http://tomy.com

captain american winter soldierCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (Hasbro)
With the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie recently coming out, kids want to act out the adventures (or perhaps misadventures) of Steve Rogers and the unfortunate Bucky Barnes at home. Hasbro has a line of 3.75 inch action figures to go along with the movie, complete with weapons, feature motions, and of course the famous shield. These figures are quite articulated and have weapons that fire actual projectiles. Additional accessories are sold separately. There are six figures in this line, $10 each. http://www.hasbro.com

Game On!

Looking to connect with the kids in a virtual way, but still keep a foot in the “real world”? Check out these fun systems and games, perfect for rainy days, nights, or just hangin’ out.

OUYA
ouyaThis sleek, new, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean-powered micro-console started life as a Kickstarter campaign, got funded quickly, and hasn’t looked back since. There are more than 400 games available for OUYA, ranging from racing, to role-play, to action—every one of which you can try for free, which means never having to shell out good money for a not-so-good game. Some games stay free after the trial period, others you’ll have to buy. Aside from taking a long time for the initial setup, OUYA works flawlessly, and its open-source platform makes it easy to upgrade and add on later. Comes with a one Bluetooth wireless controller. Additional controllers (sold separately) are easy to pair to the console. $99.00. OUYA.tv

Nintendo 2DS
nintendo 2dsFrom the name, one might think that the 2DS would have preceded the 3DS, but it’s actually Nintendo’s latest and greatest handheld console. The new 2DS has dispensed with the 3DS’s hinge, which makes it harder to break. And its slight wedge shape gives it a tablet-like look and feel. The 2DS can play most DS games, all 3DS games (minus the 3D effect), including Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. So if you’re a first-timer and are looking to jump into handhelds, this is a high-entertainment-value, relatively inexpensive way to go. Comes with an SD card, wall adapter, stylus, AR cards, and access to the Nintendo eShop. $129.99. nintendo.com

Pokemon
pokemon x and yPokemon have been around since 1996, and they seem to get better—and more popular—every year. The new Pokemon X and Pokemon Y keep the familiar role-play elements, leveling up, vast territory to explore, grand story line, and the fun of collecting cute little critters. But now there are more battles, more evolution, and tons more features. Start by picking a gender and then one of three starter Pokemon: Chespin (grass type), Fennekin (fire type), or Froakie (water type). As the game progresses, you’ll battle other trainers and Pokemon. For younger kids or those who just want to skip the battles and go right to the roleplaying, this is a series of mini-games, where players interact directly with the Pokemon—petting, giving treats and playing with them. Available in the 3DS/2DS shop for about $39.99. nintendo.com

Skylanders Swap Force
skylanders swap forceThe Skylanders are invading again, but this time they’re coming apart at the seams. Skylanders Swap Force is the newest Skylanders game and the main feature is that you can create your own characters by swapping the tops and bottoms of existing ones. For example, if one of your characters has an arm cannon and tire feet but you’d rather have the tentacle feet from another character, you can make the switch. Small magnets keep the tops and bottoms of the new figures together during play, but easily pull apart whenever you want. Combining characteristics and creating new characters opens up new areas in the game. The 16 Swap Force characters create 250 combinations, 16 new Core characters, 8 LightCore characters, and more. And not to worry, all your old ones—including Giants—will work with Swap Force.  $74.99 for starter packs, $14.99 for SWAP Force figures, and $9.99 for Core figures. skylanders.com

A final note: As we move into the Holiday season, be sure to check the Entertainment Software Rating Board (esrb.org) for reliable, bias-free ratings and game reviews.