Are your kids absolutely crazy about space?
Space-themed games could pique their interest and let them explore genre-specific themes. But where do you start?
The good news is, there are way too many space games for me to name them all! The bad news is, well, the same. But don’t let the huge market intimidate you. Here’s a selection of awesome space games to pass on to your kids.
FTL: Faster Than Light
Genre: RTS | Age: E10+ | Platform: PC, Mac
FTL puts the player in charge of a spaceship on an important mission—relaying crucial information to the Galactic Federation. As the ship races across dangerous sectors of space, players control the crew members. They will need to conserve resources, repair parts of the ship, and take down enemies. It’s an intense, crazy-fun strategy game that is hard to beat, and requires a lot of logic and perseverance.
Star Fox 64 3D
Genre: Scrolling shooter | Age: E10+ | Platform: Nintendo 3DS
In Star Fox 64 3D the player controls Fox’s ship, dodging projectiles and shooting down enemy ships. There’s not much more to this game; Fox and his team are trying to stop a mad scientist from destroying the solar system. This same scientist is responsible for Fox’s father’s death years before. The game has incredible replay value; players can fly different routes, find more power-ups, blow up more enemies, etc. Most importantly you get to fly a sweet spaceship and do a barrel roll—what more do you need?
Genre: Multiplayer space simulation | Age: T | Platform: PC, Mac
This one is for older teens only, and only if you’re okay with them interacting with others online. EVE is the ultimate in space simulations. The player starts out as a nobody in galactic space, with only a small ship of their own. Players can build up skills and money by interacting with the complex economic system. Some are traders, some are pirates, some mine minerals on distant planets. It’s all up to the player. EVE is complicated and detail-oriented and it’s a must for more mature, strategic players.
Genre: Multiplayer first-person shooter | Age: T | Platform: PC
For teens looking for online play and fast-paced combat, Hawken is a great choice. Players control customizable mechs and battle each other in teams on a desolate planet. It’s made even more tempting by the fact that it’s free to play, and you can download it right now. Hawken allows you to get new mechs, items, and weapons through in-game purchasing—but you can also access cool new stuff by leveling up. As with any online game, other players might use inappropriate language so this one is best left for more mature teens.
Super Mario Galaxy
Genre: Platformer | Age: E | Platform: Wii
If you want to join in on the space fun, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are solid choices. In these games Mario travels from galaxy to galaxy to rescue—who else?—Princess Peach. The games feature cool physics (gravity lets Mario run upside down on the surface of the planets he visits) and classic Mario platforming puzzles. These games are fluffy fun, but can also introduce younger players to concepts like black holes, supernovas, and even singularity.
Genre: Turn-based strategy | Age: T | Platform: PC, Mac
Endless Space is a game of taking over the galaxy. As in Civilization, the player takes charge of an empire and builds it up through conquest, clever diplomacy, scientific advances, and more. Players manage resources and relationships with other empires—you can play against the computer or other people. There’s a lot to do in this game, from building up military force, to discovering new ways to travel between solar systems, to keeping your empire happy with appropriate taxation. If you’re looking for a thoughtful marriage of strategy and space, this is it.
Genre: Puzzle | Age: E10+ | Platform: PC, Mac, Android
This little puzzle game has players hopping from planet to planet and repairing circuits in various reactors. They then combine atoms and molecules to create chemical compounds. It’s a great exercise for logic and problem-solving, or anyone interested in chemistry. It’s probably a bit too complex for younger kids, but this is one you and your teens could brainstorm over together. It’s also touted as an educational game, and the website even provides a guide for educators interested in using it in the classroom.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Genre: Action |Age: T | Platform: PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Mac
What would space games be without Star Wars? The Force Unleashed strings together the new trilogy and the old—it takes place between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.” The player controls Darth Vader’s apprentice in a dramatic and immersive storyline. Teens can really get lost in this one, and if they’ve somehow missed out on the Star Wars saga (or worse, have only seen the new movies) this is a great way to introduce them.
Metroid: Other M
Genre: Action-adventure | Age: T | Platform: Wii
The latest in the long tradition of Samus-led Metroid games, Other M has Samus and a group of soldiers exploring a derelict spaceship and having conflicts with hostile aliens. The storyline features alien life forms, androids, and scientists creating dangerous artificial intelligence—classic sci-fi themes that can get teens thinking about the complicated morals of designing artificial life and what happens when emotions get involved. Other M also features a female hero in Samus; a rare but awesome occurrence.
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Genre: Action-adventure | Age: E10+ | Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Wii
So your kids love Star Wars, but they’re not quite ready for a T-rated game? The Complete Saga contains Lego Star Wars and Lego Star Wars II, both immensely popular with kids. The two games follow all six movies; the player gets to play as classic Star Wars characters, using the Force, lightsabers, and more to defeat enemies and gather Lego studs. The action is cartoonish, adorable, and addictive. Even better, you can join in the fun in two-player mode.