Toys are getting a lot smarter these days. Games like Disney Infinity and Skylanders use near-field communication so that your toys can store game save data.
Toys-to-life games are just the surface of “smart toys” though. This week we looked at some of the new ways interactive technology is being made for kids–from robots that you can control with a smart phone, to wearable smart watches. My favorite is the Ubooly, a plush toy that you put a smart phone into. The plushy cushions your phone and a free app will talk to your kid–it will simulate sounds and ask them to imagine that they’re on an adventure, help them learn foreign languages, the list goes on.
There’s more than that out there, and if you’d like to take a look at some the other weird and wonderful smart toys, check out that article.
Nintendo is also getting in on the smart toy movement, with its Amiibo figurines. These plastic figurines have a chip in the base that stores character information. You’ll see recognizable faces like Mario and Donkey Kong, along with recent favorites like the Villager from Animal Crossing and even the Wii Fit Trainer.
So how do you use them? The Amiibos aren’t tied to one game like the Skylanders or Disney Infinity characters. So far you don’t play as them, but you can fight with them and level them up in the new Super Smash Brothers, or use them to unlock costumes in Mario Kart 8. We’ll wait and see how they integrate into upcoming Nintendo games, but so far it seems like they might be more “toy” than “smart toy.” For more on smart toys, check out our in-depth write-up.
If you like challenging puzzle games, Tetrobot and Co. is an adorable must-have. This E-rated game is available for PC and Wii U. You play as an engineer named Maya and it’s your job to arrange blocks and flips switches to repair the Tetrobot that she’s building. Tetrobot and Co. is complex and satisfying to solve–give it a try if puzzles are your thing.
Two big M-rated games that kids will be asking after this month are Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity.
The Master Chief collection is a remastering of the main games in the Halo series. Halo is the quintessential first-person shooter. It’s still wildly popular more than ten years after the first game was released. It’s definitely violent–I mean, “shooter” pretty much sums it up. But most people agree that it’s not as bad as some other M-rated games. Halo has a complex sprawling universe that also features books and comics. And if teenagers are playing it cooperatively, they’ll be practicing teamwork and communication—so that’s something to think about. Read the review on the site.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is a little more intense–as an Assassin you can shoot people, but you can also stab them in the neck if that’s more your speed. Or get them to stab their friends in the neck. The choice is yours!
This sci-fi historical adventure game puts you in Paris during the French Revolution. The story is a little complicated, and the gameplay, like the rest of the Assassin’s Creed games, varies in quality. But the graphics are gorgeous and the characters are irresistably charming. That being said, this one earns its M rating with violence and sexual references to boot. Read the review to learn more.
That wraps up this week! Make sure to subscribe to our news channel to keep on top of next week’s news.