Computer Games & Game Systems - Older Discussions

Archived Q&A and Reviews

see also: DS/GameBoy

Software for 4-6 years

August 1999

Cool Software recommendations: We'd be grateful for any recommendations for Windows-compatible software for a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister. They've enjoyed the Jump Start series, the Fisher-Price Castle (actually a little too challenging) and a few Dr. Suesses. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks Deborah

Any of the Humongous software, Putt-Putt, Freddie Fish, Pajama Sam and Spy Fox are very good and well loved. (Those are listed as easiest to most difficult). Math Blaster, Tonka, Arthur's Reading Race are also good. Haven't tried reading blaster yet. Linda

My 4 year old daughter also very much enjoyed the Jumpstart series. We have a ton of software and the only other ones that have kept her interest are the Putt-Putt and Freddie Fish series. They are both similar in that they have a main character that goes on somewhat of a treasure hunt to collect items that are needed in order to 'Save the Zoo Animals' or 'Save Putt-Putt's dog'. The items get used as the character navigates around different scenes in the game. The content is very age appropriate for 4 to 6 year olds, no violence. They are challenging and spark some creative thinking in terms of linking the items collected with how they'll be used in the adventure. Kathy

My 4 year old son is in love with Tonka Construction. (He much prefers it to any of the Jump Start etc. programs.) I have also seen Tonka Garage at the store but haven't dared buy it. From my perspective some of the parts of the program are difficult to maneuver- but he doesn't seem to mind. There are several construction sites for them to build on or do repair work. There is also a garage where they can build /repair their own heavy equipment; as well as a section that tells all about each truck/machine. Ellen

My 6.5 year old is fond of the Humongous Games: Especially Freddie Fish, Pajama Sam and Putt Putt. The Humongous games don't crash much and seem to be technically sound, unlike the Tonka one we got recently which seems to crash all the time, especially after you build a truck for a while. He doesn't much like the Living Books, which my three year old does: Not enough activities, I think. One game he was totally enchanted with for a while was The Smelly Mystery... He played it a lot. Now he seems to like the shock wave games on the web more. My three year old seems to really like Learn and Grow with me Elmo (she refers to it as her software)

We have the Jump Start Series, but the sound is a little wierd on Windows NT, which is what the faster machine we have runs, but I expect most people don't run into that (very few games run on NT, actually) Ben thinks the Jump Start Series are less fun than work, but YMMV. Myriam

Software for 9 year old

To the person looking for software for 9 y/o girl: I just got my 8 3/4 twin boys ClueFinders from The Learning Company and they love it! It's set up to grow with them which is really nice. The program actually gives them a skills test when they start, so they start where they are comfortable and move ahead as they go. It is very math and verbal oriented. It was $29.99, with $15.00 mail in rebate so the actual price is closer to $15.00 if you mail in the rebate. --Good luck. I got it at Toy R Us.

My children have enjoyed Treasure Math Storm a lot. Don't know if it's advanced enough for your daughter. My daughter (now 12) also has enjoyed playing Oregon Trail.

When my son was younger, he's 17 now, he loved a software product call The Incredible Machine. Now, I loved it too, so I don't see why a girl would not enjoy it. It is very entertaining, and really sharpens kids critical and analytical thinking skills. It requires that one figures out how to solve various puzzles using things such as magnets, balloons, arrows, candles, etc. It is (was) published by a company called Sierra. Last time we looked (which has been awhile), there at least 3 versions of the game out there: The Incredible Machine, More Incredible Machine, and The even more Incredible Machine. I believe I found them at Borders Bookstore (they were hard to find), however with online shopping so convenient I am sure that they will be easy to find.

Software for 12 year old

Nov 1999

Can anyone recommend a computer game/softward that is fun and entertaining for a 12 year-old girl? Thanks!

Cal Alive: Exploring Biodiversity is a really great educational title that 12 year olds enjoy. It was created right here on campus by UCB professors. Another great title is Bean There, Grown That where kids grow beans while learning about biology and ecology. A good site to check out about children's software is This site reviews thousands of titles. A great place to buy children's software is at MicroKidz, on Telegraph Avenue (near Ashby). They have hundreds of children's software titles, many which you can't find anywhere else.

Software for 12 year old. Try Amazon Trail (my favorite), which teaches geography of South America, some history, and exposes the kids to another culture. Also try Oregon Trail.

My kids both enjoy the Dr. Brain series. It has a zany sense of humor and the puzzles are challenging and somewhere in between a game and a serious learning experience.

Shareware Games

From: Jane (Feb 1998)

My kids still talk about Word Rescue, a shareware game we had on an old 286 that died years ago. It's still available on the internet, at and other places.

From: Ginger (Feb 1998)

Bear Bytes in the student union building has (or did a year ago) sharware games for $5 apiece - all sorts of things and cheap enough so you don't have to pick a winner everytime. I think most of them are vintage enough to run on a 286.

Nintendo vs. Playstation

Oct 1998

Howdy-- My six year old son wants either a nintendo or a sony play station for Christmas. Does anyone have any preferences between the two, or any recommendations for more thoughtful games for either? Michael

My son Evan who is now 11 did some extensive research into both 64 bit game systems, and changed his mind several times. He has had N64 for about a year now and loves it. Here's why:

Bottom line, Nintendo has fewer, but much better games, but is more expensive at about $70 per game. Diddi-Kong Racing is a great game, which even I have played and enjoyed, though with much less skill than my son:-)

Play Station has many more games at about $20 each. But my son says he really looked around, at FunCo Land and asked his friends, and could only find one game he really wanted.

He just bought (reserved a month ahead), the new Zelda 64 game. For this he has a T-shirt and will get a limited edition gold cartridge when the game comes out. The whole family played Zelda (8bit) years ago when it came out. The new one looks better of course. I assume the game and the world will change also. Evan has downloaded four sample movies from the internet.

Whatever you get, enjoy! --and be prepared to set time limits:-) If the game is on the TV in the den, you can get your kids to stop playing by watching YOUR favorite shows. --Bob