Xbox 360 games for the retired and slightly arthritic?
November 30, 2009 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Inexplicably, my sixty-six year old father has just bought an Xbox 360. What games could I buy for it that my parents would enjoy?

I suspect that this purchase may have been motivated by his love of Tiger Woods PGA Tour that he once spent hours and hours engaged with but which they have now stopped making for the PC. He now has his beloved golf game, but I would like to buy him (and my mother) another game or two for Christmas. I do not play games of any flavour though and know nothing about them or what's available.

The main point for consideration is that my parents are both in their sixties and while my father in particular enjoys fiddling with new gadgets they'll get frustrated if they can't make something work quickly. Tiger Woods type of complexity is fine because it's slow and no in-game baddie is going to come along and take your head off with a chainsaw if you don't remember how make that putt quickly enough. But anything that requires you to press X five times to the tune of Carmina Burana while touching your toes in order to make the character jump onto something is out because even if they remember how it works they simply don't have the dexterity and it'll get discarded quickly. Years ago my mother could spend days playing the original Doom with just the arrow keys and spacebar but could not cope with performing the simplest actions in Doom 3 as the controls and the various elements had become so overwhelmingly vast and complicated.

Any genre is good, with the exception of any Guitar Hero type music making thing (dexterity again but more importantly, because all music made after 1960 is the work of Satan apparently) and preferably those they can play alone rather than together. Or maybe there are games designed for children that therefore have simple gameplay mechanisms but which are engaging and of a high enough level to hold an adult's attention too?
posted by Acarpous to Shopping (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It may be pertinent to spend time with them and introduce them to Xbox Live Arcade. There are tons of games from old-school classics to standard puzzle games. Purchase price for the games is much lower than standard retail games (using Microsoft points) and they can try demos before they buy.

First to mind.. Peggle.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:22 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here is a current list of all Arcade games, and it shows the genres.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:24 AM on November 30, 2009

Maybe the 'Lego Star Wars or Lego Indiana Jones games? They're pretty simple and ridiculously fun. I think there are like 2 buttons involved.
posted by GilloD at 5:27 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd second the suggestion of XBLA, you could buy them a Gold membership card and some Microsoft Points to make it an actual, physical gift.
posted by lucidium at 5:32 AM on November 30, 2009

I believe they can purchase Arcade games without a gold account, but they will need one if they want to play games against/with people online.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:39 AM on November 30, 2009

Beautiful Katamari! It's pretty hard to go wrong with a Katamari game.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:40 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

Ditto the XBLA- there are plenty of puzzle-style games (Braid comes to mind) that he'll likely enjoy.

Also: Civilization Revolution
posted by mkultra at 5:42 AM on November 30, 2009

Carcassonne is a great boardgame with a decent Xbox Live Arcade version. There's also Catan and Ticket To Ride but as far as I know they don't allow local multiplayer (i.e. more than one person playing on the same Xbox) like Carcassonne does.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:44 AM on November 30, 2009

They might enjoy Viva Pinata - visually, it's stunning and the gameplay is more similar to a Nintendo-type game. In the Arcade, get them to check out Monkey Island! My husband and I had a giggle playing this yesterday, as it's wonderfully low-fi but quite funny.
posted by ukdanae at 5:56 AM on November 30, 2009

Looks like there's a version of Tetris for it! Everybody (well, most people) loves Tetris.
posted by amtho at 5:56 AM on November 30, 2009

There is a version of Katamari Damacy for the XBox. Simple fun game-play, involving no buttons.
posted by whiskeyspider at 6:01 AM on November 30, 2009

Definitely XBLA. The Secret of Monkey Island should be a big hit, and the Sam and Max episodes are hilarious.
posted by valkyryn at 6:02 AM on November 30, 2009

If he enjoys mental puzzles and mysteries I believe some of the Myst games were ported to the Xbox.
posted by aught at 6:04 AM on November 30, 2009

He knows he can play mp3s and divx/xvd/etc media through the usb on it right? Make him a usb full of his favourite shows or other free stuff from etc. I believe you can also hook up to Netflix in the states.
posted by Iteki at 6:11 AM on November 30, 2009

Best answer: A non-game recommendation: Netflix Streaming on the Xbox 360 is a killer app. Requires Gold Subscription and Netflix, though.

As mentioned above, Xbox Live Arcade is a relatively inexpensive way to expose them to a wide variety of game types. Best of all, all Xbox Live games have a free demo so they can try without buying. Here's a few Xbox Live Arcade Games that I feel have a low barrier to entry and yet offer rewarding (and addictive) experiences:

1) 3D Ultra Mini-Golf - a no-brainer after the Tiger Woods purchase. Minigolf on courses impossible to build in real life. Multiplayer so they can play together.

2) A Kingdom for Keflings - there are two gateway drugs for the non-gamer: the puzzle game and the world-building game (think Sim City). Kingdom for Keflings offers both, wrapped up in an adorable and non-confrontational package. There are no enemies, no fail states, and no pressure to do anything at a pace you aren't comfortable with. The basic idea: you're a giant helping a race of miniature people build their city. You're managing everything (pick up this little guy, tell him to chop wood while tell the other little guy to start farming). It grows in complexity as you achieve more but it's always at your own pace and the only thing driving you to do anything is your own desire to do it. Multiplayer as well. (Civilization Revolution has been recommended a bunch and although it's one of the most addictive games I've ever played, it's very complex and demands a certain familiarity with the type of game it is. Start with Keflings and work your way up.)

3) Carcassone, Ticket to Ride - Nerd boardgames brought to life on Xbox. Both are very fun, not particularly complex, and have local multiplayer so they can play against each other. Settlers of Catan is a great game and wonderful to have on Xbox Live but unfortunately it's online multiplayer only so only one person can play at a time on the same XBox.

4) Monopoly, Hasbro Family Game Night - Traditional boardgames brought to life on Xbox. The former is actually a full retail game that can now be downloaded that costs a whopping $30 and the latter is a collection of classic board games (Connect Four, Sorry, etc.) that can be bought through Xbox Live Arcade. Both require other people to really get any enjoyment out of, but like above, you get the enjoyment of the games without having to set up or clean up.

5) 1 vs. 100 - 1 vs. 100 is free with a Gold Subscription and is an actual live gameshow hosted by Xbox 360. It's a trivia game based on the TV show that can be played against thousands of other people every night of the week. A couple nights a week it turns into an actual gameshow with a host and real prizes.

6) Peggle, Hexic HD, Jewel Quest, Puzzle Quest - Puzzle games are crack for gamer and non-gamer alike. Peggle is deceptively simple (think Plinko on the Price is Right) and has a positive reinforcement setup that's unrivaled in gaming. Hexic HD, Jewel Quest and Puzzle Quest are all variations on the "Match 3 of the same" puzzle games (like Bejeweled, which you may have heard of) with their own enjoyable twists. If there's a sure thing out of anything I've listed, it's any of these.

7) Scene It! - This has to be bought at retail. It's a full-on competitive gameshow (four buzzers are packed in with the game) that's centered around movies.
posted by unsupervised at 6:30 AM on November 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

My wife HATES video games and she adored Puzzle Quest. Seconding that one.
posted by GilloD at 6:39 AM on November 30, 2009

I would not recommend Katamari -- while it is relatively simple, it's timed and requires fairly quick pushing and pulling of the left and right stick to get it big enough in the time limit. Then, when you don't make it big enough in time, you get a lecture from the King of All Cosmos. It is fun making your Katamari big enough to pick up people, elephants, and buses though :). There is a demo for Katamari -- so you can try before you buy. For that matter, there are demos available for most games -- not just the Arcade games, but also the games that are out on disc.

I would recommend an Xbox Live Gold subscription -- with it you can stream movies and TV shows from Netflix as well as music from I have dropped my $60/month cable TV subscription for a $10/month Netflix basic sub. The selection of shows is limited, but diverse enough for me.
posted by elmay at 6:42 AM on November 30, 2009

Puzzle Quest
Bejeweled 2
Civilization Revolution
Carcassone & Catan
Netflix of course, but also Last.FM - which should have music from pre-1960. Keep in mind that you have to pay for Netflix on top of your Gold subscription
posted by mattholomew at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2009

Seconding Carcassone (more so than Catan). The board games are expensive, xbox is a better alternative.
posted by variella at 8:25 AM on November 30, 2009

If they like cards, there are some XBLA card games they'd probably enjoy, including Hardwood Hearts and Hardwood Spades.
posted by box at 9:03 AM on November 30, 2009

Williams Pinball Hall of Fame, for sure. Controls are far from complex, and the tables are faithful reproductions of classics from the 70s through the 90s. My gf and I love it.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 3:47 PM on November 30, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all your suggestions!

I asked my father if the Xbox was connected to the internet and he said "we have the cables and we're waiting for you to come up at Christmas to do it" (!).

So I think I'll go with the Microsoft points. Thanks again!
posted by Acarpous at 2:57 AM on December 7, 2009

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