He already has the twitch reflexes of a five year old
March 1, 2008 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Are there any FPS-type games other than the early levels of Portal which would be appropriate for my 5-year old?

My 5-year old saw my wife and I playing Portal, the puzzle-type FPS game made by Vault (who put out the Half Life series of games). On a lark, we let him loose on the first few levels, and he really liked them. By level 10 or so, the puzzles get too abstract for him and he gets frustrated, though.

We don't want to introduce him to military-type shooters (although we're fine with cartoon violence, really). The headcrabs and zombies in HL2 would definitely give him nightmares.

Are there any age-appropriate games that are sort of like the first few levels of Portal?
posted by QuantumMeruit to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a little old now, but Nerf Arena Blast is way fun. Sorta like Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament with Nerf guns.
posted by christiaan at 1:58 PM on March 1, 2008

Valve also has Team Fortress 2, which came with Portal. It is much more cartoon-y than say, the Counter Strike series. Other than it's cartoon appearance, I'm sure very few game developers plan to create FPS games for such young children.
posted by lain at 1:59 PM on March 1, 2008

It's Valve, not Vault, but that's a minor point.

I do believe that Nerf put out a game. In fact, I just looked it up and it turns out I didn't just make that up on the spot - it's called Nerf: Arena Blast and in the two seconds I looked into it, I got the impression that a) it's aimed at kids and b) it may not suck.
posted by kbanas at 2:00 PM on March 1, 2008

Damn you, christiaan!
posted by kbanas at 2:00 PM on March 1, 2008

There's also ChexQuest, which is Doom (I think?) reskinned to be sorta kid-friendly. May or may not meet your standards, but I think Wikipedia has screenshots. It's abandonware, so you'd have to find it online somewhere, although I think there might be a fan reimplementation. The one obvious downside is that it's old-school, so it's a lot simpler (graphics, physics, gameplay, et al) than Portal and Half-Life.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:09 PM on March 1, 2008

Seconding Chex Quest.
posted by Korou at 2:29 PM on March 1, 2008

Narbacular Drop was made by the same guys that did Portal, before they got hired by Valve. In fact it is the reason they were hired to do Portal in the first place.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2008

Garry's Mod! It's more sandbox play than shooting, but even just driving the vehicles around the sample level can be fun.
posted by hjo3 at 2:38 PM on March 1, 2008

Toy Commander, for Dreamcast, was the ultimate FPS in a more cartoony mode, but I don't think they have a PC version, even in Mame, and that sucks, because it was the best family-playing game ever. Why didn't anyone make a sequel of that game?!
posted by misha at 2:52 PM on March 1, 2008

The Green Army Men series are probably good - FPS from the POV of a plastic army man.
posted by COD at 2:53 PM on March 1, 2008

Team Fortress 2 is a blast, but while cartoony, it can be really gory. Flying gibs are pretty much a constant.
posted by Phatty Lumpkin at 3:09 PM on March 1, 2008

Lego Star Wars? Not a FPS, but still a kid-friendly shooter.

Also Toblo is a very cute, cool, *free* kid-friendly game. Run around picking up pieces of scenery and throw them at your opponents. I think it has a sandbox mode too.
posted by so_necessary at 3:32 PM on March 1, 2008

JohnvalJohn's son here. Being a teenager, and playing far too many fps games, I figured I could probably come up with a few thoughts. First, being an FPS game, first-person-shooter, it's generally hard to find games aimed more towards kids such as five year olds, Portal being an exception only because it's mainly classified as a puzzle game.

I would second Team-fortress not being a good idea, as there are flying body parts almost constantly, and it will occasionally even point out what body parts they are after you die.

I would second the Army Men series, like Sarge's Heroes on Nintendo 64, specifically because there is no blood and gore. While it may be marginally 'violent', the worst you see is small pieces of plastic flying, and some melting. It's a lot more fun and a lot less violent.

In the end, though this may be a let-down, there really aren't any. By definition, these games are violent, and as they all involve killing, none are really appropriate for such a young age.
posted by johnvaljohn at 3:49 PM on March 1, 2008

Seconding Lego Star Wars. Not an FPS, but if he can figure out Portal, he can figure out Lego Star Wars, and Lego Star Wars II (which is by far the better of the two) has the added advantages of being (a) available for every system known to man; (b) hilarious for adults but totally appropriate for kids (things break into bricks instead of "dying"); and (c) an absolutely fabulous game. In fact, LSW II on the PSP is arguably the best game on the system -- certainly the most fun I ever had with it. Buy it for you and let him play it.
posted by The Bellman at 4:38 PM on March 1, 2008

Ken's Labyrinth was a DOS title from 1993, but has been updated to Win32 and Linux. As long as your son's not afraid of spiders, he'll be fine.

If you have an extra machine with Windows 95 or 98, there's the Carnivores series; it was a variation of the Deer Hunter series, and involved dinosaurs on an alien planet. There was no gore involved, though the dinosaurs would charge (or even eat) your characters, which would result in a third-person view of your character being knocked like a ragdoll.

The Nanosaur series also focused on a prehistoric theme. It was originally included with the CRT iMacs, but has a Windows port that's XP compatible.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:42 PM on March 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

oh, just in case you happen to not click the link for Narbacular Drop, It's basically the same game as Portal, but with an 'escape from a dungeon' theme, instead of 'escape from a secret lab'.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:53 PM on March 1, 2008

Katamari Damacy comes up pretty much anytime someone puts "kid" and "video game" in an AskMe, but I think it's worth mentioning again here because like Portal, problem solving is important if you want to do well. And even though there's no real S, it is FP. Lego Star Wars is the other way around -- S without FP -- and it's being recommended because it's incredibly fun and kid friendly at the same time. I totally nth.

You might want to also look through GamerDad for ideas.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:27 PM on March 1, 2008

If you can find an old copy, there's Descent. It's a first-person shooter with spaceships instead of people/aliens/zombies/whatever. You fly a ship and destroy bad robot ships, occasionally rescuing hostages.

Not exactly a kids game, but all of the violence involves robots and spaceships.

It's 3D, so it might be as confusing as Portal, though.
posted by mmoncur at 9:44 PM on March 1, 2008

Whatevering Lego Star Wars. It's an absolutely stellar series. And it's on everything. Obviously you have a PC, so that would definitely do.
posted by SlyBevel at 10:23 PM on March 1, 2008

There aren't a lot of fps type games that are going to be kid friendly. I know I started out on the Mario games as a kid, and those really are classics.

I would not recommend Descent. I only played it a little, but it was very challenging and being able to move in any direction can get bewildering quite fast. Chex Quest would be fine, but it's looking very dated these days.

The only one that comes to mind is a version of Myst they made called Real Myst where you can wander around the island and worlds like it's a fps. But the puzzles in that game are still going to be too hard for a couple of years, and the two brothers trapped in the books are legitimately creepy.

If you moved back one gaming generation, you'll hit games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro that Dragon that are very kid friendly, if challenging. Another avenue to pursue is to check what Nickelodian and Disney are doing as I'm sure both of them would like to tap into the fps market.
posted by CheshireCat at 8:01 AM on March 2, 2008

Thanks, all, for all of the suggestions. We will definitely be checking out many of these. I downloaded Narbacular Drop yesterday but the kid had some trouble orienting himself (I think it has to do with the way the ceiling tiles look too similar to the walls), and some of the other quirks made it frustrating.

We also dusted off our old CDs of Myst and we'll be trying to get those loaded on our current box.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 11:42 AM on March 3, 2008

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