Family-friendly apps that fit any budget

Family-friendly apps that fit any budget

In the waiting room? 
In line at the grocery store?
 
Kids fidgeting and you need to distract them, but they are tired of the current game selection on your iPhone and want something new to play. You don’t want to fill up your idevice with junk that you will never play…what’s a parent to do?  Don’t worry, AppAddict is here to help. 

We’ve scoured the app store to find some newer and interesting games that will not only appeal to children, but that parents would have fun playing too.  While there are loads of games out there that may fit into this category, we’ve focused on finding some games that you may not be aware of yet, or may have missed. Your options are varied, ranging from boardgames to racing games, puzzlers, to arcade games, and even a real world old-time classic children’s game.   Here are the fun titles that we discovered, starting with the $4.99 apps, working our way down to some 99 cent-ers.   Note that the prices on the App Store tend to fluctuate a bunch as devs take their games on and off sales.  So some of these titles have gone on and off (and even back on) sale during the writing of this feature.  We’ve done our best to indicate this, but some of these prices may no longer be correct.

$4.99

The Game of Life (EA Mobile)

gameoflife2EA successfully transforms its classic boardgame into a pint-size version that fits in the palm of your hand.  Using a blend of 2D and 3D graphics, EA has faithfully recreated the look and feel of this popular boardgame.  This mobile version of The Game of Life offers hours of fun for up to four players through a pass and play multiplayer experience.  There are some nice mechanisms included for speeding up gameplay when utilizing CPU opponents.  Using either the skip or fast-forward options, a single-player game with one CPU opponent can be completed in just 20-30 mins.

Any kid that has ever played the Game of Life knows hands down what the two best parts of the game are…”the wheel” and “the peg babies”.  We are happy to report that EA has done a fantastic job recreating a 3D version of that awesome Wheel of Fortune-like spinning wheel.  It’s controlled by either a swipe of the finger or a by gripping the raised part with two fingers and twisting, and comes complete with authentic clicking noises!  While you don’t actually get to place the peg babies in the car yourself, those androgynous little pink and blue buggers will be filling up your car in no time

gameoflife3EA’s assumption of people’s extreme familiarity with the game also leads to the few minor issues that may cause some confusion amongst players.  When a player comes to a fork in the road and must decide between something like taking the college path or the career path, or which is the safe path and which is the risky path, you really have no idea which is which on the game board.  We’d really like to see EA update the 2D map with some labels and this would go a long way toward mitigating this confusion.  The only other thing that EA really needs to address is the ability to set your own name for your playing piece.  The four canned names just aren’t cutting it for us, one would think a change like this would be fairly trivial and would take virtually no time to implement.

Let’s face it, EA’s mobile game prices tend to be on the higher end of things, but in this case, we think that $4.99 is actually a fair and reasonable price for this game.  This is especially true when you compare it to the $23 you’d have to shell out for the actual boardgame version.  The pass and play multiplayer mode of The Game of Life would be great for the kids to play in the back seat on a long car trip.

The Game of Life : Classic EditionBuy From App Store

Dirt Moto™ Racing (Resolution Interactive)

dirtmotoDirt Moto™ Racing, brings all the excitement of a console ATV trick racing game similar to PURE or Motorstorm to your iPod or iPod Touch.  Resolution really has packed a lot of features into this game.  Race your ATV as you compete in 8 different tours (ranging in difficulty level) across 4 different locations and 36 unique events.  Pull off amazing stunts for bonus points along with wheelies and powerslides to refill you boost meter.  Overall the game offers phenomenal graphics and sound effects and even includes 12 hard rock-style tracks to keep the adrenaline flowing.  If Hard Rock is not your thing, they you can also choose to listen to your own music instead, whilst still hearing the game’s sound effects.

Between the 8 tours, 21 Achievements, tuning of your ATV, customization of your rider, 121 medals and global leaderboard, there is a huge amount of unlock-able content to this game, easily warranting its $4.99 price tag.   There are 5 game modes including Race, Checkpoint, Sprint, Freestyle and Career.  The only real complaint we had about the game is that sometimes it can be a little confusing where you need to go to stay “on the track”, so you might find yourself driving out of bounds a little more often than you’d like.
Kids will love the sights, sounds and tricks they can pull off as they are racing around the track, while parents will really enjoy the core gameplay, ability to level-up your ATV and collect achievements.  Note that the game is currently on sale for just $2.99, and at that price its a bargain!  If you are still on the fence, a lite version is available.

Buy From App Store Buy From App Store

$3.99

Aqua Moto Racing (Resolution Interactive)

aquamotoAqua Moto Racing offers some of the same excitement of Dirt Moto Racing, but in the water.  This newer (and slightly cheaper) game will test your abilities to steer a Jet Ski around the racing course.  The graphics, especially the reflections in the water, are well rendered and add to the immersion of the game.  The tilt-to-steer controls are simple to master and are quite responsive.  Like its landlocked big brother, you have the ability to pull off a variety of six different stunts to help increase your boost meter.

Players can choose between three different locations in North America, Emerald Bay, the Everglades and Long Beach Port.  You start off with a stock jet ski and as you play more and win races, you will earn points which can be used to tuner your watercraft.  These attributes include Top Speed, Acceleration, Steering and Boost.  There are a total of 7 Championships which range in difficulty, spread across 18 different tracks.  There is a Time Trial mode in which players are awarded bronze, silver and gold medals, based on their times, and you have the ability to race against ghost riders from all around the world, to compete against the best of the best to capture and online World Ranking.

It is not always clear when your ability to boost has been recharged, but that is a minor issue, and younger kids may find themselves getting off course fairly easily if they don’t go the right way around the bouys or bank too wide. Otherwise gameplay was smooth and engaging.  A lite version of this game is also available, so we recommend checking that out to see if this game is for you.

Aqua Moto Racing LiteBuy From App Store Aqua Moto RacingBuy From App Store

Toy Bot Diaries Compilation (IUGO Mobile Entertainment Inc.)

toybotdiaresThe Toy Bot Diaries Compilation is a fantastic deal for any bargain shopper, since you are literally getting 3 games for the price of two (or one if consider that the individual titles originally sold for $4.99 each).  This collection combines all three of the original Toy Bot games into a single app, saving you valuable icon space on your idevice.  The Toy Bot games are fun platformer/puzzle games where you move around a tiny toy robot by tilting your device left or right, touch a metal object to launch Toy Bot’s magnetic grappling hook, to pull himself up to higher ground, or swing to another area.  In each level you must guide Toy Bot to find all of the missing Data Pads to help him restore his memory and piece together a big mystery.

The comic book style graphics with their hard dark edges are quite nice as are the game’s sound effects.  The in-game music that fits well with the theme of the game. You have the option of playing through any of the Toy Bot games, there is no need to complete one before attempting the next. This triple treat is sure to keep you and your child entertained for quite some time as you attempt to puzzle your way through each level.

Toy Bot Diaries CompilationBuy From App Store

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