Consoles to consider for your child

Consoles To Consider For Your Child

See reviews of games consoles currently available with advice on the age they’re appropriate for, what online activities they allow, and the types of games that can be played on them.

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is the latest console that plays Mario and Zelda games. It’s unique because when plugged into its dock you can play on the TV. When removed from the dock it works as a stand-alone portable gaming device.

That means you can play the same games on the remote screen when out and about as on your TV. The Joy-Con controllers are also detachable, so two children can play games at the same time without additional accessories.

It plays all the important games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and FIFA, although it doesn’t have Call of Duty games or Roblox. It’s also the best way to play Mario Kart and Zelda games. There is also a growing library of affordable indie games that are great fun for families.

It costs around £280 without a game.

The parent controls on the Switch are excellent and use a separate app for iOS and Android to adjust the options. This makes it really easy to keep track of how your child is playing. Also, there is no internet browser, and playing games with others online is restricted to approved friends only.

There is a newer version of the Nintendo Switch that is a little cheaper and only offers portable play. The Nintendo Switch Lite costs £199 but can’t be connected to a television. It will play all the Switch games but is harder to use with other people. If your child is mainly going to play away from a big screen or on the go, this is a good option. Click here for a step-by-step guide to setting up parental controls on the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo 2DS / 3DS

Nintendo has been making its 3DS series of handheld games consoles for more than six years. You can access this huge library of games with a wide range of hardware. The original 3DS, the new 3DS the 3DS XL all feature a 3D display that doesn’t need glasses. The original 2DS, new 2DS, and 2DS XL play all the 3DS games but don’t offer a special 3D screen. The games look the same, although they don’t pop off the screen quite so much.

The 2DS XL is the final version of the handheld that you will see most often in-store. With many 1,000s of compatible games already available – many of which are heavily discounted – the 2DS XL is the finest portable games console of its generation.

It costs around £130.

There are online capabilities of the 2DS XL – much like the 3DS variants before it – but as with the Switch, the parental controls are excellent. You can restrict online purchases and internet browsing to age-specific guidelines and PIN protects the content you don’t wish your child to access.

Xbox One S / Xbox One X

Although there is now a more advanced version in the 4K-enabled Xbox One X, the One S is a great option for the budget-conscious family who wants an all-around entertainment machine. It plays games in up to Full HD (1080p) but can also be used as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

And with many entertainment apps, including Netflix and Amazon Video, it works as a smart streaming device too. There are also 1000s of games available for Xbox One and you can also play hundreds of older Xbox 360 games on the console too, which is great for those looking to upgrade.

It is available for around £230.

As with any connected device, the Xbox One S gives access to the internet and online apps. Many of the games are also playable online, so you need to supervise when children are playing them to ensure they do so safely. Thankfully, there are also plenty of parental controls to restrict access to online activities and age-inappropriate games.

It also has a novel dual-control feature so that two people can control the same game. This is ideal for taking the frustration very young players can have while learning a game. It’s also a fun way to collaborate on more advanced experiences for all ages.

Xbox Series X|S

The latest version of the Xbox is released this year: the Xbox Series X|S. There are two versions of this console. The Xbox Series S is £249 and offers a slightly less impressive visual experience, but still plays all the new Xbox games. It doesn’t include a disc drive so you have to buy games digitally. The Xbox Series X is £449 and offers a high-end experience with the best visuals. It also provides a disc drive if you wish to use games from discs.

The Xbox Series X|S supports most of the old Xbox One games. You can also save money by using the older Xbox One controllers that are compatible with the new system. Also if you have a large library of Xbox One discs you will need to purchase the Xbox Series X console with the drive to be able to access them.

When you have decided which version to purchase it is important to note that the cheaper model only offers 500GB of storage. Expanding this to match the 1GB of the Series X will make the overall price similar.

You can also take advantage of the Xbox Game Pass subscription that provides 100’s of the latest games on a monthly subscription (12 months cost £49.99). This avoids the expensive additional outlay of purchasing individual games and expands the breadth of experiences you are likely to play in the family.

PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 4 Pro

There are two versions of the PlayStation 4 available today, a standard model and a PS4 Pro, with 4K graphics and more power under the hood. However, all PS4 games will run on either machine and look great no matter which version you opt for.

As with the Xbox One, you get apps for streaming videos, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, but this console is more geared for gaming than all-around entertainment. It is also the biggest-selling console in the world right now, so games support is mighty.

You can get one for around £230.

There are two versions of the PlayStation 4 available today, a standard model and a PS4 Pro, with 4K graphics and more power under the hood. However, all PS4 games will run on either machine and look great no matter which version you opt for.

The PlayStation has a range of “PlayLink” games for families that you can play with a Smartphone as a controller. This means that 6 people can play together without needing to purchase lots of controllers. They are also really varied in how they’re played. Using the touchscreen, camera, and tilt controls make for some unique family gaming experiences not possible on other systems.


PlayStation 5

This year also sees the release of the PlayStation 5. There are two versions of the PS5, although unlike the Xbox they both offer the same graphical performance. The main difference is that the cheaper model (£359) only runs games digitally. The model with a Blu-Ray drive costs £449.

Although you can use the old PlayStation 4 controllers to play older games on the PS5, to play the new games you need to use the new Dual Sense controller. It’s important to factor in the cost of additional controllers for the family when making your decision.

The PlayStation 5 will run the majority of PlayStation 4 games. It’s worth noting that if you have a large library of PlayStation 4 discs you will need to purchase the Blu-Ray version of the PlayStation 5 to access them.

You can also subscribe to PlayStation Plus to access a range of games each month, or PlayStation Now that enables you to play and download even more PlayStation games on a variety of other devices via a game-streaming feature.

Gaming PC

A growing popular way to play video games for youngsters is with a gaming PC. This is a computer that has a dedicated graphics card to run the visuals of games. Players then use a mouse and keyboard or gamepad to control the action.

A gaming PC can be an affordable way to play games and grants access to a very wide array of experiences through online game stores like Steam and Epic that are not available on consoles. It’s worth noting that these stores don’t enforce PEGI ratings in the same way as the console stores.

There’s a more recent trend in younger players wanting to build a custom PC for gaming. This arises from seeing game stream celebrities have big self-build computers. This can be a good project for a family to work on together, however, it should be noted that this is technical work, and if a component doesn’t work or isn’t compatible you will need considerable time, patience, and expertise to solve problems.

Before you seriously consider investing in a gaming PC, you should ask your child which specific games this will enable them to play. You can check this list of PC and console exclusive games. It may well be that they could get the same experience (and same game) on a console. This will likely be cheaper and a lot less time-consuming to set up.

Nintendo Classic Mini / SNES Classic Mini

The original Super Nintendo (SNES) original came out in the UK in 1992, so many parents have fond memories of it. Nintendo understands that yearning for retro thrills and has, therefore, re-released a smaller, modern reworking of the original console.

It contains 21 classic games from the 90s, including Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Star Fox, and comes with two controllers modeled on the originals. If you want your kids to experience the same great games you remember, you can’t get much better than this.

It is priced at £70.

These are all-in-one units with no access to the internet. The games are included and locked to the machine, so you cannot add any more. However, this also comes with the safety of knowing that a child will not encounter any untoward behavior. Multiplayer is still available through good, old-fashioned, same-room two-player action. Great for all the family.

There is also a more basic Nintendo Classic Mini Entertainment System that provides games from the previous generation of Nintendo hardware. This is a little cheaper, but because of its age, the games can be hard for very young players to master.

Sony PlayStation Classic Console

This is a re-release of the original 1994 PlayStation console in miniature form. It comes preloaded with 20 of the best PlayStation games, including Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash!, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, and Wild Arms.

You can plug it straight into a screen with the included HDMI cable. It also incorporates a virtual memory card so you can save your adventures as you switch between games. Two controllers are included in the box as well which makes it a cost-effective way to access some great classics.

It is priced £89.99

Although the box states PEGI 18 because of the games included, there are plenty of titles that the whole family can enjoy. It’s just worth ensuring that younger children don’t stray onto the other games.

Tags: , , , , ,