If you have children, then you’ll be relieved to hear that the best PS4 games for kids are, in some cases, also the best PS4 games for teens and adults. While plenty of kids’ games are simple shovelware, designed to distract young minds without rewarding them, there are also a few real gems.
The Tom’s Guide staff has rounded up 10 of our very favorite PS4 games for kids — and we promise that we would gladly sit down and play any one of these ourselves.
Most of the games on this list are platformers, since the “mascot platformer” has been a kid-friendly favorite ever since Super Mario hopped his way across the Mushroom Kingdom back in 1985. But if your child prefers racing games, interactive sandboxes or open-world adventures, we’ve got them covered as well.
If none of these titles pique their interest, there’s always the Family & Kids section in the PlayStation Store. Just be aware that some of those games are real clunkers.
1. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
If you grew up playing Crash Bandicoot games on PlayStation, you’ll be happy to learn that your kids can now do the same on the PS4. (You may also be shocked by the fast and relentless passage of time, so fair warning.) The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy gathers the first three games in the series in a single collection, adding improved graphics and smoother performance.
While the games can be pretty difficult, they’re also bright, colorful and good-natured. They may also give your child a slight edge in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, since Crash crops up in a memorable level of that game.
2. Hot Wheels Unleashed
Kids love racing games; kids also love die-cast cars. Hot Wheels Unleashed combines these two venerable pastimes with a fast-paced arcade racer that can get surprisingly deep. You can race against other toy cars; you can build up your skills in a single-player campaign mode; you can test your speed in time trials; you can even build your own levels, thanks to a robust track editor.
Hot Wheels Unleashed has 60 playable cars, and since it’s based on a real toy line, some of your child’s favorites might be present. With split-screen multiplayer, parents can also take the wheel.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Marvel’s Spider-Man is cheating a bit, since the game is rated T and definitely has an older audience in mind. However, if you don’t mind some mild violence and language, Spider-Man is probably fine for tweens as well.
Even more so than the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, Spider-Man on PS4 captures the true essence of the character, forcing him to make tough moral choices while protecting the city he loves. The web-slinging feels absolutely perfect, from the daring leaps to the speedy dives, and the combat offers difficulty options to suit every skill level.
Minecraft is a game that needs no introduction. If your child loves commandeering your phone to build their own blocky utopia, think how much happier they’ll be when they have a whole big screen to explore. (And how much happier you’ll be to have your device back.)
For those who have never tried it, Minecraft is a creative simulation game in which players explore a pixelated fantasy world, forage for resources, and use what they find to build spectacular structures. It’s sort of like a digital version of playing with Legos — if you could use Legos to build life-size castles.
5. New Super Lucky’s Tale
There’s nothing more wholesome than a good old-fashioned cartoon platformer, and that’s exactly what New Super Lucky’s Tale is. You play as a caped fox named Lucky who journeys across a colorful fantasy world to protect the powerful book of Ages from an evildoer called Jinx.
New Super Lucky’s Tale boasts a ton of variety, with both 2D and 3D levels, and a variety of puzzles to solve. The best part of New Super Lucky’s Tale, however, is that it’s simply a good game with a length and difficulty well-suited to its young target audience.
6. Lego DC Super-Villains
Lego DC Super-Villains is one of the newer licensed Lego adventures, but really, you could choose almost any Lego game for this slot. There are Lego games that cover Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Avengers and plenty of other popular franchises.
Nevertheless, there is something delightfully sinister about Lego DC Super-Villains, which lets you teach the do-gooders a lesson for a change. You play as the Joker, Lex Luthor, Cheetah and other fan-favorite baddies as they square off against the Justice League in a surprisingly good original story. Like most Lego games, this one is co-op, so you and your child can play together.
7. Ratchet & Clank (2016)
Ratchet & Clank (2016) isn’t just one of the best PS4 games for kids; it’s one of the best PS4 games, period. This reboot of Insomniac’s classic franchise tied into the ill-fated movie of the same name, but don’t hold that against it.
Whereas the Ratchet & Clank movie felt ponderous and predictable, the Ratchet & Clank game had plenty of time to let the story breathe, as well as a variety of enthralling worlds to explore and rewarding gadgets to collect. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself starting your own save file, though; the game has a bit of risqué humor that young children may not fully grok.
8. Sackboy: A Big Adventure
LittleBigPlanet has been a family-friendly mainstay since the PS3 era, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure is its latest entry. You take control of the titular adventurer as he makes his way across a series of 3D platforming challenges.
There’s a simple story, but that’s not really the draw. Instead, Sackboy: A Big Adventure relies on creative and memorable visuals to get its point across. Everything in the game looks like it came out of a colorful crafts store. Up to four players can work in tandem to make their way through each tricky level, which is good news for siblings who like to play together.
9. Sonic Colors Ultimate
Sonic the Hedgehog has been a mainstay in kids’ games since the ‘90s, but not every Sonic game is created equal. In fact, most of them are downright forgettable (to put it politely). Sonic Colors Ultimate, however, generally nails the balance between speedy side-scrolling and more open-ended 3D environments.
This time around, recurring nemesis Dr. Robotnik has built a dastardly amusement park, which Sonic must survive, tackling a series of tough bosses along the way. There aren’t too many surprises here for longtime Sonic fans, but it should entice younger players who may not have experienced the Blue Blur’s antics before.
10. SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated
For the record, SpongeBob Squarepants was a little after my time. That’s why I was impressed when I went hands-on with SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated and found it to be a perfectly good platformer on its own merits. If your kids like SpongeBob to begin with, then it’s probably an even better experience.
In this 3D action game, you take control of the titular sponge, who leaps around various levels, collecting trinkets and fighting off simple foes and the occasional boss. If you played this one back in the day, you’ll be pleased to know it’s still fun.