Children love animals and for good reason. Pets teach responsibility, offer companionship and share a deep and loving bond with their kiddie owners. But not all of us are lucky enough to have animal companions in childhood. Ask my daughter what she wants for Christmas, and pat comes the answer – “A puppy!” In fact, a quick peek into any five year old’s bedroom will show you just how much real or imaginary animals figure in his life – in the toys, TV shows, storybooks, movies, music, clothes, décor and sometimes even the food he loves. That goes a long way towards explaining the spate of online and video games featuring animal characters and their immense popularity among kids.
So I decided to do a quick round-up of three cool games that revolve around furry, feathered or four-legged critters.
1. Animal Crossing: New Leaf 3DS
The fourth title in the Animal Crossing series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a highly rated life simulation game for the Nintendo 3DS console. Players control a character who has just moved into a new town populated by animals who speak and behave like human beings. Upon entering the town, you are mistaken for the town mayor by the villagers who hang on to your every word and are ready to do your bidding.
This gives you the power to pass laws and ordinances and plan the town’s layout. As mayor, you are in charge of planning public works projects and raise money to fund them. The townsfolk include the mayor’s canine personal assistant; a couple of alpacas who run a recycling shop, a skunk who works as a shoe accessory salesperson, among other eccentric and extremely lovable characters.
This highly customizable game has no levels or points; all you have is a huge variety of places and activities that you can personalize according to your taste. Design a garden or build a museum or chat with the neighbors or hang out at a café; you can shape the game according to your mood.
2. Penguins of Madagascar: Dibble Dash
If your child is excited about DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar, here’s a mobile game that offers a healthy learning environment along with a chance to play along with the hilarious penguin foursome we last saw in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The free-to-play penguin game released this month on Google Play and iOS and will soon be available on Facebook, Amazon and Windows.
Players help Skipper, Rico and Kowalski navigate a number of obstacles; protect them from Dr. Brine’s octopus accomplices, nimbly ducking the mutant-creating goo released by their foes. But rescuing is not your only job; you must restore them to their cute and quirky selves by solving math problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Playing the penguin game daily gets you special rewards and the privilege of sending in-game challenges to your friends.
Dibble Dash is an educational runner game but it’s so much fun, you’ll probably forget you’re doing math.
3. Animal Planet: Vet Collection for Nintendo DS
If your child dreams of becoming a vet, this interesting mini game collection by Animal Planet gives him a virtual taste of what it means to be an animal doctor. Players travel extensively across the world in their quest to become a great veterinary doctor, volunteer at pet clinics and treat a great variety of exotic as well as domestic animals in different settings. Players can choose from a wide range of memory games, puzzle games, matching games as well as action and dexterity games, all of which have different difficulty levels.
Virtual vets are allowed to utilize 60 kinds of procedures such as cleaning, bathing, medicating, operating and engaging in post-operative care to treat their animal patients. But best of all, you can interact with each of your patients after every successful procedure and make sure they are well taken care of.
And now, my little girl is demanding an animal-themed video game for Christmas!