Beyond Angry Birds: More App Games Your Kids Will Love

Filed under: Opinions, Apps

At this week's BAFTA Video Game Awards (that's the British Academy of Film and Television Arts), the trophy for best hand-held game went to "Cut the Rope," an iPhone app.

It was a first. And it goes a long way toward showing what a phenomenon app games have become. So, if the only app game you've ever heard of is "Angry Birds," it's time to get get familiar with some of the better and more popular titles, beginning with this week's big award winner.

Cut the Rope (Chillingo, $.99–$1.99)
The goal of the game is ridiculously simple: Feed candy to a little monster named Om Nom that you receive in the mail. But Om Nom's treats are always suspended from a tangled web of ropes above the critter's head. You need to -- here it comes -- cut the ropes in just the right way, so that the little sweets land right in Om Nom's waiting maw. It's not nearly as simple as it sounds. The realistic physics are where the game really shines -- these ropes swing and sway just the way they would in the offline world. It's addictive and, one can argue, educational. Play it and you'll see why it won.

Fruit Ninja (Halfbrick Studios, $.99–$2.99)
You are the deadly assassin. Your finger, your sword. Your enemy? Fruit. The joy of this insanely frenetic game comes from the visceral thrill of slashing away at flying pineapples, watermelons and kiwis. Slice them in half -- or in quarters if you're fast enough -- and watch the juices splatter as the pieces scatter. You can't miss any, though (nor can you accidentally hit one of the bombs that are often thrown in among the fruit), or it's game over. It may sound like a one-trick pomegranate, but it's a wildly good time. And if you need a bit more variety, Halfbrick also publishes "Veggie Ninja."

Plants vs. Zombies (PopCap Games, $2.99–$6.99)
If you've heard some kid talking about this goofily-premised game, you may have assumed they were misspeaking. But no, it really is about flowers and shrubbery fending off hordes of the invading undead. While it may sound silly at first, the wit and ingenuity of the game becomes apparent as soon as you start playing. As the zombies slowly shuffle (or on later levels, frantically run) toward your home, you need to plant seeds along their paths -- seeds that will sprout all sorts of botanic defenses, think literal "pea" shooters and "cherry" bombs. Since it is a monster horror game, there is a bit of violence (zombies may lose a limb or a head here or there), but it's all being perpetrated by produce, which certainly makes it less horrifying.

Land-a-Panda (Big Pixel Studios, $.99–$1.99)
OK, "Land-a-Panda" is a relatively new app, not a proven commodity like the others on this list. But everything about it makes it feel like its going to spend a long time sitting next to these others at the top of the app charts. It's adorable, for one thing -- the game's mission has you trying to reunite two lovelorn pandas, all within a bright, colorful game world. It's got easy-to-pick-up controls (basically all you need to do is tap a cannon to launch your panda out of it, and occasionally rotate the cannon to aim it), but deceptively challenging game play (as you blast your round beastie from cannon to cannon, the path you choose is key). And it's got a catchy title. Will "Land-a-Panda" be as big as "Angry Birds"? Who knows? But the potential for a hit is definitely there.

Angry Birds (ClickGamer, $.99–$4.99)
Speaking of miffed avians, even if you've heard the occasional reference to "Angry Birds," you may not really be familiar with it. So here's a primer: Evil green pigs have stolen the eggs from some birds; the birds, as one might expect, get angry. They seek revenge by launching themselves at their enemies with a giant slingshot. Why they need the slingshot -- since they are birds, and should ostensibly be able to fly -- no one knows. But it proves to be a solid weapon for them, as the pigs are hiding away in very shoddily constructed fortresses made of sticks (perhaps they're related to the Second Little Pig?). Knock down the structures and flatten the pigs to win. It's ridiculously entertaining. And generally inoffensive in terms of kid-friendliness. The ball-shaped pigs get a bit bruised and battered along the way, but it never even reaches Looney Tunes-level violence.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.