Like many families, we take a lot of long trips by car: 21 hour drives to see the grandparents, eight hour trips to the see the pandas at the zoo, five hour trips to go camping. I can remember the first year we travelled with a DVD player in the car. It was like night and day compared to previous trips, so much easier. When the kids got old enough, as in able to read on their own, we started having them bring their handheld gaming systems, and it was even better. Between movies, games, books, and watching the world fly by out their windows, the kids gave us some pretty peaceful car rides. Their dad and I are usually able to have a book on tape going in the front, or music depending on our mood, and the kids entertain themselves peacefully in the back. Sometimes if they are playing a cooperative game, I will break out my 3DS and join them. Now that’s fun. If you like video games, I definitely recommend that.
Our road trip games are required to be low frustration, high engagement, and mentally challenging. I’ve pulled together a list of games that fit this criteria. Personally, I recommend 3DS games over Vita because the library of games for the 3DS is bigger and the possibility for cooperative play is greater, but a few Vita games are included at the end. Video games that are better for older kids are starred.
Here’s a round-up of our favorite:
Brain Teaser/Puzzle Games:
- Crazy Machines
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
- Professor Layton and the Curious Village
- Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
- Scribblenauts Unlimited
- Scribblenauts Unmasked
Time Management/Town Management/Farming Games:
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf
- Ever Oasis (as well as Adventure)
- Story of Seasons
- Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns
- Heroes of Ruin*
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate*
- Monster Hunter Generations*
- The Legend of Zelda: TriForce Heroes
- Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.*
- Fire Emblem: Awakening*
- Fire Emblem: Birthright*
- Fire Emblem: Conquest*
- Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia*
- Hyrule Warriors: Legends
Role Playing Games:
- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
- Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3D*
- Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash
- Ever Oasis (as well as Town Management)
- Kid Icarus: Uprising
- Kirby: Planet Robobot
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
- Mario and Luigi: Dream Team
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
- Pokémon Sun/Moon
- Pokémon X/Y
- Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (Digital Download)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Season (Digital Download)
- Yoshi’s New Island
- Broken Age
- Final Fantasy X*
- The Sly Collection
There are three kinds of games I definitely do not recommend for road trips. The following game styles do not lend themselves to playing in a car. I have listed out the series names for these exclusions.
Competition Games: While I make exceptions to the no competition rule at home, there are no exceptions on a car trip. Feelings can easily get hurt and there is nowhere for frustration to go when you’re stuck in a car.
- Mario Kart
- Super Smash Bros.
Motion Games: No one wants a kid to get car sick. We avoid all games that include gyroscope motion play (tilting the game system) and fast in-game motion.
- Gravity Rush (Vita)
- Katamari (Vita)
- Metroid Prime Federation Force
- Rollercoaster Tycoon
- Star Fox
- Tearaway (Vita)
Drawing Games: It is simply too difficult to draw with a stylus on a screen on any kind of road surface. Too many bumps, too much frustration.
Road Trip Gear
The last thing to consider is the gear each kid will need:
- Extra Stylus
- Car Charger
If there are any games not listed here that you are curious about or any other questions that you have, leave a comment and I will let you know what we think. I hope that your road trips are filled with fun!