You're going to need another family iPhone or iPad
Updated: Original list by Matt Thrower, Updated by Jupiter Hadley on April 29th, 2021.
We created the list of best family games for iPhone and iPad that are suitable for kids, and can even be educations in a way. Enjoy!
Unless you're being constructed out of pure money, the chances are you won't have more than one or two iOS devices in your household.
So, if you then have children, you're hit with a double whammy.
In the first instance, you won't be able to afford multiple mobiles any longer. In the second instance, your offspring will be swiping your expensive toys off you to jab them with their sticky fingers almost as soon as they're old enough to form a fist.
Modern parenting being what it is, you're now encouraged to tolerate this behaviour rather than use your adult strength and size to just swipe it straight back. And who knows: if you let them get away with it, you might just be helping to raise a new generation of gamers.
Rather than try to 'beat' your kids at gaming, then, why not try to join them with our suggested family games for iPhone that young and old alike can enjoy. Possibly even play them together... if you've got the patience.
There are terrible nights when I dream of a terrible melody that drives all who hear it to madness and despair and I wake, bathed in sweat, screaming: "la, la-la-la-laaa, la-la-la-laaaa la!"
It's the theme of Toca Band, an extraordinary conglomeration of living instruments with which you can experiment and re-arrange to your liking. Each one has its own unique solo of which you can take control and play on top of the ensemble. It's a virtually limitless musical box with which even the most tone-deaf are guaranteed to be able to create sweet music.
The trouble is that to work this magic of harmony, all the instruments have to play a variation on the same tune. Which, for all the variations you can conjure, will stamp itself on your unconscious like a tyrannical conductor. There is no escape.
From the title alone, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a children's game about sneezing. But it is, in fact, a daring cooperative adventure where all the family collect clues to try and deduce which castle inhabitant stole the magic ring that protects the kingdom before an evil wizard comes to steal it.
So much for a novel plot. But while clearly aimed at younger players, this is a surprisingly fun fantasy foray for young and old alike, thanks to variable difficulty settings and a nice range of achievements. Its cooperative nature avoids squabbles over who won. And with basic strategy and memory elements, it's educational, too.
It's based on a board game. But where the original had a clunky electronic gizmo in the middle of the board that buzzed and farted in a weak attempt to make the game more atmospheric, this adaptation makes good use of the transition to digital through nice animations, sound effects, and a touchscreen-based mini-game.
I really wanted to focus on hidden gems in this list. But when, in an attempt at real, in-depth journalistic research, Matt asked both his kids and his wife what their favourite iPad game was, they chorused "Cut the Rope!" And then begged me to include it.
It's not hard to see why. It's endearing, inoffensive, and super-easy to learn yet has a difficulty range that can challenge more seasoned puzzle fans. And for the smallest, well, Om Nom is cute enough to make watching the little - ahem - cutscenes an entertaining treat all by itself.
So, while we're not going to be pawing at any of the other glaring candidates for this rundown, for HIS family at least Cut the Rope is the undisputed king of casual family games for iPhones and iPads. And I doubt they are the only ones.
Roblox is a gaming platform full of hundreds of games that you can play, along with your kids. You'll need a few different devices, as it's one person per device - but you can join them from your computer, your Xbox, and any other forms of technology you have, really. There are tons of other children on the platform and I am sure that once you hand them the game, they will find a bunch of favourites to bring you into.
From delivering pizzas to starting full-on wars to collecting bees or even farming, there is something for everyone, and your child can have the freedom to pick whatever game they want. Roblox works to make sure that all of the games on their platform are checked and appropriate, so if you do want to leave the game with them, you don't have to worry about what they might end up tapping. It may even deserve its own article, but we think that Roblox really belongs on our list of best family games for iPhone and iPad, as well as the other platforms.
Marble Mixer is a spin on the game marbles, which I am sure nobody really remembers anymore. You and your family can all surround your device, flinging marbles from your zone into the map, trying to knock them into areas for points. Your kids can hit your marbles, moving them, and you can watch the world come to life.
These levels that you roll your marbles into are really colourful, quirky and fun, which brings a new life to the game of marbles, and it's quite fun once you get into the game.
Ticket to Ride is a digital adaptation of the board game of the same name. The aim is to be the quickest player to link up all of your cities and reach your assigned destinations. Best of all, it's a game that's easy to understand so can be enjoyed by all ages.
There are a host of different tactics you can deploy to try and block off other players or take over important routes before they can. This gives Ticket to Ride a tonne of replay value since you can try out a different approach each time. Best of all, the game supports local multiplayer, meaning you can easily play with your kids without much setup required.
I'm not going to apologise for putting two Toca Boca games on this list. It's the crème de la crème of children's app developers. And just like all the best stuff that's made for kids, its titles always have a little something for the adults, too.
Toca Hair Salon Me is the latest in a long line of hairdressing titles where you wash, dye, style, and accessorise hair to your heart's content. A fun activity? Yes. A game? Not really. So, why include it?
The answer is that it employs an ingenious piece of technology that wraps photos around the head of the styling model and animates the mouth and nose.
This is amusingly bizarre enough when you use pictures of friends and family. But there's nothing to stop grown-ups from using photos of plants, masonry, or stills from monster movies. The results are hilarious and horrific in equal measure.
Heads Up! is a family game for iPhone that is often played in our household. The concept is pretty simple - your family chooses a category, then one person holds a phone to their head, revealing a word to everyone else. They need to give hints as to what the word is, quickly, as a timer ticks down. Once the person gets the word, they can dip their head and be presented with another one.
There are tons of different, child-friendly categories in the app, from animals to the colour green - allowing you to find something that your children would be best at. When it comes to shouting out what the word makes you think of, shy children can really get into the game, becoming more confident in what they are saying, especially as you are all under a timer!
I am sure you remember Mad Libs when you were a kid, but instead of having to use a physical book that you write in, you can actually download Mad Libs and use the app to create funny stories. It's a pretty simple game - you are given a category for a word, like adjective or noun, and have to think of a word to put in that blank. Once all the words are filled in, you can read off a silly story.
It's a great way for children to expand and use their vocabulary, while also providing entertainment for a group of people. There are stories being added constantly, and even interactive hints. It's quite fun in short bursts.
I've always felt that any truly great mobile game ought to offer something to players of every stripe, from casual to hardcore. This is especially true for family games, and perhaps the most perfect example is Carcassonne.
For glassy-eyed strategy enthusiasts, it's a brutal two-player game of planning, scheming, and one-upmanship. For happy-go-lucky adult gamers, it's a fun multiplayer title involving tile drawing and collaborative art. For children, there's an option to turn off the vaguely confusing "farmers" rule, resulting in a simple, kid-friendly tactical battle.
It helps a lot that this is a brilliantly streamlined app, cunningly constructed so that even the shakiest technophobes will fall under its spell and be breezing through the menus after mere minutes of usage.
We hope you found something interesting on our list of best family games for iPhone and iPad, and that you'll spend a lot of joyful hours with your kids!