My daughter has been a Wii fan since the console first came out. To date, no other living room console can compare with the great mix of games to meet her interests. So, even though the Wii has been out quite some time, I find this list is still as relevant for our family as it was a few years ago when I first wrote it.
It helps that the Wii U plays the extensive, family friendly library of the Wii, as well as WiiWare games. So whether your family owns the Wii U or the older Wii, your daughter, too, can enjoy these games.
Nickelodeon, in partnership with 2K Play, were one of the first companies to release Wii games for preschoolers. While the early Dora the Explorer and Diego themed games are similar enough that a child who has played one may find the others too easy, or even boring, they are otherwise perfect for their audience: simple adventures with easy controls, starring favorite characters, and no reading required. Most Wii-gaming preschoolers of the time rank at least one amongst their faves.
Choosing between Dora Saves the Snow Princess and Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, today, comes down to which you can find at the better price, and which has the more appealing story for your little one. Saving the Snow Princess, for example, Dora’s first adventure on the Wii, involved saving the Magic Snowy Forest before it could melt away under a witch’s spell. Preschooler-friendly activities include riding in a canoe and riding a pegasus.
If you want an adventure game for a very young player, you can’t go wrong with either.
For dancing, singing, and keeping kids moving, Nickelodeon and 2K Play offered up Nickelodeon Dance. Finally, wee girls had their very own dance party game just like the big kids.
Designed for 1-2 very young players, the game includes pictorials so they can easily pick up the moves.
Kids dance along with headliners Diego and Dora, as well as the Backyardigans and the Fresh Beat Band. The songs are sung by the characters, and are sourced from their own shows, as well as family-friendly popular hits and classics.
A set of workout features takes this game a step further into fitness, which is pretty cool, and, at the time, was a first for little ones.
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: Super Game Day is the last of my highly recommended games for the very youngest girl gamers.
While the television series this game is based on, Ni Hao, Kai Lan, is no longer in production, the sweet characters of the game will still appeal to young players. The little girl and her friends (which include a monkey, tiger, and koala) give kids several appealing characters to play.
This was one of the first “Party” style games to appear for little ones. They missed the mark a little in only making it a 1-2 player game, but the activities are right on, as they are super easy, group-friendly mini-games like bubble popping, butterfly catching, and kite flying.
My 2 and 3-year-olds, boys and girls alike, adored Super Game Day.
Disney Princess: My FairyTale Adventure is best for girls ages 5 and up.
In this Disney Princess adventure, 1 or 2 players have the opportunity to take the role of an apprenticed fairy godmother in a quest to break a spell that’s been cast over the kingdoms of Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Tiana.
As she plays, the apprentice’s home base – her room in the Fairy Godmother’s castle – can be personalized and decorated.
My only regret with this game is that the second player’s actions are limited: the character cannot be customized, like the first player can, and in-game activities are more that of a side-kick than a full player. The original Disney Princess game for the Wii, Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, did not have those limitations, so if you think a second player in your household will be disappointed by Fairy Tale Adventure, check out Enchanted Journey instead (my daughter and her little brother loved playing that one together, even though his character had to be a girl).
In SimAnimals, your character is represented by a hand, which can be used to pet or pick up animals and tend a garden or forest. Additional players (Up to 4 players, total) receive hands of their own, and are able to do all the same things.
Even my very young children have had quite a lot of fun with SimAnimals, and I’ve played it all the way through, myself. It offers pleasant fun for all ages, if you like simulation-type games and cute critters. Animal interactions with each other, and their interactions with the Hand, are adorable or, at other times, quite funny. In addition, the game offers an easy, basic introduction to ecosystems, habitat, and food chains.
The quest goals are easy to ignore in favor caring for the animals and the forest, if you wish, which is how the play scales to even the youngest players. A player who wants to complete the storyline will need to be a reader or have some reading help, however.
Another animal-based game that scales for a wide range of ages in a similar way is World of Zoo. While complex enough for adult players, the designers included many elements that are extremely kid-friendly.
Players can choose their favorite animal, then jump right in to interacting with them, which delighted my Monkey and Tiger fans.
Although there are goals to develop your zoo, kids can completely ignore them if they wish, in favor of playing with the animals. Reading level doesn’t matter here – whatever the animal wants appears in a thought bubble over its head, and can be delivered with a click. The game also auto-saves, so younger players don’t have to worry about that.
Multiplayer mode allows up to 3 additional players help “Player 1” interact with and take care of the animals in a way that satisfied all four of my little ones, which is great for multi-child families or a gamer who wants to play with her friends.
Girls ages 10 and up enjoy the Harvest Moon series. My daughter’s favorite was Harvest Moon: Animal Parade. The series offers certain types of gameplay in common across the franchise: players are newly arrived in town, and are given a run-down farm to develop.
They will do this through planting, watering, harvesting, and selling their crops. Expanding their kitchen allows them to cook, and thus receive higher prices for items. Building a barn allows them to raise livestock, as well, making it possible to produce milk and wool.
Mining and fishing are also common elements, allowing the gathering or creation of more items to sell.
Getting to know your new neighbors is a big part of every Harvest Moon game. You can even make friends to the point of dating, marrying, and having a family if you wish (all very g-rated).
Festivals come along throughout the year for a fun and refreshing change in activities and challenges. All of this is true of Animal Parade.
Two additional elements of Animal Parade are the ability to befriend wildlife, and an adventure storyline to discover and complete. My daughter loved interacting with the wildlife to raise their friendship level.
Even after the storyline is complete, the basic activities involved in living this rural, virtual life are open ended. As such, Harvest Moon games easily offer hundreds of hours of play.
For a very different sort of virtual life, MySims Kingdom is a fun, creative adventure with heavy emphasis on customization.
Players can customize all sorts of things, from themselves and their own homes to the kingdoms and other things they encounter on their quest to revitalize the kingdom.
Along the way, they will travel to many diverse lands and meet lots of wacky people.
(Truth be told, I enjoyed this game every bit as much as my daughter did.)
Mario Kart is a wild kart racing game for the entire family. The extensive selection of characters to play and the wide range of customization options for the karts ensures there’s something for everyone. My daughter and I particularly appreciate that girls have the option to choose to play as Princess Peach, Baby Princess Peach, and other girl characters from the Mario games.
It’s a game to play together, and it never gets old, with the different worlds, race tracks, and kooky power-ups that make you laugh even while they make it challenging to keep your position in the race.
Wii Wheel accessories themselves add even more fun, bringing us as close as a game can to the feeling of actually driving the karts. My daughter loves her pink Wii Wheel, but they’re available in a range of colors, in addition to the official black and white options.
My last recommendation is World of Goo. This is a game you can pick up as WiiWare, in the Nintendo eShop. Of all the WiiWare games my kids have played, it is definitely the best.
Each level is a new puzzle, the challenge to get a certain number of inky goo balls safely through the challenges and to the goal. Strategic, problem-solving thinking is a must.
The quirky humor and style keeps it fun from beginning to end, and keeps my daughter coming back to it, year after year, though she’s completed it several times.