Our Rainy Afternoon Entertainment

Keeping our three children entertained during lockdowns, or on rainy days, can be very trying at best.
One will want to play with a certain playset, another will want to draw or paint, whilst the third will want to be on one of their gaming devices. At some point, all three will want to coerce at least one of the others to stop what they're doing and play with them.

Having three kids doing three separate things all at once can be manageable for a certain amount of time. On occasion (often) however it can go awry as one child invades another's space.

It's times like this we often organise competitions with board games and video games. Nothing too competitive, and all done in the name of fun and sportsmanship. Sometimes even Jon and I will jump in on the video games. This often leads to howls of laughter from the children as our lack of coordination soon becomes apparent and I end up asking my 8 year old 'What do I press?'.

As a child, my sister and I could often be found challenging one another on Mario or Sonic games. 
I think my Mum and Dad were secretly behind it as often when sibling tensions arose an 'indoor video Olympics' would be suggested. Anything for an hour or two's peace! Naturally we as children leapt at the chance to play 'on the big TV' for an hour or two. I have some great memories of us playing together and against one another on various games. 

With our three, a specific game one is particularly good (or bad) at can sometimes lead to the other two of them getting bored or not enjoying the game itself. They're all different ages and have different abilities after all. With this in mind, I found myself searching for free games with popular characters they could all enjoy on a safe platform.

Our kids have long been fans of sites such as Cartoonnetwork.co.uk and really enjoy the simple app based games, however they soon mastered many of these so some new variety was needed.

Whilst searching I came across plays.org. This site hosts a huge number of free-to-play games with lots of our kids favourite characters. The games include Break The Worm featuring Jake and Flynn from Adventure Time, Defend the Sewers (Craig of the Creek), Powerpuff Girls and Star Wars to name but a few. 

As soon as Tyne and Sailor saw Adventure Time, they couldn't wait to give it a go. The game itself is simple enough. You guide Jake and Flynn through various locations battling the Ice Kings minions to start with then progress on to new and tougher enemies. All whilst searching for the Dream Worm and gathering power ups as you progress. The further you progress on each level, more moves are revealed and tougher opponents arrive to ruin your day.

The game is super fun and simple to play but becomes increasingly more difficult the further into the game you go. The animation on the main characters is exactly like the shows, including some touches of humour from Jake, which was a massive hit with our three. Playing on the PC and using keyboard commands took me a while to get used to, but the kids picked it up straight away.

The next game we tried was Defend the Sewers. This is another game based on a firm family favourite animated show called Craig of the Creek. In the show Craig, our eponymous hero and his friends defend their play area (The Creek) and have all kinds of misadventures while sticking together and overcoming challenges and rivals. The game is a look down balloon shooting game using your mouse to control your balloon cannon, catapult or crossbow. In it you play the shows main characters who have to launch balloons at matching coloured balloons to pop them and stop them clogging the sewers. Sounds simple right? Well its not as easy as it sounds and after firing off your fifth balloon of the wrong colour only to cause further jams may lead to bouts of laughter from highly amused little ones. The sarcasm is strong in them!

Another game we played was X-Wing Fighter. Now Jon and our eldest two loved this as they are all massive Star Wars fans. The chance to fly an X-Wing against the evil Empire? Who would pass that up? Even I, not being a fan of the genre, really enjoyed it. With the Star Wars theme playing you have to manoeuvre your X-Wing against TIE Fighters and other Imperial craft whilst avoiding lock-ons from enemy defences, defending Maz's Castle and taking on Imperial transports while gathering coins and life power ups. Its a very simple, fast paced, exciting mouse and keyboard controlled game. Its already become a favourite with Jon, and the kids, taking turns to see who can progress the furthest.

These are just three of the many games we have tried, and there are hundreds of games available, with new games added everyday so there's always something new to challenge and engage us. 

Another thing I really like is the ethos behind the site. The idea is that you play for fun and not for competition. We've all come across the win at all costs types of games and whilst these are fun for some, they're not our cup of tea. Both Jon and I loved the old days of Megadrives and  Super NES systems (Jon remembers his old Atari) and the simplicity of having a game that challenged you and gave a sense of achievement when you beat the end Boss. No hidden costs or add ons and no online competition where the noob gets nerfed straight away. With Plays.org are no in game purchases, or unlocks that must be bought, and we really loved this almost as much as the games themselves.

Holding these games afternoons has been a brilliant way to bring the family together doing something we can all enjoy, Its something I highly recommend next time you want to kill a few hours on a rainy afternoon!

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