Not all children are lucky enough to have a gamer parent to introduce them to the joys – and benefits – of the pastime, which can make it a minefield for unknowing parents. It’s reassuring then to know that there really are good games suitable for the younger ones.

Nintendo in particular have a name for child-friendly gaming, with bright colours and delightful characters such as those from Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom pals to the likes of Donkey Kong and Kirby. But even if they look like they may be suited for younger gamers, many of these titles pose serious challenge even for more seasoned pros – leave a five-year-old to fend for themselves in Super Mario Odyssey and it will most likely end in tears.

OK, but what’s the alternative? A great way in for many is via licensed properties in games – names that will be familiar to kids and parents alike, but presented in an interactive form. So, if you’re looking for something safe for the younger gamer in your orbit, any of the following four – all available tight now – may be great places to start, all of which are available for Nintendo’s Switch and also the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay
Definitely aimed at the youngest of kids, this fun, G-rated title delivers quite a bit of variety as it introduces players to many game concepts via simple quests, all with characters that they likely already know, love and understand. Players collect bonuses as they swap between various PAW Patrol pups in order to utilise their various specialty skills. Best of all, the game guides the user via voice, so kids are never left wondering what they have to do when the type of play changes. From simple fetch quests to musical, driving and collecting interludes, with its focus on fun and responsibility this really would make a fine first game for the youngest of gamers. PAW Patrol is on a roll!

Available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Ben 10: Power TripBen 10: Power Trip
Ah, young Ben Tennyson and his Omnitrix – the lad’s exploits have been keeping kids captivated for some 15 years now. This one is themed around a European vacation – completer with some very questionable accents in the voice acting department – during which nasty old magician Hex lets loose the power of four mysterious crystals. It’s up to Ben to use his various alien powers and break Hex’s curse, with some help from trusty sidekicks Gwen and Grandpa Max. It’s basically an open world adventure with fairly simple backwards and forwards collection quests for players to carry out, with a bit of baddie battling (but no gore to speak of).

Available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Trollhunters: Defenders of ArcadiaTrollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia
Many adults will know and love the films of Guillermo del Toro, and also know that they’re not really suitable for kids. This is his gift to children’s entertainment, based on the Dreamworks animated hit. The solo player controls young Jim Lake Jr., who sets out to thwart the sneaky plans of Porgon the Trickster Troll, while Claire can also join in the quest for some fun couch co-op. This one’s basically a side-scrolling arcade game, with running, jumping, sliding and slashing (gore-free) while levelling up things such as armour. Think of arcade classics such as Golden Axe and Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, but without all of the gory stuff (and not quite as tough to master).

Available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Transformers: BattlegroundsTransformers: Battlegrounds
Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve most likely heard of Transformers, be it from when you were a kid yourself through to the many cartoons or movies that have been released since. This game – the most mature of this list – takes a different tack to many licensed games, in that it serves almost as a ‘my first strategy game’. With difficulty levels from basic to quite tactically challenging, this turn-based game boasts several locations as the player commands classic Autobots such as Bumblebee and Optimus Prime to save Earth from the Decepticon scourge. There’s also local multiplayer, so it’s great for teach and play sessions, and violence is strictly robot-on-robot.

Available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi