(Image from http://www.davidhellman.net/braid.htm)
Braid is a modern take on the Mario-style platformer. The art is beautiful, the gameplay is fun, and the new mechanics are interesting.
Benefits for your kids:
Physical- as is typical with platformers, which require timing and control to hit moving ledges, hand-eye coordination is used extensively. This is even more apparent in the Speed Run mode, in which the entire game is completed in under 45 minutes. Every second counts.
Emotional/Social- none to speak of.
Mental- The game is very logic-based. You have the ability to control time, and effective use of the rewind skill is necessary to complete each level. You’ll have to be creative in your strategy to finish each level, but especially those that require you to knock out every enemy. There are several levels that require fore-thought and careful planning to complete. You’ll earn new skills to progress, and sometimes you’ll have to come back for puzzle pieces you couldn’t reach before.
Reading/English skills- there is a story that can be read at the beginning of each chapter, but doing so is not necessary to the game.
Math- nothing to speak of.
Difficulty- the game can prove challenging, but from a logic standpoint. You can always rewind when you are killed, but sometimes the act of rewinding will make a puzzle unsolvable. When this happens, go through a door and reenter. In the first chapter, there is a particular use of the puzzle that I probably never would have figured out if not for YouTube walkthroughs. Once you realize how far out of the box you have to think, though, it becomes easier to see the end.
Morality- You play the hero, rescuing your girlfriend/princess from the evil sorcerer.
Violence- like Mario, you bounce on little round things’ heads to knock them off the screen. There is no blood, and if you rewind, they come back, just like you do.
Overall- good, classic, clean fun. It may be difficult for the younger crowd, but will help encourage creativity and hand-eye coordination. As an Xbox Live Arcade title, I definitely think it was worth the money.