Animal Crossing (GCN, DS, Wii)
Our first series is that of Animal Crossing. The series basically sets you to play at your own pace, slowly paying back your debt to Tom Nook, collecting new furniture to spruce up your home, chatting with your animal neighbors, fishing, catching bugs, and digging up fossils. Perhaps the only stressor here is coming back to your town after a month's absence and seeing it covered with weeds. The upcoming June release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS offers the ability to play as the mayor, controlling your village as you see fit. Animal Crossing is a delightful series that is nice and relaxing to play, especially with friends.
Harvest Moon (Multi)
Let's focus on a franchise similar to Animal Crossing. It's a series that has spanned multiple consoles from Nintendo platforms to Sony systems, Harvest Moon has its main focus as a farming game with quirks that make the games so lovable. Such quirks include raising livestock, conversing with the locals, and eventually settling down and getting married. It's your overall duty to take a dilapidated farm and turn it into one bustling place of agriculture. Let your worries and cares fade away as you milk old Bessie, gather materials, and water your crops.
LittleBigPlanet (PS3, PSP, PSV)
Voted by SuperPhillip Central as the best new IP of this past generation, LittleBigPlanet encourages creativity and fosters an environment for unbridled entertainment, either alone or with friends. Playing through the happy-go-lucky craft-filled world of LittleBigPlanet invokes a warm and happy feeling, and the franchise is endlessly charming. The only real stressor to the LittleBigPlanet series comes from the optional task of trying to ace all of the levels-- that is, beating every platforming level in the game without dying, so avoiding doing that when you want to relax is recommended.
A soothing PlayStation Network-exclusive game where you tilt the PS3 controller to guide the wind on flowers to liven up fields, Flower is a title that is a lethargic experience. The team behind the title, Thatgamecompany (Journey, Fl0w), wanted to present players with a positive feeling. They definitely succeeded as the game is a breath of fresh air, and one that will calm even the most agitated gamer.
Brain Age (DS, 3DS)
The Brain Age series challenges your brain with short sessions of math problems, sudoku, memory tests, and much more to keep your brain active. The series, based off the research of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, is one that can played in small doses, and engages your brain. The games try to enhance certain parts of the mind such as recognition, memory, and concentration, which the latter is the focus of the latest entry in the franchise, Brain Age: Concentration Training.
Crosswords Plus (3DS)
Crosswords are always a nice diversion from a wild and wacky world. Let the stress leave your body as you play hundreds of crossword puzzles, word searches, and anagram games in Crosswords Plus for the Nintendo 3DS. Even doing a crossword or word search with a timer isn't a stress-inducing experience. There's no real reward or reason to panic by taking a long time on a given puzzle. And if you get stuck on a puzzle, don't get flustered, simply use a clue to help you out. Crosswords Plus is the sequel to CrossworDS on the Nintendo DS. Both offer an insane amount of puzzles for a budget price.
Art Academy (DS, 3DS)
The Art Academy series offers finely tuned lessons divided up between parts to teach players the basics of art. You learn about perspective drawing, shading, and blending colors. The latest entry in the series, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone! (3DS), has a multitude of easygoing lessons, the ability to share your work with friends, and a multitude of fun techniques to learn. Nothing beats going at your own pace and learning that you actually aren't as bad of an artist as you think you are. Paining and drawing via the touch screen is a fine, relaxing experience that those with an interest of art and a Nintendo DS or 3DS shouldn't pass up.
Professor Layton (DS, 3DS)
Professor Layton has seen five games release over in the West, with the latest being Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, the first entry on the Nintendo 3DS. For the uninitiated, the Professor Layton franchise has you following a mysterious story usually with Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke by his side. As you journey through areas, you come across brain teasers that sharpen your logical thinking, reasoning, and processing. These puzzles often are given to you to advance the story once they are solved. There's nothing like chilling with a particular puzzle and eventually coming upon its solution. Grab yourself a spot of tea and put on a monocle, as the Professor Layton series is one to compose oneself.
Katamari Damacy (PS2, PS3, PSP, 360)
Katamari Damacy as a franchise has players rolling up buildings, objects, and even people as they try to get their ball (the Katamari) as large as possible. It's that enjoyment in rolling up anything and everything that makes the Katamari Damacy series so engaging. Time limits do little to aggravate players, as the joy of rolling one's Katamari beats all frustration. It's a pleasing and calming feeling, and a game series that explodes with charm.
Minecraft (PC, XBLA)
In the procedurally generated world of Minecraft, you are let loose in a world with no real goals in sight. All you need to do is build and chip away blocks to create whatever you wish. You have total freedom. Speaking of freedom, playing the Creative mode of Minecraft allows players total freedom from worry. You build, you chip away, and you fly. You can make masterpieces of maps, buildings, and other objects. The stuff that players have done is truly sensational. The relaxation part of building and venturing around the game world is why Minecraft has a place on this list of soothing games.
Those are ten relaxing and soothing games we thought of. Did we miss any of your favorites? What games put you in a state of calmness, a moment of repose, or a feeling of relaxation? Post your ideas in the comments section below.