I remember when Kiko and Greeb got super into Pokemon TCG, they were listening to podcasts and stuff, and because they played the game on a card table in my office I had a chance to watch their friendship stretch and become taut in real-time. The card game has incredible heft, actually, on multiple axes: toy collecting isn't something I honor essentially, but there are cards in this game worth hundreds of thousands, even a million dollars. But the game itself, even though it is largely concerned with tussles between colorful beasts, has a couple really unique dynamics that are not only really interesting they also keep it from being Just Magic Again, which is a genre dense with the ruins and gnawed bones of many Noble Attempts.
My favorite thing that it does - although the way they model Types in the game is a close second - is that no matter how rad your deck is, you have to take six cards out of it as Prize Cards. These cards are earned whenever you knock out an opponent's 'Mon, and you have no idea what they are. Maybe it's the energy you needed. Maybe it's the evolutions you crave. And once you've drawn your last Prize Card, you win. That last card never even enters the game. You don't have hit points. I don't have hit points. We're trainers!
So, if you have molting larvae at home, you have some experience tolerating entertainments that were fashioned for children. Having endured it myself, I tried to make its inverse with the Lexcalibur books, something a conscious individual could read to a child without literally vomiting on it. The card game manages this desirable state with ease; approachable, narrative, twisty, and fun. A couple Starters would have sorted your whole summer. It's possible to get incredibly hardcore about it, but it's also possible to lose on purpose against someone much younger than you, until they start beating you fair and square and you never win a game ever again.