Nintendo consoles have always been known as the family-friendly platform, filled with parent- and child-approved mascots like Mario, Link, Kirby, and Samus. With the Switch, Nintendo has merged its console and handheld markets, offering games that can be played both on the TV and in the palms of our hands. And more so than previous generations, the Switch has robust third-party support, significantly expanding the library to appeal to players of all ages. If you recently purchased a Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite for your children, you may be wondering which Switch games are both fun and age-appropriate. We've rounded up over 30 of the best Nintendo Switch games for kids--and chances are, you'll like playing them, too.
Our list contains the obvious standouts--Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, etc.--but also some games that might not be on your radar. Games of all different genres are represented, too, and many of these Nintendo Switch games have co-op or multiplayer so you can tag along with your little ones.
Super Mario Odyssey is arguably the best 3D platformer on Switch. Featuring a more open design, a ton of new tricks thanks to Mario's sentient hat Cappy, and vibrant, colorful visuals, Odyssey is an absolute delight. It even has a welcome Assist mode that makes it more inviting to younger players and newcomers. For those with kids who aren't quite ready to play entirely solo, the co-op mode lets one player control an invulnerable Cappy.
Super Mario Maker 2 is the perfect Switch game for kids to let their imaginations run wild. The drag-and-drop creator mode lets you easily build your own side-scrolling levels. It's a ton of fun to take turns creating levels for each other to play. Mario Maker 2 also has an engaging story mode with more than 100 Nintendo-designed levels and a seemingly endless pool of user-created levels to enjoy. Fair warning, there are some extremely challenging user-created levels out there, but filtering allows you to find courses that fit your skill level.
Not to sound like a broken record here, but basically any Mario game is great for kids, including the fantastic New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which compiles two Wii U games in one delightful package. Featuring a stellar collection of inventive side-scrolling levels, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is classic Mario reborn with HD visuals. It also adds two new playable characters, Toadette and Nabbit, who are particularly great for inexperienced players. Toadette bounces back up when falling into pits, while Nabbit cannot be hurt by enemies, which makes them ideal for young kids learning the ropes of Mario platforming.
New Super Lucky's Tale is a colorful 3D platformer starring an adorable fox. It harkens back to early 3D platformers like Spyro, offering simplistic gameplay that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, regardless of skill level. Like the games it pays homage to, New Super Lucky's Tale has heaps of collectibles that emphasize exploring every nook and cranny of each level. To spice things up, there are also 2D levels thrown into the mix, which complement the more open 3D areas quite well. For kids who love Mario, New Super Lucky's Tale is a good bet.
Ideal for family game nights, Super Mario Party is the millionth (just kidding) entry in Nintendo's long-running party game series. For anyone who has ever played Mario Party, the loop will be familiar. The title mode takes place on a game board, where each player rolls the dice and moves the number of spaces, collecting coins and securing stars. Between each round of turns, you play minigames to compete for coins. By design, every minigame is fast-paced and easy to grasp. Super Mario Party also adds a more strategic co-op mode that will likely appeal to older kids as well as a musical minigame and cooperative river rafting mode.
The best racing game on Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an enhanced version of the standout Wii U game. Considered by many to be the best Mario Kart game ever made, it has some serious replay value thanks to a wide variety of tracks both new and old and an engaging battle mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a wonderful cart racer that is ideal for both kids and adults. It's an enjoyable experience whether you're playing solo or against family and friends.
Minecraft, the most popular game of all time based on sales, really needs no introduction. The sandbox game has captivated millions of players young and old across the world. It's a game that will appeal to kids who love building and tinkering with things. With Minecraft, your imagination is everything. You make your own rules and run with it, which is a premise plenty of kids thoroughly appreciate.
Minecraft Dungeons takes the pixelated world of the sandbox staple and merges it with Diablo-style gameplay. Played from an isometric perspective, Minecraft Dungeons has easy-to-learn action combat, a fairly deep loot system, and varied level design that makes for a constantly interesting dungeon-crawling experience. Most importantly, it's kid-friendly and extremely accessible to players of all skill levels. It also has four player co-op both online and locally. Think of it as a charming introduction to action-RPGs.
Quite possibly the cutest game on Nintendo Switch, Yoshi's Crafted World is a breezy side-scroller with charmingly inventive level design. The world Yoshi explores is primarily made of cardboard, which actually makes it look like a kid constructed it. It's a familiar experience for anyone who has played a Yoshi platformer. Our dinosaur pal can turn enemies into eggs with his insatiable appetite and then fling them at other enemies, use them to solve puzzles, or sling them at collectibles. Crafted World has a pair of difficulty levels and two-player drop-in, drop-out co-op, so you can tag along with your youngster on their adventure and experience the joyous platforming and genuinely inventive boss battles alongside them.
The Mushroom Kingdom meets Ubisoft's zany party franchise in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, one of the most bizarre mashups in recent memory. This Nintendo Switch exclusive pulls off the collaboration in style by offering a humorous story with great writing and XCOM-style tactics gameplay that is approachable for younger players. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle offers a great introduction to turn-based strategy games and includes multiple difficult levels to match your skill level. In addition to the delightful solo campaign, Mario + Rabbids has a two-player co-op mode and local multiplayer.
Splatoon 2 is one of the most popular multiplayer games on Nintendo Switch. There are numerous online modes across more than 20 maps, with the general premise revolving around covering the map with paint from paint guns, rollers, and other unique "weapons." Splatoon 2 also has a co-op mode dubbed Salmon Run and a solo campaign. The Octo Expansion adds a more robust single-player campaign with more than 80 new levels. The only downside to Splatoon 2 is that it doesn't support split-screen multiplayer. Otherwise, Splatoon 2 is the best game starring squid ever made.
All Mario sports games offer fun, light-hearted spins on popular sports. For Switch, the options have been slim, but there is a great one nonetheless: Mario Tennis Aces. It offers a quality tennis experience whether you're playing solo or against friends and family. The single-player campaign features traditional matches, challenges with unique objectives, and boss battles that take place on dynamic courts. Each character in Mario Tennis Aces has unique moves to spice up gameplay in multiplayer and always keep you on your toes. Best of all, Mario Tennis Aces is easy to get the hang of and boasts both split-screen multiplayer and online matchmaking. It's an ideal type of experience for kids who are just getting into sports games.
Kirby Star Allies is one of the rare Nintendo platformers that really begs to be played cooperatively. Yes, Yoshi's Crafted World, which is also on this list, has cooperative play, but Star Allies is truly designed with it in mind. Thanks to Kirby's new ability to befriend enemies, you can have up to three followers trail behind you, and one of them can be controlled by another player. Star Allies has some clever puzzles that require teamwork to solve them, and the side-scrolling action combat gets particularly frenzied when a real playing partner is tagging along for the adventure. Like most Kirby games, Star Allies is extremely forgiving, making it a stellar side-scroller on Nintendo Switch for even the youngest of players.
While it's hard to recommend The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to novice young players, it's easy to recommend it to preteens. As the first truly open-world The Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild is a grand, sweeping experience filled with clever puzzles, tough enemies, and all of the wonder people have come to expect with Zelda games. Breath of the Wild really succeeds in capturing a near unparalleled sense of adventure, whether you're riding on horseback, scaling a mountain, or working your way through a puzzle in one of the many Shrines. It's the type of game that brings adults back to their childhoods, which makes it a rather perfect game to introduce to your own kids as well. For a more classic Zelda experience that's much easier, check out The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Switch.
Luigi's Mansion 3 is the only pseudo-horror game on this list, and in reality, the only person that will be genuinely frightened by the game's haunted hotel is Luigi himself. Luigi's Mansion 3 is a 3D adventure game filled with puzzles, none of which are too terribly challenging. It also has a ton of charm and humor thanks to the fun vacuum mechanics to suck up ghosts and Luigi's ability to create a second, gooey version of himself--appropriately named Googi--to help him solve puzzles.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order's general premise will be familiar to anyone who has followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanos is on the prowl for the six Infinity Stones, and it's your job to stop him. Best played alongside other players, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is essentially a button masher, but each of the dozens of playable characters have their own unique moves and plenty of stylistic flair. In a sense, Ultimate Alliance 3 feels closer to a game that would have released a generation or two ago, but it still offers tons of excitement. Critically, co-op can be played with up to four players and the approachable combat system means that kids of all ages can play as their favorite hero and take down baddies.
Many of us at GameSpot have logged hundreds of hours into Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the island simulation game that released last year. The beauty of Animal Crossing is that its tranquil setting and rather relaxed activities--fishing, bug-catching, chatting with fellow residents--appeal to players of all ages. Only one island can be created on a single Nintendo Switch, though, so your household might need multiple Switch consoles so everyone can play in harmony. Part of the joy of Animal Crossing is visiting your friends' (and kids'!) islands, sharing resources, and hanging out in a calming, pleasant setting.
Originally meant to be a Harvest Moon clone, Stardew Valley has evolved over the years into one of the best farming and social sims ever made, setting a new standard for the genre. In Stardew Valley, your character leaves their dreary life in the city to go take over their grandfather's farm in Stardew Valley, a vibrant rural community inhabited by colorful characters to befriend. While Stardew's overt anti-capitalist themes might go over the head of your young one, its gameplay loop is gripping, allowing you to spend your days farming crops, fishing, exploring the local mines, forming friendships with the townsfolk, and discovering the game's many secrets. Though you can get deep into the strategy of maximizing profits and optimizing your efficiency in Stardew, the game doesn't require that level of play at all. You can easily spend your days pursuing whatever activities suit your fancy, making it a fantastic choice for kids of all ages.
Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Let's Go, Eevee meld mainline Pokemon adventures with the simplistic catch mechanic of Pokemon Go. Distinguished mainly by the option to have either Pikachu or Eevee as your starter, the pair of Let's Go games are remakes of Pokemon Yellow, taking you back to the Kanto region to catch the original 151 Pokemon and become a champion. The Let's Go titles are a great way to introduce your kids to the world of Pokemon, especially if you played Yellow (or Red/Blue) as a child. Where Let's Go differs is that random battles are replaced by visible Pokemon wandering in the grass. Once a battle is initiated, you merely try to catch the Pokemon in a straightforward minigame that resembles the technique of Pokemon Go. This streamlines Pokemon: Let's Go in a big way, making it a worthy starter title to the ever-growing Pokemon universe. Plus, you can have any Pokemon follow you around and even travel on Charizard's back--what more could you ask for?
For a more traditional Pokemon experience, Pokemon Sword and Shield are the latest games in the mainline franchise for Nintendo Switch. Though they have a familiar loop, Sword and Shield introduce a large open-world type area known as the Wild Area where you can discover and catch new Pokemon and explore diverse environments. Sword and Shield adopted Let's Go's feature of showing Pokemon on the map, but you still have to battle them like normal. With new raid events added regularly and a pair of expansions out now, it's always a great time to jump in. Pokemon games don't require extensive role-playing game knowledge to enjoy, though you can really get into the details if you want. Regardless, Sword and Shield are must-plays for young Pokemon fans and serve as great primers for JRPGs.
Untitled Goose Game is a game about pestering people as the very worst bird to ever live: the goose. In each section, you guide the aggravating goose through a series of vague objectives that require you to mess with the property of unassuming humans. Part sandbox, part stealth, part puzzle--Untitled Goose Game has an engaging gameplay loop. It's more than just an incredibly meme-able experience. That said, it's consistently hilarious.
Scibblenauts Mega Pack contains two great games that are both fun and educational for school-age children: Scribblenauts Unlimited and Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. At their core, both titles are puzzle games, but they are novel in that they bring imaginative solutions to life. Problems need to be solved by typing out adjectives and objects, and Unlimited introduces compound ideas, letting you join two distinct words together to create a more elaborate object. Unmasked, meanwhile, melds the Scribblenauts fundamentals with a comic book adventure featuring DC superheroes and locations. Both games can be played solo or with another player. Scribblenauts Mega Pack is great for kids who know how to read but are still getting the hang of putting sentences together--these games let kids turn fragmented ideas into solutions in a fun way.
Virtually any of the many Lego games from Traveller's Tales could be on this list, but Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 ups the ante from two-player drop-in, drop-out co-op to four player. Each Lego game transports you to the world of a popular media franchise that has been Lego-fied. In this case, you explore the world of Marvel as well-known superheroes, battling baddies with iconic gear and snagging all sorts of collectibles as you traverse the 3D levels. Lego games are really great for young kids who are just picking up the controller, and with four-player co-op, more of the family can get involved.
A Nintendo Switch launch title, Snipperclips is a cutesy and quite funny puzzle game that's best played cooperatively. Two players can jump into the campaign as Snip and Clip, two sentient pieces of paper. The main conceit of Snipperclips is in the title--you have to snip and clip your way to success by literally cutting up your playing partner to solve puzzles and move onto the next puzzle. Additionally, up to four players can partake in a collection of puzzles and competitive games. These include unique takes on sports like basketball, but yes, you can also compete to see if you can snip your opponents to shreds before they get you. Snipperclips has the aesthetic of a childhood notebook filled with doodles, and it's a lot of fun for both parents and kids.
Word of warning here: Overcooked 2 may cause family arguments, but it also might foster better communication skills between parents and kids. In all seriousness, the cooking simulator, which is more of a party game, is hilariously hectic fun for up to four players. Each player takes the role of a chef tasked with serving food to some very hungry though invisible customers. In a few short minutes, you'll have to prepare dishes by retrieving meats, veggies, toppings, and more from designated bins. The challenge comes from the fact that the levels are dynamic, shifting throughout, forcing players to work in unison to find a speedy, efficient rhythm. It's very simplistic from a control perspective, though its fast pace may make it a better fit for older kids and teens.
Dragon Quest Builders 2 was one of the more surprising games of 2019. While the original was good, Dragon Quest Builders 2 refined the formula to create one of the best action-RPGs for Switch. The adventure takes place across a large open world and combines a variety of ideas to create an engrossing experience. You spend a fair amount of your time building a village from the ground up, Minecraft-style, but you also embark on adventures, slaying monsters and warding off invaders while gathering resources. It's bright and colorful and would appeal to kids who like Minecraft but want some more traditional questing to balance out the experience.
Inspired by classic role-playing sports games like Mario Golf for Game Boy Color, Golf Story is one of the best indie games on Nintendo Switch. You play as a golfer trying to resurrect his love for the game after decades away, leading you to seek out golf lessons from a rather inattentive instructor at a local club. From there, Golf Story becomes a mix of traditional golf, scavenger hunts, and absurd challenges that keep the gameplay fresh throughout. The writing is hilarious, the story is surprisingly heartwarming, and the top-down golf gameplay that's injected with role-playing elements is thoroughly nostalgic. It's also a solid, if quirky, introduction to the game of golf for kids and sports games in general.
In Good Job, you play as a kid who has become the CEO of a large corporation. Naturally, this is ridiculous, and Good Job knows it by encouraging you to cause mayhem as you work your way up a skyscraper, completing tasks on each floor. It's a physics-based puzzler at heart, with every shelf, object, and unassuming worker reacting to your actions. It's incredibly easy to be in the middle of a task only to accidentally destroy the work space with one clumsy move. Thankfully, Good Job doesn't scold you for wreaking havoc; it lets you run free en route to becoming the most unfit (yet enthusiastic) kid CEO around. Two-player local co-op is supported, and Good Job is even more zany when playing with a partner.
Wilmot's Warehouse is a puzzle game that's all about organization. While this may sound unappealing, especially if you have a kid who absolutely loathes cleaning their room, Wilmot's Warehouse makes tidying up fun. Wilmot, the titular warehouse employee, spends his time stacking products, but you can organize them however you see fit. After stacking, you will have to load the products eventually (people order lots of stuff), so coming up with a solid plan to get to stuff quickly is essential. It's a relaxing game that can be played cooperatively with another player. And perhaps it will even inspire your little one to start thinking about how they organize their own stuff, too.
Compiling the first three 3D Mario games, Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a delightful collection that would appeal to kids of all ages. Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy each have touched-up visuals, but they largely remain stringently faithful to the original releases. For parents, Super Mario 3D All-Stars presents an opportunity to introduce Mario's first few adventures in 3D to their kids. All three games are excellent and have aged pretty well, though Super Mario 64 is a tad rough around the edges. Unlike most games on this list, you really need to pick it up sooner rather than later. Super Mario 3D All-Stars will only be sold through March 31, 2021, and physical copies may sell out even sooner.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is an inventive new way to experience Nintendo's flagship cart racing series. Obviously designed with kids in mind, Home Circuit comes with a remote-control car--either Mario or Luigi--and gates that are used to create a track in your living room. Your course setup is shown on screen, with added obstacles and flourishes created to make for a livelier atmosphere. The RC car responds to what happens in the game, too, speeding up when hitting boosts and stalling when struck by items.