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The Best Video Games for the Entire Family

From build-it-yourself Mario levels to soccer-playing cars, these multiplayer titles are great ways to game together, as a family.

The television is the focal point of the living room for most families. That’s because it’s the most versatile home entertainment device, able to show your kids the cartoons they love, the reality TV you watch as a guilty pleasure, and, importantly for gamer dads, the latest and greatest console games. If you and your kids love video games, one of the best ways to use your TV is to play games that let you compete, collaborate, and spend time together.

But be warned: It can be tricky to find those games. Many of the best out there are either single player only — and difficult to share with kids who are easily bored — or disqualified because of gratuitous sex and/or violence. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find titles that up to four players can play locally and that have an ESRB rating that confirms they’re OK for kids to play.

We found a dozen of our favorites, titles available for every modern console, and grouped them by category. If you and your family love video games independently, these are the games that can bring you together.

Family-Friendly RPGs

They’re not just for geeks with too much time on their hands anymore. Our family favorite multiplayer RPGs are imaginative and versatile, with the potential for hours of fun exploring and building throughout imaginative worlds.

No Man’s Sky

Most games are like rudimentary paintings. Professionals go through and create every image that you’ll see throughout the game. No Man’s Sky isn’t most games. It’s a procedurally generated, nearly infinite space adventure. That essentially means that this game, based on complicated algorithms, creates its own elements. When No Man’s Sky added multiplayer features after launch, it went from one of the most beautiful, intriguing single-player games to one that’s perfect for families to explore together.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Now $29

Dragon Quest Builders 2

This game doesn’t come out until later this month, but we’re excited to see what it has in store for us. The original Dragon Quest Builders was a sandbox RPG that tasked players with collecting materials and rebuilding the world after disaster. This edition looks to be more of the same, with more lands to explore, items to build, and enemies to defeat. Team up with other players to work together to rebuild the world.

Consoles: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

Buy Now $60

Family-Friendly Platformers

These games should be near and dear for kids growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s. They feature mechanics like jumping and running over obstacles and between suspended platforms — hours of fun like they used to be. 

Rayman Legends

This new game set in the imaginative world of Rayman Raving Rabbids is a classic platformer with bells and whistles like rhythm-based maps that depend on jumping at just the right time — not to mention those 3D boss battles. It also has a four-player co-op mode that players can enter and leave seamlessly, which makes it perfect for kids with short attention spans and great for parents looking for a game that emphasizes working together over mutual destruction.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PlayStation Vita

Buy Now $20

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Super Mario Maker 2

The Mario series is undoubtedly home to the best-known platformers around. This latest edition, the sequel to a construction-based spinoff released in 2015, gives players the opportunity to design and play their own levels, something kids accustomed to building constantly in Minecraft will love. Kids who like making things at school and showing them off to you can get that same thrill with Mario levels, with a wide range of parts, tools, and customization options at their fingertips.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $55

Sonic Mania Plus

Speaking of beloved franchises, this Sonic game for Nintendo Switch pulls zones directly from the first three games in the series as well as Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Competitive multiplayer mode allows you to go head-to-head in friendly races with your kids, but there’s also Encore Mode. It adds two characters to gameplay with different abilities who can conquer tweaked levels in different ways, multiplying the amount of time you and your family can spend playing your way through these increasingly tricky levels.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $29

Family-Friendly Sports and Racing

The designers behind these inherently family-friendly titles keep finding different ways to make these classic genres feel fresh and interesting.

Rocket League

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about Rocket League. The hybrid racing-soccer-hockey game is a full-fledged phenomenon, inspiring physical toys and its own eSports league. It also happens to be a fantastic game to play as a family. You can put everyone on one team and work together to win a match by guiding a ball or puck into your opponent’s goal, or you can pair off and see who has what it takes to earn the family championship.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $26

FIFA 19

With the Women’s World Cup in full swing, it’s a great time to fire up maybe the best sports video game of all time. FIFA as an organization is a shady, corrupt spectacle; as a video game, it’s one of the most fun and competitive experiences around. For whole-family play there’s nothing better than putting together a match with your favorite teams and dribbling, passing, and shooting your way to victory (assuming your kids see you streaking down the wing, that is).

Consoles: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $38

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

The basic gameplay of Mario Kart hasn’t changed since its debut as a Super Nintendo title in 1992. This version, for the Nintendo Switch, adds new characters and courses as well as the ability — thanks to the insane versatility of the Switch console — to be taken on the road in handheld mode and controlled using a cardboard steering wheel and pedal combo, the Nintendo Labo Vehicle Kit. Up to four racers can play locally, while online multiplayer can accommodate two locally as part of a field of up to 12. This version also adds Battle Mode, in which eight custom arenas host matches less about speed and more about hitting your opponents, a fun new twist on gameplay.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $50

FAST RMX

This decidedly more modern racing game puts you in the cockpit of an anti-gravity vehicle flying through courses in settings as diverse as abandoned mines, futuristic cities, and vast deserts. There’s something reassuring about the simplicity of the gameplay, and the 1080p graphics are definitely pretty to look at. You can play with up to four players at once, so this is a great game to fire up with the kids.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $19

Puzzle

Puzzle games might seem stodgy, but these imaginative titles feature 3D graphics and elaborate gameplay while challenging you and your kids to think strategically, in the way the best puzzles often do.

Overcooked! 2

There’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen in this game, a chaotic culinary co-op in which up to four players work together to turn out dishes like sushi, pasta, and burritos to customers in kitchens everywhere from a hot air balloon to a wizarding school. This sequel to the beloved first Overcooked! adds new mechanics like throwing along with dynamic levels that shift all around you, upping the ante during a hectic meal service.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $30

Snipperclips Plus

Work together with your teammates to solve puzzles by cutting out paper shapes and jumping around different levels. There are multiple ways to solve the levels, so kids can be creative and inventive in finding solutions. Snipperclips Plus is one of those games that seems deceptively simple when you start playing but has some pretty complex challenges built in as you progress.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $30

Super Bomberman R

The first Bomberman game in more than a decade is a triumphant return to form for the Japanese series. Playing as the titular character, it’s your job to navigate two-dimensional mazes divided up into grids, drop bombs, and defeat the opponents you encounter. It supports cooperative gameplay for two local players and eight playing online. If your sibling’s kids also pick up the game, for instance, it’s a great way for the cousins to hang out outside of family holidays.

Consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $32

Super Mario Party

It’s-a-him, Mario (again). Everyone’s favorite Italian plumber makes yet another appearance on this list, a testament to how ubiquitous he is, and how free of sex and violence Nintendo’s games are. This game will feel familiar to anyone who’s played any of the dozen-plus other titles in the series. The character roster of this game is the longest of any Mario Party title, and once you pick one you can make your way through mazes full of mini-games. There’s a new mode, Online Mario-thon, that lets you play with up to three other local players in five mini-games selected from the 80 that make up this one.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Buy Now $50