The Nintendo Switch — and Nintendo Switch Lite — are some of the most popular video game consoles ever created. Thanks to their variety of controllers and controller schemes, the portable system, which still looks and plays great on a TV, is also one of the most family-friendly. Not only does the system make it easier for kids of all ages to play, but Nintendo is renowned for offering a variety of smart, cartoonish games without the blood, viscera, and complexity that so often dominate on other consoles. That’s not saying these titles are one-sided: The best Nintendo Switch games for kids are also a blast for adults. Whether your child is looking for a challenge, feeding a cinematic passion, or even taking his or her first steps in the digital realm, there are tons of great options available.
But first, an explainer: A game’s ESRB rating only touches on how appropriate for kids its content is vis-à-vis sex and violence. What’s also important is picking a game that’s a good fit for a young gamer’s skill level. Some games have complexity great for the middle ages. Others cover a range of skill levels, allowing younger children to have fun while older kids can pursue its secrets and, ultimately, its mastery. And a few are a great first step for a first-time gamer.
See more: Best PS4 Games for Kids and Parents
All of these games have an Everyone or Everyone 10+ rating from the ESRB, so you can rest assured that all they include only family-friendly content. But once that baseline is established, we break down each, offering guidance on the kinds of gamers to whom they’ll most appeal.
The latest version of the classic racer has everything you want: tortoise shell missiles, wildly fun race tracks, a cast of cartoon characters each with their own specific talents. It’s also one of the best games to play with kids, as there are many options to help make gameplay a bit easier, i.e. auto acceleration, auto-aim, and auto steering All younger kids need to do is press a few buttons to feel like they’re keeping up with the rest of the (manual) pack. The game also lets everyone play at the same time — and supports up to 12 people when online
Toad, he of the mushroom hat and high voice, is the star of this game, a simple — and rather subdued — co-op puzzler that’s ideal for kids. There’s no running, jumping, or action of any kind. Players look for clues, find gems, and complete puzzles to move on to the next level. It’s wholesome-as-hell and perfect for younger kids.
The chillest of chill games, this sequel to the wildly popular Animal Crossing lets you hang out with friends on relaxing island. Players create avatars and live among the humanoid animals who populate the island. Players can scavenge for materials, construct houses and other buildings, and interact with the various characters. There are some monsters — tarantulas, wasps, etc. — and, as it’s a life simulation game, characters can construct and use the toilet. But, like all rated E for everyone games, there’s only comic mischief and no highlighting of bodily functions. Online play allows other players to join. So, unless you know who’s playing with your kid, keep it offline only.
The latest installment in this legendary series has cleaned up game awards for good reason. It's chock full of opportunities to explore vast terrain, solve dynamic puzzles, and battle enemies. If you've enjoyed Zelda games before, there's nothing that updated graphics, amiibo compatibility, and the flexibility of Switch gameplay will do to detract from it.
Yoshi's Crafted World is an all-ages game that’s predestined to become a favorite. This plane-shifting 2D-style platform game hearkens back to the Super Mario Worlds of yore, but with full use of the Switch’s fully modern tech. The game has the same deceptively simple gameplay: a series of jumps and traverses across obstacles while avoiding or stomping on baddies. Old vets will instantly recognize its charming style. But where this Nintendo Switch game differs is through certain three-dimensional elements, which allow you to move through the backgrounds, opening up multiple planes for exploration.
One of the most popular rhythm games for mobile devices, DEEMO is also available on the Nintendo Switch. The game is compatible with the separately-sold Nintendo Labo Piano, an accessory that adds another dimension to gameplay that kids will love. Regardless, there are over 100 different songs included in this game, which means there are plenty of hours of beautiful, intuitive gameplay. Three difficulty modes means that kids can start wherever they're more comfortable playing.
This Swedish puzzle-platformer features two characters called Yarnys made of — you guessed it — yarn who are trying to escape an orphanage. In this sequel, developers added a local co-op mode so that two players can tackle the puzzle challenges together. This game not only looks spectacular, its themes of cooperation and friendship offer great lessons, and the puzzles you need to solve to are decidedly more stimulating than button-mashing games. We just wish more than two players could play at a single time
Your kids probably hadn’t been born with the original Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was release in Aughts. It won’t matter. This updated version of this Playstation classic release is as charismatic as the original, and your kids will fall in love with is just like you did. As its protagonist demigod, you explore a three-dimensional world rife with Egyptian mythology allusions and a very famous golden king. While it may be a little complicated for young children, those in the second half of their first decade will have a blast.
This game rocks. Plain and simple. Based off a previous release on a former platform, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, as its name suggests, includes the original Nintendo Switch game with a new, expanded universe, displayed in tack-sharp high def. A traditional two-dimensional platform game, it’s easy for young children to pick up, while older kids will enjoy the challenge of mastery, secret levels, and other assorted Easter eggs long associated with the flagship franchise. A four-player cooperative mode let’s a big group enjoy the fun
Travel from planet to planet, collecting bricks and completing quests, while a fast-paced story unfolds. If uninterested, just roam free, as there’s plenty to do outside the fixed storyline. Like other branded games, without a near-obsessive passion for the source material, the game’s cracks show through. Its also slightly choppy in some places. But, for the most part, this game is a lot of fun.
This game features progressively harder puzzles that you and your kid can work together to crack. The game mechanics are simple — it's basically cutting out paper — but difficult to master. You only need one Joy-Con controller each to play, but add more and you can have a match with up to four players.
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