Best Nintendo Switch games for young kids 2022

Nintendo Switch Captain Toad hero image
(Image credit: iMore)

If you love video games, chances are you want your kid to love them too. Fortunately, the Nintendo Switch may be the most family-friendly console. It has a wealth of kid-friendly games that you can hand off to children old enough to operate controllers safely without worrying about what they might get into, so long as you pick the right games. 

If your tiny human is old enough to manipulate a controller and understand how to operate the Switch, then this list is for you. Here are the best Switch games for kids.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is fun for the whole family, as it comes with both an extensive single-player and multiplayer campaign that allows up to four players to run through levels together. Super Mario 3D World is the Wii U's flagship Mario remastered, with updated visuals, online multiplayer, and many QoL improvements. 

But the base game is just the start of the fun — Bowser's Fury is an all-new single-player adventure that finds Mario and Bowser Jr. teaming up to deal with a super-powered kaiju Bowser. It's Mario at his best, with clean, colorful visuals and entertaining levels throughout.

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Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

This expanded version of Mario's Wii U adventure is suitable for everyone to play, while Bowser's Fury adds even more to play, meaning it stays fresh even if you played the original version.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Up to four players can work together to build an island paradise, decorating your space to fit your style. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an adorable game without any combat or particularly challenging puzzles, so kids can take things at their own pace and just enjoy exploring the environment and chatting with their friendly animal neighbors. 

The game is also constantly updated with new seasonal content, meaning kids will want to check in regularly to see what's new. While there are some online features, it's easy to restrict kids from interacting with players you don't know.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons exploded in popularity due a variety of factors, and it's still the perfect game for kids to play as they customize their island to their exact specifications.

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy

The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remake of the first three Spyro games. It's perfect for younger kids, with the original classic gameplay designed by Insomniac Games that also looks great, thanks to the new work done by Vicarious Visions. 

If the kids have never played a Spyro game, this is a perfect way to get started. The Spyro games feature the iconic purple dragon on an adventure, with plenty of puzzles and combat that aren't too challenging or inappropriate for younger players.

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Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Spyro Reignited Trilogy is the perfect way to experience Spyro's original adventures. This remake features high-quality graphics that stay true to the original aesethetic. 

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Pokémon Quest

Pokémon Quest's biggest perk is its price: it's free! You can download it onto the Switch and let your kid enjoy exploring a blocky world full of Pokémon friends. Though the Pokémon do "battle" one another, there's nothing violent about it, and it's a great way to introduce young kids to the world of Pokémon in a simple, repetitive, easy-to-understand manner. 

An Auto mode is beneficial for those kids who are still a bit young to use more complex controls and just want to feel like they're doing something. Be sure you're using Switch Parental Controls, though, as the game does include microtransactions, you don't want your kid to trigger accidentally.

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Pokémon Quest

If you need a simple, fun game for your kids to play, consider Pokémon Quest. It's completely free, though there is some optional DLC if you decide to go for it.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Many adults have fond memories of bonding with siblings over Mario Kart...though that bonding often took the form of a lot of yelling about spiny shells! You don't need to own a retro console to give your kids the same experience. 

Motion steering can be an improved way for younger children to try and drive the karts, and a special steering assist mode can help those who still haven't mastered the controls yet stay on the road with the more experienced players. Plus, while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has an online mode unless you set them up with the voice chat app, all the interactions are limited to a set of friendly phrases, so there's no chance they'll run into bad content online.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart continues to go strong, and the game has even gotten DLC years after launching. Just make sure no friendships will be broken when you play because someone is going to abuse the Blue Shell.

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a charming, sweet, and challenging puzzle game for every age, and young children can enjoy it too. Captain Toad explores clever 3D diorama-like levels, walking around while the player rotates the camera and tries to guide him to the goal, collecting gems and coins along the way. 

Part of Captain Toad's charm is that it's effortless to reach the end of each level but challenging to find all the collectibles, so it appeals to a wide range of ages and skill sets. It's also a great game to play with your child using the co-op mode to point out hidden areas and help guide them through levels!

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

If you're looking for a puzzle game that won't be too difficult for your kids, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a great option, as there's a deceptive complexity to getting everything, while the game itself is incredibly simple.

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Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Eevee!

If you have a young child who likes Pokémon Quest or Pokémon Go and wants to get into the main series of games, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! or Let's Go, Eevee! is a great place to start. These games focus more heavily on catching Pokémon with systems similar to those in Pokémon Go, use the Joy-Con motion controls for throwing Poké Balls, and have much more forgiving battles and EXP systems. 

You can also enjoy the game yourself as an adult while having a kid join in as your player 2! You'll have control over where you go and what you do, but kids can help battle and capture Pokémon and put together their own team of monster friends.

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Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee

These Pokemon games are far more casual experiences than the mainline titles, but that simplified structure means they are perfect for kids who are new to the series as a whole.

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Yoshi's Crafted World

With Yoshi's Crafted World, you play as a soft, felt Yoshi in a crafted kingdom, working your way through levels, finding collectibles, and dressing up in adorable cardboard costumes to avoid getting hurt by enemies.

In addition to the ease with which you can avoid taking hits, you can also turn the game on Mellow Mode at any time to give Yoshi wings and show where hidden secrets are, so you don't have to worry about falling off cliffs or missing Smiley Flowers! And, like some of Nintendo's other platformers, a second player can join in at any time, allowing either two kids to play together or a parent to guide a child through the game easily.

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Yoshi's Crafted World

Yoshi roams the Crafted World collecting things, and it supports co-op. It's a straightforward game, but that makes it perfect for giving to your kids.

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Luigi's Mansion 3

It's fitting for the younger brother of the world's most famous gaming character to be on this list. Your younger siblings may not have played Luigi's Mansion 1 or 2, but that's totally ok. Luigi's Mansion 3 is a standalone adventure that finds Luigi once again tasked with clearing paranormal patrons from a haunted hotel. 

It's one of the best-looking titles on the system, and its simple controls and concept will make mastering the controls a breeze. There's also a two-player local co-op and eight-player local and online multiplayer for competitive play.

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Luigi's Mansion 3

Want your kids to have a spooky game to play, while still finding something that's age-appropriate? Luigi's Mansion 3 is the perfect solution. There's so many ghosts to catch, and it supports co-op!

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Minecraft

The open-world sandbox game seems to just keep growing. Currently the best-selling game of all time, Minecraft has come a long way from its humble Java beginnings. 

In Minecraft, players explore a blocky, procedurally generated 3D world with infinite terrain, where players can build, mine, and explore to their heart's content. You can also play with friends no matter what console they're on. There is a reason why kids love Minecraft — it lets their creativity soar to new heights and brings them closer to their friends in new and exciting ways.

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Minecraft

Minecraft is the world's best-selling game for a reason. Build, create, fight, and explore, all in an environment that safe for a younger audience. This is the perfect place to allow their creativity to explore.

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Minecraft Dungeons

Have a kid in your life who is obsessed with Minecraft and wants more? Why not let them try Minecraft Dungeons, a simple dungeon crawler set in the Minecraft universe. The gameplay mechanics are simple and easy to understand, and perfect for kids interested in games with an action RPG edge. 

Minecraft Dungeons is a unique dungeon crawler that Minecraft fans will enjoy with a steady stream of content and fast-paced, four-player crossplay co-op.

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Minecraft Dungeons

Maybe you have a kid that you know will enjoy dungeon-crawling mechanics, but isn't quite ready for the gore of Diablo? Then Minecraft Dungeons is the way to go. It supports cross-play, so everyone can play together across devices.

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Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated

SpongeBob has been around for more than two decades now and still charms the hearts of new and older fans alike. Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated is a remaster of the beloved 2003 SpongeBob platformer, complete with the show's voice cast and plenty of references and callbacks to our titular hero's nautical nonsense.

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Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated

This classic platformer is back on modern hardware. If you have any kids that enjoy Spongebob, let them try this out. It's a good way for them to have fun solving puzzles in a game that won't be too innappropriate.

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Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is one of the best Nintendo Switch games you can buy, and it's easy to see why. Mario has been charming the videogame masses for years, and he's done so by keeping players on their toes, constantly changing, and reimaging the platformer genre with every release. 

Super Mario Odyssey sends Mario on, well, an odyssey. Mario travels across worlds, collecting moons to power his airship so that he can follow the nefarious Bowser and save Princess Peach. He is assisted by Cappy, a wisp that takes control of Mario's hat, allowing Mario to body swap with enemies. Super Mario Odyssey has something for everyone, and younger kids will adore Mario's out-of-this-world adventure.

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Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is a must-buy for any fans of Mario games, and it's perfectly suitable for any kids. In fact, with the more modern gameplay and level design, this is a great choice for someone's first-ever Mario platformer.

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ARMS

There's no shortage of great fighting games for the Nintendo Switch, but ARMS is by far the most unique. In ARMS, you fight with your arms, extending them at your enemy to deal damage. ARMS is a simple fighting game that uses the Switch's Joy-Cons to control the right and left arm, with the ability to add attachments to each to give you an edge in combat.

 Younger gamers will love getting involved with the fight by flailing their arms around with their on-screen character, the colorful design and aesthetic, and the catchy music. If you're feeling confident, take the fight online or compete in local multiplayer.

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ARMS

Punch each other with this unique fighting game. You might not want to your youngster playing something like Mortal Kombat, but ARMS is more than okay for a younger age range. 

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New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

There's no doubt that the plucky plumber Mario is the king of platformers, whether he's reaching new 3D heights with Super Mario Odyssey or returning to his roots in a 2D platformer like New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. The cooperative Mario Bros. game makes the jump from the Wii U with finesse. 

Mario games are generally great for beginners, but New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes two new characters, Toadette and Nabbit, which act as easy and very easy modes, respectively. This way, players of all skill levels can play together and help each other get to the goal. Or stand in front of each other and cause mayhem.

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New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

If you have a kid that wants to play Mario, but you need a game that more than two people can play together, then New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a great option, with multiple characters so everyone can find their favorite.

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Kirby Star Allies

Who can not love Kirby? The lovable pink puffball with an insatiable appetite has been a mainstay on Nintendo consoles for years, and for good reason. Kirby games are simple, fun, and perfect for all ages and skill levels. 

In Kirby Star Allies, mix and match 28 abilities to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. Play with three other players and combine powers to form a powerful ability.

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Kirby Star Allies

Kirby Star Allies is a very casual game that adults may not find engaging, but it's the perfect game for a young kid that wants to play through the adventures of Kirby.

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Gaming not just for kids, but with kids

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It's hard to go wrong with finding games for kids on the Nintendo Switch, as long as you pay attention to the ESRB ratings (E for Everyone, E10+ for Everyone 10 and up, and so forth) and make sure that you keep an open dialogue with your children about what they are playing. Staying actively engaged with what interests them and asking them questions about what they play and how it makes them feel are vital to ensuring their gaming time is safe. It can also help to download the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls mobile app to monitor their gaming time better and ensure their online interactions are secure.

Different games will be appropriate depending on the child's age, but Super Mario 3D World + Bowser Fury is a good start for most ages. It's perfect for solo play and multiplayer, so be sure to grab an extra controller as well. 

Outside of specific games that will be okay for children, it's also worth looking at the differences between the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite if you haven't purchased the hardware yet, to see if the Lite version is more appropriate for your children.