- Kirby and the Forgotten Land
- Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Pokémon Quest
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Eevee!
- Yoshi's Crafted World
- Luigi's Mansion 3
- Minecraft Dungeons
- Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated
- Super Mario Odyssey
- New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
- Kirby Star Allies
- Kirby's Dream Buffet
- Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
- Nintendo Switch Sports
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 without worrying about what they might get into. That's as long as you pick the right games, of course.
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.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
In Kirby and the Forgotten Land, players explore environments like abandoned shopping malls and other urban areas trying to uncover the secret behind a world in ruins. Kirby has some new talents and ways to fight off his enemies like mouthful mode where he can literally wrap his mouth around a whole car and drive it around. The silly animations and vibrant world keep kids engaged.
These stages are simple enough for kids to follow but still offer a little challenge. It's a 3D platformer with puzzles to solve along the way. The platforming aspects are made easier thanks to Kirby's floating ability which allows kids to recover from a misstep instead of plummeting to Kirby's death. What's more, Kirby and the Forgotten Land offers two-player co-op, so you can play with your child.
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.
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 weather and activities in the game change with real-world seasons, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Get from: Nintendo
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. Plus, the lastest game makes it easy for kids of any age to play.
Motion steering can be an improved way for younger children to try and drive the karts. Not to mention, 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 instead of going backward or falling off the track. Plus, while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has an online mode, the interactions are limited to a set of friendly phrases, so there's no chance they'll run into bad content online.
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!
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. The one thing to be aware of is that these games are text-heavy. So if your child isn't reading comfortably on their own it can be a challenge.
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.
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.
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.
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. Plus, they can spend their time doing whatever they want instead of being stuck doing what the game wants them to do.
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.
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.
Some platforming aspects will be more difficult than others for younger children to master. However, the ability to wander around and meet these silly underwater characters will delight and entertain kids of all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kirby's Dream Buffet
This game brings Kirby and his friends together again is this fun party game! Players race their Kirby character through a world of deserts while dodging obstacles and enemies. The goal is to get the most strawberries by the end of the four food-themed stages. Whichever Kirby is the largest wins! As players do more rounds in Kirby's Dream Buffet, they will earn rewards like costumes, character treats, and other customization.
This game only supports up to two players on one Switch. The game does offer races for up to four players at once, however, you need to connect another Switch in local wireless play to do that.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope
The Rabbids and the Mario group have paired up for another adventure in Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope. They have to take on the galaxy to save the Sparks! Kids will enjoy jumping from planet to planet with a new boss to challenge at each one. Players build a team of three heroes and improve their skills as they play.
This game is filled with silly moments and bright visuals that will keep kids entertained. You can play as Mario, Peach, Luigi, and more as well as their Rabbids counterparts who dress just like them. Battles are turn-based and each character has unique weapons and skills at their disposal. It teaches strategic thinking and puzzle solving without being violent.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Get the kids on their feet and moving no matter what the weather outside is with Nintendo Switch Sports. Using the Joy-Cons and a leg strap accessory players can enjoy a game of golf, soccer, volleyball, bowling, tennis, badminton, or chambara. Each week there will be new rewards and accessories available to earn as you get more points. Online play is available where you can challenge opponents from across the world, but there is no chat feature so it remains safe for kids.
You'll want to make sure that your children wear the Joy-Con wrist strap while playing Nintendo Switch Sports to prevent the controller from accidentally flying out of their hands while they do any swinging motions.
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.
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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance gaming writer who started working for iMore and its sister sites Windows Central and Android Central in July 2019. He handles news, previews, reviews, and exclusive original reporting, and has also been featured on TechRadar.
With a background studying engineering before he shifted his focus to gaming journalism, he's skilled at identifying technical advantages and disadvantages provided by different hardware. If he’s not writing something, he’s off playing video games, spending time with his pets, exercising, or reading. He's also fond of trying to draw things with his iPad.