Best Nintendo Switch Games for Young Kids iMore 2021
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 little 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.
- Featured Favorite: Pokémon Quest
- Build a Home Away from Home: Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Nintendo Switch
- Cutting Through the Clutter: Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!
- Drive into The Sunset: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch
- Call it a Draw: Crayola Scoot
- Save or Destroy Metropolis: LEGO DC Super-Villains (Nintendo Switch)
- Ready for Adventure!: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
- A Good First Pokémon Adventure: Pokémon Let's Go! Pikachu and Eevee
- Arts, Adventures, and Crafts: Yoshi's Crafted World for Nintendo Switch
- Dance, shoot, build, and win: Fortnite for Nintendo Switch
- You've gotta be brave, or else!: Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch
- An adventure that's different every time you play: Minecraft (Nintendo Switch)
Featured Favorite: 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.
Build a Home Away from Home: Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Nintendo SwitchStaff Pick
Up to four players can work together to build an island paradise together, 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.
Cutting Through the Clutter: Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!
Snipperclips is a cute puzzle game that requires you to cut paper shapes into new shapes to accomplish certain tasks, such as fitting within a specific size space or performing a task related to movement and positioning. The game can be played alone or with up to four total people, making it a great game to let your kid enjoy and then join them for later on. Though some of the puzzles, later on, might get a bit tricky for very young kids, most will be able to follow what the game wants from them and enjoy finding new ways to snip and clip the paper friends into the right shapes. Plus, Snipperclips is a great game to work on problem-solving skills with your kids!
Drive into The Sunset: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch
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 that same experience to your kids. 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, though 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.
Call it a Draw: Crayola Scoot
Crayola Scoot can be a bit of a drag if you were looking for a more complex, colorful take on something like a Tony Hawk game, but for its intended kid audience, it's perfect. Players can scooter around various tracks and challenges while spraying different Crayola colors of paint on the ground, perform tricks, and customize characters with gear they win by improving their scooting more and more. With limited sets of challenges, clear goals, lots of customizability, and an extremely kid-friendly set of characters and objectives, Crayola Scoot is a perfect way to introduce young kids to skating games in a low-pressure environment.
Save or Destroy Metropolis: LEGO DC Super-Villains (Nintendo Switch)
If you're looking for a solid game for a young kid, any Lego game will probably do the trick. Even the games based on darker properties, such as the Marvel Universe, are transformed into kid-friendly and fun adventures when Lego gets its hands on the game. Lego DC Super Villains is the most recent of these creations, so it's likely the one your kid is eyeballing and the one with the most updated mechanics and content. Players create a custom supervillain and join other famous Marvel faces on an adventure throughout Metropolis. They'll gain new skills, build new Lego creations, and may end up accidentally saving the city!
Ready for Adventure!: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Captain Toad 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 skillsets. It's also a great game to play with your child by using the co-op mode to point out hidden areas and help guide them through levels!
A Good First Pokémon Adventure: 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 Eevee is a great place to start. These games focus more heavily on catching Pokémon with systems similar to those found in Pokémon Go, make use of the Joy-Con motion controls for throwing Poke 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.
Arts, Adventures, and Crafts: Yoshi's Crafted World for Nintendo Switch
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.
Dance, shoot, build, and win: Fortnite for Nintendo Switch
What can we say about Fortnite that hasn't already been said? Fortnite might not have been the first battle royale, but it is by far the most popular, largely thanks to its constantly evolving world and lore, tons of crossover events and characters, and its undefeated cross-play experience. While you can't get Fortnite on your iPhone right now, thanks to a legal battle between Epic and Apple, the game works just fine on your Nintendo Switch, and yes, it's still free to play. Just make sure you monitor your kid's interactions online.
You've gotta be brave, or else!: Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch
Fitting for the younger brother of the world's most famous 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.
An adventure that's different every time you play: Minecraft (Nintendo Switch)
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.
Dungeon crawl with your friends: Minecraft Dungeons - Nintendo Switch
Have a kid in your life who is obsessed with Minecraft and wants more? Why not 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.
A polished new favorite: New Super Lucky's Tale for Nintendo Switch
Reminiscent of old school 3D platformers like Banjo Kazooie and Crash Bandicoot, New Super Lucky's Tale is an expanded version of Super Lucky's Tale, which originally came out on the Xbox One in 2017. This version of Lucky's Tale includes quality of life changes to the gameplay, including tweaks to the camera and platforming. This is a much-improved version of the game that fits nicely with Nintendo Switch's great catalog of platformers. It'll be sure to charm younger gamers and older gamers alike.
The best of the best: Super Mario Odyssey - Nintendo Switch
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.
A Lego open world adventure: Lego City Undercover
Lego City Undercover is sort of like a GTA game for younger players. While that may sound horrifying given the source material, Lego City Undercover is a family-friendly adventure for all ages. You play as Chase McCain as he returns to Lego City to do battle with his rival, escaped crime boss Rex Fury. Originally released on the Wii U in 2013, this Switch version improves the visuals while keeping the game's humor and design intact.
Stretch out your limbs: ARMS - Nintendo Switch
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.
Four player Mario: New Super Mario Bros Deluxe U
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 Super Mario Bros Deluxe U. 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.
Katamari, do your best!: Katamari Damacy Reroll
When the King of All Cosmos accidentally destroys all the stars in the sky, he orders his pint-sized princely son to restore the twinkle to the night sky. Katamari Damacy's gameplay is simple – you push a ball and collect everyday items, building a ball of stuff big enough to replace the stars above. The simple gameplay loop is infectious as players grow their humble katamari to new, insanely huge heights. Reroll is a remaster of the classic game but keeps the classic soundtrack intact. Younger gamers will love the absurdity of the gameplay and the catchy tunes.
Save the world with your friends: Kirby Star Allies - Nintendo Switch
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.
Gaming not just for kids, but with kids
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.
Depending on the child's age, different games will be appropriate, but Pokémon Quest is a good start for most ages. It's free, cute, simple, and engaging over time, and it's a good gateway to games like Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee later on. 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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