The best Switch games to play with kids

Looking for the best Switch games to play with your kids? You’re in the right place! Nintendo has long been my favorite game company because it always keeps me smiling. Its flagship series for each of their consoles captures the imagination and hearts of all ages, the Switch being no exception. What’s really awesome is that several of the best Switch games for adults are also amazing for little ones! Looking at the top-selling Switch titles, I see so many of our family’s favorites. Of course, I haven’t tried all of the library, but these are the best Switch games to play with kids from our experience!

Collage of best Nintendo Switch games for kids, including AC: New Horizons, Captain Toad, Mario Kart 8, Luigi's Mansion 3, Let's Go Pikachu, Ring Fit, Mario 3D All Stars, Mario 3D World, and Mario Maker 2

A few disclaimers! My girls are 3 and 4 years old. They’re able to hold the joy cons and do a few things in each of these titles, especially when a second player can provide support (a single joy con is a bit small for me personally but fits perfectly in their little hands-another reason the Switch is great for kids). But at their age a lot of “playing with” is me doing the bulk of gameplay while they’re watching and “helping” by telling me what I should do!

Though I’ve talked about most games on the list elsewhere on The Chozo Project, I’m going to focus here on why my kids love it. Enjoy the list, and enjoy gaming with your family!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A relaxing, low-key experience for adults is also a relaxing, low-key experience for kids! Though all of the crafting mechanics in Animal Crossing can be a bit complex for younger kids, they can still participate in in the gameplay because it’s so low-stakes. There’s really no wrong way to play this game, which makes it perfect for kids! My older daughter really enjoys changing outfits of our characters, fishing, and “going potty”. It’s pretty humorous to let your kids guide your day in Animal Crossing: New Horizons-it’s a great chance for them to be creative!

Animal Crossing New Horizons on Switch, bell bag, and Blathers amiibo
My copy of Animal Crossing also came with this “bell bag” that the girls love playing with!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

I was so glad to see Captain Toad get a full-fledged game back on the Wii U. It was charming, innovative, and made creative use of the GamePad! And of course, it was inevitably ported to Switch. My kids love the colorful landscapes in each level, the ability to rotate the map, and especially the little dance Captain Toad does when getting all the stars! This one definitely gets challenging as it goes on, but it’s nonetheless a joy to play with the family with its bite-size levels.

Captain Toad Treasure Tracker Switch and Toad stuffy
It’s hard for me to resist when my girls ask for a Nintendo stuffie!

Luigi’s Mansion 3

I never quite got into Luigi’s Mansion back on the GameCube. Or on the 3DS! But I wanted to give this one a try because the reviews were stellar and it seemed perfect to play around Halloween. And I’m glad I did-my entire family LOVED it! The graphics are breathtakingly gorgeous. The detailed and design in every floor of the hotel is astounding. And it’s so very charming! Luigi and all of the ghosts are very expressive and humorous. My girls adored the “spooky fun” atmosphere and trying to vacuum and collect every last object! It may occasionally be a bit too scary for very little ones (my girls thought all hotels would be full of ghosts after playing it!), but on the whole one of the best Switch games to play with kids.

Luigi's Mansion for GameCube, Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon, and Luigi's Mansion 3
It’s only a matter of time before I attempt Nintendo-themed family Halloween costumes!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

This is my go-to game for non-gamers. It’s impossible not to be charmed by the magic of this entry. And really, does anyone not like Mario Kart? It’s a great one to start kids with too! Between the joy con controls and being able to enable “auto steering” and “auto acceleration”, kids have an easy time learning the ropes. Just so you know, “auto steering” is activated by default! You’ll need to pause with a specific controller and add automatic acceleration for kiddos (and deactivate auto steering for adults). Mario Kart 8 is not only the best in the series but also packed full of Nintendo whimsy. The numerous courses are beautiful, the music is endlessly catchy, and there’s tons of replay value. My girls also hilariously love the “baby” versions of several main characters. At least someone does!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Switch with pink, green, blue, and yellow joy cons
The bright colors of the joy cons also make them more fun for kids! (and for me…I love bright colors!)

New Pokemon Snap

Despite being a short experience, I’ve always loved Pokemon Snap on the N64. It was so unique- an “on rails” game where you take pictures of Pokemon in their natural habitat, trying to get the best shot you could. So I was pretty delighted when a sequel was announced (we only had to wait 20 years or so!). This is both an extremely calming game and just a joy to play with your kids. Even though my girls are only familiar with a handful of Pokemon, they love watching them react to all the various items you can use during gameplay! The game is so laid back and low stakes that they easily can try it themselves, or just tell me what I should do in each level. Plus, the game is just GORGEOUS. We all love it!

New Pokemon Snap for Switch, original N64 cart, camera, and Switch Player Pokemon Snap issue #52!
Love this cover of Switch Player magazine, too! I highly recommend them if you miss print magazines.

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu!

Like a lot of gamers my age, I have a nostalgic fondness for the first generation of Pokemon. So this remake on Switch was an easy sell! I actually took my daughter Eleanor to buy this over Thanksgiving break when she wasn’t even a year old. (I’m not going to lie, I used her enthusiasm over the Pokeball Plus to justify buying the version that included it!). The whole Let’s Go experience is delightful with kids. It’s simple but colorful and expressive. My girls loved all of the Pokemon designs and animations, especially when your Pikachu jumped off of your arm into battle! I highly recommend it to any Poke-parents out there.

Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu box, Pikachu stuffy, Pikachu amiibo, Pokeball Plus, and Pokemon Snap
We’re big fans of Pikachu in our house!

Ring Fit Adventure

I started playing this exercise game at the start of the great quarantine (I was lucky enough to pick it up far before prices skyrocketed on eBay) and it became one of my favorites of 2020. And my girls were enamored from the start! They seriously love the game for the same reasons I do. It’s colorful, easy to follow, a good amount of challenge, and just a bit silly! They (attempt) to do all the stretches, runs, and exercise attacks with me, until they inevitably get tired and just start telling me what to do. Either way, it’s a great way to both get a workout in and have some fun with my kids!

Ring Fit Adventure box
The “Ring-con” is surprisingly sturdy and fun to use!

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

I’m sadly writing this days after Nintendo has discontinued all sales of this game both physically and digitally. I think we’re all holding out hope they will see the error of their ways and bring it back! If you already snagged a copy, know that it’s easily one of the best Switch games to play with kids. I’ve seen quite a few stories from fellow gamers playing with their littles ones online, and all have similarly positive experiences. My girls in particular really loved Super Mario Galaxy (or “Mario in Space”, as Zoey called it!). Between the beautiful graphics, whimsical gameplay, and gorgeously orchestrated soundtrack, it’s pretty enchanting for all ages! Zoey even picked out the Rosalina doll below for her sister. When she saw it on the shelf she exclaimed “that’s the lady that takes care of all the stars that don’t have a home!”. Not gonna lie, I teared up a little.

Mario 3D All-Stars with Super Mario 64, Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Sunshine, and Rosalina stuffie
The world of Mario Sunshine is bright and colorful but I could never get into the game!

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

This was the first game I played after recently moving and getting our little rental set up! And it was the perfect choice. I hadn’t played the game since 2015 on the Wii U, so it was nearly new to me. As video games have always been a source of comfort in stressful times, it was a delight to sit on the couch with my two girls and relax in this colorful world! I already adored the game for its creativity, whimsy, and charm. But playing it again with my daughters, and experiencing the stellar new Bowser’s Fury, made it all the more special. Oh, and they’re obsessed with the Cat Suits. I mean, who isn’t??

Super Mario 3D World for Wii U and Switch, and Cat Mario/Cat Peach amiibos
Don’t worry, we’ve opened the Cat amiibo-the girls love playing with them!

Super Mario Maker 2

Keeping the Mario train moving here! The main reason Mario Maker makes (ha!) the list is that you can design very simple stages for your kids current abilities! It’s a nice, stress-free way for them to get comfortable with comfortable with controlling Mario. And they feel empowered after beating a few simple levels! My girls also love to weigh in on what I should include in stages I design (spoiler: ludicrous amounts of the same thing again and again!). And as kids get older, they can start designing on their own. My 6 year old nephew is already a beast and making some ingenious levels!

Super Mario Maker 2 with screwdrivers and hammer
I only wish I was better at designing levels myself!

Yoshi’s Crafted World

We actually bought the Yarn Yoshi amiibo before buying this game! I mean, they’re ludicrously cute and my girls were really excited about them. So we eventually got the game too! Yoshi’s Crafted World is great to play with kids sitting nearby or co-op with them participating using a joy con. The graphics are colorful and charming beyond belief, yet it’s cute without being “too cute”. There’s even a “mellow mode” where Yoshi always flies, barely gets hurt, and has more heart pick-ups, essentially eliminating fear of dying. Perfect for kids!

Yoshi's Crafted World, Woolly World, and Yarn Yoshi amiibos
So cozy!

Have you tried any of these games with kids? What would you add to the list of best Switch games to play with kids? Or maybe you have more specific questions about how I played any of these titles with my own daughters? Let me know in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “The best Switch games to play with kids”

  1. An indie that I HIGHLY recommend for the whole family is A Short Hike. Just gorgeous. One of my favourite games of last year.

    Another great game for all to enjoy is New Super Lucky’s Tale. Apart from the post-game it’s very easy but it’s very inventive and a lot of fun.

    1. I love A Short Hike! I played through it when my kids were too little to really engage with it and need to play it again-I even have a Short Hike shirt from Fangamer 🙂

      And I’ll have to check out Super Lucky’s Tale since all of us love platformers!

  2. Zoey’s Rosalina comment 😭

    I’ll have to check out Luigi’s mansion the next time it’s on sale. Reviews were good and you’ve always spoke well of it. I’ll never forget how I felt about the original Luigi’s Mansion during the GameCube launch (read: this is adequate and looks pretty but this is no Super Mario 64!).

    Yoshi’s Crafted World has been and continues to be a hit in our house. Our kids still talk about the “hidden flower levels” at the end of the game which require 30 flowers each to unlock. Such a big number for little kids!

    While not Switch exclusive, the Nintendo Switch Online subscription is a cheap, easy way to show your kids some classic fun. Excitebike (NES) and the Kirby games (NES, SNES) come to mind. Donkey Kong Country 1+2 (SNES) are also visually appealing and fun to run through.

    I wonder what indie Switch titles would be suitable for the younger set?

    1. Brilliant mention of the NSO titles! We’ve played quite a bit of Yoshi’s Island and DKC in our house as well :). Always important to appreciate the classics!

      Excellent question about indies for kids. I’ll have to think on that one, and maybe do a separate post? I’ve definitely played a few with the girls (Snipperclips, Shantae, and Donut Country come to mind) that they enjoyed!

      1. +1 to Yoshi’s Island as well on Nintendo Switch Online. They love it and I’ve rediscovered/appreciated it. I didn’t know what to think about Yoshi’s Island way back in 1995 but I realize now it is a work of art. The colorful levels, the warping and stretching and scrolling of the sprites is beautiful. Physical purchase before it’s out of reach? Oh wait CIB is already out of reach 😊

        1. I’ve appreciated it much more recently too! Just walking through the levels is an absolute joy, and the soundtrack is just happiness in musical form 🙂 I loved all of the boss encounters too, particularly the epic final battle!

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