Quality time returns with the best family games for Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch is the best console to check out if you want to play games that are great for the whole family. It has an excellent catalog to choose from whether you want to race in go-karts, explore the world of Pokemon, cook up a feast, or go head to head in ridiculous minigames. While there are plenty of excellent games to choose from, the best is Super Smash Brothers with fast-paced, easy to pick up gameplay that parents and kids alike will have fun with.
Best Overall: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
Super Smash Bros is what happens when you take a game built around having all of your favorite video game characters smash each other to smithereens. It’s an explosion of chaos and fun made for people to play together. There are 108 different maps and 74 different unlockable characters that you can play, giving you tons of options for families when they want to play.
Controls in Smash Brothers are made to be approachable. You use the control stick and two buttons to move and launch attacks. Each character has their own special moves, but the basics stay the same across the board. There aren’t any health bars in Smash, which makes it feel like you have a fighting chance even if you’re getting punched off the platform. Instead, a percentile shows up above your character, the higher this number goes, the more likely it is that you can be KO’d and knocked completely off-screen.
Overall, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate delivers a game that is built for multiple players and has a low barrier for entry. It’s an excellent option for parents and kids to play together, even though you’re kicking each other off of the platforms. With tons of levels and dozens of characters to unlock, there is plenty here to love.
- Easy for new players to jump in
- More than 50 characters to choose from
- Tons of gameplay options
- Fights can be frustrating until you get the hang of controls
Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
- $60 from Amazon
Time to brawl
Pit parents and kids against each other in a brawl between all of your favorite Nintendo characters in one place.
Best Value: Overcooked 2
In Overcooked 2, you and up to three more friends all play as chefs in the same kitchen. The game aims to prepare and serve the dishes that the Unbread army asks. The meals you need to make will appear in the upper right corner of your screen, and once you serve a dish, another one will appear. Many recipes take several steps to complete, and some ingredients can be used on multiple food items.
Along with the chaotic gameplay of making recipes, each level has its flair. Some of them require you to use portals to get around, run along moving walkways, or deal with other chaos. At times, you might feel like Overcooked 2 is more of a platformer than a quick-play game, but it never gets less fun.
- Nine new recipes to master
- Throw option eliminates food waste
- Awesome new levels to play through
- Gameplay gets chaotic with 3 or more players
- $37 from Amazon
Cook up a storm
Overcooked 2 delivers a fun and frantic kitchen game with silly levels and an excellent co-op mode.
Best Racing: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers up 48 different tracks in a variety of terrains, including underwater portions. You’ll see old favorites like Toad’s Turnpike and Twisted Mansion, but there are tons of new ones as well, like Water Park or Cloudtop Cruise. 3DS players will also recognize several of the tracks. Each one offers up their pitfalls, and it’ll take time to master them all. You have access to all of the tracks and characters (except one), including content that was initially part of DLC pack’s back on WiiU’s Mario Kart 8 in 2014. There are also several new characters for you to check out.
To access the best karts, you’ll need to play some races. Winning races gives you coins, which you’ll use to unlock various parts. You’ll need those parts to upgrade your kart to make it a better contender when you’re on the track. Three new kart bodies are available for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. You can also play online with friends or random players from the internet, and it’s a smooth process. Trying to find races is never particularly difficult, and lag doesn’t seem to be an issue.
- 48 different tracks
- Tons of characters to choose from
- No course will be challenging for seasoned racers
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- $50 from Amazon
Lean into the turn
Experience the craziness of racing a go-kart with new characters, new courses, and tons of fun.
Best Competitive: Splatoon 2
Splatoon 2 takes a different tact when it comes to a shooter. While each person does have a gun, you aren’t firing bullets. Instead, your goal is to paint over the level and other combatants in the color of your team. You can play in local or online multiplayer with up to eight players, which makes this an excellent game for families whether everyone is in the same location or not.
Splatoon 2 managed to take everything awesome about the first game and streamline it, delivering an updated experience that continues to bring hours of fun to your Nintendo Switch. There are a variety of different weapons you can use, including fast-paced inkbrushes, close-combat coverall sloshers, and dual-wielding pistols. There are also new weapon powerups that can break stalemates or shift the battle into your favor. Gear has even gotten an update, letting you unlock remarkable secondary abilities that allow you to customize how you play.
- Non-violent shooting fun
- Awesome co-op horde mode
- Fun gameplay mechanics
- Online matchmaking can take forever
- The campaign is only about 6 hours long.
- $60 from Amazon
Team up together or throw paint at each other with the frenetic paint splattering gameplay of Splatoon 2.
Best Party: Super Mario Party
Super Mario Party is all about games inside of a game. You and up to three other players choose characters and move across a game board by rolling dice, hoping to snag the star that will let you win at the end of a set number of turns. Along the way, you’ll gain coins, compete in minigames, try to recruit allies, and have plenty of fun. Super Mario Party is the best entry in a few years, going back to basics and delivering a fun time for everyone involved.
The game is broken up into several different modes, each of which has its quirks. The most popular mode is going to be party mode which lets you play across four game boards and access the 80 different mini-games. In the mini-games, you’ll roll die to move across the board as you aim for stars. Of course, without the coins that you gain from winning mini-games, you won’t be to collect them. This adds a level of strategy to gameplay that has always been a cornerstone of Super Mario Party games. There are some new additions, like allies which can help you to roll better or acquire more coins along with different modes of play which deliver different experiences and minigames.
- You can link two Nintendo Switch systems
- Tons of fun minigames to learn
- Up to 4 players
- Only four boards to play on
- Split-screen on minigames is somewhat cramped
Super Mario Party
- $50 from Amazon
Collect the stars
Compete in minigames, roll the dice and try to be the one to collect enough stars to win at this multiplayer game.
Best Exploration: Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu
Return to the Kanto region where Pokemon started with a new buddy of either Eevee or Pikachu. This return to the first region explored in Pokemon is a nostalgic trip that any Pokemon fan will enjoy. Catching Pokemon in these games is similar to that of Pokemon Go, and you’ll be able to see them on screen. This makes it easy to avoid Pokemon you don’t want to capture or chain together, catching multiple Pokemon of the same species for bigger bonuses.
Whether you are playing Pokemon Let’s Go, Eevee, or Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu, your sidekick, has their strengths and personality. They react to the things you do and are seriously powerful pocket monsters. If you do a good job training your little buddy, they can mow through just about anything thrown at them including teams of other Pokemon.
- Awesome Pokemon sidekick
- Great gameplay mechanics
- Fun graphics
- Capturing erratic Pokemon is a chore
- Battle can become monotonous
Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu
- $45 from Amazon
A shockingly good time
Explore the Kanto region, challenge other trainers and catch ’em all with your buddy Pikachu!
Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee
- $45 from Amazon
Gotta catch ’em all!
Explore the Kanto region with your buddy Eevee and become the best trainer there ever was!
Every game on our list is a fun time for families who want to spend some time together but don’t want to be bored while they do it. With such a wide variety in the types of games Nintendo Switch makes sure that every family has options when it comes to gaming for quality time. Out of all of them, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate delivers the best experience.
With easy controls and great graphics, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is an easy game to pick up and enjoy even for parents who don’t usually game. When you add in over a hundred different stages and dozens of characters to unlock, it’s easy to see why this game is great for families to play together.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner has been a gamer for more than twenty years and has spent hours fighting to win stars in Super Mario Party, firing off blue shells in Mario Kart and getting her butt kicked in Super Smash Brothers. You can follow her on Twitter.