If you’re looking for a great family gaming console, the Nintendo Switch is a great option. While there are a ton of great single-player games, there are also a lot of family-friendly games that you can play together. Games like Switch Sports and the Kirby series are perfect for co-op. More competitive games like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. are also good for some surprisingly fast-paced battles. There are some strategy games like Advance Wars, too.
Assuming you only have one Switch, here are the best multiplayer games that are worth playing with your family, which we keep updated as new titles appear. Remember, this is just a list specifically focused on games that have some sort of family-friendly same-Switch multiplayer mode — for other picks, check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games. If any strike your fancy, Nintendo sometimes even offers demos through its online storefront.
If you’re looking to do same-room multiplayer gaming, just make sure your Switch is TV dockable. The most recent OLED-screened Switch, like the original TV-connected Switch, are both better family picks than the smaller Switch Lite, which only works in handheld mode, and doesn’t have those useful sharable Joy-Con controllers. (Switch Lite owners could do multiplayer, but you’d need to buy extra controllers and huddle around the tiny screen.)
Note: Most of the links below are for the physical copies of the games, sold via Amazon, Walmart, GameStop and other retailers. You can alternately buy and download all of these directly from the Nintendo eShop, straight from the Switch. Just make sure you have a microSD memory card with ample capacity to store game data.
Read more:Find Your Nintendo Switch Friend Code, Share Screenshots and More Tips
For anyone who’s ever played a Game Boy Advance way back, Advance Wars will be remembered fondly. For anyone else, think of a military-strategy game like Nintendo’s Fire Emblem, but with tanks and soldiers and helicopters. Nintendo’s remaster of the first two Advance Wars games feels more like a strategy board game on the Switch, almost like something you’d play in Nintendo’s excellent compilation Clubhouse Games. The turn-based game is very focused on strategic planning, and it’s easy for multiple players to join in at once from a single Switch. New maps can be created, too, adding a lot of replay value. Yes, this is a war game, but the action is cartoonish and there’s no actual violence other than explosions. It plays more like an animated version of Risk.
There are tons of Kirby games on the Switch. The pink shape-shifting puffball is a perfect alternative to Mario, offering less-demanding gameplay for kids who might find Mario games a bit too challenging. This 2D game is a remake of a Wii classic, with much-improved graphics and a bunch of fun competitive (but not too intense) mini-games you can play, too. There’s a lot to do, and co-op supports up to four players at once. This replaces our previous suggestion of Kirby: Star Allies, another good 2D Kirby game that’s fine as an alternative. If you want an even better Kirby game (that’s also tougher), though, buy Kirby and the Forgotten Land.
Remember Wii Sports? It’s back, and the six kinetic motion-controlled games on Switch Sports are a lot of fun for same-room two- to four-player gaming, connected to a TV. You should definitely aim for using a TV-docked Switch with this one, and keep in mind that Switch Sports isn’t a game made for handheld playing on the go (although you could play while huddled around the Switch screen with Joy-Con controllers held in-hand, in a pinch). There’s a $40 digital version or a $50 physical version that includes a leg strap you can use with the Soccer game.
Read our Switch Sports review.
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Mario plays soccer (or football) in this update to a Wii classic. The four-on-four matches support up to eight players on a single Switch, making this one of the best options besides Super Smash Bros. for large groups. The fast-paced, chaotic matches can be a little tough to keep track of which player you’re controlling, though. Online leagues give it life beyond same-room multiplayer, too.
Read our Super Mario Strikers review.
Here’s the other Kirby game, which is the best one but not quite as ideal for very young kids (and lacks four-player co-op). This stellar 3D platformer is full of secrets, fun powers, and a difficulty level that’s still not that intense. It ramps up to some surprising difficulty levels in bonus stages later on. I’d put Forgotten Land above the others, but Dream Land Deluxe bears consideration too.
Read our Kirby and the Forgotten Land review.
Years ago, Nintendo had the Brain Age series that was full of math and logic quick-reaction puzzles to “train your brain.” Big Brain Academy was another game in that same tradition. This Nintendo Switch version focuses on two- to four-player competitions over a handful of math, logic and analysis minigames, rewarding quick thinking. The game’s fun, and there’s a daily “test” of your speedy skills as well as chances to try to beat ghosts of others online. Though it feels too short, I’d love to have more games like it on the Switch. Controllers feel like a weird way to interact with some games, but there’s a touchscreen option for two-player head-to-head games too. There’s a free demo on the Nintendo eShop to play before you buy. See if you like it.
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WarioWare games, if you’ve never played them, involve surviving rapid waves of strange arcade-like quick-reaction minigames. Get It Together is a collaborative and competitive game for two players (and more in some of the multiplayer modes), with a variety of game modes and arcade-like challenges. If it’s on sale, it’s well worth considering.
Read our WarioWare review.
There are two great Mario Party games on the Switch: Super Mario Party was the first, and leans more on motion controls. But Nintendo’s recent remastering of a bunch of classic N64 and GameCube Mario Party game boards, called Mario Party Superstars, is also excellent. The minigames are more button- and controller-focused, which I prefer if I don’t have a lot of room to play. Also, this Mario Party can be played in handheld mode or on the Switch Lite, which you can’t do with Super Mario Party.
Nintendo/Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
There are plenty of Mario games on the Switch, and a lot of them are listed below. Super Mario 3D World originally was made for the long-gone Wii U, but its mix of local and online multiplayer (up to four players) offers a lot of fun chaos on the Switch. An extra (but short) game called Bowser’s Fury only uses the second player as a helper, but this bonus game’s a welcome extra. If you want even more multiplayer Mario, see New Super Mario Bros. U below. Or for creative Mario, try Super Mario Maker 2.
Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Nintendo’s new collection of family board games and retro games bundles 51 surprisingly fun worldwide classics, with online play and local multiplayer. The game also supports local Switch-to-Switch play with a free bridging app. Many games do two-player; a few do three- to four-player. A few games like Bowling are almost like a return to Nintendo’s Wii Sports. It’s a great instructional tool for games like backgammon, chess or even shogi, mahjong and hanafuda, and there’s a lot of stuff to keep entertained over the summer. It’s also equally good on a TV, huddled over one Switch, or played between several Switches.
Read our Clubhouse Games review.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become an absolute phenomenon last year, and for a lot of people it’s now the game to buy a Switch for. The casual, calming, social community game just lasts forever, and a new multiplayer mode allows more than one player to wander around and play at the same time. This co-op game has a lot of ways to connect with other players and friends, too.
Also, Animal Crossing is an ideal multiplayer game for homes where any sort of group play becomes a battle royale. There’s no winning, just planting trees, catching fish and chatting with other players — an ideal video game scenario for the super-stressed. Just be forewarned that you can only make one island per Switch, so get used to sharing.
Fans and newcomers to the Mario Kart series alike will never get tired of Mario Kart 8. The game’s dozens of tracks are excellent, and local multiplayer with four players can get crowded on a smaller TV, but this Nintendo Switch game is fantastic. It’s one of the very first games that we’d recommend for Switch multiplayer. It also has an online multiplayer mode, so it’s a great game for your kiddos to play with fellow quarantined friends without actual interaction.
Read our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.
Nintendo’s long-running Mario Party series is like a video board game with a bunch of wacky minigames thrown in. The Switch Nintendo console version also has a rhythm-dancing party game that’s a good little workout, too, and a collaborative game where players paddle down a river together. My family loves this one — it’s just overall an excellent game.
You may get into some arguments, or you may find this builds teamwork. This party cooking game is madness, and it’s a perfect couch co-op game for a single player or for four players at once. Seriously, you’re going to get stressed. But it’s so fun.
Besides being a Mario construction kit and mini-course on game design, not to mention being full of user-made levels to download, four players can play levels together too. Super Mario Maker has an endless fountain of things to try. By the way: if you’re playing directly on the Switch, a basic stylus (seen here) is a great tool to use.
Read our Super Mario Maker 2 review.
Nintendo/Screenshot by Alfred Ng/CNET
The Switch’s eight-player multiplayer game has a lot of fighting, but it’s of the cartoon kind. There are a growing number of characters to add to a roster that’s already at 75 and counting. This couch co-op fighting game is another game that allows for online play, or you can join everyone on one screen (it gets crowded).
Read our Smash Bros. Ultimate review.
Nintendo/Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Nintendo’s version of Ghostbusters, but with Luigi — if you haven’t played, that’s the best way to think of this ridiculously charming, Disney-like haunted house game. A two-player co-op mode works through the whole game and might be the best way to play.
Read our Luigi’s Mansion 3 review.
Nintendi/screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Nintendo’s cute planet-exploring and treasure-hunting strategy game, which involves collecting, caring for and using populations of plant-like Pikmin, first came out on the Wii U console years ago. The Switch update adds two-player co-op through the whole game. The open maps encourage teamwork, and a handful of party modes and challenges levels are included too. It’s the best Nintendo franchise you’ve probably never played.
Nintendo’s papercraft platformer slightly extends into the third dimension, with a two-player co-op mode. It joins a number of other fun games that are also platformers in Nintendo’s roster, but Yoshi’s challenges are a bit gentler, and more focused on discovering secrets and surprises.
A cheaper Mario Kart, or perhaps WipEout for the Switch, this futuristic hover-racing game was an early Switch launch title, and it’s really underrated. It does multiplayer wonderfully.
Mario Tennis is unforgiving. Mario Tennis has lots of characters and enemies. Mario Tennis has online modes, and it’s maybe one of the best Switch sports games. There you go. It’s Mario characters playing tennis with crazy power-ups.
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I still prefer Mario Tennis over Mario Golf, but this party-oriented golf game adds some twists that are better in groups. A speed mode (which is why it’s called Super Rush) has players golfing at the same time, even interfering with other people in the game. A battle mode gets even nuttier. The game does two-player split-screen on a single Switch, or four-player turn-based golfing (two players can also play online with others simultaneously on one Switch). There’s also a lengthy single-player adventure mode, too.
Read our Mario Golf: Super Rush hands-on.
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The sequel to an older console Marvel series of games, Ultimate Alliance 3 feels like Diablo or an arcade brawler, but with a roster of dozens of Marvel characters to play. It’s repetitive at times, but the joy of collecting characters is a lot of fun, and you can keep switching your heroes throughout.
Read our Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 review.
Two paper-things solve puzzles together by snipping pieces of each other. Or battling each other with snips. It’s a puzzle game with a lot of different play modes, perfect for two at a time.
Tetris 99 is a must-have Tetris battle-royale online game, but Sega’s Tetris game works with four-player battles, and includes Puyo Puyo, which is another puzzle game worth your time. There’s a long story mode, too.
Super Mario Odyssey is a stellar Switch Mario game, but this remaster of a Wii U classic is the one for four-player action. It’s an old-school, platformer-style Mario game, with an extra Luigi mode that adds harder challenges.
Nintendo’s cardboard experiment is still worth a try if you can find it online and have an original TV-docking Switch (the OLED and Lite won’t work with all its parts). The all-cardboard folding construction kit, which takes hours to put together, is like a craft kit and game rolled into one. Once built, the wild inventions in each Labo kit have a ton of extra games and things to tinker with and try. It’s crafting and gaming combined. (While there’s also a very cool Labo VR set that’s worth trying, the original Labo 1 variety kit may be the best package to go for with several kids.)
Read our Nintendo Labo review.
Co-op dungeon-crawling, but with Minecraft. For kids who want a battle experience but aren’t ready for something as intense as, say, Diablo, Minecraft Dungeons is plenty of pixelated fun to play through. It’s a spin-off game, so don’t expect normal Minecraft. But it’s fun on its own terms. It’s also part of the Xbox Game Pass if you have the other console.
Read our Minecraft Dungeons review.
Free with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, from $4 a month, the NES, Super NES and Game Boy games that live on the Switch are actually a great little repository of two-player or pass-and-play gaming. Many of the games have two-player modes, which work well in a tabletop Switch mode with Joy-Cons detached, and there’s enough arcade, action and sports stuff to keep kids occupied for hours. Or do high-score battles. It’s not every game we wanted, but it’s a lot. Note: I’d mention the N64 and Sega Genesis games (and Game Boy Advance games) on the Switch as well, which are great, but those require an additional bump-up subscription price that probably isn’t worth it unless you’re a die-hard N64 fan (although, Goldeneye N64 is still pretty great).
This couch co-op is a lot of frantic fun for up to four players. The controls and gameplay are simple so that even younger kids can play and the level bosses are just challenging enough to keep things interesting but not impossible. It’s a good option if you’re looking for something to play in short bursts, but it does have 100 levels to get through and Taito will release additional content for download, including new stages and the character Baron von Blubba. The original 1986 version of the game is included, too.
Do you need Nintendo Switch Online to play?
Nintendo’s subscription service, called Nintendo Switch Online, is needed for online play with multiplayer games, but not for locally-played games. If you’re playing with friends in the same room or locally between Switches, you don’t need Nintendo Switch Online. But, if you’re planning on playing with friends anywhere else, you do.
What controllers do you need?
You can play most Switch multiplayer games using a single Joy-Con, which are the two controllers that snap onto the sides of your Switch. Some games, however, require the extra buttons and analogue sticks of two Joy-Cons at once. Keeping a few sets of Joy-Con controllers around is usually all you need, but there are a number of good third-party controllers that work well, too.
What makes a good Switch multiplayer game?
All the games on this list can be played with people in the same room using a single Switch, which is something I feel is important for parents who don’t want to buy a second Switch. There are a number of co-op games on this list that can offer lots of fun team play, but a number of them are competitive and have near-unlimited replay value. I play with my kids a lot as I test games, and it becomes pretty clear which ones are the most interesting to them. I also appreciate that these games are pretty much all perfect for a wide range of ages.
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