Even before I spent every single day at home with my family, figuring out what we should do to entertain ourselves, the Nintendo Switch was a great family game console. It’s doubly, triply, quadruply more now. Unfortunately, it’s also hard to get at the moment. The original TV-connected Switch is the harder system to find, but it’s also the one I’d recommend for families, since it has better battery life, and it connect and be used for home multiplayer — on the smaller Switch Lite, you’d have to huddle around that tiny screen and buy extra controllers, no matter which Switch game you’re playing.
Assuming you only have one Switch, here are the best multiplayer switch games for families that are worth gathering together to play. Luckily, you have plenty of options when you’re looking for a video game with multiplayer mode. We’ll update this as we try more multiplayer games.
Note: Most of the links below are for the digital copies of the games, sold via Amazon. You can alternately buy and download all of these directly from Nintendo’s eShop, straight through the Switch’s interface. This is good, because getting to a store these days feels like an epic journey to Hyrule. Just make sure you have a decently sized microSD memory card inserted to store game data.
Read more: Nintendo Switch: Find your friend code, share screenshots and more top tips
Let’s just start with this one, which has become an absolute phenomenon. 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. It has a lot of ways to connect with other players and friends, too.
Also, Animal Crossing is an ideal multiplayer game for homes were 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.
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 four-player multiplayer can get crowded on a smaller TV, but it’s fantastic. It’s one of the very first games that we’d recommend for Switch multiplayer. It also has an online multiplayer mode, so your kiddos can play with fellow quarantined friends without actual interaction.
Nintendo’s long-running Mario Party series is like a video board game with a bunch of wacky minigames thrown in. The Switch 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 one for four players at once. Seriously, you’re going to get stressed. But it’s so fun.
Super Mario Maker 2
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. It’s 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 the review.
Alfred Ng / CNET
The Switch’s best fighting game is also a ridiculous multiplayer brawl, with eight players at once. This will get all your frustrations out. Also, there are a growing number of characters to add to a roster that’s already at… 75? More? This is another game that allows for online play, so this is a great option for anyone with kids complaining they can’t hang out with their friends can have them play this video game with each other.
Read our Smash Bros. Ultimate review.
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.
Read GameSpot’s Mario Tennis Aces review.
Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
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 other 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.
Now that real sports leagues are on hold, either of these franchises are excellent stops to play out the season virtually and challenge your family. Depends on whether you prefer FIFA or the NBA (we’re picking FIFA here, just based on personal preference).
There’s a Smash Bros. vibe running through this side-scrolling game, surprisingly, and the extra minigame and battle modes give this four-player co-op game extra life. It’s a better package than you’d expect.
Read GameSpot’s Kirby Star Allies review.
If it’s hard to get exercise indoors, Just Dance is an active alternative to Ring Fit Adventure and works with the Switch’s included Joy-Con controllers. You could buy any version of Just Dance and be happy.
The cheapest great pick on our list, this is a co-op puzzle game with two- and even four-player modes. No-brainer buy — it’s currently $2.24.
This all-cardboard folding construction kit, which takes hours to put together, is as perfect a trapped-inside activity as you could ever find. Especially if it’s on sale. 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.
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