Video games can be a great way to spend time with your kids—overcoming challenges and completing objectives (even digital ones) together is satisfying and, more importantly, fun. And, the Switch is great for local co-op—not only does the console come with two (admittedly limited) controllers out of the box, but Nintendo has just always been the go-to option for couch multiplayer.
There are plenty of multiplayer games on Switch, but as the title suggests, we focused on games with cooperative gameplay—competitive games won’t be getting a mentioned here (sorry Mario Kart). Besides that, we tried to stay away from higher-difficulty games for the sake of everyone involved.
So, without any further ado, let’s get into it.
Pink Puffballs: Kirby Star Allies
The Kirby franchise has always skewed its focus on low-stakes platforming. The simple controls and easy-to-understand mechanics mean they’re perfect pick up and play games for players of any age. And, in Star Allies (the newest entry in the franchise), you’ll be running through the colorful world of Popstar to save it from a dark cosmic threat.
The Kirby staple of copying enemy abilities is here as expected, but you can also use the new friendship hearts to recruit enemies to your side. In co-op, players can switch between the various recruited enemies. Besides the normal platforming sections and boss encounters, there are also many times where multiple characters will have to use their abilities at once to solve puzzles and pass through obstacles.
Star Allies also features a few additional modes (such as time trials and a boss rush) for those searching for more challenges after the main campaign.
Handcrafted Platforming: Yoshi’s Crafted World
Another 2D platformer, this time featuring everyone’s favorite green dinosaur. Yoshi’s Crafted World is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Yoshi’s Wooly World on Wii U. Crafted World features the same laid-back platforming of Wooly World, this time with an arts and crafts visual style that’s delightfully creative the whole way through.
Crafted World’s special trick is that you can play every level in a “flipped” mode to find additional collectibles and easter eggs. Even with the numerous collectibles, the game is on the shorter side of things, but the charm that oozes out of every corner more than makes up for it.
You can play in two-player co-op, with each player controlling their own Yoshi. There’s also a linked mode where one Yoshi will ride on the other for any challenging sections of the game—the passenger Yoshi will still be able to throw eggs to help out in this mode though.
Split-Screen Construction: Minecraft
You probably already know about Minecraft, as you or your kid have probably already played it. But what you may not be aware of is the split-screen support in the console versions of the game—which of course, includes the Switch.
You can do all the Minecraft staples of mining, building, and exploring, while each having your own part of the screen to pay attention to. This means you can each do what you want while still being able to work together when the time comes. You can play with up to four players on one screen (although that can get a bit cramped).
Conjoined Island Living: Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The latest entry in the Animal Crossing series expanded on the co-op capabilities of the game with full four-player co-op. In previous entries, multiple people could share the same town using the same console, but there was no way to play at the same time together. In New Horizons though, you can play at the same time and do … what you do in Animal Crossing.
The co-op works by having one “party leader” who controls where the camera is aimed (the leader can be changed at the push of a button) and then everyone can follow the leader to fish, catch bugs, or collect materials. While there’s not a ton to do in co-op, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is still a perfect “chill-out” game to play together.
Cartoony Ghost Hunting: Luigi’s Mansion 3
This slightly spooky Mario spinoff expanded on the previous two Luigi’s Mansion games by moving from mansions to a full-on resort. But just like the previous two games, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is still all about collecting coins and catching ghosts.
You actually have a couple of options for multiplayer here: there’s the “ScareScraper,” which has multiple minigames for two players (while six others can join either through local wireless or online), then there’s the main campaign, which is entirely playable in two-player co-op. One player plays as Luigi, while the other plays as “Gooigi.” You each have your own “Poltergust G-00” so you can explore rooms for cash and ghosts.
Ragdoll Delivery Service: Totally Reliable Delivery Service
We’re Five Games
Working for a delivery company is not on many people’s bucket list, but this isn’t just any normal delivery service. The premise of Totally Reliable Delivery Service is quite simple: you get your packages out of multiple terminals spread throughout the surprisingly large map and deliver them to the objective markers.
But actually getting to the destination isn’t so simple. Your avatar carries a lot of momentum here, along with some general ragdoll physics. It can make it difficult to learn how to control your character at first, and after you do get the hang of it comes the next challenge: vehicles. From helicopters to dune buggies, you’ll need to use these vehicles to reach your objective on time.
The physics are ridiculous, and the vehicles feel impossible to control at times, but the game manages to make this more comedic than frustrating. And, you can play the entire game in two-player split-screen.
Knitted Adventure: Unravel 2
The original Unravel was praised for its beautiful visuals and clever puzzles, and Unravel 2 comes with both of those while adding two-player co-op. You’ll each play as your own “Yarny,” navigating the impressive landscapes while using your yarn string to solve puzzles. The puzzles are well thought out and built around two players, so you’ll both always have something to do.
You can also use your string as a grappling hook of sorts, which is always fun.
Co-Op-Friendly Minigames: Super Mario Party
Mario Party may not be the first franchise you think of when it comes to cooperative gameplay—quite the opposite usually. However, Super Mario Party has some interesting and fun co-op minigames. Of course, you’ve got all the Mario Party staples of boards and various competitive minigames, but you also have access to 10 four-player co-op minigames.
These games range from sorting sports equipment, catching fish, or ice-skating with penguins—normal Mario Party stuff. And, if you only have two players, you can always play the 2v2 minigames and work together to defeat the bots.
Brick-ified Puzzle Platformers: The LEGO Series
The LEGO games are all pretty similar to each other—they all use the same basic gameplay engine with some slight tweaks here and there. However, they shouldn’t be ruled out, as they offer some great co-op play. In all the games, you can hop in and out of two-player co-op at any time.
The gameplay here is pretty simple, and the games never get too difficult. But a large part of the fun of these games is just trying out the multitude of unlockable characters and collecting the mass items in each stage. And, with the wide selection of LEGO games available on Switch currently, there should definitely be at least one that piques your kid’s interests.
Currently, you can find LEGO Jurassic World, The LEGO Movie 2 Video Game, LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO DC Super-Villains, LEGO The Incredibles, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, LEGO NINJAGO, LEGO Worlds, and LEGO City Undercover on Switch usually retailing for $25-$60. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga will also be releasing on Switch later this year.