The 8 Best Nintendo Switch Kids' Games of 2019

See which titles will make your kids smile from ear to ear

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Super Mario Odyssey

5

Super Mario Odyssey is by far the best Nintendo Switch game for kids due to its huge 3D kingdoms, diverse environments, fluid sandbox and entertaining gameplay. The new installment of the Mario series includes a ton of items and costumes for Mario to collect and a new way of playing by controlling object, characters and animals (dogs, dinosaurs, etc.) with your hat.

Huge levels like cities modeled after New York, vast green jungles and desolate deserts await Mario in Super Mario Odyssey; the game has so many different places to explore that you'll always discover something new. If you happen find something interesting, Mario’s hat, Cappy, can be thrown at it and players can interact with it. The open world game encourages exploration while collecting various items and stars in order to complete objectives.

Best Racing: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

4.6

By far the best racing game ever, especially for kids, is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch. Both kids and parents alike can enjoy the long-established series of Mario Kart, as the game is filled with classic tracks, characters and that familiar rush from previous iterations. Just make sure that no one gets too into it – it’s that fun.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is best with multiplayer, allowing up to four players to share the screen locally as they go head-to-head on their TV in split-screen mode. There are over 42 characters, 48 tracks and various vehicle combinations like motorcycles, providing for a definitive and full experience of a Mario Kart racing game. Best of all, kids can take their Switch out for a handheld mode adventure and play with others who have the game.

Best Action/Adventure: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

4.4

For any kid that loves adventurous explorations, The Legend of Zelda: Breadth of the Wild is by far the best game on the list. The award-winning game features a beautiful humungous world in a sandbox environment where players can explore on their terms without time constraints.

The Legend of Zelda: Breadth of the Wild has players climb up towers and mountain peaks to traverse new areas and set their own path into ​the wilderness. It’s a world filled with gigantic monsters, friendly animals, as well as various ingredients and items that kids can mix and match to create new concoctions. The Legend of Zelda: Breadth of the Wild has plenty for a kid to do, with over 100 Shrines of Trials, hundreds of items, as well as various lands filled with friends and foes.

Best Strategy: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

4.8

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a turn-based tactical role-playing video game where kids are encouraged to rely on their critical thinking skills. The game features both single and multiplayer modes and features characters from the beloved Mario and Raving Rabbids series.

In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, players lead a group of three heroes (like Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach) and four Rabbids. Each stage consists of a series of battles with turn-based gameplay, kind of like chess. The strategy turn-based action game is great for any kids and players who want to think tactically and play a game that's a little more mature than the rest on the list. It’s not a hard game to play, but it is a hard game to master.

Best Shooter: Splatoon 2

4

Believe it or not, there is a kid-friendly Nintendo Switch shooter game for kids called Splatoon 2.

Who says shooter genres have to be bloody and violent? Nintendo’s Splatoon 2 instead takes the approach of being a paintball style game that focuses less on brutal realism and more on family fun.

Splatoon 2 is a team-based, third-person shooter where players use colored ink to attack opponents and beat goals. Players can transform into squids and navigate through the ink that splattered in order to avoid detection. Various game modes include an online and offline multiplayer Turf War battle where players must cover the entire level with ink. The game features a variety of different weapons and is just as fun and intense as the more popular shooters on the market.

Best for Casual Play: Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition

There’s no rush or hurry in Minecraft. Kids can enjoy a nice casual game where they can build whatever they want without expensive Legos. Minecraft is only limited by the player's imagination, generating huge random worlds where kids can build anything from little homes to gigantic cities using virtual blocks and crafting items like ladders, stairs and more.

Minecraft features two gameplay options: Survival and Creative Mode. Kids who play Survival Mode will have to mine deep for resources and building materials and will be forced to fend off giant spiders, skeletons, zombies and other mobs of enemies when the sun sets. Creative Mode offers a more relaxed way of playing, giving infinite resources for players to build whatever they want on their own time at their own pace. The game also features a multiplayer mode, so kids and their friends or parents can join in on building something together. 

Best Sports: FIFA 18 Standard Edition

FIFA 18 is by far the best sports game on the Nintendo Switch and features beautiful lifelike graphics and engaging gameplay that looks like an actual soccer game. Kids will be excited to know that the game offers a mode where they can create their own players and teams.

Built from the ground up specifically for the Nintendo Switch, FIFA 18 provides an immersive gaming experience with a high definition presentation. Players have multiple gameplay options, allowing for offline multiplayer play with the Joy-Con controllers. There's also single-player and even an online mode to face off other players. Multiple game modes like FIFA Ultimate Team have you creating and unlocking new characters for your fantasy soccer team, as well as in-depth Career Mode to advance to a championship and local seasons. Any kid who wants a thorough sports game experience and loves soccer will love FIFA 18.

Best for Dance: Just Dance 2018

If you have active kids who like to move and groove, then Just Dance 2018 is the Nintendo Switch video game for them. Considered to be one of the best dancing game series, Just Dance 2018 features modern artists like Ariana Grande and Maroon 5 and players have to mimic dance styles in order to play.

In Just Dance 2018, players select from a variety of 40-plus songs and dance to it by copying a virtual dancer on screen. You don’t have to worry about having an extra controller either, as Just Dance 2018 allows players to use their smartphone to control their movements with the Just Dance Controller app. The game features multiple modes, but most notably, there's a multiplayer option for up to six players to all dance together at once, perfect for any slumber party.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought five top-rated Nintendo Switch kids’ games and our reviewers tested them for more than 200 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these games, from their activity level to their to age rating. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Nintendo Switch Kids’ Game

Rating - You wouldn’t let a kid watch an rated-R movie, so why would video games be any different? All games have an Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating, which guides you in choosing a game that will be both fun and age-appropriate for your child. The rating consists of three parts: rating categories (“E” for everyone; “E10+” for ages 10 and up; “T” for teens; “M” for mature 17+; and “A” for adults only), Content Descriptors (Comic mischief, mild language, etc.), and Interactive Elements (In-Game Purchases, Users Interact, Shares Location, Unrestricted Internet, etc.).

Franchise - If your kid is already keen on a franchise, sometimes it’s best to stick with it. Mario, Zelda, Minecraft, and FIFA are all popular and age-appropriate and many have expanded into new game genres. Tired of the same old characters? Try a new game that has different gameplay, worlds, and challenges.

Activity level - If you’re struggling to keep your kid active, buy a game that keeps them moving. As opposed to casual games like Minecraft, more active games will encourage your children to get up and dance, like Just Dance. It will show them that activity can be fun too!

Test Results: Super Mario Odyssey (Best Overall)

5

What We Like

  • Creative worlds to explore

  • Fun gameplay

  • Balanced plot

  • Smooth controls

What We Don't Like

  • A wide range of difficulty

Super Mario Odyssey
Lifewire 
Super Mario Odyssey
 Lifewire
Super Mario Odyssey
 Lifewire
Super Mario Odyssey
Lifewire 

According to our tester, this game was “100 percent” worth buying: “Don't even bother trying to wait for a sale or something,” she urged. “Just get the game. Between its beautiful graphics, great storyline, and amazing gameplay, it's worth every penny.” Although he noted that some of the puzzles are “extremely complicated,” his main complaint was that there wasn’t more content: “This is an amazing game,” she said. by far a must play for everyone owning the Switch.

Test Results: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Best Racing)

4.6

What We Like

  • Smooth controls and handling

  • Fun maps

  • Wide variety of characters and vehicles

  • Great co-op gameplay

What We Don't Like

  • No easy way to see all stats

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
 Lifewire
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
 Lifewire
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Lifewire 
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Lifewire 

Our tester loved this racing game because it was fun and well-designed: “The controls are smooth and natural, and even players who aren't great at racing games can handle Mario Kart,” she said. “The maps are unique, giving interesting aspects to each race so things don't get overly repetitive or boring.” The one thing she felt it was missing, however, was an easy way to see all your stats: “There isn't a great menu for comparing stats of kart parts—only a hidden menu you have to know how to open,” she noted. “There also isn't a menu for seeing character stats.”

Test Results: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Best Action/Adventure)

4.4

What We Like

  • Beautiful graphics

  • Smooth controls

  • Tons of content

What We Don't Like

  • Plot is lacking

  • Puzzles can be extremely difficult

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Lifewire
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Lifewire 
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Lifewire
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Lifewire 

Our testers loved this game for its “beautiful, eye-catching graphics” and the fact it was designed with the Switch in mind: “It feels very smooth while playing,” she said. In terms of downsides, our tester felt the game was missing a few things: “I would include more goals, such as specific quests and game achievements,” she said. “Sometimes one could get lost in the game, just wandering and yet not feeling like they were achieving much.” Still, our testers felt that Zelda fans—and even those new to the franchise—would find this game fun and entertaining.

Test Results: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Best Strategy)

4.8

What We Like

  • Fun graphics

  • Humorous plot

  • Well-balanced game play

  • Smooth controls

What We Don't Like

  • Long cut scenes

  • Occasionally repetitive

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
 Lifewire
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Lifewire
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Lifewire 
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
 Lifewire

“There’s little to dislike about this game,” said our testers. “The gameplay is fun and balanced, the graphics are clean and bright, and the plot is humorous.” In terms of negatives, she wished that the cut scenes at the beginning were shorter. She also thought that some of the timed puzzles were a little “awkward and hard to accomplish in the time allowed.” Overall, though, our reviewers felt the plotline was well-written and captivating.

Test Results: Splatoon 2 (Best Shooter)

4

What We Like

  • Creative premise

  • Lots of cosmetics

  • Snappy controls

  • Variety of multiplayer game modes

What We Don't Like

  • Juvenile gameplay

  • Lack of plot

Splatoon 2
 Lifewire
Splatoon 2
Lifewire 
Splatoon 2
Lifewire 
Splatoon 2
Lifewire

“The premise for the game, involving squid-people or Inklings, is unique and makes for bright and colorful graphics and characters,” remarked our tester. She also liked that, even though it’s a “shooting game,” it was both accessible and non-violent: “The gameplay allows for those who aren't so great with aim to still be useful and feel skilled,” she said, “as the focus is on spreading ink across a map rather than getting kills.” On the other hand, she had a slight issue with the multiplayer mode: “The multiplayer doesn't allow for much a skill-gap,” she explained, “so for those used to more competitive shooters, there isn't a lot of ability to grow and get better at the game.”