The 8 Best Nintendo Switch Kids' Games of 2020

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

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The Rundown
"By far the best Nintendo Switch game for kids."
"By far the best racing game ever, especially for kids."
"Features a beautiful humongous world in a sandbox environment."
"heavily inspired by titles like Advance Wars in order to provide current generations of consoles and PC gaming platforms with a high-quality strategy game."
"Believe it or not, there is a kid-friendly Nintendo Switch shooter game for kids."
"Huge random worlds where kids can build anything from little homes to gigantic cities."
"Rocket League combines elements of soccer and demolition derby to create a fast-paced and frenetic game that's fun for both adults and kids."

The Nintendo Switch unsurprisingly proved to be Nintendo's best-selling console in years. A combination of its portability, its unique form-factor and features, and child-friendly games has made it a great console for children and adults alike. It also shouldn't come as a surprise that there's a wide range of first-party games exclusive to the system, many of which appeal to kids.

Our reviewers tested each game, evaluating the plot, gameplay, graphics, and child-friendliness. Both adults and kids will find something to like here. For a look at more games, check out our general list of best Nintendo Switch games across all genres, or for some awesome add-ons, our best Switch accessories roundup.

Best Overall: Nintendo Super Mario Odyssey

What We Like
  • Creative worlds to explore

  • Fun gameplay

  • Smooth controls

What We Don't Like
  • Variable difficulty

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. Our reviewer particularly liked how the game combined the new visuals of these worlds with the old visuals of previous Mario games, adding to nostalgia. 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.

"Simply put, if you own a Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey is a must buy." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best Racing: Nintendo Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

What We Like
  • Smooth controls

  • Fun maps

  • Diverse set of characters and cars

  • Great co-op gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to see all stats

  • Some learning curve

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. Our tester enjoyed Hover mode the most, where you can take side ramps and ride a part of the map that defies gravity. She thought the controls were smooth and intuitive throughout the game. Best of all, kids can take their Switch out for a handheld mode adventure and play with others who have the game.

"Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is great for kids, especially those with a more competitive streak." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

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

What We Like
  • Smooth controls

  • Beautiful graphics

  • Tons of content

What We Don't Like
  • Lacking in plot focus

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. During testing, it was clear Nintendo spent a lot of time and consideration on making sure fights were engaging. Our reviewer faced difficulty ranging from simple battles against the bokoblin's, to more complex fights against mini-bosses like the stone talus. 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.

"Nintendo took a lot of time and consideration when it came to the visual design of Breath of the Wild, making us love the game even more for it." — Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best Strategy: Chucklefish Wargroove

What We Like
  • Scalable difficulty

  • Map and campaign creation modes

  • Encourages varied gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • May be difficult for very young children

Wargroove is a turn-based strategy game developed and published by Chucklefish. It's development was heavily inspired by titles like Advance Wars in order to provide current generations of consoles and PC gaming platforms with a high-quality strategy game. Players take the role of Mercia, queen of Cherrystone, as she leads her army against hordes of vampires, monsters, and undead. Players eventually gain the ability to use special commander moves to heal their units or give certain bonuses. Different units working together give special damage or defense bonuses, encouraging players to develop different tactics for taking down enemy units. 

The main campaign is relatively short, maybe 12 hours, making it great for children who are getting interested in turn-based strategy games. Wargroove also supports multiplayer via local connections on online play. Players can either battle one another to see who is the best commander or work together to take down a common enemy. Multiplayer mode also lets players create custom maps and campaigns to share with friends, boosting replay value. Single-player mode has scalable difficulty, letting players set individual parameters for income, damage taken, and special ability charge times in order to create a truly custom experience.

Best Shooter: Nintendo Splatoon 2

What We Like
  • Creative gameplay

  • Snappy controls

  • Lots of multiplayer game modes

What We Don't Like
  • No plot to speak of

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. Our reviewer thought the game's premise made it unique compared to other shooters, along with the fact that it features a variety of different weapons and is just as fun and intense as the more popular shooters on the market.

"Splatoon 2 is a game that we felt was far more appropriate for a younger audience than an older one." Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best for Casual Play: Mojang Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition

What We Like
  • Fun sandbox gameplay

  • Lots of depth to crafting

  • Plenty of content

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks overarching plot

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. Our reviewer played with his six-year-old son and thought the game was particularly enjoyable while in 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. 

"Minecraft remains such a pure and compelling sandbox experience, dropping players into a blocky world full of seemingly endless possibilities." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best Sports: Psyonix Rocket League

What We Like
  • Cross-platform play

  • Single and multiplayer

  • Multiple game modes

What We Don't Like
  • Gameplay can feel "floaty" at times

Rocket League combines elements of soccer and demolition derby to create a fast-paced and frenetic game that's fun for both adults and kids. Players use rocket-powered cars to move a ball around an arena in order to score points or destroy cars on the opposing team. There are speed boosts available and the ability to select custom rules, or "mutators," in matches to affect gravity as well as the size and speed of the ball for more silliness in matches. There is a single-player mode that allows players to compete in a "season" against AI-controlled opponents in order to rise in the ranks and build a winning team. 

Multiplayer is available with both local and online play and supports up to eight players across two teams. Matches last five minutes with "sudden death" overtime if a game is tied, making for quick rounds and truly crazy gameplay. Psyonix has introduced more game modes based on ice hockey and basketball for varied matches and gameplay. Rocket League features cross-platform play, meaning that if your friend has a copy for their PS4, but you have a Nintendo Switch, you can still play together. In 2016, Rocket League won three BAFTA awards for Best Multiplayer, Best Sports, and Best Family game.

What We Like
  • Kid's Mode

  • 40 new songs

  • Local and online multiplayer

What We Don't Like
  • Just Dance Unlimited costs extra

Just Dance 2020 is the latest entry in the popular rhythm and dance series. Like previous titles, players use the Switch Joy-Con controllers to track movements as they try to match on-screen dance moves. It supports both single-player and multiplayer for up to four people, making it great for parties or get-togethers with friends. Online play lets you see leaderboards of the best dancers per song so you can compete with friends and other players from around the world to see who has the best dance moves. 

Just Dance 2020 features 40 new songs from popular artists like Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and Panic! At the Disco. It also has songs from Frozen II and a dedicated Kid's Mode that produces a playlist of songs suitable for very young children so they can play along with older siblings. With a Just Dance Unlimited subscription, you'll get access to over 500 songs that were featured in previous titles as well as exclusive tracks and dances.

Final Verdict

If you're a big fan of RPGs, one of the best is Breath of the Wild, if you want a good party game, you won't go wrong with a competitive racer like Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon 2. There's plenty of games to pick from (and quite a few variations of Mario to enjoy).

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate kids' games based on design, accessibility, fun, replayability, and more. We also carefully weigh how appropriate a game's content is for the specified age group, and how intentionally tailored for children it is. Our testers also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the games we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.

About Our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.

Andrew Hayward has covered games since 2006, writing for publications like TechRadar and Polygon. He's a pretty big gamer himself and owns and uses a Nintendo Switch at home which he often plays with his six-year-old son.

Kelsey Simon is a long time gamer who has written for Lifewire since 2019. She owns a variety of systems including a Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite.

What to Look for When Buying Nintendo Switch Kids' Games

Gameplay - Nintendo games have always been effective at straddling the balance where they appeal to kids and adults equally. With adventure-driven platformers like Mario Odyssey, you get just the right mix of fun, child-friendly graphics with gameplay that's unique and challenging. Breath of the Wild, an open-world RPG has more plot and mechanics to it, but it's also not so complex that a child will get lost.

Graphics - Games on the Nintendo Switch have perfected an art style that makes them stand out from the rest. Breath of the Wild has a particularly unique graphic style reminiscent of more "adult" games like Witcher 3 or Skyrim, with an esoteric twist that lends itself to a fantasy world. Splatoon 2 goes for the more traditional cartoony graphics, making the competitive shooter seem fun and colorful, rather than bloody and violent.

Kid-Friendliness - It's rare you'll have to worry about child-friendliness on Switch games. From Mario + Rabbids Kingdom to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the majority of first-party Nintendo games will avoid any kinds of graphic violence, profanity, nudity, or other adult content. The only games you might want to watch out for are console/PC ports like Witcher 3 which tend to have darker, more adult content.