The 9 Best Xbox One Kids’ Games of 2021

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The Rundown
"One of the most influential games ever made comes to Xbox One with the Minecraft Master Collection."
Best 2D Platformer:
Ubisoft Rayman Legends at Amazon
"The colorful, fun characters and scenery combined with the satisfying platforming makes Rayman Legends fun for both kids and parents to play."
"Players take on the role of the two titular characters making their way through massive, colorful worlds."
"Each game has LEGO's signature slapstick humor and seamless drop-in/drop-out multiplayer."
"LEGO Jurassic World recreates the events of the first four Jurassic Park films with TT Games’ signature humor."
"Similar to games like Diner Dash, Overcooked! 2 has you and up to three friends chopping, sauteing, and serving your way to success in a number of hectic kitchen scenarios."
"Best described as a cross between a demolition derby and soccer, Rocket League is a fast-paced, crazy good time."
"Yoku’s Island Express is a far cry from your typical pinball video game, and features a unique fusion of pinball and side-scrolling platforming mechanics to explore a Metroidvania-style open world."
"Improves on the best ideas of its predecessors and adds a massive amount of new content."

The best Xbox One games for kids are engaging, high-quality examples of how Microsoft’s popular console can keep everyone in the family entertained. Even with the newer-generation Xbox Series X and Series S systems freshly launched, these titles are proof that players of all ages can still find much to enjoy on their Xbox One (or One X or One S) consoles.

Parents and caretakers can best judge what’s appropriate for each particular child, but most kids should be able to handle many of these games on their own. Some may call for adult guidance depending on the young player’s maturity and skill level. Some feature familiar faces like Marvel superheroes, while others introduce colorful new characters. Some, like Minecraft, have genuine educational value. Others, like Plants vs. Zombies, lets kids experience the typically “grownup” multiplayer shooter genre, but without the violence and intensity of Halo and other mature Xbox mainstays.

There’s an Xbox One game for just about any kid’s interests, and—with overall outstanding options like those in the list below—there’s plenty to keep adults interested for a long time, too.

Best Overall: Microsoft Minecraft Master Collection

What We Like
  • Educational and sparks creativity

  • Split-screen and online multiplayer

  • Great value with bundled extras

What We Don't Like
  •  Too open-ended for some

Minecraft, at this point, is more than just a game. It’s an important piece of culture that stands strong with no signs of crumbling any time soon. Since its original pre-alpha PC release in 2009, the game has drawn millions of players on essentially every console. On the Xbox One, it harnesses the console’s hardware to support massive worlds and impressive distances, all while maintaining the now-iconic blocky aesthetic. You can play with up to four players in local split-screen or even more in cross-platform online multiplayer. Opting for the Master Collection nets you valuable goodies beyond the base game, including skins, textures, and themes from the Starter Pack and Creators Pack DLCs, plus 1,000 Minecoins to pick out even more add-ons from the Marketplace.

Even without the extras, Minecraft’s core experience is still more than enough to hook kids and adults alike. The more traditional “game” aspect can be found in Survival Mode, where you explore the map, harvest resources, and build structures in order to survive the baddies that appear at night. But Creative Mode is where Minecraft becomes more of a “toy,” letting you loose to build and play and push the limits of your imagination. It’s such a powerful creative tool that, as our reviewer points out, that an Educational Edition of the game is put to use in classrooms to help train young minds in problem-solving, innovation, and coding.

“My six-year-old son has become obsessed not only with playing Minecraft and experimenting within but also reading about the ecosystem in books and gaining ideas for his next session.”Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Best 2D Platformer: Ubisoft Rayman Legends

What We Like
  • Smooth, enjoyable co-op platforming

  • Art, music, and gameplay blend seamlessly

  • Drop-in four-player co-op

What We Don't Like
  • Not much plot

  •  Can get chaotic with four players on-screen

Any young gamer can benefit from a taste of classic 2D platforming gameplay, and that’s the tried-and-true yet refined experience you get with Rayman Legends. You leap and glide through expertly designed levels within six imaginative worlds, taking down baddies and bosses while saving little blue Teensies and collecting Lums as currency. Everything feels smooth and satisfying, and co-op for up to four players makes it perfect for children and adults to enjoy together.

The levels start off easy enough for most kids, but they organically progress to offer a genuine challenge for players of any age. Rayman Legends somehow finds new gameplay surprises to throw at you, even within the same stage, keeping the experience fresh and engaging at every turn. Each world even ends with a clever music-based stage that has you running and jumping to the rhythm of a catchy tune.

The Xbox One version doesn’t provide a remarkable graphics upgrade over ones for previous-gen consoles, but it doesn’t need to—the lively, quirky art and animation style is a timeless delight. You do get Xbox One-exclusive skins for your playable heroes as a bonus, and regularly updated online challenges add an extra competitive element that keeps the fun going.

“This game is fairly forgiving: The controls are smooth, jumps are generally easy to land, and a glide feature can save you when you accidentally jump too late.”Kelsey Simon, Product Tester

Best 3D Platformer: Playtonic Games Yooka-Laylee

What We Like
  • Throwback to 90s 3D platforming

  • Bright and funny style

  • Multiplayer mini-games available

What We Don't Like
  • Can get difficult for younger players

  • Not much innovation from old formula

Have fond memories of the Nintendo 64’s Banjo-Kazooie (later ported to the Xbox 360) and other 3D platformers like it? Several developers from Banjo-Kazooie and similar games from that era gathered record-breaking Kickstarter funding and created Yooka-Laylee, a faithful but modernized spiritual successor for a new generation. The callbacks are hard to miss. A main-character duo with complementary abilities. Tons of collectible items scattered across unpredictable worlds. Dialogue packed with goofy humor, accompanied by playful sound effects and bouncy music. It’s simply a fun, wholesome time, whether you’re revisiting the genre or brand new to it.

The game follows Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat on an oddball journey through an evil bee’s corporate headquarters as they try to recover a magical book’s “Pagies.” You’re given some flexibility in how you use Pagies to open new worlds or expand existing ones, as well as how you spend other currencies to upgrade your abilities or unlock various goodies. This includes arcade machines within each world where you can play local-multiplayer mini-games against or alongside other players.

“It’s straight-up 3D platforming as it was 20 years ago, although it’s a little more forgiving than most of those games were.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

Best Superhero Game: Traveller's Tales Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Marvel
What We Like
  • Immense amount of characters/content

  • Low-stakes fun for all ages

  •  Humorous animations and story

What We Don't Like
  • Some confusing puzzles

  •  Occasional glitches

The LEGO Marvel Collection is a two-disc set containing three games: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel Avengers, and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2; the collection also includes all DLC for each game, making it a perfect choice for completionists. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the best-selling LEGO video game of all time, and it has 27 main story and side missions for you to complete. 

LEGO Marvel Avengers features over 200 playable characters with over 800 unique "buddy" moves to help progress through boss battles and puzzle sections. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 gives players the ability to manipulate time, features a four-player competitive battle mode, and features 17 different locations from the Marvel film franchises. Each game has LEGO's signature slapstick humor and seamless drop-in/drop-out multiplayer.

“The characters are all well-animated and full of individual personality.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

Best Film Adaptation: WB Games LEGO Jurassic World

Jurassic World
What We Like
  • Kid-friendly re-creation of four

    movies

  • Puzzle-based co-op gameplay

  • Amusing dinosaur creator

What We Don't Like
  • Can get stuck on puzzles or glitches

  • Some repetitive content

LEGO video games have become well-known for making blockbuster movies playable for kids, and LEGO Jurassic World is another entertaining entry—especially for lovers of all things dinosaur. The game relives the original "Jurassic Park" trilogy as well as 2015’s "Jurassic World," splitting each film into five chapters. A lot of the movies’ excitement translates over, but very much toned down with typical LEGO-game playfulness and humor, making it a more age-appropriate way for young ones to enjoy the series.

Also in typical LEGO game fashion, the narrative plays out through stages where you use your characters’ unique equipment and skills to work through puzzles and obstacles. Clearing a mission lets you return with different characters to discover new secrets and hidden items, adding to the title’s already beefy potential playtime. You can even come back and charge around like a dinosaur, including the mix-and-matched creatures you can generate through the very amusing custom dinosaur creator.

“Persistence and experimentation count for a lot more here than fast reflexes.”Thomas Hindmarch, Product Tester

Best Family Game: Team 17 Overcooked! 2 (Xbox One)

What We Like
  • Very fun, frantic multiplayer

  • Charming, cartoony style and levels

  • Free seasonal DLCs

What We Don't Like
  • Can get overwhelming for any age

  • Not as fun with one player

For families who love sitting down together for multiplayer fun, Overcooked! 2 is not one to miss. As a team of two to four chefs, you chop, cook, and assemble ingredients to complete the orders shown on the screen, earning points for speed and accuracy within the time limit. The catch is you’re always in some wacky kitchen, dealing with anything from conveyor belts to mine carts to magic portals. Part of your kitchen might even float away halfway through and be replaced by some new culinary craziness. Success is all about how you communicate and coordinate with your teammates, making each level chaotic, challenging, sometimes frustrating, but always a blast to figure out.

If you’ve played the original Overcooked!, the sequel’s most notable gameplay addition is the ability to throw ingredients and other non-breakable items. Besides that, it mostly adds more twists on a similar core experience—and since it’s hard for most fans to get enough, Overcooked! 2 is well worth the while to pick up. There are also periodic updates that add free seasonal-themed content (in addition to paid DLC offerings) that keep you coming back to the kitchen.

The game can be played as a single player, but swapping between two chefs on your own isn’t quite as satisfying. Online co-op and head-to-head modes are available if you and your squad want to jump in with random players or friends in other parts of the world.

“The game has plenty it can teach about teamwork and communication, so it has potential to be a bonding tool for all ages.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Sports Game: WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition

WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition
What We Like
  • Innovative hybrid of soccer and

    driving

  • Challenging but satisfying team gameplay

  • Free cross-platform multiplayer

    modes

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve for advanced

    skills

If only your kids’ soccer games were this exciting! Rocket League takes the general structure of soccer and throws RC driving into the mix, resulting in a high-octane team sport where you zoom around in flashy cars trying to knock an oversized ball into your opponent’s goal. Plus, your vehicles can fire off-speed boosts that send them racing up walls, along the ceiling, and even flying through the air. 

But using these advanced techniques successfully requires many, many hours of practice, and beginners—young or old—will likely spend most of their time learning the basics and only aspiring to master the fancier moves. You’ll also quickly discover that teamwork is critical, and there are high degrees of strategy and communication involved in scoring and defending reliably.

You don’t have to be at the highest competitive levels to enjoy the game, though, and Rocket League has plenty of multiplayer modes to jump into. Since it’s now free-to-play and available on just about all platforms, you can easily find friends to play alongside or against. If you don’t mind paying for some extras, the collector’s edition of the game nets you multiple previously released bundles, including new cars and car parts to customize your vehicles.

Best Pinball: Team 17 Yoku's Island Express

What We Like
  • Inventive world and art style

  • Clever pinball-based platforming

  • Immersive open-world environment

What We Don't Like
  • Could use faster travel options

  • Limited replay value

Many games describe themselves as “unique,” but with Yoku’s Island Express, the term feels like an understatement. To start, the game bills itself as an open-world pinball platformer. It sounds like an ill-advised mashup of random elements, but once you take control of Yoku the dung beetle and get your ball rolling, you begin to understand the brilliance. You move around the 2D environment like it’s an organic pinball machine, reaching new locations by launching off flippers and bouncing off bumpers—with other surprising mechanics introduced along the way.

In fact, surprises await at every turn on the strange island of Mokumana, a single sprawling open-world map that you slowly uncover in Metroidvania fashion. You progress through much of the narrative in a non-linear way, with plenty of side quests and enticing hidden paths calling for your attention. You meet all sorts of characters that—much like the gameplay and beautifully surreal setting—are unexpected and imaginative. There are parts of the game that might be too dark or weird for some young kids, but it’s a one-of-a-kind journey for those drawn to a bit of oddball fun.

“The rich, hand-painted visual style conveys all the beauty, mystery, and quirky personality of the environment.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Shooter: Electronic Arts Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville

What We Like
  • Kid-friendly class-based shooter

  • Lots of multiplayer game modes

  • Goofy dialogue and presentation

What We Don't Like
  • Not as complex as other shooters

  • PvE campaigns on the weak side

Originally a tower-defense game for the PC, Plants vs. Zombies has evolved into a series of family-friendly third-person shooters, including Battle for Neighborville as the latest installment. Without the overt violence of mature shooters or the horror of most zombie franchises, Battle for Neighborville is a colorful, cartoony way for young gamers to try out the genre. Our reviewer found the controls and mechanics easy enough for players of almost any skill level, with even his 5-year-old having a blast playing around with different characters and abilities.

The game’s playable classes add up to a diverse selection on both the Plant side and the Zombie side. Some focus on damage, others on defense and support. Three unique, upgradable abilities for each class (including a few that completely transform the character) give you numerous distinct ways to play the game to suit your preferences.

You also won’t find yourself running out of game modes to try out anytime soon. Besides the straightforward mission-based campaigns in a handful of large, free-roam areas, there are tons of ever-updating online multiplayer modes to keep you busy. 4v4 deathmatches. 8v8 turf wars. Even base-defense modes that call back to the series’ roots. Participating in these battles and meeting daily or weekly challenges can earn you currency to buy limited-time costume pieces, emotes, and other cosmetic bonuses offered as incentives to keep playing (or spending real-world money).

“The relative simplicity of the gameplay makes it a nice entry point into the class-based shooter genre.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Final Verdict

Minecraft is a modern classic for young gamers, and for good reason. Its blocky sandbox gameplay fosters creativity and innovation in ways few other Xbox One games can. For more kid-centric fun, co-op titles like Rayman Legends and the Overcooked! 2 can have the whole family working together, while Rocket League and Plants vs. Zombies inspire some friendly competition.

About our Trusted Experts

Anton Galang has been working as a writer and editor in the fields of tech and education since 2007. He has reviewed several Xbox One kids’ games for Lifewire and has spent countless hours on others with his family just for fun.

Andrew Hayward is a Lifewire writer and product tester with a background in journalism. He has covered video games and technology since 2006, contributing to publications like TechRadar, Polygon, and Macworld.

Kelsey Simon is a writer and librarian who reviews video games and books for local blogs. She has tested many excellent family-friendly games for Lifewire, including a number of titles for the Xbox One.

Thomas Hindmarch has worked in video game journalism for almost 20 years. He was a founding editor for Hardcore Gamer and has contributed to numerous gaming publications, including reviews of several kids’ games for Lifewire.

Taylor Clemons has written game reviews for online publications, including IndieHangover and GameSkinny, as well as for her own website: Steam Shovelers.

FAQs

Are Xbox One kids’ games appropriate for any age?
Video games are assigned a rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as an indicator of their content. An E (Everyone) rating means the game should be suitable for most kids, with E10+ (Everyone 10+) rating given for some mild violence or suggestive themes. Games with T (Teen) ratings should generally be reserved for kids 13 and up. In all cases, caretakers should use their own judgment based on the individual child’s maturity level.

 What parental controls are available on the Xbox One?
Parents can monitor and adjust parental control settings for any Xbox console by adding children to a Microsoft family group account. That provides activity reports and controls for limits on screen time and online spending. There is also an Xbox Family Settings mobile app for quick access to settings and notifications.

How much violence is in Xbox One kids’ games?
While shooters, fighting games, and action games for teens and adults on Xbox One may depict more realistic violence and blood, the games on this list avoid any type of graphic content. There may be degrees of action, thrills, combat, and conflict, but it would be presented in a way that’s cartoony or with elements of fantasy.

What to Look for in an Xbox One Kids' Game

Activity level - Some games are more active than others. A few will even work up as much of a sweat as playing a game of tag outside. To help your child get adequate exercise, look for a game that keeps him or her moving, such as Dance Dance Revolution.

Educational level - Video games don’t have to be purely recreational. Some can supplement math and science subjects that your child is learning in school or even delve into an entirely new topic that he or she might not have explored otherwise.

Creativity level - Sometimes, educational games teach a child to think in a new way or solve puzzles with abstract thinking. Plenty of games, such as Minecraft, offer a more creative spin than those with more traditional approaches such as times tables and science experiments.

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