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Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World might be the best child-friendly game ever made.

The levels are open and friendly. The game can be played with simple controls but hides a fair amount of depth for experts. Most importantly, Super Mario 3D World is designed from the ground up for cooperative play. Some games have co-op tacked on, but everything about this game is designed to suit people playing together. 

If you're looking for a game to play as a family, this is the one.

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Nintendo Labo

Nintendo Labo is expensive, frustrating and if you have younger children they will almost certainly destroy it within days...


If your children are curious, patient and love arts and crafts, Labo is absolutely phenomenal. It inspires creativity and is absolutely something you can build together. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Scott Stein/CNET
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Splatoon 2

For the most part you'll want to steer your children away from online shooters, but Splatoon 2 is the exception. It's wholesome, but also cutting-edge and kinda cool. 

It's perfect if you want to give your kids something a little more obviously "kiddy" without sacrificing them at the altar of the almighty Fortnite. Playing online is also relatively safe compared to most shooters. 

Splatoon is fantastic.

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A chaotic same-screen co-op game that will have players screaming at one another, Overcooked is a gem. 

It's impossible to not have fun playing this game.

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Rayman Legends

Not only is Rayman Legends endlessly inventive, gorgeous and disarmingly hilarious -- it also has co-op play! 

It's difficult in parts, but also has a perfectly pitched difficulty curve. My own children are obsessed with this game. You can either play together or take turns on some of the more difficult levels. 

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild is a miracle of a game, but I never imagined it as a game my children would enjoy. Action-RPGs are typically a bit impenetrable for young kids, but this game caters to all levels, mainly because its core mechanics of combat and exploration are accessible to all.

My son had an absolute blast just pottering around in this brilliantly constructed interactive world. Yours will too.

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The granddaddy of them all. Lego for a new generation.

Minecraft is so good for kids that it gets used in schools to help with creativity and problem solving. Watch out for that time sink, though. If you're trying to limit screen time, you'll have an uphill battle with Minecraft!

Published:Caption:Photo:Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET
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TowerFall is a top-notch same-screen multiplayer game. It's simple with a surprising amount of depth. Get your family around a single TV and you're going to have a blast. Simple as that. 

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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Captain Toad is a puzzle game and, if you're a parent, you know what that means.


This is a good one to play together, help each other through the tricky parts, teach problem solving. Captain Toad is a good one.

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Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

At first I wasn't convinced Mario + Rabbids -- which is essentially a real-time strategy game -- would work for my 5-year-old son. But it did.

Familiarity with the characters, the humor... that contributed, but it's the deliberate pace of the game that makes it work perfectly for kids. Sure, the game ramps up the difficulty in later levels, but kids will love those opening hours of Mario + Rabbids. 

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Rocket League

Rocket League works for kids on a number of levels. 

To begin with, it can do same-screen multiplayer. That's useful if you're keen to play as a family. Second, Rocket League has bots your kids can play against if you're not around to play with them. 

Third, Rocket League is cars playing soccer. I mean... that's a Venn diagram pretty much all children can get behind.

Only real issue: Rocket League's set-up is quite complicated. If your kids can't read, you're probably going to have to help out.

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Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart is a must, and Mario Kart 8, with its user-friendly control options and inventive track design, is probably the best one yet -- especially for young kids. 

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, recently released on Switch, is the perfect, definitive version of that game. Get on it.

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Portal 2

Portal 2 makes this list for a number of reasons. First, it's one of the best games ever made. Second, it has a largely underrated co-op mode. Third, it's a mind-bending puzzle game that forces children to test the limits of their spatial reasoning. 

Absolutely must-play for parents and children alike.

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Snipperclips is a largely underrated same-screen co-op game that's perfect for parents and their children. You'll be screaming instructions at each other, laughing hysterically and high-fiving as you snip (and possibly clip) your way through some seriously inventive levels.

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It has a little bit of cartoon violence, but if you're okay with that, then Spelunky is a great adventure to undergo with your kids. It's fun, accessible and funny in parts. 

And even when you fail -- and you will fail -- it's one of those rare games when it doesn't really matter. Just start all over again with a grin on your face.

Published:Caption:Photo:Derek Yu
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