Four years-plus into the Nintendo Switch's lifespan, it remains a fantastic destination for families and multiplayer games. But if you're looking to do same-room multiplayer gaming, make sure your Switch is TV-dockable. A newis arriving this fall, which is a slight upgrade to the existing . Both are better family picks than the smaller , which only works in handheld mode, and doesn't have those useful sharable Joy-Con controllers (Switch Lite owners could do multiplayer, but you'd need to and huddle around that tiny screen.)
Assuming you only have one, here are the best multiplayer games that are worth playing with your family, which we keep updated as new titles appear. One of my favorites is still Nintendo's -- a collection of classic board games from around the world that's playable locally or online. But there are plenty of other options, too. If you want some games to play without adding a second player (we love Zelda and Hyrule as much as the next person), check out our list of the .
Note: Most of the links below are for the digital copies of the, sold via Amazon. You can alternately buy and download all of these directly from the Nintendo eShop, straight from the Switch. Just make sure you have a with ample capacity to store game data.
There are plenty of Mario games on the Switch, and a lot of them are listed below. Super Mario 3D World originally was made for the long-gone Wii U, but its mix of local and online multiplayer (up to four players) offers a lot of fun chaos on the Switch. An extra (but short) game called Bowser's Fury only uses the second player as a helper, but this bonus game's a welcome extra. If you want even more multiplayer Mario, see New Super Mario Bros. U below. Or for creative Mario, try Super Mario Maker 2.
Nintendo's new collection of family board games and retro games bundles 51 surprisingly fun worldwide classics, with online play and local multiplayer. The game also supports local Switch-to-Switch play with a free bridging app. Many games do two-player; a few do three- to four-player. A few games like Bowling are almost like a return to Nintendo's Wii Sports. It's a great instructional tool for games like backgammon, chess or even shogi, mahjong and hanafuda, and there's a lot of stuff to keep entertained over the summer. It's also equally good on a TV, huddled over one Switch, or played between several Switches.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become an absolute phenomenon this year, and for a lot of people it's now the game to buy a Switch for. The casual, calming, social community game just lasts forever, and a new multiplayer mode allows more than one player to wander around and play at the same time. This co-op game has a lot of ways to connect with other players and friends, too.
Also, Animal Crossing is an ideal multiplayer game for homes where any sort of group play becomes a battle royale. There's no winning, just planting trees, catching fish and chatting with other players -- an ideal video game scenario for the super-stressed. Just be forewarned that you can only make one island per Switch, so get used to sharing.
Fans and newcomers to the Mario Kart series alike will never get tired of Mario Kart 8. The game's dozens of tracks are excellent, and local multiplayer with four players can get crowded on a smaller TV, but this Nintendo Switch game is fantastic. It's one of the very first games that we'd recommend for Switch multiplayer. It also has an online multiplayer mode, so it's a great game for your kiddos to play with fellow quarantined friends without actual interaction.
Nintendo's long-running Mario Party series is like a video board game with a bunch of wacky minigames thrown in. The Switch Nintendo console version also has a rhythm-dancing party game that's a good little workout, too, and a collaborative game where players paddle down a river together. My family loves this one -- it's just overall an excellent game.
You may get into some arguments, or you may find this builds teamwork. This party cooking game is madness, and it's a perfect couch co-op game for a single player or for four players at once. Seriously, you're going to get stressed. But it's so fun.
Besides being a Mario construction kit and mini-course on game design, not to mention being full of user-made levels to download, four players can play levels together too. Super Mario Maker has an endless fountain of things to try. By the way: if you're playing directly on the Switch, a basic stylus (seen here) is a great tool to use.
The Switch's eight-player multiplayer game has a lot of fighting, but it's of the cartoon kind. There are a growing number of characters to add to a roster that's already at 75 and counting. This couch co-op fighting game is another game that allows for online play, or you can join everyone in on one screen (it gets crowded).
Nintendo's version of Ghostbusters, but with Luigi -- if you haven't played, that's the best way to think of this ridiculously charming, Disney-like haunted house game. A two-player co-op mode works through the whole game and might be the best way to play.
Nintendo's cute planet-exploring and treasure-hunting strategy game, which involves collecting, caring for and using populations of plant-like Pikmin first came out on the Wii U console years ago. The Switch update adds two-player co-op through the whole game. The open maps encourage teamwork, and a handful of party modes and challenges levels are included too. It's the best Nintendo franchise you probably never played.
Nintendo's papercraft platformer slightly extends into the third dimension, with a two-player co-op mode. It joins a number of other fun games that are also platformers in Nintendo's roster, but Yoshi's challenges are a bit gentler, and more focused on discovering secrets and surprises.
A cheaper Mario Kart, or perhaps WipEout for the Switch, this futuristic hover-racing game was an early Switch launch title, and it's really underrated. It does multiplayer wonderfully.
Mario Tennis is unforgiving. Mario Tennis has lots of characters and enemies. Mario Tennis has online modes, and it's maybe one of the best Switch sports games. There you go. It's Mario characters playing tennis with crazy power-ups.
I still prefer Mario Tennis over Mario Golf, but this party-oriented golf game adds some twists that are better in groups. A speed mode (which is why it's called Super Rush) has players golfing at the same time, even interfering with other people in the game. A battle mode gets even nuttier. The game does two-player split-screen on a single Switch, or four-player turn-based golfing (two players can also play online with others simultaneously on one Switch). There's also a lengthy single-player adventure mode, too.
The sequel to an older console Marvel series of games, Ultimate Alliance 3 feels like Diablo or an arcade brawler, but with a roster of dozens of Marvel characters to play. It's repetitive at times, but the joy of collecting characters is a lot of fun, and you can keep switching your heroes throughout.
Two paper-things solve puzzles together by snipping pieces of each other. Or battling each other with snips. It's a puzzle game with a lot of different play modes, perfect for two at a time.
Tetris 99 is a must-have Tetris battle-royale online game, but Sega's other Tetris game works with four-player battles, and includes Puyo Puyo, which is another puzzle game worth your time. There's a long story mode, too.
Now that real sports leagues are on hold, either of these franchises are excellent stops to play out the season virtually and challenge your family. Depends on whether you prefer soccer or basketball (I'm picking FIFA here, just based on personal preference).
There's a Smash Bros. vibe running through this side-scrolling game, surprisingly, and the extra minigame and battle modes give this four-player co-op game extra life. It's a better package than you'd expect.
If it's hard to get exercise indoors, Just Dance is an active alternative to Ring Fit Adventure and works with the Switch's included Joy-Con controllers. You could buy any version of Just Dance and be happy.
Super Mario Odyssey is a stellar Switch Mario game, but this remaster of a Wii U classic is the one for four-player action. It's an old-school, platformer-style Mario game, with an extra Luigi mode that adds harder challenges.
The cheapest great pick on our list, this is a co-op puzzle game with two- and even four-player modes. No-brainer buy -- it's currently $15.
Nintendo's cardboard experiment is still worth a try if you can find it online and have a TV-docking Switch. The all-cardboard folding construction kit, which takes hours to put together, is like a craft kit and game rolled into one. Once built, the wild inventions in each Labo kit have a ton of extra games and things to tinker with and try. It's crafting and gaming combined. (While there's also a very cool Labo VR set that's worth trying, the original Labo 1 variety kit may be the best package to go for with several kids.)
Co-op dungeon-crawling, but with Minecraft. For kids who want a battle experience but aren't ready for something as intense as, say, Diablo, Minecraft Dungeons is plenty of pixelated fun to play through. It's a spin-off game, so don't expect normal Minecraft. But it's fun on its own terms.
NES and SNES classic games
The free (with Nintendo Switch Online subscription) NES and Super NES games that live on the Switch are actually a great little repository of two-player gaming. Many of the games have two-player modes (which work well in a tabletop Switch mode with Joy-Cons detached), and there's enough arcade/action/sports stuff to keep kids occupied for hours. Or, do high score battles. It's not every NES and SNES game we wanted, but it's a lot.
This couch co-op is a lot of frantic fun for up to four players. The controls and gameplay are simple so that even younger kids can play and the level bosses are just challenging enough to keep things interesting but not impossible. It's a good option if you're looking for something to play in short bursts, but it does have 100 levels to get through and Taito will release additional content for download later this year, including new stages and the character Baron von Blubba. The original 1986 version of the game is included, too.