Any parent with a teenager knows the crushing disappointment of being traded in for phone and friends. And though we were able to lure our 8th- and 10th-grade boys out of their lairs to play board games and cards more often during lockdown, our evenings have regressed back to the more normal teen storyline of parental abandonment. That’s why we tried enticing them back to the familial circle with the Nintendo Switch.
The Switch is Nintendo’s newest and most versatile console, and offers an entry into a large and engaging library of popular games from Nintendo and beyond. And though we know Mario, Zelda and the gang are a big draw for most gamers, we were more interested in finding the best games we could play as a family. Plus, we loved the idea of getting up and moving with the Switch’s Joy-Con motion controllers, which are especially great for sports titles.
Though our boys abandoned their Nintendo Wii long ago in lieu of an Xbox, they were psyched to be back in the fold with the versatility of the more portable, lower-cost Switch, which starts at $199 for the Nintendo Switch Lite and goes to $349 for the Nintendo Switch OLED. And we won’t lie, we had a pretty good time too. Want to take family game night to a new level? Here are the best Nintendo Switch games for kids of all ages.
Mario Golf: Super Rush
$59.99 at Amazon and Walmart or $49.94 at Gamestop
This wacky, story-propelled golf game from Camelot was just what we needed to get our kids to like us. An arcade-style sports game that swaps pros like Tiger for the more amusing Mario and pals, Super Rush lets you choose a Nintendo character (or your own Mii), decide which decidedly odd course you want to conquer (lava or cityscape, anyone?) and how many holes you want to play, then swing away with a motion-controlled remote. You can choose your clubs and angle your direction with each shot, all while you monitor things like wind direction, distance to the hole and even terrain elevation. We won’t lie, we especially enjoyed the competitive Battle Golf mode — which pits you against other players to see who can sink the first three holes of an obstacle-laden course — with some serious trash-talking on and off the course. And don’t worry, couch potatoes — you can also play this game without motion controls.
$49.99 $29.99 at Amazon and GameStop
Want to get out of your Boardwalk/Park Place, Go Straight to Jail, Monopoly rut? This digital play on the classic real estate game of chance and business acumen goes straight to wacky without passing Go. Based loosely on the board game, this Ubisoft title can be played with up to six players, and you’ll still be tasked with grabbing as many available properties as possible in order to make big bucks while bankrupting your competitors. The difference is, here you’re playing as a digital avatar in a real-time, breakneck race around a 3D Monopoly City. And boy, can it get ugly. Once you’ve nabbed your real estate, you’ll try to upgrade amid obstacles like flash floods, then nab different power-ups from the Community Chest to destroy or plunder each other’s properties. We loved getting sucked into this exhilarating, chaotic scramble without having to throw the dice.
$39.99 at GameStop
A fairly straightforward melange of six minigames, this Ubisoft title includes basketball, beach tennis, frisbee, jet ski and skateboarding — all played on the backdrop of a droolworthy tropical beach locale. Though you can use traditional gamepad controls, this title is made for action, and we appreciated how we could swing our arms to serve in beach tennis and lean into our jet ski and skateboard using the Joy-Cons. Our favorite part of Sports Party was the 3-point contest in basketball mode, where each player tries to sink as many baskets as possible in the allotted time. And though our shooting form had nothing to do with how many swishes we made, there was some serious balling going on in our living room. This game is a quick hit for easy fun — no strings or lengthy storyline attached.
Ring Fit Adventure
$69.88 at Amazon
When it comes to keeping in shape, winter can be tough for everyone. And this Nintendo title is the perfect way to hide fitness in an action-packed video game. One of the best Nintendo Switch fitness games, Ring Fit Adventure comes packaged with a pliable Pilates ring dubbed the Ring-Con and a Leg Strap pouch that secures one of your Joy-Con controllers. And though you can absolutely choose specific exercises for more of a straight-up workout, we used it more in Adventure mode, where we were all able to battle the obnoxious gym rat villain Dragaux. It’s here you’ll squeeze, stretch or move the Ring-Con around to do things like attack enemies or collect coins. Ring Fit Adventure is an RPG game at heart, and while we outfitted our characters and leveled up attacks, we were also working everything from arms to abs to legs, and even getting some cardio in, individually or as a group.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain
$29.99 at GameStop
Like sneaking cauliflower in the mashed potatoes, this family-friendly Nintendo title is meant to hide something healthy in a more palatable spoonful. Our kids sniffed this out with agility and tried to veto it on account of it being “school stuff.” However, like the good parents we are, we forced it on them. And lucky we did, because Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is totally addictive. The title is part of the Big Brain puzzle series and consists of 20 different minigames that are meant to challenge you in logic, math, memory and visualization. Best of all, a simple customization setting lets you set the games to each player’s level so everyone can still compete.