Gaming is a huge hobby for children of all ages and when done in the right way, it can help develop skills like problem solving and logic and the Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular consoles on the market, with plenty of games designed to appeal to families.


Best Nintendo Switch games for all ages at a glance

  • Best for cute characters: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, £39.99
  • Best multiplayer experience: Mario Kart 8, £39.99
  • Best for colourful exploration: Kirby and the Forgotten Land, £39.99
  • Best for new Pokémon fans: Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, £42.99
  • Best for Mario fans: Super Mario Odyssey, £36.99
  • Best for Pokémon megafans: Pokémon Legends Arceus, £37.99
  • Best for parties: Nintendo Switch Sports, £32.99
  • Best for building together: Minecraft, £19.99
  • Best for an imaginative world: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, £59.99 £49.99
  • Best for couch co-op: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, £47.99

If none of the adults in the family are gamers, we've also included a handy glossary of gaming terms at the bottom of this page as well as some advice around screen time.

For more tech recommendations, take a look at our selection of the best tablets for kids.

We’ve broken down our list into age categories to make it easier for you to find the right games for your child. You can also see our quick guide to game ratings below to help you know if a game is suitable or not. Use these jump links to navigate the page:

Best games for children aged 3+

1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, £39.99

- Best for cute characters

animal crossing packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 3 | Players: Single System (1-4), Local Wireless (1-8), Online (1-8) | Genre: Simulation

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One thing that Nintendo does better than most other game companies is create adorable and cosy worlds for players. Few games are more adorable and cosy than Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Take a relaxing trip to a deserted island where you can create your own world. Players can build their own community populated with unique residents, decorate their home however they’d like and construct a plethora of different items. You can go fishing, relax on the beach or go fruit picking in your garden.

The game's adorable art style combined with the relaxed gameplay makes Animal Crossing a truly relaxing experience perfect for a rainy winter evening. Multiplayer takes the experience to another level, allowing players to explore each others islands and build new things together. Like Minecraft, Animal Crossing is a fantastic game to play with your children if you’re looking for a fun way to spend a Sunday, and its gentle pace and cute design is safe for younger players.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

2. Mario Kart 8, £39.99

- Best multiplayer experience

mario kart 8 packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 3 | Players: Single System (1-4), Local Wireless (2-8), Online (1-12) | Genre: Party/Racing

If you’re looking for a game that the whole family can play, then you can’t do much better than Mario Kart 8. It’s one of the best selling Switch games for a reason. Jam-packed with fan favourite characters including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Bowser, the game is colourful, fast paced and easy to learn.

There are a plethora of different tracks ranging from easier options like the classic Moo Moo Meadow to the legendarily difficult Rainbow Road that appeared in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

Unlike brawlers like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Kart is a family friendly affair designed with couch co-op in mind. You can hook up up to 4 controllers to the same console to get the whole family involved in the race.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

Best games for children aged 7+

3. Kirby and the Forgotten Land, £39.99

- Best for colourful exploration

Kirby packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1-2) | Genre: Platformer/Adventure

Kirby is one of the most instantly recognisable and adorable Nintendo characters and his new game is an equally cute adventure. You take on the role of Kirby and explore a mysterious world to try and save his friends and make his way back home.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land is a colourful and vibrant game with an array of unique environments and abilities to unlock and explore. Your child can play through the game on their own or with a family member or friend with co-op mode.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, John Lewis and Very

4. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, £39.99

- Best for new Pokémon fans

Pokémon scarlet & violet packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1), Local Wireless (2-4), Online (2-4) | Genre: Adventure/RPG

The chances are you’re already familiar with Pokémon. But where do you start when your child asks you if they can play the games? We’d suggest starting with the latest game Pokémon Scarlet & Violet as they include all the latest Pokémon as well as all the classics like Pikachu and Magikarp.

Scarlet and Violet are technically 2 different games, though the differences are only really down to the types of Pokémon you can catch, as the storylines and gameplay is exactly the same in both games. In picking one of the two, our advice would be to show your child the cover of each game to see which of the legendary Pokémon they prefer.

The game itself is an expansive, colourful world that offers players a bunch of different story options to choose from. Want to become the next great Pokémon trainer and battle your way to the top? Maybe you want to discover all the mysterious Pokémon lurking around the newly created Paldea region?

The game also offers the ability to trade Pokémon with your friends and team up with them in wireless co-op.

Pokémon Scarlet available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

Pokémon Violet available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

5. Super Mario Odyssey, £39.99

- Best for Mario fans

mario odyssey packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1-2) | Genre: Platformer/Action

Whether your child has always been Mario-obsessed or only discovered the heroic plumber after watching The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Super Mario Odyssey is a great gateway into the world of Mario. The long running franchise has levelled up on the Nintendo Switch, bringing all new corners of the Mushroom Kingdom to life.

It is every bit as colourful and fun as you expect from a Mario game, but it’s also very interactive, rewarding players exploration with unique and exciting new abilities. You hop aboard the airship Odyssey and head out across the mysterious and chaotic world in search of new worlds.

Expect to find all of your favourite Mario characters including Princess Peach and Bowser and more on your adventure. There’s also a multiplayer mode that’ll allow another player to get in on the action as you explore the marvelous world of Mario.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Very, Currys

6. Pokémon Legends Arceus, £39.99

- Best for Pokémon mega-fans

pokemon legends arceus packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1), Local Wireless (1-2), Online (1-2) | Genre: Action/Adventure/RPG

Given that the Pokémon franchise is over 25 years old, there are a bunch of games to chose from on the Nintendo Switch. We’ve already mentioned the latest game, Scarlet & Violet, but that’s not the only new Pokémon game released recently.

Legends Arceus takes players back in time to the Hisui region, before the events of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. If that doesn’t make much sense to you, don’t worry, the game is great at introducing new players to the expansive world of Pokémon as you explore, survey, catch and train Pokémon across a range of different environments.

The universe of Pokémon is all about creativity and exploration, it’s a vast and vibrant world full of colourful characters. Each battle or new Pokémon you encounter will bring fresh challenges, encouraging players to consider their strategies and approach each new level in a unique way. This makes Legends Arceus a fun and creative entry into the legendary franchise that’s perfect for seasoned trainers or new Pokémon fans alike.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

7. Nintendo Switch Sports, £32

- Best for parties

switch sports packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1-4), Online (1-2) | Genre: Party/Sports/Football

Looking for something the whole family can enjoy? Switch Sports, a new version of the classic Wii Sports, brings all the classic games like bowling and tennis over to the Nintendo Switch. Players can still expect to get up off the sofa for intense tennis matches or bowling tournaments, with the Nintendo Switch’s JoyCon controllers providing an improved level of interactivity.

It’s not just the classic sports they’ve brought over to the new game, they’ve introduced new sports like Football, Volleyball and Chambara, all with levelled-up graphics to make the game even more fun and immersive.

The beauty of Switch Sports, like Wii Sports, is that you don’t need to be a gamer to have fun playing. Even if you’ve never picked up a game before you’ll be able to get to grips with Switch Sports in no time, perfect considering you can play the game with up to 4 people. It’s a fantastic party game that’s a great way to get the family together, and a good excuse to get your child moving.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Very

8. Minecraft, £19.99

- Best for building together

minecraft packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 7 | Players: Single System (1-4), Local Wireless (2-8), Online (2-8) | Genre: Action/Adventure

Like Pokémon, the chances are you’ve at least heard your child talk about Minecraft. It’s the best-selling game of all time and offers a truly incredible range of play options to players. The game resembles virtual LEGO, giving players a sandbox to build whatever they can dream up using a variety of blocks.

Players can choose from either Survival mode, where they have to mine for resources in order to build a base and see how long they can last, or Creative mode, where they’re given access to every resource in the game from the start so they can build whatever they can imagine.

Minecraft is a great way to boost your child's creativity and provide them a space where they can let their imagination run wild. It’s also a fantastic multiplayer game, allowing up to 4 players to build together in the same world on one Switch console.

Parents looking for a game to play with your children might want to check out Minecraft as it can be a great way to build and explore together. The scale of Minecraft can’t be understated, it’s a truly one of a kind experience that can be anything from an swashbuckling adventure to a calming construction game.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, Currys, Very

Best games for children aged 12+

9. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, £49.99

- Best for an imaginative world

Zelda packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 12 | Players: Single Player | Genre: Action/Adventure

Of all the games to be released on the Switch since it first launched, few have been as instantly beloved as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Gamer parents will already be familiar with the series, which centres on protagonist Link and the fantastical world of Hyrule. The latest entry represents the most immersive and expansive Zelda game yet, and is a great way for parents who grew up playing the classic Zelda games on GameCube and N64 to share a piece of their childhood with their own children.

Players can explore the wide open world of Hyrule discovering everything the lush fantasy realm has to offer. The beauty of Tears of the Kingdom and its predecessor Breath of the Wild (which could have easily landed a spot on this list too) is that, although the game does include combat elements, the unique, painterly art style and classic Nintendo approach prevents the game from veering into territory that could be considered inappropriate for younger teens.

The world of Hyrule is packed with fun creatures and monsters, some of which may be a little on the scarier side, but we feel the recommended age of 12+ is fair for most children, and this is far more than a "battle" game.

One of the core elements of the game is crafting, which is a great way to foster creativity. You can make almost anything in Tears of the Kingdom, and the game actively encourages this, immersing your children into the world even more.

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, John Lewis and Very

10. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, £47.99

- Best for couch co-op

smash bros packshot

Age Rating: PEGI 12 | Players: Single System (1-8), Local Wireless (2-8), Online (2-4) | Genre: Action

There aren’t many games that offer a better multiplayer experience than Super Smash Bros. The latest entry into the series is a great way for your teens to play an exciting and action packed game with their friends. They pick their favourite character from a roster that includes everyone from Mario and Bowser to Pikachu and Link, before taking place in epic battles across a range of locations.

Due to the fighting nature of the game, it is quite intense and frenetic which is worth bearing in mind if your child is more sensitive. However, as with many other Nintendo games the action is focused more around fantastical moves and colourful battles as opposed to the realistic violence you might find in games for adults.

The beauty of a game like Smash Bros. is how quick the battles are. If your child desperately wants to play a game but they’re already near the upper limit of their screen time for the day, Smash Bros. can be a great compromise. Offer them a quick match, either against the computer or even against you or their siblings, without too many complaints of "5 more minutes."

Available from: Amazon, JD Williams, John Lewis and Very

How much screen time is too much?

In today’s hyper technological world we’re increasingly noticing our children interacting with more and more screens. They might be using a tablet or computer at school or watching TV at home on the weekends. Adding a gaming console like the Switch to the mix can be a concern for any parent. But we do believe you can build healthy technology habits with your children.

While there has been extensive research into the effects of screen time, the evidence is far from conclusive. As NCT notes, “The difficulty is that what constitutes ‘screen time’ is constantly changing. That’s because newer technologies like tablets, smartphones and apps create different demands on the developing mind than television.”

Despite this, it is becoming more clear that, like with many areas of a child's development, screen time habits are established early on. Even early years settings such as preschools integrate screens into learning.

While the NHS doesn’t have detailed guidance regarding screen time, they do recommend an upper limit of 2 hours per day for all children. As NCT notes, “The UK’s Chief Medical Officer suggests a ‘precautionary approach’ balanced against the potential benefits of using screen devices.” It is worth noting that the upper limit of 2 hours includes all screen time, including any at school, so bear this in mind when putting limits on time spent gaming at home.

What can you do to manage your child’s screen time?

There are a lot of ways to help successfully moderate your child’s screen time when gaming. The University of Derby notes the impact that parents' behaviour has on children. Lecturer Chrissy Rowell advises introducing a family media plan that “outlines screen time behaviours and sets clear expectations, for example, no screens at mealtimes and for at least an hour before bed.”

Rowell also suggests helping children to foster positive social habits. She says, “Help children to prioritise human interaction without the distraction of screens. Put phones away during conversations and give each other full and undivided attention.”

You can also discourage longer gaming sessions by breaking up screen time into smaller chunks. Rowell suggests, “instigating outdoor activities, walks, non-screen related games, story time or baking and crafts.”

What are PEGI ratings?

Like movies and TV, video games have age ratings to help parents understand what is suitable for your child. In Europe, the PEGI system is employed giving each game a rating depending on a range of content descriptors.

The ratings themselves are similar to those used by the BBFC when rating movies and TV. They are broken down as follows:

  • PEGI 3: suitable for children ages 3 and under
  • PEGI 7: suitable for children ages 7 and under
  • PEGI 12: suitable for children ages 12 and under
  • PEGI 16: suitable for those ages 16 and under
  • PEGI 18: suitable for those ages 18 and under

To make finding the right game for your child easier, we’ve separated our list into age categories based upon their PEGI age rating.

Understanding video game terms

  • Multiplayer: Games designed to be played with 2 or more players
  • Couch Co-Op: Multiplayer games designed to be played by 2 or more players in the same room, usually on the same console
  • Local Wireless: Multiplayer games that allow you to connect 2 or more Switch consoles together and play in the same room
  • Online: Multiplayer games that allow you to play with 2 or more players over the internet
  • RPG: A role playing game in which players create their own character and choose how they play
  • Platformer: A game genre in which the aim is to move the player character between points in an environment

Pic credit: Product websites


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