The Switch’s dock and KitKat controllers make it perfect for multiplayer games. But if you’re looking for something without intense competition, a cooperative local multiplayer game is what you need. Here are the best ones on the console.
Kirby Star Allies
Nintendo’s pink puffball tends to fly under the radar of bigger franchises like Mario and Zelda, but Kirby games have been dependably delivering co-op platforming for a long time. Star Allies is all about making friends, throwing “hearts” around and recruiting classic Kirby bad guys to help you out. Up to four players can go at it in local cooperative multiplayer. Secondary players can combine their friend abilities with Kirby’s gobble-em-up powers for combination super attacks.
Kirby Star Allies - Nintendo Switch
Kirby's latest romp is excellent for kids who might be intimidated by more challenging platformers, and it's built from the ground up for multiple players.
Cuphead has become an instant classic among fans of indie 2D games. It’s sort of the opposite of Kirby: an insanely difficult platforming game with an art style inspired by some disturbing 1930s cartoons. The game is absolutely beautiful in motion, but don’t get distracted, because the brutal enemies and screen-filling bosses will wipe you out in seconds. Thankfully, Cuphead is built from the ground up for two-player co-op, so you can tackle the challenge together.
Cuphead - Nintendo Switch [Digital Code]
Cuphead is a punishingly difficult game despite its charming animation, but it gets easier with a friend.
Fire Emblem Warriors
Fire Emblem Warriors is a mash-up of Nintendo’s strategy-slash-dating sim fantasy games with Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series, giving the feudal characters massive battlefields filled with thousands of enemies to hack and slash in real-time. Ridiculous melee and magic attacks fill the screen as you take down dozens of enemies at once, carving your way through the map for strategic objectives. Two local players can tackle the battlefield in split-screen mode.
Fire Emblem Warriors - Nintendo Switch
This cross of Fire Emblem and Dynasty Warriors features massive battlefields and endless enemies for you and your buddy to mow through.
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
No one really knows why Nintendo decided to team up with the Rabbids franchise for a rare crossover, but it did. While the branding on Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle might be a little confusing, the game itself is fantastic. Following the style of XCOM-like turn-based games, this Switch title is a strategy game that’s easy to pick up and put down at your convenience. Co-op mode lets you and a friend team up to outwit your opponent in local split-screen gameplay that’s sadly all too rare these days. As a bonus, the game just recently got a new batch of Donkey Kong-themed levels, so if you’ve played before and haven’t checked it out in a while, it’s worth another look.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle - Nintendo Switch Standard Edition
When it comes to strategy, two heads are better than one. Especially when you're tactically destroying rabid Rabbids.
Death Road to Canada
What happens when you mix top-down combat with a long Oregon Trail-style resource management game, then sprinkle in zombies? Death Road to Canada, that’s what. This unique pixelated title has you controlling survivors of a zombie apocalypse as they get the hell out of Dodge, collecting new party members and facing massive zombie hoards. The co-op setup offers up to four local players, but one stays “in control” of the group, so it’s a good game if you’re looking to play with a child without surrendering to too much chaos.
Mario Tennis Aces
The Mario Tennis series is set up for great multiplayer bouts, with head-to-head tennis, doubles co-op, or a combination of the two. The Switch version of Aces includes matches with up to four players at a time, both online and local…but be careful of the latter if all four of you are using motion controls to swing the Joy-Cons like tennis rackets. Not interested in head-to-head competition? Then two players can take on the computer in a team.
Mario Tennis Aces - Nintendo Switch
Mario sports games have always been excellent for local multiplayer, and tennis is perfect for some 2-on-2 action.
“Death Squared” sounds like some skull-stomping product of the Gears of War era, but it’s actually a surprisingly genteel little puzzle game. The aesthetic and sci-fi story owes a lot to Portal, but it supports up to four players moving around its grid-based puzzles simultaneously, or teams of two in the main story campaign. It’s also one of the cheapest games on this list at just $15 at the time of writing.
Team Sonic Racing
Mario Kart is usually the go-to kart racer on any Nintendo console, but its co-op options are somewhat limited. The new Team Sonic Racing has a focus on racing with your teammates, sharing power-ups, creating fast lanes, and leap-frogging each other to keep the squad together and speedy. Your team of three can play locally or hop online for more intense competition. Here’s hoping the SEGA roster widens in future releases.
Team Sonic Racing - Nintendo Switch
Most racing games are winner-take-all, but this Sonic version is all about winning with your teammates.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition
There’s no shortage of hack and slash-style games in the broader gaming industry, but outside of the recently-exclusive Bayonetta series, Nintendo hasn’t had much of an entry in the genre. That’s where Hyrule Warriors comes in. This game, made by the same team behind iconic hack and slash game Dynasty Warriors features characters from the Legend of Zelda franchise in a frantic, non-stop fight sequence. While the game first debuted on the Wii U, much like Mario Kart 8, this game got an update for the Switch with all the DLC included. After running through the first mission, you can unlock co-op play for you and a friend to team up and bring down the enemies of Hyrule.
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition - Nintendo Switch
This port of a Wii U favorite lets two players team up to take out the classic monsters of the Zelda series.
If you’ve ever tried to cook a big meal in a small kitchen with too many cooks, you know how Overcooked 2 goes. Your team is tasked with cooking a meal in an insanely-laid out kitchen, with simple controls that balance well with the chaotic levels. The Switch version has up to four players swapping ingredients and fighting for burners. Online play is available as well, though it doesn’t match the fun of an in-person, four-way session.
Overcooked! 2 - Nintendo Switch
This game has you prepping adorable meals in a kitchen made for too many cooks.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Originally a Wii U game, the Switch re-release of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker preserves its tiny puzzle levels while beefing up the adorable graphics, four extra stages, and a two-player mode for going through the whole campaign in co-op. Note that this might not be the best co-op game for younger children, as it relies on spacial puzzles and low-intensity combat to clear some puzzles.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker - Nintendo Switch
This low-key puzzle game is great for players tired of combat.
Yoshi’s Crafted World
If you’ve ever wanted to play through a child’s diorama project, then Yoshi’s Crafted World is for you. The simple platformer is brought to life with delightful miniature sets that look like something you’d find in a pre-kindergarten classroom. Its challenges aren’t very, well, challenging, making this game ideal for younger children who want to focus on exploration rather than combat. Two players can control two slightly different-colored Yoshi dinosaurs at once.
Yoshi's Crafted World - Nintendo Switch
Another low-key platformer very much like the Kirby series, this game features co-op levels made out of "hand-crafted" materials.
Super Mario Party
This one might not be out yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for when it arrives. The Mario Party series may be competitive in nature, but it still allows plenty of room for cooperation. Whether that comes in the form of the occasional cooperative mini games, or informal alliances to team up and defeat your friends. The newest entry, Super Mario Party, will bring a new element with the Switch, allowing players to use multiple consoles to expand the minigames. So, even if you’re not teaming up with your friends in the game, you can at least team up to make the game a bit bigger.
Super Mario Party
This legendary multiplayer game needs no introduction, but don't forget it allows for teaming up as well.
Snipperclips is a unique little puzzle game that launched with the Switch. It understandably flew under the radar for some, since there were more important things to play on the console at the time. In this game, you and a partner play as colorful pieces of paper that, when overlapped, can cut pieces out of each other. You have to work together to clip each other into the right shape to solve a series of increasingly complicated puzzles. It’s a fun, low-key game that anyone in the family can play together.
Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! - Nintendo Switch [Digital Code]
This download-only title has simple but surprisingly unique geometric gameplay for two to for players at once.
Eric Ravenscraft contributed to this article.