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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.