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Nineteen great family-friendly video games, from Mario Kart 8 to Untitled Goose Game

Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet puzzle or an evening of multiplayer chaos, these games are suitable for the whole household

Mario Kart 8

Nintendo Switch

Mario Kart 8 is the best-selling title on the Switch – 55 million copies and counting – for good reason: it is the ultimate family game. It’s so simple that anyone can pick it up and play. One button to accelerate, one button to brake and one button to launch a deviously timed blue shell to ruin somebody’s day just as they’re about to cross the finish line.

Splatoon 3

Nintendo Switch

You can keep your po-faced, hyperrealistic military simulations like Battlefield and Call of Duty; when it comes to first-person shooters, there’s only one squid in town. Over a series of bright, colourful levels, teams of slippery cephalopods battle to cover as much surface area with ink as possible. Fast, frantic fun.

Fall Guys

PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

A free-to-play multiplayer battle royale, Fall Guys is a riot of colour and slapstick comedy. Up to 60 players race, jump and tumble hilariously through gameshow-style obstacle courses until only one remains standing. Skill doesn’t seem to be a primary requisite; you’ll spend most of your time falling flat on your face, but therein lies the fun.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart

PlayStation 5, PC

This might genuinely be the most graphically stunning game ever made. An early showcase for the PlayStation 5′s potential, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is an explosion of insanely detailed environments and movie-like animation. When you’re not gawping at some mind-blowing vista, you’ll be enjoying a good-humoured story and blowing up baddies with a satisfying array of ludicrous weapons.


Everybody’s Golf

PlayStation 4

If you’re unfamiliar with the game of golf you’d be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t look like a lot of fun. Watching it on TV, you’ll notice 90 per cent of the footage is of grumpy-looking guys walking to the next hole whispering conspiratorially to their caddie. Forget all that real-world nonsense; Everybody’s Golf is a hoot. Single-player is a lot of fun, and there’s a nice RPG element to career mode, but nothing beats local multiplayer. Sinking a birdy putt on the 18th to win the inaugural Family Championship with associated bragging rights is, when we get down to it, what we all strive for in life.

Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Nintendo Switch

Kirby is an adorable pink puffball who loves to gobble anything and everything into her deceptively giant mouth – no wonder kids love it. Gobble a vending machine and shoot cans at enemies. Gobble a car and zoom about an abandoned, overgrown city. Gobble gallons of water from a pipe and waddle around like an oversized water balloon. Gobble, gobble, gobble. Endless fun.

Disney Dreamlight Valley

PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Sold as a “hybrid between a life-sim and an adventure game”, Disney Dreamlight Valley lets players create an avatar to live in a world filled with Disney and Pixar characters. You’ll make friends, go on adventures, build your dream house and forget reality exists entirely. It’s basically Animal Crossing with Elsa and Donald Duck, which sounds pretty good to us.

OlliOlli World

PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

You don’t need to know a nose-slide from a hand-plant to enjoy this vibrant 2D skateboarding adventure game. Filled with a host of colourful characters who’ll guide you from basic kick-flips to linking complex grinds, OlliOlli World is easy to pick up and play but difficult to master.

Pikmin 4

Nintendo Switch

The latest entry in the long-running Pikmin series is the best yet. You still play as plant-like creatures exploring a strange planet (which looks suspiciously like Earth), but everything feels more streamlined and intuitive compared with previous entries. Kids will love running around chasing collectibles, while adults will enjoy the more challenging real-time strategy aspects. Weird and wonderful in equal measure.

Please, Touch the Artwork

Nintendo Switch, PC, mobile

According to its developer Thomas Waterzooi, the idea behind Please, Touch the Artwork was to “take some of the most iconic abstract paintings, reverse-engineer them and then add some gameplay”. The result is a delightful and comforting puzzle game that will have you looking at the works of Mondrian in a whole new light.

Overcooked: All You Can Eat

PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch

If you or anyone in your family is prone to sudden fits of rage, this might be one to avoid. Oh, it looks harmless enough; a cutesy, cartoony, multiplayer game where you prepare, cook and serve food against the clock, but it’s about as stressful as working in an actual three-star Michelin restaurant. It’s great fun until everyone in your livingroom suddenly turns into a purple-faced, screaming Gordon Ramsay.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Society’s current obsession with nostalgia has plenty of downsides, but for gamers of a certain age the result has been a delightful trip down memory lane. It’s hard to keep up with all the remakes, remasters, upgrades and new ports. More than a few are blatant cash-grabs (see the recent Grand Theft Auto remasters), but Spyro Reignited Trilogy nails everything that made the originals so much fun.


PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

We all need a break from time to time. Why not take a load off and spend a while on Snaktooth Island? You can explore, talk to the residents of Snaxburg, and learn all about the eponymous half-bug, half-snack creatures. The story gets a little dark for younger kids as it goes on, but overall this is an enjoyable, weird little adventure.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

PlayStation 4/5, PC

Whether Uncharted 4 is a family-friendly game is up for debate, but bear with us. We’re taking a decidedly 1980s approach to what’s suitable for kids here. Sure, this game is as much about a marriage on the rocks as it is about the hunt for long-lost pirate treasure. And, yes, you do end up killing about 4,000 people in cold blood. But here’s the thing: this game is the Indiana Jones sequel we all deserved and never got. And that, in our book, makes it essential family entertainment.

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Nintendo Switch

If you’re looking for some spooky (but not too spooky) video-game action this Halloween, you can’t go wrong with Luigi’s Mansion 3. When Luigi and pals check in to a haunted hotel, Mario’s nervous-nelly brother has to find his courage and rescue his friends. Using a handy vacuum cleaner to suck up ghosts over 15 endlessly inventive levels, it’s far too funny to ever be really scary, even for young kids.

Sonic Mania

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

If you have fond memories of blowing the dust out of your old Sonic Mega-Drive cartridge before pelting through Green Hill Zone in record time, Sonic Mania is a treat. Part sequel, part remake – some of the redesigned levels are the best kind of fan-service – this pulls off that rare trick: it’s a new game that actually feels like the original.

Rocket League

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The world is a fractured, tribal and divisive place, but we can all agree on at least one thing: football would be a lot more fun if players drove high-octane, rocket-powered cars instead of running around on their puny human legs. Zooming around a futuristic stadium with a bunch of other monster trucks, and bashing a giant metal ball into your opponent’s goal, is as chaotic and fun as it sounds.

Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo Switch

Bringing the overall vibe of Super Mario 64 to a new generation is vital work, and Super Mario Odyssey pulls it off with aplomb. You’ll explore different kingdoms, from frozen deserts to a bustling metropolis, collect coins and bonk baddies on the noggin. This time, though, you have a little extra help in the form of Cappy, Mario’s sentient hat, used to defeat and take control of creatures and other various objects.

Untitled Goose Game

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The tagline for this comically charming puzzle game reads: “It’s a lovely morning in the village, and you are a horrible goose.” There isn’t a child on the planet who wouldn’t want to play after hearing that. Luckily, the game more than lives up to that tantalising premise. You play an absolute menace of a goose, causing havoc in a sleepy English village. And if you’re still not convinced, there’s a dedicated “honk” button.