This year was a big one for the gaming industry, with a surge in impressive titles. Often, though, fun, family-friendly games can be overshadowed by more serious, and often more violent, offerings. With that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of the best family-friendly titles from 2019.
Most of the titles are for the Nintendo Switch. While the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 can have family friendly titles, most of their releases this year were more adult in themes, story, or gameplay. And, due to the price of quality gaming computers, even prebuilds, PC games lean heavily into the mature genres.
Before we get to our favorite family title of the year, let’s take a look at a few others we considered.
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is a charming remake of the original 1993 GameBoy classic. Refreshed with modern graphics, while still maintaining just the right amount of nostalgia, the game shines for new and old Legend of Zelda fans alike. Younger audiences will be taken with the gameplay and the cute graphics, while older audiences will enjoy the depth of content available.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
The first mainline Pokémon title to come to the Switch, Pokémon Sword and Shield’s plotline will appeal to longtime fans and newbies. Pokémon, while focusing on cartoonish battles, always made its content family-friendly and accessible for all ages. With quality-of-life improvements, such as displaying the effectiveness of moves against your opponent, even younger and new players will find the game enjoyable.
Kingdom Hearts 3
The only one on this list that isn’t available on the Nintendo Switch. It also has the most mature rating on this list, reaching E10+. Kingdom Hearts makes its name by merging Final Fantasy characters with Disney in a strange mismash of content that is often both emotional and confusing. It is an enjoyable series for younger gamers, but the saga’s story is tough to follow for even the most adult audience. Younger players likely will just be happy to play with characters like Elsa, Hercules, and Winnie the Pooh.
Untitled Goose Game
With its emphasis on mischief, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind for family-friendly content. Untitled Goose Game is short, with easy controls and simple puzzles. Younger players will enjoy playing as a goose, and any chaos caused in game is harmless. The downside to this is it might be better for those old enough to know not to mimic these pranks.
New Super Mario Bros: U Deluxe
Another remake of a big title to come to the Switch, New Super Mario Bros: U Deluxe rehashes an already excellent Wii U game into a quality Switch game. It’s a classic Super Mario Bros. installment and, like its predecessors, the game offers local multiplayer. New Super Mario Bros: U Deluxe made it on the list because of the ability to play with family.
Best Family-Friendly Game of the Year:
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Perhaps a bit niche, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is filled with child-friendly content for a spooky-themed game. Appropriately released on Oct. 31, the game is the third installment of the Luigi’s Mansion series. In this instance, Luigi must rescue his friends from King Boo in a haunted hotel, with the help of Professor E. Gadd and his green-goo companion, Gooigi.
Luigi braves this haunted hotel, trembling in fear the entire time. He startles easily, lightening the potentially scary setting with some comedic antics. His adorable ghost dog, aptly named Polterpup, accompanies and helps through the game.
After completing the first mission, Gooigi joins the party, allowing for a second player to join the game. Both Luigi and Gooigi have their strengths, sometimes facing bosses alone without the other, which brings some enjoyment to the game when playing in multiplayer.
The controls may be difficult for budding gamers, but turning off motion controls can help mitigate this.
In general, Nintendo releases more family-friendly content than other platforms. Perhaps 2020 will bring more quality, family-friendly content to more platforms.
For more of our Year in Review 2019 series, head to our hub page.