There are so many great games out there. Too many, some (us) might argue (looking at our backlog). But games a whole family can enjoy together? Those are far and few, especially as gaming moves more and more online and away from couch experiences.
For that reason, we gathered Polygon’s sharpest minds to find the best games your family can play together. Some are party games, some are co-op adventures, some are games you take turns playing — the only rules are they must be family-friendly, accessible to gamers with different backgrounds and experience levels, and above all else, fun.
So no matter what kind of game you’re looking to play together as a family this holiday season, we’ve got you covered.
Where to play: Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X
If you’re looking for an open arena where the whole family can brawl, try Party Animals. Four players can play splitscreen locally (or eight together online) and inhabit very wobbly animals — think Fall Guys-style characters — that push, shove, and throw their way to victory. Younger kids will have an easier time with the brawling modes, where you can have fun button-mashing. The objective-based minigames, like a team-based soccer event, require a little more coordination, but will be a chaotic blast for older kids and adults alike. —Nicole Carpenter
Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Where to play: Nintendo Switch
Nintendo’s new platformer, Super Marios Bros. Wonder, is a great family game that caters to seasoned Mario veterans and newcomers. There are eight playable characters to choose from in both online and local multiplayer that goes up to four players; you can play with family on your couch or around the world. There’s no splitscreen, which means everyone crowds into a single screen for all of Super Mario Bros. Wonder’s varied levels. There’s your standard platforming, of course, but Nintendo’s put some delightfully weird spins on it. For beginner players, Nintendo’s added two characters who don’t take damage: Nabbit and Yoshi. They can lose lives if they fall into pits, but the lack of damage-taking makes both characters an option for beginners or young kids. —NC
Where to play: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Series X
The easiest way to describe PlateUp! is that it’s basically the strategy roguelite version of Overcooked. You start the game with a basic kitchen, where you cook and serve a limited number of dishes to restaurant customers. It gets harder the longer you play, but you make it easier — or potentially harder, with bad planning — by building out your kitchen each round. You also unlock a variety of recipes and outfits to keep your kitchen buzzing. But a warning to families looking to play together: This is the kind of game that can tear your family apart... in the most fun way possible, of course! —NC
Where to play: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Series X, and your phones!
The Jackbox series of games (individually titled as different “Party Packs”) are reliably fun and zany for groups of people large and small. Only one person needs to own a copy, and the rest can join in via their phone, computer, or other device. The games in the packs vary, but they include variations on trivia games, drawing games, joke games, and plenty more. I particularly recommend Party Pack 9 for the game Quixort, as well as Party Packs 6 and 7 for a variety of fun times, but all of them include entertaining games with something everyone can enjoy. —Pete Volk
Where to play: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
For a fighting game the whole family can enjoy, try Gang Beasts, a beat-’em-up featuring wacky, wobbly fighters with very soft bones. Players take control of a variety of colorful gelatinous characters, pushing, pulling, and punching each other in creative settings. That includes a lighthouse, rooftop, and on top of moving trucks.
With the exception of being able to throw your friends off tall buildings, into incinerators, or into industrial grinders, Gang Beasts isn’t particularly violent — it’s silly. But if Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is too technically complex for your family or friend group, Gang Beasts’ body slams and haymakers might be a better fit. —Michael McWhertor
Moving Out and Moving Out 2
Where to play: Windows PC, Xbox One and Series X, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and your phones!
Like Overcooked (or the aforementioned PlateUp!), Moving Out challenges players to work together as a team to get a specific job done. But instead of cooking and serving delicious dishes, Moving Out takes an activity no one likes — moving house — and makes it delightful, chaotic fun. The physics-based moving simulator has players hauling, arranging, and eventually violently throwing furniture and boxes onto a truck as quickly as possible. And like a household behind on rent, it doesn’t matter what condition you leave your old living space in. Can’t fit your sectional couch through the front door? Throw it through the bay windows! —MM
WarioWare: Move It!
Where to play: Nintendo Switch
The newest WarioWare offers a fresh batch of hundreds of microgames — games that can be played in seconds-long chunks — that can be enjoyed both cooperatively and competitively. WarioWare: Move It! switches up the microgame formula by having players rapidly posing and moving, frantically trying to figure out what a simple on-screen instruction is actually asking them to do before time runs out. WarioWare: Move It! is highly physical, and every player needs their own set of Joy-Cons to participate. But it can be enjoyed in small chunks, with players jumping in and out — or shouting advice! — for some good clean* family fun.
For less physically demanding WarioWare games, there’s also WarioWare: Get It Together! for Switch and WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! available through a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription. —MM
*If nose-picking and farts are offensive to you, then WarioWare’s not gonna be your cup of tea.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Where to play: Nintendo Switch
Nintendo’s Wii U port is all-ages-tested, all-ages-approved thanks to puzzles that rely more on curiosity and consideration than fast-paced timing. In Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, players young and old help Captain Toad and Toadette navigate boxy 3D environments littered with platform challenges, hidden items, and stars that help the Toads advance to the next level. True to Mario games, the design is bright and the music is upbeat as you check every nook and cranny of the increasingly challenging puzzles. Younger players should have no problem guiding the Toads without too much stress — you can’t fall off the edge and there’s no ticking clock to make you sweat — but it’ll be helpful to have more seasoned gamers in the room, as even the simplest-looking levels contain labyrinths. Hide-and-seek pixel Toad challenges and some fun tie-ins to Super Mario Odyssey make this one a no-brainer for longtime Mushroom Kingdom denizens and those recently converted by the Mario movie. —Matt Patches
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Cowabunga Collection
Where to play: Windows PC, Xbox One and Series X, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, iOs and Android via Netflix for Shredder’s Revenge
Like Pixar movies and chicken nuggets, some products are equally enjoyed by kids and adults alike. And so it is with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, the 2022 beat-em-up throwback from Tribute Games (Flinthook). Just like the arcade game of old, up to four players can team up to sword, staff, nunchuck and otherwise pummel Foot baddies. Kids are into the Turtles again thanks to Mutant Mayhem’s breakout success, and parents can feel young again (remember 1989?).
And if Shredder’s Revenge isn’t hitting the nostalgia sense hard enough, you can always go straight to the source: The Cowabunga Collection collects a lucky 13 TMNT classics, from the arcade original to that weird NES game. OK, maybe parts of 1989 are better forgotten... —Chris Grant
Where to play: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Ubisoft’s dancing game series is quite easy to forget about because it hasn’t really evolved since its debut on Wii in 2009. Whatever the latest version is will offer exactly the same formula of cheery dance routines to a mix of modern and classic pop hits, and itwill judge your performance via motion controls that are honestly rather vague. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t still rule, however. This is choreography as game design, packing huge amounts of wit, personality, and solo or collaborative challenge into its hugely fun, often hilarious routines. Never fails to lift the mood. —Oli Welsh