The COVID-19 crisis has more people than ever playing video games. And it has families trying to figure out what they can do together. The solution seems simple: why not find video games the family can play together?
However, that’s easier said than done. Most games have ditched “couch co-op” (where multiple people can play on the same TV) in favor of online-only multiplayer. On top of that, it can be tough finding games that are fun and appropriate for both you and your children.
Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you and assembled a list of the best kid-friendly couch co-op games. With this list, your quarantine is about to become much more fun!
Overcooked! (and its sequel Overcooked! 2) have a deceptively simple premise. You and your partner are both chefs tasked with creating delicious food. But you’ll have to work together to craft a quality meal from start to finish.
You’ll soon discover that, like in a real restaurant, communication is key. You and your partner will have to figure out a game plan and leverage each other’s strengths if you want to come out of this victorious.
Things can get pretty tense in this virtual kitchen, but you and your family will be much better at communication after you put the controllers down.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
The name of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime may make you think this is all about romance. Instead, this game is all about operating a spaceship and defeating the forces of evil (or at least defeating the forces of Anti-Live).
There are many different roles on the starship, though, such as navigation and weapons. Up to four people can play, allowing each person to have a dedicated role. Alternately, you can play with fewer people and just hop around to the different stations as needed.
It’s fun and whimsical, offering the kind of low-stakes engagement we could all use right about now.
When it comes to kid-friendly design, it doesn’t get much better than Cuphead. All of the animation and design is reminiscent of a classic cartoon, and it’s easy for family members who aren’t currently playing (it supports up to two players) to just sit in awe of the graphics.
Whoever does play, though, needs to have some serious patience. In terms of gameplay, Cuphead hearkens back to the brutal bullet hell games that you grew up with. That doesn’t mean it’s not kid-friendly, but some kids (and, let’s admit it, adults) may get frustrated at repeated deaths.
Your patience, though, will be rewarded with some of the most imaginative gameplay ever created.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
As a concept, it doesn’t seem like Luigi’s Mansion should work. Mixing Mario Bros. and Ghostbusters and then focusing on second-favorite brother Luigi… the whole thing sounds like a recipe for disaster.
However, games like Luigi’s Mansion 3 prove that it’s a winning combination. Your characters navigate a haunted hotel on a mission to bust ghosts and rescue your friends that have been spirited away.
Part of what makes this so kid-friendly (beyond the theme and design) is that the second character, “Gooigi,” has infinite lives. So even the least experienced player can play along and not worry about permanent death.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 supports two players in the local co-op. But if you have more than one kid, up to eight people can play up in the ScareScraper and ScreamPark multiplayer modes.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
I’ll admit it: The Master Chief Collection really stands out on this list. After all, it’s rated “M”, so how can it be kid-friendly?
In truth, Halo only got the Mature moniker because it’s a shooter. Language and blood are at a minimum in these games, and you won’t find anything worse than you’d see in a movie like Avengers: Endgame. Even the ESRB seems to understand that, giving the most recent Halo game (Halo 5) a “T” rating despite it having the same levels of violence as the rest of the franchise.
Long story short? If you’re comfortable with your kid shooting aliens, these games offer campaigns that are deep, engaging, and beautiful, with just enough lore to keep you going. You can play through to just enjoy the story or turn each level into a friendly competition to see who gets the most points. And the fact that you get several games for the price of one goes a long way during quarantine!
Halo: The Master Chief Collection supports up to two players in co-op and four players in in online multiplayer.
Castle Crashers Remastered
Castle Crashers Remastered (the bigger and better version of the original) truly has a little something for everyone. For older players, it’s a pleasant return to the “hack and slash” games of yesteryear, built around a simple theme: take your knights and go save some princesses.
Kids (and adults, too) will enjoy the bright colors and giant doses of crude humor. And the RPG elements are just a way to level up your characters and make subsequent playthroughs that much easier. Up to four players are supported.
Ultimately, this iconic game is a multiplayer masterpiece.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find kid-friendly co-op games. In fact, you can start by checking out what kids everywhere are still playing.
Minecraft is a game that has as much depth or simplicity as you put into it. Want to simply run around, discovering hidden treasures and fighting weird monsters? You can do that. Do you want to create an elaborate kingdom that will make players everywhere drool? You can do that, too.
Console versions support up to four players, so the whole family can get in on this. And the different theme packs and characters (available for a separate charge) let you get even more mileage out of this game.
Lego Marvel Superheroes 2
Minecraft not your cup of tea? In that case, you might enjoy a game that truly appeals to all ages: Lego Marvel Superheroes 2.
The kid appeal is pretty clear. This game features all their favorite Marvel heroes in a cute Lego aesthetic. And gameplay revolves around the Lego ethos of building something new to solve every problem.
Adults, though, will enjoy the deep and varied references to the entirety of Marvel’s history. There is a small army of unlockable characters, and you can always replay old levels with new characters to unlock even more new secrets.
It’s low on stress, high on imagination, and filled with your favorite characters. What’s not to love?