The Nintendo Switch has already outsold the Wii U, which suggests that the Switch is here to stay and that Nintendo is doing OK, thank you very much.
If you read our Nintendo Switch review you’ll see that we love this innovative little console. And the Switch is well on its way to carving another Mario-shaped hole in the games industry.
As with all Nintendo consoles, some of the best experiences you can have on the Switch are shared with friends. In this article we take a look at the best Switch local multiplayer experiences, including split-screen co-op, competitive couch multiplayer, and networked fun with multiple Switch units.
Not many people played Mario Kart 8 the first time round, since not many people owned the requisite hardware (the much-maligned Wii U). The Switch re-release was a perfectly-timed tactical move on Nintendo’s part, an antidote to the engrossing single-player campaign of Breath of the Wild. If you own a Switch, this is the best experience you can have with friends on your handheld right now.
The Deluxe release features all the DLC (including branded Mercedes karts and parts), a redesigned “proper” battle mode featuring a Splatoon-themed arena, and pretty much every multiplayer mode you could ever ask for. Race with up to four people on a single console, grab up to eight friends for wireless play, or network 12 Switch consoles together for a hectic Mario Kart LAN party.
Beyond the frenetic powersliding action, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also features accessibility options like auto-accelerate and steering assist which means you can play with young children, your grandma, or that guy from the office who’s never touched a controller.
The Switch has become home for some of the best indie titles of the last few years, among them breakout cooperative hit Overcooked. The game tasks you with running a hectic kitchen. You need to prepare ingredients, cook, serve up meals, and wash the dishes so you can make even more food. Sounds easy? It’s not.
Overcooked constantly throws curveballs in the form of kitchens that change their shape, split in half, and spontaneously combust. Grab three friends and work together, communicate effectively, and roll around on the floor laughing when it all goes pear-shaped.
One issue worth noting is that Overcooked suffers from some slight performance issues due to the Switch’s relatively modest hardware.
The Switch version includes both DLC releases in its $20 price tag, and you’ll need to read up on some Overcooked tips if you have any hope of seeing them all.
Love it or hate it, Minecraft is a video game that will define a generation. You’ve probably played it, your children have definitely played it, and it’s a formula that will remain relevant for generations to come. It only made sense that Minecraft would eventually arrive on the Switch, with a ton of technical improvements over the Wii U version.
It’s also a multiplayer masterpiece; whether you’re playing locally on the same machine via split screen (up to four players), or wirelessly on separate consoles (up to eight players). There’s even cross-platform multiplayer support for other platforms (except Sony’s PS4), so you can play Minecraft on your Switch with other players who are using a Windows PC, Xbox 360, or other supported platform.
Nintendo launched the Switch with two must-have titles: Breath of the Wild and Snipperclips. Before Mario Kart arrived, Snipperclips was the best proof of concept we had for the console’s multiplayer potential. The fact that it sold so well back then and continues to pop up in the eShop charts from time to time speaks volumes about this charming and hilarious cooperative experience.
Snipperclips is a cooperative game for two players. Each level presents you with an objective—something like throwing a ball through a hoop—and the ability to cut your partner’s character down to size. You must work together (or for comedic effect, don’t) to shape your characters into tools that can help you complete the objective and move on to the next level.
It’s a wholesome local multiplayer experience that will challenge and tickle you in equal measure. The Plus version includes 40 new stages, with a boxed retail release available too.
5. Jackbox Party Pack (2, 3, 4)
For some of the most memorable multiplayer experiences you’ll find on any platform, look no further than the Jackbox mini game releases. Known as Party Packs, there are four available at the time of writing, and they bring the fun of a quiz show into your living room. The games require players use smartphones, tablets, or laptops as controllers, to answer questions, draw pictures, and vote on answers on-screen.
There’s usually a limit of around eight players per game, though some raise the cap and others even allow audience members to participate and impact the proceedings. Each pack will set you back around $25 (you’ll get discounts for owning other titles in the series) and contains five party games with some standout inclusions:
- Fibbage: A game where you have to produce a convincing lie in a bid to fool fellow players.
- Quiplash: A quick-thinking game where players vote on the funniest quips.
- Drawful: Like Pictionary, but with more obscure prompts and hilarious drawings.
- Civic Doodle: A (somewhat) cooperative drawing game.
6. Payday 2
Payday 2 is a game where you rob banks in groups of four, and it’s a little different to the other games on this list. Each player will need their own console, and a copy of the game to play since there’s no split-screen support. Online multiplayer is somewhat limited since the Switch still has unsatisfactory support for voice communication, and this is a game that absolutely requires it.
But with three other members of your crew in the same room, there might be no better way to play Payday. It’s a game that benefits from a fair amount of stealth and preparation, having a plan, and being able to execute that plan with effective communication. The Switch version might be inferior in terms of visuals and framerate, but it’s loaded with years’ worth of add-on content and you can get together and play virtually anywhere.
There’s a reason Rocket League has enjoyed weeks in the Nintendo eShop charts since its arrival on the platform. In case you missed it, Rocket League is soccer with cars, and it took the world by storm when it arrived on PS4 and PC in June 2015. By early 2018 the game had accrued 40 million players worldwide, with cross-platform support for all but PS4 players (thanks Sony).
Multiplayer support is great across the board, with up to four player split screen via docked mode (or two players in handheld). You can get up to eight people together and play Rocket League wirelessly, or play online with other Switch, PC, and Xbox One players.
It might not be the best version of the multiplayer hit from a performance standpoint, but it’s one of the best multiplayer games you can play on any platform right now.
Enter the Gungeon is a top-down bullet hell roguelike, which means you’ll spend your time dodging incoming fire before dying permanently and starting all over again. The game randomizes its levels, enemies, and weapon placements each time you play, which keeps it fresh and challenging.
The Switch version was the first to see quality of life improvements which made the game considerably more approachable nearly two years after arriving on other platforms. So why not invite a friend around for a hectic two-player local multiplayer experience!
A quintessential multiplayer experience, Super Bomberman R is the latest game in the hit arcade series that first appeared in 1983. The game sees you and three other pals battling it out on a square grid. You must lay bombs to destroy blocks, pick up power-ups, and ultimately trap your opponents with a well-placed explosive.
This was a Switch launch title, but it was originally released at full price, which raised some concerns about its value for money. Luckily the eShop price has since fallen, and second-hand physical copies can be picked up relatively cheaply by now. The game has received some big improvements since its initial release too.
10. Puyo Puyo Tetris
Not everyone enjoys shooters, roguelikes, or racing games. If you’re a puzzle enthusiast, Puyo Puyo Tetris should probably already be on your list since there’s nothing else quite like it. The game fuses the mega-hit Tetris with the huge-in-Japan Puyo Puyo for some truly fresh puzzle action.
There’s just about every game mode you can imagine, from pure Puyo and Tetris modes, to hybrid versions of the two. And there’s even a mode where you play both games simultaneously. Things get very tense in multiplayer, as players send unwanted blocks back and forth in a bid to fill up their opponent’s screen.
If you can’t find a buddy to pair up with you locally, you can always head to a gamer meetup and play wirelessly or settle for playing online instead.
The Nintendo Switch Is on Fire
For this list, we wanted to focus on the best of the bunch. Nintendo’s platform is on fire right now, which means everyone wants a slice of the pie. We’re seeing games added to the eShop on a weekly basis, but not all of them are good.
Some local multiplayer highlights still to come to the Switch in the future include a heavily teased version of Fortnite and the long-awaited co-op update for Stardew Valley. Both of which are shaping up nicely.