Here on Parental No-Scope, I cover gaming, parenting and gaming with your kids. It only makes sense to make a “Best Co-op Games for Family Day” list! For the non-Canadians, Family Day is a holiday created in 1990 in Alberta and was adopted by Ontario in 2008 and British Columbia in 2013. Essentially, every year where I live, the third week in February, there is a PD day on Friday and a holiday on Monday…leaving me a four-day weekend where I need to entertain the kids.
Enter video games! On a normal occasion, I’d be happy to let them do their own thing, but with a title like Family Day looming over me, I supposed we should do something as a, you know, family. This list should have something for every gaming family on it. Usually, we don’t always hunt for the best couch co-op games since we have far too many systems and screens all in one room (yes, we are spoiled).
That being said, I was recently inspired by the release of Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo Switch and Xbox Game Pass, so nostalgia has gotten a hold of me, taking me waaaaay back to my brother kicking my butt regularly. And what are holidays for, if not watching your children scream endlessly over who is cheating by screen-watching?
Here are some of the best co-op games for Family Day 2023!
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most recent in a long list of LEGO-branded games. Realistically, any LEGO game works for the family! These games have been releasing for years in any sort of fandom you can think of, including Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Ninjago, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel, DC and more. Two players can sit side by side and work to solve puzzles, but most importantly, smash everything.
What makes this of the best co-op games for families is that the second player can be almost any age. My daughter is happy to pick up a controller and run in circles while I do all the work. She feels included, I’m only slightly frustrated, and everyone has a good time. It isn’t often that younger children can hop into family video game night, so it’s nice to see the option!
This is one almost every parent is sure to know. Minecraft has been around for over a decade and has been released for any platform you can think of. Though a lot of parents might not look at it as a game for adults, once you dive in, there is so much you can do!
You can work together or completely independently on a split screen, building a fortress together, farming for materials, or building and exploring apart. My happy place in Minecraft is digging very particular mines, I have a whole system, and my family is happy to come down and use all my treasures to build whatever they can think of. It’s a great game for people who love to create or hoard. I happen to be the latter, and my son is the former, so it’s one of the best co-op games for Family Day in my household.
Mario Party Superstars
Mario Party is a game I grew up with and remember fondly. We used to play with friends, but I can also remember many nights of staying up late, playing by myself. Now, I play it with my kids, and they are starting to kick my butt.
The game allows for up to four players, and there are a few different ways to play. You can play the standard board game or dive into just mini-games too, which can be fun for those with shorter attention spans. The board game itself allows for different lengths of play, and you can apply bonuses to make it easier for younger players. I also love that the winner isn’t always who you’d expect. Because of bonus stars, anyone of any age or skill has the chance to win, making it one of the best co-op games for Family Day!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
This one is a must-have, according to our writer, Chris de Hoog:
“Thanks to an extremely well-paced design and cooperative mode that allows kids to be involved in the game without being either coddled or bullied by it, as well as a vivid world that should make players of all ages smile, I cannot recommend Kirby and the Forgotten Land highly enough for parents who want to share this hobby with their young kids. They’ll hone their motor skills, reflexes, and strategic thinking by walking in Bandana Waddle Dee’s shoes, and you’ll have a great time bonding via teamwork.”
A surefire way to become one of the best co-op games for Family Day is to bring people together while teaching them something.
Jackbox Party Pack Vol. 9
Again, any of the Jackbox games work! This one depends on the age of your kids a little bit more, as it’s rated Teen. The really young ones may not have the motor skills needed to succeed, which could lead to frustration and tantrums. If this is the case, team up with a little one to give them a fighting chance!
The Jackbox games are a series of party games aimed to bring people together through gaming, regardless of skill. Only one person needs to own the game, but you do need smart devices to dive in, and you play that way! It makes the game pretty accessible if you don’t have multiple controllers for each system, and the mini-games are a blast!
I think I have yet to make a list where Stardew Valley doesn’t make the cut. It can do so much! The game has multiplayer online, but you can also play couch co-op, which makes it one of the best co-op games for family, since they’re all in one room! Stardew Valley is also on almost every system you can think of, making it seriously accessible.
Players can jump in and out of your game to help with daily tasks or simply explore. There is even a map called Four Corners that promotes starting up with friends—or family—to build your farm together. I’m not sure I want my 8-year-old in charge of my crops, but it’s a great game to play together anyway!
Animal Crossing New Horizons
This one comes up almost as often as Stardew Valley Again, I’m a bit of a control freak, so sharing an island with my son was stressful, but we created an island as a family. Animal Crossing New Horizons is tricky in that it is one island per system, so if you share a device, you have no choice but to share an island.
Everyone will get their own house to decorate, and you can visit each other and your villagers. So much has been added to the game since its release in 2020, so it is still pretty fresh if you haven’t jumped in for a while. Creating something with your kids is always a good time, provided you can let go of control and accept that there will be furniture all over the island—everywhere.
These games are some of the best co-op games for Family Day that you can play on one system and one screen. If you have multiple devices, be they tablets, consoles like Nintendo Switch, Xbox or PlayStation, or PC, there are plenty of other games you are able to dive into.
Some of our favourite co-op games are not couch co-op, and many of the above don’t HAVE to be played side by side either. Minecraft and Stardew Valley allow for online play too. Splatoon 3 and Fortnite are two of our favourites to play as a family on separate devices. If the rumour is true, Disney Dreamlight Valley should be getting multiplayer this year too, which would be a great choice for any family looking for the best co-op games for family any day of the year.