The Switch’s facility with local couch co-op games is one of the key selling points of the console. The ability to crack (read: carefully slide) off the Joy-Con and get involved in some same-screen multiplayer mayhem is super convenient, although the introduction in September 2019 of Switch Lite — the portable-only console variant which doesn’t have removeable controllers — means that local wireless play (meaning Switch-to-Switch, no internet connection required) has grown in popularity, too.
While far from guaranteed, the likelihood that there’s more than one Switch in your household is growing all the time, so below we’ve assembled a selection of local wireless multiplayer games which arguably function at their very best when everyone’s got their own Switch (in fact, multiple Switches are a necessity for the first entry on the list).
On related topics, our guide to which Switch Games don’t work with Switch Lite might prove helpful, and if you’re a solo gamer packing two Switches (lucky you!), our guide on sharing games and saves across Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite might also be useful.
So, let’s look at the best local wireless play Switch games. Before we begin, it should be noted that although you don’t require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play local wireless multiplayer, you will need not only multiple consoles, but also multiple copies of whatever game you want to play (except in a couple of welcome cases which we highlight below). Yep, things can start getting expensive!
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Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Velan Studios
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is the only game here where you positively require two or more Switches to engage in multiplayer. The game itself is a free download on the Switch eShop, but you’ll need plenty of hardware to play multiplayer (you can choose from Mario or Luigi karts, although the game will function just fine if you’ve got two of the same variety).
Happily, the game supports up to four players, so if you’ve got three friends with Switches and karts, there’s a very good time to be had.
Publisher: Psyonix Studios / Developer: Psyonix Studios
Still a riot in split-screen (and Psyonix say that same-console split-screen is returning after going AWOL following a recent update), but this beautiful game arguably works best when you’ve each got your own full screen to help you keep your eye on the ball. Handily, Rocket League is also free-to-play now, making it one of the cheapest local wireless play options going on Switch.
We love ARMS here are Nintendo Life, and while it caters for four-player split-screen battles, things get even more interesting if up to four players prop up their own Switches on a table in the centre of the room and each face inwards for a motion-controlled bout of fisticuffs, each combatant skipping and ducking and weaving in their own corner.
Alternatively, if you don’t have our flair for the theatrical, you can just play sitting on a chair or something, like a ‘normie’.
Up to four players can team up and battle their way through the demon horde in Diablo III: Eternal Collection without the need for an online connection. It’s a thoroughly good time, although you might want to bring a pair of specs for your multiplayer session if you plan on reading any text.
Minecraft multiplayer functions fine in split-screen in a pinch (reduced resolution and screen real estate isn’t going to get between an eager Minecrafter and their game), but the larger canvas of your own screen feels much more fitting when indulging in some local multiplayer mining and/or crafting.
While we’ve never had huge problems with online play, there’s no denying that lag-free local matches are the best way to take on all-comers in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate if you want the best possible experience (short of a LAN party, of course). Smash on Switch can be played over local wireless connections, too, and you may well find it easier to track your movement when things get super chaotic if you’ve got your own screen to concentrate on.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: PlatinumGames
Possibly not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of multiplayer games on Switch, but Bayonetta 2 features a Tag Climax co-op mode that sends two players through a series of battles from the main story and enables you to make bets on your performance. It’s available online or in the same room with local wireless play and offers a fun multiplayer alternative to the solo witchy-whup-ass you may be accustomed to.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Koei Tecmo
When things get heroically hectic while giving Thanos a sound thrashing and saving universe as we know it, it’s probably a good idea to have your own screen. Fortunately, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order caters for up to four Switches syncing together via local wireless play to make just that happen. Excelsior!
Publisher: Bandai Namco / Developer: Bandai Namco
Namco Museum features a host of classic Namco arcade games, it’s Pac-Man Vs. that’s the real show-stopper here — the reason this game makes the list. One player takes the role of the pill-muncher and the others his ghostly pursuers, although the twist is that the ghosts can’t see where ol’ PM is on their screen. This is a port of the GameCube original, which used Game Boy Advance connectivity to give everyone their own screens, but in this version two Switches can be used: the ghosts play on one (preferably connected to the TV) while Pac-Man plays alone on the other. And voila! You’ve got the set-up for one of the best party games ever made.
Even better, a free multiplayer download on the Switch eShop enables you to play this mode with just one purchased copy of the game. Wrapped and bagged!
There might be a new Monster Hunter on the horizons for Switch, but Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate remains a ‘traditional-style’ high point of the series, and while its online functions well, co-ordinating attacks and strategies to take down huge monsters with up to four friends is arguably at its very best with everyone in the same room.
Publisher: Codemasters / Developer: Feral Interactive
It took a while for the multiplayer update to arrive, but GRID Autosport now sports up to eight-player local wireless play on Switch for racers who prefer to burn rubber in proper cars, not RC karts or the digital equivalent while lobbing bananas and green shells at other drivers.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is brilliant on a single console with up to four players, but using local wireless you can get races going with up to eight people. By our calculations, local eight-way races are twice as fun as the standard four-ways, so be sure to check this one out with local wireless play if you get the chance.
And would you look at that — this entire list is a Mario Kart sandwich! Mmm, Mario Kart sandwich…
Got any nominations for this list? There are many other games that feature Local Multi-Card Play options for multiplayer battling, trading and the like — Splatoon 2 or Luigi’s Mansion 3, for example — although in our estimates playing on a single console (or online) offers a similar or better experience in those cases.
Still, there’s nothing quite like multiplayer gaming with your partner/opponent in the same room, so if you think we’ve missed an essential local wireless gem, feel free to let us know down below and we may add it.
This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness And Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Free Switch Games, and even Games To Play After You’ve Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Whatever your favourite genre, we’ve got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Sports Games, Beat ‘Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game and Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch.
If you’re looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games Of 2017, 2018, and 2019. And finally, if you’re interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Nintendo 64 Games, Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, and the Best GameCube Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.
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