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Bluey: The Videogame, based on the insanely popular Disney Junior show about a family of cartoon dogs, came out over the weekend, which is certain to be a popular gift for preschool gamers this holiday season. But if it’s your child’s first introduction to video games, they’ll likely want to play more games that are just like it. Luckily, there are plenty of great (and affordable) titles to choose from.
Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia
With graphics resembling illustrations in an Eric Carle storybook, this eye-catching title isn’t so much a game as a way for users to explore the outdoor world of the titular character. With one touch of a button, a card filled with facts about flora and fauna appears. Various editions are available for this download-only game, including one with Under Leaves, another discovery game from the same publisher.
Super Mario Maker 2
I wanted to include this game in my list of best Nintendo Switch games for little kids that didn’t feature Mario, but as it features a popular plumber, I didn’t mention it. But much like Game Builder Garage, which I put on the list instead, players can learn how to create their own side-scrolling courses for others to play or, if they’re in World Maker mode, an entire game using resources from previous games in the Mario series.
S.U.M. – Slay Uncool Monsters
As the mnemonic device in the game’s title alludes to, players fight creatures using basic math skills, with the difficulty level increasing with each subsequent dungeon you go into. Perfect for elementary school kids, this download-only game is a colorful throwback to the educational programs schools used to feature in their computer labs.
These sets use sheets of cardboard (and basic concepts of physics, engineering, and programming) to turn your Nintendo Switch into a remote-controlled car, piano, or motorbike, giving LEGO-obsessed kids another outlet to put their construction skills to good use.
Layton’s’ Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy
The popular Nintendo 3DS game was remastered for the Switch several years ago, but the basic premise remains the same. The daughter of a famous detective must decipher puzzles based in math and logic to solve cases revolving around seven millionaires. Like any good detective, players must focus to ensure they don’t miss any vital clues.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
This game is a spinoff of Super Mario 3D World, and much like that game, players will have to control the environment of each level to help the titular character find coins and other treasures while avoiding peril. (Mushrooms can’t jump, apparently.) It requires imagination and spatial learning to navigate each level, making it a perfect gaming option for all ages.
Dragon Quest Builders
Dragon Quest Builders is another spinoff game. Similar to Minecraft in many ways, players must plan and organize to achieve building goals. Their memories will be tested as villagers send them out to get materials to complete quests. With no spoken dialogue, reading skills will also come into play.
If your preschooler likes using scissors as much as mine, this is the perfect game for them. The premise goes like this: Two pieces of paper must solve puzzles by cutting themselves into new shapes. For example, to pop a balloon, players will shape themselves into something sharp. The game can cause some frustration in younger players, but it will teach them how to control their feelings and stay versatile as the game changes.
If you couldn’t tell by the title, this download-only series of games teaches kids addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to unlock doors, battle ghosts, and earn treasure that will help them take on Greco—who may or may not be a demon. I honestly can’t tell.
Letter Quest Remastered
A hybrid of a word-puzzle app and a role-playing game, players must spell words to defeat enemies who are keeping Grimm, the scythe-wielding main character, from his pizza. This download-only game may sound dark, but the characters, which include ghosts and evil rabbits, are too cute to be scary.
You might be familiar with the app version of this download-only game. Developed by neuroscientists, it’s a space shooter that teaches kids about math. It doesn’t get any more educational than this.
The environmental message is what makes this download-only rescue game educational. Players must explore and clean up the trash on islands in jungle, desert, and frozen landscapes with a device known as a Trash Blaster.