The 9 Best Xbox One Kids' Games of 2019

Shop for the best music, toy-to-life, superhero and puzzle-solving kids' games

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Yooka-Laylee

4

Though Mario may not be on the Xbox anytime soon, your best bet for the best Xbox One kids' game is Yooka-Laylee. It’s made by the same developers from yesteryears classics such as N64’s Banjo Kazooie; a solid platforming game with intriguing characters, gorgeous graphics and fun-filled gameplay.

Yooka-Laylee puts kids in the role of a buddy duo: a chameleon named Yooka and a bat named Laylee, who work together to bring their own awesome abilities that can be used in level progression. Players unlock moves as they journey through levels, offering a more custom set of options in how to play and explore the game’s vast worlds. This is the surefire choice Xbox One game for kids, made by experienced developers that bring both an intriguing atmosphere and lifelike characters in an overall game built solely on having fun.

Best Superhero: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3.7

The biggest and best superhero game on Xbox One is easily LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. Featuring just about every beloved Marvel hero and villain you can think of – The X-Men, Spider Man, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four and more – LEGO Marvel Super Heroes gives you the massive, open world of Manhattan to explore while trying to stop an evil plot by Loki and Doctor Doom. Each of the characters has distinct skills and abilities – Iron Man can melt gold objects, Wolverine can slash through walls, Hulk can lift heavy items, etc. – that you use to explore the levels and solve simple puzzles. Having so many great characters all in one game makes LEGO Marvel Super Heroes a sure fire hit with kids and comic fans alike.

Best Film-To-Game: LEGO Jurassic World

LEGO Jurassic World
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4

The “Jurassic Park” movies aren’t always exactly kid-friendly, but LEGO Jurassic World presents all four of the films in a light-hearted and humorous way where no one actually dies or gets hurt, and any violence is replaced with silly jokes. Not only does the game let you play through the plot of all four “Jurassic” movies, but it also gives you fully open world versions of the locations from the movies for you to explore.

Even better, along with the playable cast of human characters like Alan Grant, Dr. Sattler, Ian Malcom and more, there are also a number of playable dinosaurs including velociraptors, brontosaurus and T-Rex. The graphics are an interesting mix of realistic backgrounds with plastic characters that looks fantastic, and the sound effects/music were all taken directly from the movies.

Best Toy-To-Life: LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions
Courtesy of Amazon.com
3

Toy-to-life games are awesome for kids because they’re really two toys/games in one. To start, you get real world toys and action figures that are fun to play with, but those special figures can also be scanned into a video game and played digitally as well. Our favorite toy-to-life game, LEGO Dimensions, takes it one step further by having you actually build the figures and playsets (which include licenses such as “Jurassic World,” “Back to the Future,” “Ghostbusters,” “Doctor Who,” “Scooby-Doo” and more) piece-by-piece with LEGO bricks. The video game levels based on those licenses are the same 3D action/platforming as other LEGO games, but you can swap any characters from any license in and out on any level, which creates some fun and funny crossover situations you’ll only find in LEGO Dimensions.

Best Music/Rhythm: Just Dance 2018

Get the whole family moving with the latest installment of the popular Just Dance series. Just Dance 2018 helps kids to stay active while moving to the latest musical hits and developing their senses of rhythm and balance. 

Simply install an app on your smartphone (it works with both Android and iOS devices), hold your phone, and get your groove on while the game tracks your movements. It’s a straightforward and easy way to get the game to more accurately keep track of your smooth moves, which is important since scores are based on how accurate each performance is when compared to the fun, energetic on-screen dance routines. This game is always great at parties with familiar hits from lots of different musical genres; Just Dance 2018 comes with over 40 tracks and over 300 songs are available with Just Dance Unlimited (free 3-month trial included). Some of the biggest hits on this version include “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, and “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. 

Best with Animals: Zoo Tycoon

Zoo Tycoon
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Zoo Tycoon is a zoo building/management simulator at its core, but its real appeal comes from the fact that it is a great way to simply observe and interact with animals. The free play mode allows you to ignore the management aspect entirely so you can just build a zoo with whatever animals you want, and it is in this mode where the experience really shines.

Lions, tigers, bears, elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and many other species of animals are available here, and just sitting back and watching them as they run around and play is an absolute joy. The graphics are fantastic, right down to the soft- and fuzzy-looking fur on the animals that makes you want to reach out and touch.

Best Puzzle Solving: Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations

Finn & Jake Investigations
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The best kids' games get them to think a little and maybe learn something new, and Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations does this very well. In this game, Jake (the dog) and Finn (the boy) have to solve mysteries all over the land of Ooo. You explore fully 3D versions of key locations from the show, like Treetrunks’ house or Princess Bubblegum’s palace, in order to find clues and items that you piece together to solve the mystery.

Things like combining a bottle+water+soap to make a giant bubble so you can float upward, or having to interview everyone around town to figure out who took a key item are just some of the puzzles. You really have to think critically and be smart, and solving the puzzles is really quite fun. All of the fan-favorite characters from the show are here, fully voiced by the real actors, and the presentation overall is top notch.

Best Kinect: Fantasia: Music Evolved

Fantasia: Music Evolved
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Kinect for Xbox One was an undeniable flop, but if you do happen to have a Kinect you’re in for a treat with Fantasia: Music Evolved. Fantasia: Music Evolved pairs the visual brilliance of the Disney “Fantasia” films with a motion-controlled music game where you create music like the conductor of a symphony. The game includes classical pieces from Mozart and Bach, as well as modern songs from David Bowie and Queen.

By moving your hands in different ways to mimic onscreen indicators, you bring the music to life. The gameplay is relatively simple and intuitive, but the challenge comes from making sure your hands and body are in the right position to complete the next series of moves, not just the current one, which is tougher than it sounds. Once you learn to play, though, Fantasia: Music Evolved is extremely fun and stands as easily the best Kinect game ever.

Best for Young Children: Skylanders Imaginators

It seems that recently, video games have taken a turn for the more physically interactive, offering figurine sets that give kids physical collectibles that ladder into a game, and this Skylanders Imaginators set does just that.

The game's universe provides 30 different figurines to collect, each of which unlocks special functionalities in the game. For starters, this basic set comes with the Fire Creation Crystal, the Golden Queen and the Master King Pen. In the game, there are 10 different battle class types, and you can create your own characters using the creation crystal included. There are co-op and head-to-head racing modes for playing with friends, and the edition has introduced side quests and mini-games to keep things interesting. In fact, the best part of this cartoon-y adventure game is that things are always kept fresh as kids are constantly expanding their figurine collection. 

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought five top-rated Xbox One Kids’ Games that our reviewer tested for 50 hours. We asked our tester to consider the most important features when playing these games, from their activity level to their educational level. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in an Xbox One Kids' Game

Activity level - Some games are more active than others. A few will even work up as much of a sweat as playing a game of tag outside. To help your child get adequate exercise, look for a game that keeps him or her moving, such as Dance Dance Revolution.

Educational level - Video games don’t have to be purely recreational. Some can supplement math and science subjects that your child is learning in school or even delve into an entirely new topic that he or she might not have explored otherwise.

Creativity level - Sometimes, educational games teach a child to think in a new way or solve puzzles with abstract thinking. Plenty of games, such as Minecraft, offer a more creative spin than those with more traditional approaches such as times tables and science experiments.

Test Results: Yooka-Laylee (Best Overall)

4

What We Like

  • Lots to explore inside the worlds

  • Strong protagonists

  • Colorful and cheery

What We Don't Like

  • Big difficulty spike after level 2

  • Some of the humor is confusing

Yooka-Laylee
 Lifewire
Yooka-Laylee
Lifewire 
Yooka-Laylee
 Lifewire
Yooka-Laylee
Lifewire 

Our tester thought Yooka-Laylee was a “colorful” and “cheery” game with lots of space for exploring the different worlds. He said, “Kids will likely enjoy the sense of humor and simple gameplay.” However, our reviewer cautioned, “There's a big difficulty spike between the first and second worlds that feels inordinately punishing.” He also noted it’s designed to provoke nostalgia in an older audience, but that sometimes the humor misses: “It's very concerned with making sure you know what it's parodying/referencing, sometimes to its detriment.” In the end, though, he declared, “It's difficult to genuinely dislike it.”

Test Results: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (Best Superhero)

3.7

What We Like

  • Good amount of playtime for the price

  • A-list cast of Marvel characters

  • Entertaining for a variety of ages

What We Don't Like

  • Some of the obstacles have confusing designs

  • Dying lacks a penalty

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Lifewire 
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Lifewire 
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
 Lifewire
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Lifewire 

Our tester found LEGO Marvel Super Heroes to be an entertaining game for a variety of ages. He explained, “It has a surprising amount of secrets and collectibles jammed into every potential corner of it, which makes it a good dollar-per-hour value.” In terms of negatives, our reviewer wished it were a little more consequential: “Death is cheap,” he said. He also thought some of the puzzles and challenges were a bit counterintuitive. The takeaway? “It's an entertaining cartoon of a game that turns the Marvel Universe into a self-aware LEGO adventure, with an A-list cast of voice actors and a terrific sense of humor.”

Test Results: LEGO Jurassic World (Best Film-To-Game)

4

What We Like

  • Entertaining re-creation of the movies

  • Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as voice actors

  • Funny

What We Don't Like

  • Low replay value

  • Can be glitchy

LEGO Jurassic World
Lifewire 
LEGO Jurassic World
Lifewire 
LEGO Jurassic World
Lifewire 
LEGO Jurassic World
Lifewire 

“A fun, slight parody of the Jurassic Park franchise, this recasts the first movies as LEGO productions in a way that both celebrates and satirizes them,” our tester revealed. He also said, “The retelling of Jurassic World is more entertaining than the movie in some ways.” While our reviewer felt this was a highly entertaining game, particularly for dinosaur-loving kids, he did say there were a few glitches and there isn’t a ton of replay value. “Like all LEGO games, this is all about simply putting in the time to complete it, and once you do, it's done,” he explained. In the end, though, he confirmed, “Playing as dinosaurs is a lot of fun.”

Test Results: LEGO Dimensions (Best Toy-To-Life)

3

What We Like

  • Solid list of voice actors

  • Covers amazing breadth of franchises

  • Gameplay is unique and entertaining

What We Don't Like

  • Puzzles can be illogical

  • LEGO Pad is difficult to use

LEGO Dimensions
Lifewire
LEGO Dimensions
Lifewire
LEGO Dimensions
Lifewire

Our tester enjoyed this game for its humor and amazing voice actors. “I never thought I'd see Batman team up with Gandalf,” our reviewer said. “The sheer breadth of franchises here is ridiculous and amazing.” However, he wasn’t a fan of the LEGO Pad required for many of the puzzles and said it was very glitchy. He also noted, “As with all LEGO games, some of the puzzles can be initially inscrutable.” Bottom line: “The standard LEGO formula is good, clean fun that's just demanding enough to be entertaining.”