Another generation of gaming is drawing to a close, with new PlayStations and Xboxes on the way for Christmas 2020. But that means developers have become more confident in creating gaming experiences that look and play better than ever.

The following selection is chosen from 2019 titles that improve on some of the best from the industry’s past, while standing out on their own merits. All but one of these games can be enjoyed with friends and family. From courtroom dramas to exploring new worlds, these are the best games for kids this holiday season.

Pokémon Sword/Shield features “open world” elements, so you can wander and catch many new Pokémon species. (Nintendo)
Pokémon Sword/Shield features “open world” elements, so you can wander and catch many new Pokémon species. (Nintendo)

Pokemon Sword/Shield

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

Rating: E

Details: For the first time in its 23-year history, Pokémon games have made their way to a Nintendo home console. They are being released Nov. 15, and given the Pokémon pedigree and legacy, they’re going to be the games to get this season. Set in a modern environment inspired by Great Britain, they are the first Pokémon games to feature “open world” elements, where players are free to explore Victorian-inspired cities and fields full of hundreds of new Pokémon species to find and capture.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is one of the more challenging Mario games, and it’s new to Switch. (Nintendo)
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is one of the more challenging Mario games, and it’s new to Switch. (Nintendo)

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

Rating: E (Everyone)

Details: Ranked by gaming site Polygon as the best Mario game ever, New Super Mario Bros U — originally created for Wii U — was a much-needed addition to Nintendo Switch. Sure, it’s a game from 2012, but it’s still one of the more challenging Mario games ever made. And if it’s too hard? There are two modes designed for the casual player struggling to get through the levels. Up to four players can join, and it wraps up everything great about Mario games in one box.

The new visuals in “The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening” help make it one of the best adventure games available. (Nintendo)
The new visuals in “The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening” help make it one of the best adventure games available. (Nintendo)

The Legned of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Price: $59.99

Rating: E

Details: The Washington Post has ranked this the third-greatest game in what’s considered one of the greatest game series of all time. The game is simple, because its roots are from 1992. But the updated visuals make the game look like a beautifully animated pop-up book, with every tree and animal looking like a plastic toy come to life. Pair that with even more treasures, and this is the best adventure game out there.

The new Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is a reboot of a 1999 PlayStation game. (Activision)
The new Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is a reboot of a 1999 PlayStation game. (Activision)

Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled

Publisher: Activision

Platform: Xbox One, Switch, PS4

Price: $39.99

Rating: E10+ (Ages 10 and older)

Details: Yes, Nintendo is dominating this list, but Mario and pals will have to hand over the kart-racing crowd to the bandicoot. Crash Team Racing, a long-awaited remastered version of the 1999 PlayStation hit, is better than the Mario Kart series, offering more challenge, faster vehicles and tons of game modes, all delivered in detailed, dynamic graphics.

The courtroom drama heats up in “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.” (Capcom)
The courtroom drama heats up in “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.” (Capcom)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Publisher: Capcom

Platform: Xbox One, Switch, PS4, PC

Price: $29.99

Rating: T (Teen)

Details: The popular visual-novel series got a high-definition update this year. The saga of rookie criminal defense attorney Phoenix Wright will keep your family on the edge of their seats. As Wright, you try to solve crimes of passion, deception and high-level corruption, a story written with healthy, good-natured humor that acknowledges how ridiculous and dramatic the courtroom action can get.