Top Pick: Animal Crossing: New Horizons | $50 | Amazon
Thanksgiving will be more stressful than usual this year. First, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic, which is canceling holiday travel plans en masse. Those who are still gathering with their families have to deal with awkward dinner conversations about the United States’ unbearable political climate. Uncles everywhere have a lot of material to work with in 2020, weaponizing a year’s worth of horror into an unbearable hour of turkey talk. For those who have little choice in whether or not they can dip out on dinner, tensions threaten to be at an all-time high.
Luckily, the Nintendo Switch has proven to be a Thanksgiving miracle in recent years. The portable console is a perfect travel companion for anyone who’s looking for a reason to excuse themselves from the table as Uncle Mike pounds his fourth Bud Light of the evening. Video games proved that they can provide an important means of escape in trying times and this might be the Switch’s greatest test yet in that regard. If you’re bracing for the worst this year, here are the Switch games you should have on hand when you need to make a quick getaway from holiday drama.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the obvious answer here and for good reason. The massively popular life simulator is literally about escape. It gives players a colorful world to disappear into with chill music and good vibes to boot. When your dad insists that you sit down to watch an awkward football game with him, your island paradise will await you. Water your flowers, catch some fish, and work on your interior decorating skills all while nodding along as your dad complains about how Tom Brady is a turncoat.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is the kind of game that’s built for short breaks from ugly dinner conversations. The rhythm game gives you a collection of songs from the franchise’s history to play along with. Those 3-minute chunks of gameplay are crucial for those moments where you feel yourself getting heated. Excuse yourself from the table, head into the bathroom with your Switch, and tap along to Simple and Clean. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to stuff more mashed potatoes into your mouth.
Earlier this year, Nintendo dropped hidden gem Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics on the Switch. Now, it’s finally time for the board game collection to shine. Clubhouse Games is filled with old standbys like solitaire and mahjong, which are perfect for breaks. Games like checkers offer an especially good reason to pull your little sibling aside from the chaos and spend some quality time together. They hopefully don’t even know who Rudy Guliani is, so you can feel safe just sitting around letting them beat you in a few rounds of Connect Four.
Mario Kart Live: Super Circuit isn’t the easiest game to transport with its full RC kart peripheral, but it offers a lot of potential this Thanksgiving. If you’re visiting your parents, chances are that they have a bigger house than you. That means that you can better take advantage of the game’s AR to create larger courses to drive on. The value of this one goes up exponentially if your family has a pet as you can properly terrorize the toy kart. The sound of its tiny motor might even be loud enough to drown out your aunt’s suspicious, but “totally normal” cough.
Of course, the more advisable option is to stay home if you’re able to and eat a plate of turkey off of your table-sized PlayStation 5. Whatever you choose to do, do it safely and keep a go bag of video games close by.