Last month the Playstation Plus free games offered two titles for the PS4. First up was Tropico 5, a game I’d been interested in for a while and that quickly got downloaded; but it was the second game that intrigued me the most – Table Top Racing: World Tour. Having downloaded the game, sort of a cross between Micro Machines and PS2 classic Mashed; I was disappointed to find that there was no “couch-multiplayer” mode, something a game like this was crying out for.
Then it got me to thinking about how much multiplayer has changed. It’s gone from late nights crowded round a telly with your mates playing Goldeneye to sitting alone playing call of duty against someone random in Australia. There seem to be far fewer of these type of games these days as online gaming has become the norm. So I thought I’d have a look back at some of my favourite old school multiplayer games from over the years.
#5 Super Bomberman – SNES
This was one of the first multiplayer games I had and I can fondly remember getting a multitap specifically for it. The premise was simple, you planted bombs in a maze in order to blow up the other players. A good deal more tactical than it sounds, you relied on setting ambushes for your fellow players whilst trying to avoid their (and your own) bombs. Frustrating when you realise you’ve killed a player but trapped yourself so you are taken out by your own bomb!
#4 Timesplitters 2 – PS2
This game was an absolute classic for me. As well as a very accomplished single player mode with a good single player story and insanely hard challenge mode (break every piece of glass on a level by only throwing bricks in 18 seconds anyone?) to me the multiplayer mode was what made it. Along with the standard game modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the bag other modes were available like Virus where one player starts infected and has to infect others, flame tag which is like actual tag except instead of being ‘it’ you are on fire and monkey assistant – the player in last place gets a squad of monkeys to help them get kills! What I loved about this was how much it could be altered; you could change the levels, characters weapons and even the music to have playing in the background. You could also play with up to 10 bots meaning 14 player games and the bots were all able to be customised as well. Thats before you even thought about the level editor to make your own levels. I spent hours on this and no two games were ever the same.
#3 Final Doom – PS1
OK so not technically a couch multiplayer game considering you needed two PS1’s, two tellys, two copies of the game and a link cable to play it with two players. Luckily I had a friend just up the road who had the same idea as me and we would regularly get together for a “Doom fest”. Once you had managed to get all this set up there were two game modes – Cooperative and Deathmatch. Cooperative did pretty much what it said on the tin and two players could work together to complete the game. This was a fun mode apart from the fact that friendly fire was always on meaning you would inevitably kill your buddy who would then retaliate leading to an impromptu shooting match around the monsters completely ignoring the level objectives. Which leads us nicely on to Deathmatch mode. this was the mode we spent most time in, both frantic and tense, the lack of monsters and eerie music as well as the fact you never knew where the other guy was meant it you tried to get the kill and run like hell for the exit to complete, and win, the level.
#2 Mario Kart Wii – Wii
Mario Kart is one of the all time classic multiplayer games, however the one I spent most time with was the Wii version. The Wii and the way you controlled it was still pretty revolutionary at the time and adding a steering wheel cover to the Wii-motes seemed like a genius idea and, although purely aesthetic it took this game to the next echelons of multiplayer madness as you all fought over who used it. Any Mario Kart game is normally good value for Multiplayer and any of them one could have been included on this list however, I played this one the most loved the characters (baby characters an exception, they’re just filler) the weapons and the tracks. I played the hell out of this game and still do to this day. Best enjoyed with a few beers and a takeaway
#1 Goldeneye 007 – N64
Overall Goldeneye 007 was amazing. The story mode, although following the plot of the film, was considered revolutionary at the time with it’s stealth elements, weapons and set pieces. However it was the Multiplayer where this game shone. Goldeneye defined the split screen multiplayer shooter genre, and I was amazed at the time as I’d never seen anything like it. To my younger self multiplayer FPS games were the domain of networked Quake players and the like not home consoles, even if you could see other peoples screens! It had everything, the graphics, the characters, the game modes (slappers only!) the maps everything. I wasted hours of my life perfecting this game and attempting to beat all comers. See with Goldeneye, it had such an impact everyone remembers their first win (in my case a prox mine inferno), the first time they humiliated someone wuth a Klobb and the silly house rules they played (no Oddjob!) Overall this was a game that defined my school years – I even played this instead of revising.
Honourable mentions go to: F-Zero X, Pro Evo, Fifa, WWF No Mercy, Mashed: Drive to Survive and Grand Prix on the Amiga