Local multiplayer is trendy again thanks to these games

By Robert Workman, Mar 28, 2014 8:15am PDT

Remember the good old days when all you really needed to have the ultimate multiplayer experience was a Super Nintendo, a multitap, four game controllers, and a bunch of friends? The SNES era was definitely home to these experiences, with games like NBA Jam and Super Bomberman bringing players together for "couch" sessions. Nintendo 64 had its split-screen moments as well, evolving the experience with the likes of Star Fox 64, Goldeneye 64, and Mario Kart 64.

While local multiplayer has been eschewed in favor of online multiplayer as of late, a number of recent games have brought couch play back into the spotlight. Today, we look at a few of those games.

Indie favorite Towerfall Ascension is a romp where you battle others in an enclosed arena using whatever arrows you can find. The forthcoming Sportsfriends compilation, as well as Cel Damage HD, will also provide local multiplayer fun this summer.

With all the talk of "social" games as of late, these games remind us what it truly means to be social with others. Sure, you can yell into a headset, but there's nothing like chatting with friends and experiencing the same awesome moments in the same room. There's nothing quite like experiencing a three-kill spontaneous run in Towerfall Ascension. Other games, like Pig Eat Ball and Nidhogg, offer players the chance to tag a fellow player on the rear end and clash swords.

Some experiences can't be replicated online. For example, Johann Sebastian Joust requires four players in a room together, holding PlayStation Move controllers and following along to the beat of a song in-game. While that may not sound like everyone's multiplayer gaming experience, it's certainly unique, and has hooked many a gamer during PAX sessions. Trying to do the same thing online just wouldn't have the same effect, because you can't see everything that's happening.

It's unlikely we're entering a golden era for local multiplayer games like we did with the SNES and Nintendo 64, but it's nice to see the options lowly return. Online games aren't waning in popularity as Titanfall shows, but gamers are slowly seeking more and more offline experiences.

Now where'd that fourth controller go?

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