Remember multiplayer games before the internet arrived? I couldn’t until recently. My brother was busying himself at the weekend, showing me a wonderful little tower defence game on the PlayStation 3 that goes by the name of Comet Crash…
“What, you can play it against each other on the same console?” I asked, sounding alarmed.
“Yes Lewis, there was once a time where we didn’t need multiple computers, consoles, screens and an internet connection to play against each other; multiplayer on one screen, remember?” He retorted, with a stop-being-stupid tone.
I had actually forgotten that in this day and age there are still some games which allow for players to play together. Sat next to each other. Without needing a headset to converse. It’s startling really.
Nintendo, based on its marketing campaigns, would have you believe that everyone plays all their games with family and friends. But when it comes down to it, it is simply not true. Despite many of my Wii games being multiplayer friendly, I cannot remember a time when I’ve had any memorable moments of multiplayer action. The odd game of Wii Sports with your partner doesn’t constitute true multiplayer action. It’s a bit like eating Crème Brulee; pleasant, but odd. So thereSuper Smash Brothers has sat gathering dust, pining to be abused by a group of guys, shamelessly throwing insults at one another over a few tins of larger and a packet of crisps.
Growing up with a sibling of similar age made gaming on the same screen wonderful and common place. Rivalry and cheap point scoring between Gregg and I still bubbles over to this day, and begun at an early age; fond memories of playing Mario Kart or our Soul Calibre marathons. It’s a feeling that online gaming cannot replicate.
The very nature of playing online, irrespective of voice communication, is a relatively sterile experience. Playing against someone you may or may not know, potentially a world away, pales in comparison to on-the-same-console play. You don’t experience the banter, the jostles or hear the laughter; the vocal and physical stimulants that do make a game more fun. I have never laughed more than when playing Gauntlet Legends or WWE with friends. Both tragic games made priceless by their same-screen multiplayer components.
It’s not to be said that online play isn’t fun, because it is. But it’s a level of fun which is entirely personal. I tend to take my online play incredibly seriously, whether with friends or not. Although I may crack a smile, and cackle under my breath on the odd occasion, it all becomes far too rigid and at times devoid of real pleasure. I continue to play because I want to win and to experience the satisfaction of winning, not because I’m having the time of my life.
With friends, on a single console, I play purely for fun. A losing streak of five races on Motorstorm: Pacific Rift becoming irrelevant when tears of laughter stream down your face. And while it remains infinitely easier to jump online for bursts of play, as opposed to trying to orchestrate game-nights with friends (due to the reality of Real Life™), emphasis on same-screen multiplayer sadly seems to have become the swan song of console entertainment.
I miss ChuChu Rocket… 🙁
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