Multiplayer has been an integral part of gaming since its birth. Heck, even Pong was two player! While online multiplayer has been a great development, nothing really beats playing with a friend (or enemy) locally. Punching the guy next to you who's insulting your mother can’t be replicated by anything online.
Below you will find my personal top 10 list of my favorite local multiplayer (versus and co-op) games. It’s restricted to games that I have personally played, so expect some of your favorites to be left out. Feel free to leave your own top 10 lists in the comments!
10. Rocket League (PS4)
This is a fairly new game, but it definitely deserves a spot on this list. It's soccer. With cars. With friends. What more could you ask for? In the game you drive a car around a soccer field, jumping and hitting a truck-sized ball into your opponent’s goal.
This game can be picked up by anyone and is easy to have fun with. It has four-player co-op and versus play, as well as four-player local co-op in online matches, something you rarely see in other games. Its definitely earns its spot on this list with its amazing gameplay that seamlessly translates into local multiplayer.
9. Mario Party DS (Nintendo DS)
Mario Party is one of Nintendo’s cornerstone franchises and one of the best party games out there. It's easy to pick up, fun, and competitive. Players basically roll a die to go around a game board collecting items and tokens, and occasionally a minigame will pop up and allow one of the players to gain an advantage. I chose the DS version because I’ve played it the most, and it is actually fun compared to other entries in the franchise. I'm looking at you, Mario Party 10.
My best memory of this game was in elementary school. On the last day of school, the teachers gave us free reign. Half of us whipped out our fancy new DS Lite systems and immediately started talking to each other using PictoChat. In a call to arms, I rallied seven others and ran a huge match of Mario Party. Stealing items, winning minigames, and screaming at others for backstabbing me was one of the better parts of that year. The quality gameplay and fun multiplayer are what puts this game on my list.
8. Minecraft (PS4)
This choice is likely to be highly polarizing. Minecraft really brought sandbox multiplayer gameplay into the limelight and created a large enough following to get it onto almost every major platform (sorry, Wii U). It allows players to build cooperatively or fight to the death in an arena of their own design.
Minecraft provides a world that is clay in the player’s hands, a world that can be shared by everyone. Offering tons of customization for your character as well as options for players to either help or harm each other, this game really shows off what a sandbox multiplayer game should be. Build together, fight together, triumph together. Or beat each other to a bloody pulp.
7. Wii Sports (Wii)
There is no possible way this game could not make it onto this list. Wii Sports had the advantage of not only being a launch title, but also being included in the box with the Wii. It had one job—show the world how amazing and revolutionary motion controls are—and it performed tremendously well.
Games like Tennis, Bowling, Golf, and Baseball are all uproariously fun to play with friends. It's almost as fun as the real thing! I knew a kid who claimed to have played baseball in Wii Sports, forgot the safety wristband, and smashed his TV with an epic home run. Nothing beats hanging out with friends and playing sports in the living room. And that’s why Wii Sports made it onto this list.
6. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Wii U)
Now, I could have put almost any shooter on this list (GoldenEye 007 comes to mind), but Call of Duty: Black Ops II made it because of its diverse gameplay and balanced combat. If you don’t know what Call of Duty is, it’s arguably the most popular first person shooter in the world. Black Ops II is one of the most popular online games, and playing it locally allows all the banter and death threats to happen live, in person!
It exceeds the other Call of Duty games in my opinion because it allows four-player split-screen and has some pretty awesome party modes to switch things up. Black Ops II really shows up the competition by how many local multiplayer options are available.
5. LEGO Star Wars II (PS2)
LEGO games have incorporated co-op since the series began. LEGO Star Wars II is an action and puzzle platformer that focuses on the original trilogy of movies. It was also the third game that I ever owned, and thus it will always have that special place in my health meter.
LEGO Star Wars II incorporates co-op play in a way that makes it easy for one player to carry the other, or both players to work on equally important segments of the level. This really makes it shine compared to other games where co-op is an afterthought. The LEGO games have incorporated co-op into the core of their gameplay.
4. Rock Band 3 (Xbox 360)
Playing in a band with your friends is something that requires precision and rhythm. Rock Band 3 captures all the fun of playing in a band without the hours of practice needed to learn an instrument. Picking up a plastic guitar, a set of drumsticks, or a mic, players jam out with each other to all sorts of classic and newer songs.
Co-op like this is very rare. Rock Band co-op play requires every player's full attention—there are no free rides—and if every player puts in their best effort, the whole team benefits. However, there is no overall goal, no level to complete, and no boss to beat. The game is purely about having fun and messing around with friends. That is what local multiplayer is all about.
3. Portal 2 (Xbox 360)
Portal 2 is one of the best physics-based puzzle games out there. Created by Valve, the game includes stunning physics-based gameplay, witty dialogue, and an entirely separate campaign for co-op. The co-op campaign requires both players to think and act in sync with one another. Sabotage is most definitely possible and occasionally encouraged.
This game really wraps up the whole puzzle package. The co-op is well thought out and requires cooperation and quick reflexes. This is definitely one of those titles that every gamer should own.
2. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
Nintendo has the ability to produce great multiplayer games, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl is Nintendo’s version of a fighting game. The game is easy to pick up, but hard to master. Competitive multiplayer is the highlight of this game. Players pick any one of their favorite Nintendo mascots, and fight each other in levels based on Nintendo franchises.
Beating up your friends is more fun than ever thanks to Nintendo. The game is forgiving when it needs to be, and it has enough variety to keep it fresh for tons of gameplay. There is only one game that can possibly top Super Smash Bros., and that is…
1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
The karting genre is defined by Mario Kart, the phenomenon that brought your favorite characters to the race track. You get to race your friends as Nintendo characters on tons of different tracks, and there are plenty of game modes to keep things lively. The strategy provided by the occasional power-ups keeps the game interesting.
Racing on the couch with friends was perfected in Mario Kart Wii. Four-player split-screen and motion controls allowed it to take the spotlight. If you owned a Wii, you most likely owned this gem of fun and competitive gameplay. And that’s why Mario Kart Wii zooms into the number one spot on this list.
Think I forgot something? Feel free to post your own top ten list in the comments!