It’s amazing the bonds we can forge through video games, whether it’s through local multiplayer with friends or online gaming with people half a world away. I have many memories of staying up late with friends playing N64 classics such as GoldenEye and WWE No Mercy. While not the biggest online player, I have made friends through communities such as Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies and Battlefield. I’ve even managed to connect with people online just through a discussion about games. Even today, my wife and I will regularly play games together thanks to the likes of Kirby, the Lego series and Mario Kart. Here are some of my recommendations to play with friends. I’ve decided to stick with local multiplayer games for this list.
Capcom’s flagship fighter, Street Fighter is an excellent game to play with friends. This 1v1 fighter has a selection of characters to choose from each with their own fighting style to master. For many, this would probably have been their introduction to the genre. Growing up I would sink hours in to Street Fighter II with my cousin (losing, obviously). I was never a massive fan of the genre but I did enjoy playing Street Fighter with friends. I used to bring my SNES and Street Fighter II The New Challengers in to work for mini-tournaments. It was great to see people with different skill levels playing against each other and enjoying it. There are a ton of games in the series to play from the iconic Street Fighter II and its many iterations to Street Fighter V and its online gameplay. I’d recommend getting a few friends together and having a mini-tournament of your own.
Super Smash Bros
From one fighter to another, the Super Smash series is great fun and absolute bedlam. Completely different from Street Fighter, this games sees a multitude of fighters (depending on the game) take to an arena to see who can survive. There’s a wide variety of characters from multiple franchises to play as, such as Mario, Cloud and Kirby.The objective is to knock your opponents off the screen and out of the battle. You can also work together as a team and later games have a co-op campaign. Super Smash Bros was one of the games I got with my N64 and I loved it. I would play through the single player mode as Link and would sometimes battle friends in 4-player mode. Super Smash Bros Melee was were I really got in to the multiplayer side of it. I would play against my wife and nieces whenever they visited and it was great fun as they wouldn’t normally play games. My niece did have a tendency to pick Kirby and float across the screen though. I’d recommend grabbing Super Smash Bros Ultimate for the Switch. It has a massive roster, excellent arenas and online capabilities.
Take the madness of Super Smash Bros and dial it up to 11 and you’ll get Power Stone. A Capcom franchise that’s sadly been dormant since the PSP days. It’s another arena fighter with 4 characters battling it out against each other. What’s interesting about this one is how the levels constantly change so you have to keep on your toes. Power Stone 2 was another game I would bring in to work to play with friends. All of us were new to the franchise so it was great to try to get to grips with it together, except for Phil who hid in the corner (boo, hiss). Due to the constantly changing levels and scramble for power stones, the game can turn into mayhem very quickly and that’s a good thing. I’d recommend grabbing Power Stone 2 for the Dreamcast if you can. It’s an absolute blast.
One of my favourite franchises of all time, the Mario Kart series sees you take control of your favourite Mario characters (and Link) as you battle other racers around a variety of unique tracks. It also has a variety of gameplay modes outside of Grand Prix, such as Time Trial and Battle. Battle has one of the most iconic modes in the series, Balloon Battle. In this mode you battle against friends to see who can keep their balloons the longest. I would rent Super Mario Kart and later Mario Kart 64 as a kid and bring them around to a friends house. Even today, I’ll stick on Mario Kart 8 when I have a few friends around. I’d recommend picking up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch as it has dedicated battle arenas and a large set of characters to choose from.
Streets of Rage
One of Sega’s most memorable franchises, Streets of Rage just had a new release. I haven’t had the chance to play it yet. The game is a side scrolling beat’em up that can be played with a friend. Each game in the series has its own selection of characters to choose from, each with differing stats to suit your play style. Streets of Rage II is probably the high point of the series but both the first and third games are great too (especially if you can get a version of Bare Knuckle III instead). This is a series I’ll regularly stick on when my friend Vinnie visits. We’ll blast through the three of them back-to-back talking nonsense. It’s become a tradition at this stage.
How could you have a list on multiplayer games and not include Super Bomberman? Originally developed by Hudson Soft, the game sees four friends (or ten if you have the Saturn version) battle it out in a small arena to see who can blow up their opponents first. It’s fast, frantic and great fun. As you clear the blocks in your way, you’ll find items that can help or hinder you and you’ll have to adjust your strategy accordingly (if you have one that is). There is a single player mode but I don’t think I’ve ever played it. Super Bomberman 4 was another game I would frequently bring in to work to play (did I actually do any work?). With its easy to pick up and play mechanics, its definitely one to bring to a party.
Ah, the ultimate friend (and palm) destroyer. Mario Party started out on the N64 and has seen a release on every console since. Each game sees you and 3 opponents (they won’t be friends when you’re done) work your way around a board game, competing in mini-games and winning stars. Each entry in the series has its own set of mini-games to play and these can come in the form of free-for-all, team-battle or 3v1. There is a selection of characters to choose from but it really comes down to your own skill (or luck). Mario Party 9 and Mario Party 10 had all the players in a single kart so they couldn’t make their own way around the board but thankfully Super Mario Party removed this.
Halo may be better known for its online play now but it was (and still is) a great local multiplayer game. Microsoft’s flagship franchise could see you work with a friend to complete the story or fight against three friends in large arenas. The co-op mode was great, with respawns being utilised if your friend could stay alive. The deathmatch mode was excellent, with a choice of weapons to help you pick off your opponents one by one (or just crash a Banshee in to them, whatever). I used to play this with my cousin and my friend and it would sometimes descend in to chaos as we scrambled to stay alive. Halo’s online multiplayer is great fun but I’ll always remember staying up late with friends, ramming them down with a Warthog.
TT Games Lego Series is a wonderfully charming experiences. The series has several games in the series from Lego Star Wars to Lego The Incredibles so there’s something for everyone. The first few entries in the series were very basic, with no voice acting or large hub worlds, but they did have their own unique style that captured their source material well. As the series grew, the hub worlds became bigger (Lego Harry Potter has you explore Hogwarts), there was more to collect and voice acting was introduced. Some games can feel a bit overwhelming when it comes to the collectibles though. This is an excellent series to play with a friend as you explore every nook and cranny, smash every brick and build your way through the levels. There’s a new one coming out soon too – Lego Star Wars: the Skywalker Saga.
I hope you enjoyed this list. What games do you recommend playing with friends? Do you prefer local multiplayer or online? Let me know.