There is nothing more satisfying than face-to-face smack talk. The rise of online gaming has made it easier than ever to play games with other people, but there will always be a space in gamers’ hearts for the local multiplayer experiences we cherished as kids. Good news: local multiplayer is making a comeback. These cheap indie titles will scratch that itch, so long as you have a few controllers lying around.
Don’t let the retro graphics fool you; “Towerfall’s” tiny Super Nintendo-like sprite characters move at a blistering pace. Players each start with three arrows that can be picked up after being shot. Players must use the arrows wisely, or their only offensive move will be jumping on the head of the other player. The game’s fast pace and vertical stages encourage improvisational play. “Towerfall” is packed with many laughs and surprises and is best played deathmatch-style with four players. For a more cooperative experience, participants can switch to multiplayer story mode.
Xbox One/PS4: $24.99
This turn-based strategy game pits the player’s army of worms against his or her friends’. Participants can gear up each one of their little warriors to the teeth with everything from guns and concrete donkeys to the holy hand grenade. The worms’ funny little sayings and cartoon fart noises accompany players’ strategic moves across the enlarged landscapes familiar to an earthworm. “Worms” brings creative fun to the slow-paced genre.
PS4/Xbox One: $10 (Free with Xbox Live Gold)
Part soccer, part brawler and all indie game, “#IDARB” is probably one of the most genuinely honest games I have seen in a long time. An homage to gaming days of old and new, “#IDARB” packs in an “NBA Jam” style announcer, robust 8-bit character creator and a live Twitter feed. #IDARB takes a gamble with mini games, inside jokes and seemingly random gameplay boosts, but instead of being frustrating, it carves a niche of its own. This latest couch sport has everybody tweeting while beating their friends in both online and local play.
In “Nidhogg,” the blood will spill yellow and orange. You and a friend fight with hand and sword to best the other in a frantic race to the other side of the stage—if you reach the far end, you win. Deadelus’ music intensifies as one player nears victory to heighten the tension. Nidhogg is a game you have to play in order to see its brilliance.
“Super Smash Brothers,” “Halo” and “Mario Kart” will always be dorm room staples, but why not take the time to experiment with new games? They may not be as pretty as the giant triple-A games, but these indie couch options could be the next big thing for gamers. Give em’ a shot (especially “Nidhogg” and “#IDARB”), and tell me what you think.