Are We On The Verge Of A Local Multiplayer Resurgence? [SG]

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Are We On The Verge Of A Local Multiplayer Resurgence? [SG]

Post by OrangeRakoon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:26 am

Cross-posting from ScreenGurus, you can write/submit your own opinion pieces and reviews here.

http://www.screengurus.com/2016/10/22/v ... esurgence/
Growing up my gaming life has been heavily influenced by local multiplayer. First it was Mario Bros and Chip and Dale on a hand-me-down NES. Then came the likes of Super Smash Bros, Snowboard Kids, Mario Tennis and Pokemon Stadium on the N64 (even Rogue Squadron, an ostensibly single player N64 game, had a secret co-op level that probably got played more than any other).

The next generation, which saw me switch sides to Sony with the PS2, was probably the most multiplayer dominated of them all. I invested literally hundreds of hours into TimeSplitters 2, played numerous NHL games with my brother, co-oped through Lego Star Wars and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, spent many birthday parties playing Eye Toy with a room full of friends, and put days into split-screen racing in the likes of SSX3 and Jak X.

Around the same period it also became a daily ritual of me and my friends to take our PSP’s into school, spending the time before first bell, our break times and lunch times linking up to play Syphon Filter, Star Wars Battlefront and Monster Hunter. On balance I was probably playing games more with other people, in the same room, than I was on my own – and I was playing a lot of games on my own.

Suffice to say local multiplayer and gaming with other people has been a massive part of gaming for me, and one of my favourite ways of playing since my earliest days with the medium. Some of my most vivid and well-cherished memories growing up involve playing games together with friends. As a way of experiencing games local multiplayer is incredibly social and goes directly against many of the stereotypes people associate with the medium. Nurturing friendly competition, teaching cooperation, and all with real, physical human interaction. This is something games are almost uniquely able to offer as an entertainment medium.

Which is why, as you probably guessed, I am about to lament the loss of much of these experiences. With the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 came online gaming into the mainstream. Now people no longer had to meet up to play games – they could play across the internet with hundreds, even thousands, of strangers, whenever they wanted.

This is no bad thing. Online gaming has been an amazing revolution in many respects. Online shooters alone have been a phenomenon that have changed the gaming world, but almost everything that was once a game shared between two people on a sofa became able to be played online. This would all have been good apart from one simple fact – with the massive rise in popularity of online gaming, local multiplayer dropped out of the mainstream. Developers no longer saw it worth their time to add in local multiplayer modes, either due to a lack of demand or because technical limitations with split screen meant cutting back on game performance elsewhere. Where local multiplayer was catered for it was often half-baked or unrefined, added as an afterthought. The PS3 game Starhawk is the perfect example that I tried to play recently with my friend – it took us twenty minutes of internet searches and trial and error to work out how to set up a local split-screen match, all because of a user interface designed almost exclusively for online matchmaking.

Of course there still are local multiplayer games and always have been. Nintendo consoles over the last two generations have been a bastion of local multiplayer and split-screen. Partly that’s because of Nintendo’s continuing commitment to offer these experiences, partly it’s because of the unparalleled success of the Wii in the casual market that saw it become a machine of party games, enjoyed by families and friends over Christmas and other social gatherings, and partly it’s because of Nintendo’s disappointingly slow and troubled foray into online gaming.

The market for local multiplayer experiences is out there. You only need to look at the recent success of critically acclaimed games such as Towerfall Ascension, Nidhogg and Overcooked. After rushing headlong into the excitement of online gaming, the medium is beginning to realise that there is still a place for local multiplayer outside of casually oriented party games. There are bubblings of a resurgence.

It’s against this backdrop of a bubbling resurgence, of a method of multiplayer gaming that is regaining both popularity and demand, that Nintendo have now announced the Nintendo Switch. Local multiplayer was front and centre in the three-minute reveal trailer. The ability to detach the controllers from the side of the handheld unit in order to create two simple pads for multiplayer is integral to the Switch’s concept, and Nintendo seemed incredibly keen to show off all of the possibilities the Switch will offer for multiplayer experiences.

As a docked home console the Switch will offer classic couch gaming of both the split-screen and pass-the-pad variety. As a portable the Switch is still designed to be played by more than one person thanks to the uniquely designed detachable controllers and generously sized screen, with a built in stand for keeping it propped up on a surface. The Switch can also offer more traditional handheld multiplayer, linking up wirelessly to another Switch console. At one point in the trailer two switches were seen standing back to back, with two players playing on each, offering four player local multiplayer across two linked consoles. The possibilities are numerous and well thought out, and the most convincing argument for the Switch being a truly “hybrid” console. What else offers both handheld-like and console-like multiplayer?

To answer the question poised by this article’s title then, following the announcement of the Nintendo Switch it does feel like local multiplayer could be on the verge of a resurgence, with Nintendo leading the charge. Whether it takes off remains to be seen, and much of that will be down to Nintendo’s marketing between now and March. With the possible future of local multiplayer hanging in the balance, I am awaiting the release with bated breath. Until then, can someone please just release TimeSplitters 2 HD?

Here's the topic of conversation - do you think the Nintendo Switch will help lead a resurgence in popularity of local multiplayer?

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Re: Are We On The Verge Of A Local Multiplayer Resurgence? [

Post by barrybarryk » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:42 am

I kind of doubt it, all the consoles support more than one player. I wish there were more local multiplayer games, and Nintendo have been pretty good on that front, but most other developers don't seem to care and people keep buying their games.
The ability to detach the controllers from the side of the handheld unit in order to create two simple pads for multiplayer is integral to the Switch’s concept
I mean, is it really? The thing is massive, so the versatility is kind of moot when you could just toss two real gamepads in whatever bag you're carrying it in and not have to deal with two tiny half controllers for ants. And being limited to just an analogue stick and 6 buttons, it's not going to support a lot of different game types. Just look at the games you've listed, how many of those would be playable with a controller like that?

Nintendo always have been a fan of local multiplayer so I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon, but I wouldn't expect a resurgence much beyond what we have now.

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Re: Are We On The Verge Of A Local Multiplayer Resurgence? [

Post by Vtheyoshi » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:50 am

Just a quick idea, would it be possible to link this thread in the original article? I just thought it might bring some people over
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Re: Are We On The Verge Of A Local Multiplayer Resurgence? [

Post by OrangeRakoon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:07 am

barrybarryk wrote:
The ability to detach the controllers from the side of the handheld unit in order to create two simple pads for multiplayer is integral to the Switch’s concept
I mean, is it really? The thing is massive, so the versatility is kind of moot when you could just toss two real gamepads in whatever bag you're carrying it in and not have to deal with two tiny half controllers for ants. And being limited to just an analogue stick and 6 buttons, it's not going to support a lot of different game types. Just look at the games you've listed, how many of those would be playable with a controller like that?
As someone who almost always has either my 3DS or Vita with me, be it traveling on the train or whatever, I can attest to the Switch (with controllers) looking way easier to cart around than another two gamepads (which is also something I often do, taking over extra PS pads or wiimotes to my friends). It's not just the physical size of the things, it's the unwieldiness and difficulty of packing them. The fact that the Joy-cons are connected to the Switch and fit with the flat form factor makes the whole thing look much more portable - sliding something with the form factor of a tablet into a messenger bag is way easier than two bulky dualshocks. Plus they are the Switch's controllers as a handheld, so you're not actually packing anything extra at all.

Completely agree on the limitations of the controllers for what games you can play though.
barrybarryk wrote:Nintendo always have been a fan of local multiplayer so I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon, but I wouldn't expect a resurgence much beyond what we have now.
The logic is that if the Switch is more popular than the WiiU, then you'll have more people playing Nintendo's local multiplayer games than you do now. But also outside of Nintendo it does seem like there is more choice for local multiplayer than there was a few years ago. Almost strangely VR has seen quite a lot of local multiplayer games available for it, for example.

But yes, I don't expect local multiplayer to overtake online. I just think there is a place for it and it's been neglected too much.
Vtheyoshi wrote:Just a quick idea, would it be possible to link this thread in the original article? I just thought it might bring some people over
Not this thread specifically, but the article does link back to the forum as a whole which is what we want.

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