Multitap: The best local multiplayer games of 2014

December 9, 2014


December’s when we celebrate the best that 2014 has to offer, and it’s a great time — especially around the holidays — to play some games with friends, so why not combine the two? I’m here to share the top local multiplayer experiences of the year, and I couldn’t do it alone; after all, these games are only great if everyone‘s having fun. So I turned to the experts on how much fun my friends had playing the year’s releases: my friends.


6. Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Octodad‘s ridiculous situations and creative control schemes make it a blast to play in a group. Likely the hardest I’ve laughed while playing a game with friends in a long time.” – Nathan

Octodad is just insane enough to keep you laughing. If you suspend your disbelief a bit, the story is actually fairly endearing as well!” – Jeremy

Also: Starwhal: Just the Tip

“With its loose control scheme and very simple objectives, Starwhal brings a level high-speed fighting that’s insane enough to keep everyone entertained — and slightly angry with the slow-mo near-miss cam.” – Jeremy

Octodad is crazy. But maybe the best crazy? It’s, on the surface, a silly physics game like Surgeon Simulator or something, but there I was, actually getting attached to the character. (And getting the character attached to basically everything except what I intended, of course.) What really makes it a blast in multiplayer is the Roulette Mode, which has limbs assigned to random players after each objective. It adds a delicious layer of disorientation to the wackiness.


5. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

“From Eight-Player Smash to trainable Amiibo, Smash brings a whole host of new modes to keep even the most jaded Smash players entertained again. It also does this without losing all the insane, item-throwing, pokeball-brawling fun.” – Jeremy

“The visuals are good and the gameplay is exactly what I had hoped: a great mix of modes, stages and design choices that give it appeal to both casual and serious players.” – Ross

Also: Smash Bros. 3DS

“This game is great, but ultimately I fear I will remember it as a placeholder. The best thing about it is Smash Run, which harkens back to one of my favorite multiplayer experiences of all time: City Trial mode in Kirby Air Ride.” – Ross

Eight people! My advocacy for larger-group games is well known, but this Smash entry pairs it with the sort of high-budget development that’s rare in the pile-everyone-in space. Even if you aren’t testing the player limit, there’s all this content, from head-to-head fighting to the tactical pseudo-randomness of Smash Tour, that’ll keep you busy.


4. Fibbage XL

Fibbage is one of those games that keeps players laughing, and only seems to stop when the crowd is out of laughs to be had. Even the player names allow for room to be creative and get a few laughs when people least expect it!” – Jeremy

Fibbage XL is really nice because you don’t have to worry about having enough controllers since you use your phone, and it’s fun to see what your friends will put as answer choices.” – Emily

Also: You Don’t Know Jack 2015

“That look you get when you screw over a friend who clearly had no idea what was even being asked by that last question? Priceless.” – Stephone

Fibbage was great as a standalone release, and now that you can get the expanded version in the Jackbox Party Pack, you really should. It’s the fun of traditional party games, but with a streamlined setup and play process to get you playing and laughing more in less time. The best part? You’re not just laughing at the game; you’re laughing at your talented friends. Or maybe that guy who keeps putting in “potato” for everything. Both are hilarious.


3. Johann Sebastian Joust

Johann Sebastian Joust is great for just about any group of people because of its almost tag-like playground nature, which avoids the need to know how to perform combos in order to do well. Even if you aren’t playing, you get to watch the crazy antics of those who are as they try to knock the other players out of the game without taking themselves out too.” – Emily

“Have an antsy crowd and open space? Joust is a great answer, as it handles a large number of players and is entertaining from the sidelines.” – Stephone

Also: Hokra

“I typically despise any game that is remotely sports-themed, but Hokra is so simple in execution and design that it barely qualifies as a sports game and thus avoids my hatred. The game is elegant in its simplicity and is very fun.” – Ross

Game nights don’t have to be completely sedentary. While Johann Sebastian Joust certainly works best in huge areas, we’ve found success in using the terrain of my smaller place to create an extra layer to play. You know, until that one person starts hiding the controller or wedging it up against the wall, because that’s cheating. (Ahem.) In all seriousness, it’s a great icebreaker for strangers, as well as those who really don’t want to sit down and manipulate a bunch of controls.


2. Puyo Puyo Tetris

“There are few multiplayer experiences better than triggering a huge combo and watching your opponents get covered in an avalanche of trash blocks. Also, for some odd reason, I find the sound effects and music very satisfying.” – Ross

Puyo Puyo Tetris is the kind of game that makes you want to pull your hair out as you send and receive trash from your combatants, and switch between different gaming modes that will make your brain hurt in the best possible way.” – Emily

Also: Minecraft: PlayStation 4 Edition

“Sometimes you just want to build a ‘thing’ with friends. The console version is great for both an easy interface and the natural moving from crafting to adventuring and back, all while sharing a screen with three other people.” – Stephone

Sure, sure, you’d have to import this to play it in 2014, but trust us: it’s worth it. Puzzle games are the universal language, and like the blocks themselves, the language will contain quite a lot of trash. Sega did a great job balancing two games that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and with only a few exceptions, the experimental pairings included in this collection work very well. It’s now available on many platforms, some region-free, so jump on it.


1. Mario Kart 8

“I often allow the end of an experience affect my judgment of a game. It should say something, then, that despite rarely winning a race against my friends, I have never walked away from this game without smiling. I find the game beautiful and I enjoy many of the new tracks. I am also elated to see Nintendo finally do DLC right.” – Ross

Mario Kart is always a blast with friends, and anti-gravity adds a sense of novelty without compromising classic Mario Kart gameplay.” – Nathan

Also: Gang Beasts

“Temporary alliances and decrees of friendship will get you far, but nothing beats pushing your ally off the edge of the stage immediately, looking them in the eye and giving them a good ‘Alliance? What alliance?'” – Stephone

What can I say about Mario Kart that hasn’t already been said? Well, actually, one thing. There’s certainly no shortage of ways to play competitively, but the four-player GP mode was an opportunity for us to work together as a team and secure gold trophies and stars. As fun as it is to win, it’s just as fun — if not more so — to have someone’s back and fend off competitors for the cup.