Multitap: Getting extended play from tired classics

November 11, 2014


There are increasingly more options for those looking to play some local multiplayer sessions, but sometimes you just want to settle down to something familiar and comfortable. Eventually, though, those games start to lose their appeal, as you exhaust all of the game’s options and generally run it into the ground. In this edition of Multitap, I’m talking about ways to breathe new life into those old experiences, and even provide some much-needed variety to extend the lifespan of newer games well before they get to that point.

The quest for the title

Winning a match is great and all, but how about going for a loftier goal? If your play group is driven by competition, why not keep track of titles in the games you play? If you’re all relatively equal, see how long you can hold onto the crown, and if the talent distribution is a bit less equitable, consider playing for second or third like tennis and other team-individual sports. When you break it down like that, there’s always progress within your reach, and knocking off a higher seed can make for some great trash talk fodder.

This is also a great way to make two-player games feel like a larger group activity. Everyone’s invested in the outcome of a match when it affects your own path to the top (or chances for keeping it).


The “yo dawg” approach

It’s not the craziest thing to think that people joining you to play games like, well, playing games. Why not shake things up by adding more games to your games? Take, for example, this scheme we’ve devised for our Super Smash Bros. matches. I made a deck of cards, each with one character on them, and we shuffle them up and use them as a more interesting way of playing with a variety of characters than simply hitting random. Sometimes, we can deal each player two cards and have them choose one. Other times, we can get a hand full of characters and use them up, one by one.

My favorite setup is this: we deal out cards on the table, and pick in reverse order of finish. This is fun for long play sessions, as weaker players get earlier choices and have a better shot, making it not just a trouncing from your group’s top fighter.

This isn’t just limited to Smash or even just fighting games.  Any quick competition, be it a card game, dice game or even another video game, can be used to determine things. How about team or car selections in sports and racing games? Or how to split up your group in team-based competitions? Try some things out, and you may find a combination that works as well as chocolate and peanut butter.


Other avenues

There are lots of other ways to keep things fresh! You can mash up games in a rotation, which works best with the downtime of turn-based games, but can be made to work with lots of things if you know the game well enough. You can raise the stakes to the increasingly weird! Play a fighting game with a dance pad, or see just what buttons those guitar controllers can do. You could even make winners take on sillier and sillier difficulties. Even fun games can get run into the ground quickly if a player is too dominant, but maybe the field will level if that player has to play holding the controller backward, or with one eye covered? Go crazy! Have fun.