Top Five Couch Multiplayer Games
Friends. Don’cha just love ’em? They come ’round to your house, eat all the chicken wings, and then proceed to get hot sauce all over your Lunar White controller. You know what they deserve? A total beat down.
Here are our five favourite games for humiliating our nearest and dearest, right to their stupid, fat faces.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than just beating someone up – virtually, that is. The resurrection of the Killer Instinct franchise was a surprise to many, but this free to play beat ’em up has plenty to offer.
While noobs can have plenty of fun button bashing, the more thoughtful beat ’em up aficionado will enjoy many combo opportunities. The combat system is fun and accessible for the beginner, with plenty of depth for those willing to learn. If you’ve fast reactions or make good reads, the combo breaker is your friend, and more often than not bouts are balanced on a knife edge. It’s how a beat ’em up should be.
Released free to play, there’s no financial investment needed if you’re unsure if this is the game for you, but believe us when we tell you you’ll want to expand that experience with a few reasonably priced micro-transactions.
Friend Humiliation Rating: A solid 3 black eyes out of 5.
Screencheat’s conceit rolls us back to the heyday of couch multiplayer shooters. Screen cheating is the diabolical tactic of identifying your foe’s whereabouts by looking at their half or quarter of the screen during split screen play. Screen cheating is something that everyone has been guilty of at one time or another – it’s the cause of many an argument, cushion to the face, unplugged controller, dead arm or worse.
To succeed in Screencheat you have to screen cheat; in a game in which everyone is invisible, looking at your foe’s portion of the screen is the only way to pinpoint them! The game’s clever maps are all brightly colour coded to help you locate your prey – and learning the maps will give you a supreme advantage over your opponents. If you have up to three friends at a time who need taking down a peg or two, Screencheat gives you tools to do so – for just £11.99.
Friend Humiliation Rating: A worthy 3 hobby horses of doom out of 5.
If you’d rather think your friends into humiliation than punch or shoot, we humbly suggest you hand them a controller and sit them down in front of Tumblestone. This characterful and sideways-with-a-twist take on the match-three puzzler won us over with its engaging story, ever-fresh mechanics and its ability to never let you get away with just one more game.
Playing like an upside-down Tetris, your protagonist sits at the bottom of the board and shoots upwards to remove coloured blocks (the titular Tumblestones) in groups of three of the same colour. Keep getting it right, and you’ll clear the board and move on to the next level. Get it wrong – by leaving yourself without three matching blocks to remove – and you’ll have to start again.
Multiplayer Tumblestone pits you against up to three (local or online) friends (or strangers), each racing to clear their puzzles the fastest. With everyone on screen at the same time, there’s the pressure of seeing just how much better your challengers are doing than you – it’s fun and engaging. Success requires you not panic or rush – the surest way to lose is to have to abort a puzzle and start again. Take a breath, take your time, pick the right move. AND CRUSH THEM.
Tumblestone was part of Games with Gold a few months ago, but if you missed it you can pick it up for £15.99.
Friend Humiliation Rating: A hefty 4 dream-crushing blocks out of 5.
Platform battlers are a fun distraction, but generally you won’t need more than one or two in your library. So what does Unnamed Fiasco offer that sets it apart from its rivals?
With five characters to choose from – an old lady with a moustache, a raging bull, a Lucha libre baby fighter, a hipster robot and a charming bullfighter – there’s a limited palette for you to enjoy. Although aesthetically different, this is no hero shooter: all characters have the same abilities, so there’s no need to worry that your friend next to you has somehow got an advantage.
If Unnamed Fiasco had to be summed up in one word, it’s chaos. And that’s almost always a good thing for a multiplayer game! In-game power-ups are delivered by destroying Piñatas – each one will offer a random power up, a la Mario Kart. Weapon jammers, jetpacks, mines, golden guns, shields and many more items are available to help you face your opponents.
Let’s recap: four wacky characters running around a Mexican battleground trying to shoot each other, blasting Piñatas for random power ups, and random game altering effects. What’s not to like?
With friends, Unnamed Fiasco is an absolute hoot. Pick it up for just £7.99.
Friend Humiliation Rating: A magnificent 4 lycra-clad luchadores out of 5.
Mantis Burn Racing
Now we’re at the pointy end of our list, with Mantis Burn Racing. This is a (more or less) top down racer in the grand tradition, tracing its heritage back to Up ‘N Down, Skidmarks, Super Sprint and other classics of that ilk. So, you know what to expect: light goes green, floor it, power slide maniacally around bends and scream to the finish line… But there’s much more to it than that, especially when it comes to multiplayer.
Mantis Burn Racing rewards precision, and precision only comes from learning every detail of the handful of tracks across the two distinct locations on offer (rural dustbowl and high-tech city streets). Knowing exactly how close you can drift to that pack of rocks, knowing exactly which corners are worth cutting, will be the difference between winning and… well, winning’s everything.
Beneath the impeccably polished visuals – this is a very pretty game – there are a few surprises. The first is how weighty your racers feel. All classes of vehicle (light, medium and heavy) handle with a solidity that hints at an impressive physics engine working away under the bonnet. The second is the beautifully balanced upgrade system. Each vehicle (you start with a rookie medium class car) comes with several slots, into which upgrades are fitted. Grippier tyres, beefier engines, slicker gearboxes for increased acceleration, better suspension, or a more powerful boost.
If you want to best your friends, look no further than the local multiplayer options. The four-player split-screen setup is great – in fact Mantis Burn Racing played with friends is never less than riotous fun – and the newly added single-screen Spotlight mode is a fantastic addition. Battle your friends to be the last car in the spotlight for those all important bragging rights.
Grab Mantis Burn Racing for a bargain £11.99 – you won’t regret it!
Friend Humiliation Rating: An incredible 5 smoking tyres out of 5.
So, there you have it – five totally different games to humiliate your friends in. Of course, just remember – they’re just as likely to humiliate you!
Do let us know if you pick up any of these games – especially Mantis Burn Racing. With this game’s plethora of online options, and a compelling single player game to boot, it’s an absolute joy!