Local multiplayers: alive and mooing

Some of the earliest memories I have of gaming revolve around local multiplayers. Like playing Pong against my dad after my grandparents found an old home version in a charity shop; arguing with my brother over who would be Mario and who would get stuck with Luigi; duking it out on Street Fighter with friends at the arcade in a local bowling alley. Good times.

Back then there was no online world. Before I reached my early teens and the internet slowly became a ‘thing’, multiplayer meant friends and family getting together in person – either on the sofa at home or in front of a machine at an arcade – and trying to kill each other digitally. You couldn’t turn on a video game and connect with another player on the other side of the world: you had to be in the same place, in the same room.

Multiplayer gaming is now completely different and local games are all but a thing of the past. Those that do exist can sometimes still require an internet connection to play, leaving out individuals who don’t have access to affordable or reliable broadband. You know that new release you’ve been waiting ages to play because it looks so awesome? Sorry, non-connected gamers – it’s being marketed for its online-only content.

Bullion, video game, island, treasure chests, pirates, swords, palm tree, sand, sea, bulls

I miss the joy of local multiplayer, working together in pixelated adventures and battling in digital wars. It was a shared social experience that created a sense of camaraderie between us: a ‘personal’ event which brought everyone in the room together. While online gaming has enabled us to connect with others from all over the globe, it struggles to entirely recreate that cosy, ‘intimate’ feeling.

Perhaps that’s why I was pleasantly surprised when Matthew and Ben from Leda Entertainment coaxed us into playing Bullion as we walked through the doors at last month’s GEEK expo. I’m not going to deny it: billed as a game of ‘fighting, looting and bovine piracy’, this isn’t a release I’d usually be drawn to. But something happened as I sat down with my other-half and stepson and we each picked up a controller.

Players take on the role of Captain Long John Silverside and his crew of scurvy sea-bulls as they land on the legendary Islands of Ser-LLoyn and incur the wrath of the gods. The aim of the game is to smash the chests and grab as much treasure as you can, while outsmarting your opponents and avoiding the skeletons. It’s every bull for themselves and, as the official website states, only one may survive the curse of the cutthroat cattle.

‘Rematch!’ I yelled after Ethan beat both Pete and I twice. My stepson came out on top during each of our three goes and we still can’t figure out how he did it; we may have gone easy on him during the first round but then things became a little more competitive. Here was a simple game, quite innocent and without all the realistic graphics or complicated mechanics, and it was managing to inspire that same friendly competition I’d experienced with my family all those years ago.

I think it’s important for us to show Ethan these experiences. As I commented on a recent post by Wakalapi, it’s so easy for him to view gaming as friends as a solitary activity completed on a small mobile screen; and while that has its place, it misses something vital. Gaming can be so much more than just a method of passing the time: it can be a way of bringing friends and family together, and creating fond memories.

So thank you to the guys from Leda Entertainment for bringing Bullion to GEEK and for encouraging us to play as we walked by. And more importantly, for showing us that the local multiplayer is still alive and mooing.

24 thoughts on “Local multiplayers: alive and mooing

  1. “Gaming can be so much more than just a method of passing the time: it can be a way of bringing friends and family together, and creating fond memories.”

    Tru dat! I said something similar when I wrote about Christmas and Gaming, and the games themselves became both a catalyst for those memories, and an anchor *to* them. There’s something genuinely quite special about huddling around a console/computer, and I miss that element of Gaming a lot.

    That said though:

    “it was managing to inspire that same friendly competition I’d experienced with my family all those years ago.”

    If you managed to keep it friendly, you’re a better person than I am. The 8 year old me really didn’t take it too well when all his painstakingly learnt special moves got (repeatedly) beaten by his button-mashing cousin….😉

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    1. That was because I was in the position of ‘responsible adult’ in a ‘public environment’. If it had been at home on the sofa… things might have got messy. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha – fair enough!

        Although, if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure the Public Environment thing would necessarily stop me from getting a proper strop-on.

        (As an aside, I was at a Gaming Expo a while back, and I watched a teenage boy get repeatedly beaten on Street Fighter by his button-mashing mum, and he wasn’t best pleased about it at all. I, on the other hand, found it – and his subsequent meltdown – hilarious).

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  2. I love local multiplayer! Some of my favorite gaming memories have been formed around games like Mario Party, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Brothers with everyone from my nuclear family to cousins to all my friends in college. There’s something really special about the experience of the whole family gathering around the console to play a game together. Online multiplayer has never been able to capture that same magic for me.

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    1. I agree: I’m not a big multiplayer myself, and the only time I tend to go for an MMO is when I know friends are online. But it’s not the same as getting everyone together in the same room.

      I remember one Christmas where my brother and I managed to get my parents to play BioShock with us, passing the controller on when we died. It ended up with my mum firing away and making ‘pew pew’ noises at the screen… good times. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was at school a few mates and myself started our own games tournaments with our 16bit consoles. We had league tables for Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Mortal Kombat 2, Street Racer and NBA Jam. There were posters made for each event. We organised it like the WWF.

    It was the best fun.

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  4. I love local multiplayer and have been getting into it on the Switch more and more lately! Just spend almost an entire 2.5 hour flight playing Snipperclips with my fianceé on the Switch, haven’t had that much fun in ages!

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    1. That’s definitely one thing Nintendo are good at: local multiplayer. All the guys at work are talking about Snipperclips at the moment so it seems to be catching on!

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  5. I love local multiplayer. It’s a bit of a lost art, but when it’s done, man is it fun. I definitely want to encourage my future kids one day to play together this way. It’ll be a split screen bonanza.

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    1. Most of what my stepson does when it comes to video games is online – he and his friends don’t play together in the same room, like we used to when we were kids. But he really enjoys it when we sit down with his dad and all pick up a controller; he gets really excited if you tell him we’ve got a couple of hours for a local multiplayer. We need more games like this! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know. As much as the Wii U was criticized for having a lack of games, one thing it did great was have games like this. Even after a couple days of my getting it, I got Super Mario 3D World and 3 of my friends came over and man, my stomach was hurting from laughter it was so much fun.

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        1. As much as I’m not really a Nintendo person, I can’t fault the Wii U. It was the console that enabled us to introduce my stepson to The Legend of Zelda – we’ve had many good nights on the sofa together, working our way through Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker.

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  6. I think my son was about 12 when it became clear he could wipe the floor with me on 1v1 on any game. I would persist in a caring and sharing way until we both got bored with the monotony.

    These days I just watch and admire while he Owns online. I keep my n00b-esque skills private, and write about gaming instead!

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