October 31, 2009


Nostalgia has hit me over the past week after playing the 10-player-on-the-same-screen Bomberman for the Sega Saturn at Infinite bits. Wtf happened to the days when I could invite over my pals and we could gather around with our 12 packs of Mountain Dew and boxes of pizza and play games on the same system at the same time? I blame Xbox Live for this. Before the advent of online gaming, all we had was four player split screen (although the PS2 never had this for some reason). Nowadays, it seems almost pointless to have your system compatible with four controllers at once. Dammit game companies, stop making us antisocial!

I understand the appeal of online gaming. Hell, I love online gaming. It sure is handy when your friends can't be with you or when you just feel like playing a large multiplayer game. It's even neat how I can bring my physical friend online with me and the two of us can jump into a large online game from the comfort of my couch surrounded by Doritos bags and Dr. Pepper cans. But why only two people? The Halo campaign is great to play with a friend, but even more fun to play with three friends. Oh, but what's that you say? I need two systems, two games, two TVs, LAN cables, and a router for that? Oh, well then screw it! At least the multiplayer mode supports four player split screen. But it is unfortunately a rarity. Gears of War only supports two. Isn't it just so fun to run not kill your pal in a game of death match because you can't find him in the level designed for 12 people? Oh yeah, that's the best! And Burnout! This one is a real heartbreaker. I loved to play Burnout with my friends when we hung out. But with Paradise, we're forced to take turns because it has no local multiplayer. It seems the only games that can be played with four people locally are those that don't split the screen. When I have three people over, it's pretty much Rock Band, Castle Crashers, or Smash Bros. Of course, it's worse when they do away with it altogether and have exclusively online multiplayer. It's very frustrating sifting through my library of games only to reject some great titles because I would have to kick my friend out to play it with them. Countless games (like L4D) are guilty of not supporting enough local players.

I fail to see why such a basic, time proven system has been dissolved. I want to play things with my friends, goshdarnit! More than one! In the same room! It's become more of an issue in this generation than the last with its increased focus on online. I'd hate to say it, but I think Microsoft and Sony need to look to Nintendo here for guidance. Nintendo's not much for online, but the others aren't much for offline. I think if we combined the best of both worlds, there's no reason why local and online multiplayer can't live in harmony.

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