Exhausted after trekking video games’ greatest open worlds, this week on Friday’s Top Fives is Ollie’s favourite party games:
Who doesn’t know and love Team17’s classic Worms series? Set on randomly generated destructible worlds, teams of armed-to-the-teeth worms do glorious battle against one another in turn-based tactics at its very best. Worms World Party was the Worms game I spent the most time with, and it offers a ridiculous amount of content: from dozens of utterly unique weapons—a few favourites are the Flying Sheep, the Holy Hand Grenade and the Concrete Donkey—to a huge variety of customisation options for the individual worms in your team.
That’s arguably the most wonderful thing about this game—you get so attached to these little wriggling critters, it’s ridiculous. You give them names, you give them voices and attitudes and you tell stories about them to your friends. My girlfriend and I played a game of Worms not too long ago—mine was a team of YouTube Let’s Players, and hers was a team of best-selling authors. TotalBiscuit, VintageBeef and the Yogscast clashed with Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman and David Mitchell. It was an absolute bloodbath. That’s what happens when you play Worms with friends: absurd, wonderful chaos.
SpeedRunners, which I’ve mentioned before, is both a joy to play and a way of destroying friendships, as is the case with all of the greatest party games. Still in early access–and still a few bugs to be resolved, though that needn’t put you off as it’s still oodles of fun—the game revolves around superheroes racing to the scene of a crime across various wonderfully designed levels.
The running, jumping and grappling hook mechanics are all solid and satisfying, but the greatest aspect of the game—the one which will keep you and your friends coming back time after time—is in using power-ups such as bombs, missiles and giant flaming footballs to wrongfoot and disrupt your opponents. Prepare to rage at friends, family and computer screen all at once when playing this game. Such fun.
Still the best out-and-out fighting game I’ve ever played, Brawl pits together characters from various established video games—Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Princess Peach, Ike, Mr Game & Watch, and many more—on various 2D levels for them to do battle with using their unique fighting styles and abilities. It’s an explosive and vibrant game, the kind that from an outsider’s perspective is near impossible to decipher. Each character has a completely different set of attacks to master, making the game’s learning curve pretty damn steep at the best of times.
Invariably, players are drawn towards certain characters more than others, then they play them more and get used to their particular style of play. I, for example, play predominantly as Ike—he strikes slowly and isn’t the most reliable against ranged attackers such as the lazer-wielding Fox, but he hits like a truck if you’re patient and quick enough—and suits my style perfectly. Brawl comes with a pretty decent single player campaign and some rather challenging AI brawlers to practice against, but for the real Super Smash Bros. experience, play with friends.
Nidhogg is a tug-of-war fencing game where two stick figures fight for the glory of being eaten by a giant serpent called ‘Nidhogg’ at the end of the battle. Okay. Now that you’ve reread that sentence to make sure you read it properly, let’s continue on to the heart of the matter. Nidhogg is pure adrenaline-fuelled, rage-inducing, finger-mashing joy. The aesthetic is ugly, but in the style of minimalist games such as One Finger Death Punch stripping back the graphics serves only to focus and clarify the gameplay, which is the real reason to play Nidhogg.
The controls are simple but you require such lightning-fast reflexes to reliably pull off these moves that it turns into more of a chaotic back-and-forth slaughter-fest than a game of skill. But that’s misleading; you can learn and get good at the controls, but that’s not really what the game is about. Nidhogg is about screaming at the screen when your opponent somehow managed to sneak in under your block to split your stick figure in half. It’s about accidentally throwing your own sword away before rolling over another discarded sword just in time to poke your enemy full of holes. It’s about getting eaten. Try it out and see the hilarity ensue.
This absolutely marvellous gem is about the most fun I’ve ever had with a party game. Hidden in Plain Sight may not appeal to some, because it’s slower-paced than the other games on this list—it’s a stealth game where players must blend into a crowd of AI characters and kill the other players before they themselves are killed. There are five game modes to choose from, each with varying mechanics that change the way you play the game.
My favourite is Death Race—where players start amongst numerous AI characters on one side of the screen, and slowly shuffle across to the other side where there is a line on the ground. Players also control a sniper reticule which they can aim at a character and shoot a single bullet. The first player to cross the line wins, but if you rush, then you give yourself away and are shot by the others. But if you kill someone too readily, you lose your one bullet and are powerless to stop others from beating you to the finish. It’s a fascinating, hilarious, intelligent, ridiculous game which, more than anything, is about being a good liar. It’s about making your friends believe what you need them to believe in order to win. And I’ve seldom laughed so hard at a game in my life.
Games and Tech Columnist
Do you agree with Ollie? What’s your ultimate party game? Let us know in the comments below, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.
Next week, Ollie takes us on our tour of the top five video game locations.