My Top Five Local Competitive Multiplayer Games – John Newby

August 25 marks the beginning of utter craziness. The reason? Madden 16 will be released, which ends the summer doldrums and begins the fall release season. One week after Madden drops onto store shelves, both Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain become available for purchase.

My wallet can’t handle both, so I will probably buy MGS V first and repeatedly watch that Mad Max paintball video until I get paid again.

Obviously, the fall season is very exciting with new games, but I want to take a moment to focus on Madden 16.

Each year, EA Sports makes a few roster changes and tweaks the gameplay before releasing the new game to a couple million fans. The whole process of buying an annual football game doesn’t make sense to a lot of people—if the constant ridicule is any indication—but I’m not buying the game for the minor franchise mode modifications. I buy the new Madden each year so I can kick back with a close friend on my couch and play some local multiplayer. Unlike other competitive games, Madden is much better when your opponent is sitting next to you. This play style is handy because you can see every grimace and hear every muttered swear.

Plus, playing Madden on a couch adds an element of danger. One time, I won a game in the closing moments with a fumble recovery that I returned for a touchdown. Moments later, I had to dodge a flying piece of silverware. You don’t get experiences like that online.

All of this reminiscing about intense matches makes me want to list my five favorite couch multiplayer games of all time, so let’s do this.

  1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty has always had entertaining multiplayer, but COD 4 was the absolute best. This game was the first with modern weapons, as well as the first with customizable perks and killstreak bonuses. The levels also struck a nice balance between spread out sniper heavens and short-range shotgun arenas.

One level in particular could be devastating if you had the right perks attached to your character. The level “Shipment” was a tiny little map comprised of shipping containers arranged in a little area. This map was set up for four to eight players, so it fit perfectly with the four-player split screen. The level was hectic enough because of the size, but choosing one special perk completely changed the level’s balance.


If your split screen character had reached level 17, you could create utter chaos by pairing the Martyrdom perk with a shotgun class. Having this perk meant that you would drop a live grenade upon dying. “Shipment” was such a compact level that any escaping enemies would be unable to avoid the blast radius. If you were lucky, the dropped grenade would take out two or three other enemies.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a hit that combined new weapons with cool levels and bonus perks. I simply couldn’t get enough of this game.

  1. Super Mario Kart


Super Mario Kart is the classic couch multiplayer game. You and your friends could take turns racing as beloved characters in super random environments. The racer even had a separate Battle Mode where you tried to pop balloons on the opponent’s kart.

Super Mario Kart would have been like multiple other racing games if not for the turbo pads and weapons. You could disrupt any race by shrinking opponents, shooting them with turtle shells, or throwing off their course with slippery banana peels. More importantly, the power ups in Super Mario Kart didn’t include that cheap blue shell like later iterations.

Super Mario Kart was the first competitive game that appealed to everyone, no matter his or her age. Plus, that battle mode was awesome.

  1. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo has always had fun multiplayer. The big matches, super random weapons, vehicles, and unique levels just formed a fantastic experience. Now, I have always preferred the original Halo: Combat Evolved multiplayer because of the indestructible vehicles and the levels, but why should I have to choose?

Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes the series and combines it into one package, meaning that you can choose almost any map and mode from Halo’s history. Like Call of Duty 4, Halo is more of an online game, but I have way more fun playing with people in the same room. That way, I know if I am being a jerk by stealing the rocket launcher in each level.


Of course, Halo: Combat Evolved does have the added bonus of system link compatibility. Back in the day, we would take four Xbox’s and link them together in a LAN setting. This connection created local 16-player matches, so you could play the bigger levels while still retaining that couch setting. Granted, not everyone wants to have a massive pseudo-LAN party constantly taking place in their living room, but the occasional get together is awesome.

Halo: The MCC doesn’t have the ability to link systems together, so the original is better. To be fair though, the ability to choose every map and mode is still pretty awesome.

  1. Blur

Super Mario Kart may have kickstarted the “Kart Racer” genre, but I believe that Blur made everything better. Bizarre Creations (RIP) released this Kart Racer in 2010, but it failed to make a major impact. One reason could be the fact that Blur came out the same month as Split/Second and ModNation Racers. Three racing games in the same two-week period is a preemptive nail in the coffin.


Don’t let the less-than-impressive sales figures get in the way, Blur is a lot of fun. The four-player split screen lets you compete in various races or battle modes while getting rowdy with your friends, and the available cars make the experience more entertaining. This Kart Racer uses real life cars like the Audi R8, Dodge Viper, and Ford Transit Van, and the game includes full damage modeling on each vehicle. Blur also has tracks based on real locations, so you can blow up a Volkswagen Beetle underneath the Golden Gate Bridge or on the streets of London.

I would say that Blur is a more “mature” Kart Racer, but that reasoning is less than sound. All you need to know is that the game is awesome, especially when you have a couch full of rival players.

  1. Goldeneye


How do choose any game besides Goldeneye as the best local competitive game of all time? This Nintendo 64 classic introduced a ton of kids to first person shooters and modifications. I started playing Goldeneye in fifth grade and I didn’t stop for about six years. Every weekend was spent with my friends playing four-player matches of Golden Gun and paintball deathmatch.

Goldeneye was just so addictive with the varying maps, duel-wield guns, and assortment of characters. What other game let Oddjob run around with two massive machine guns while Jaws tried to slap him to death? I can’t think of any.

Goldeneye hasn’t aged the greatest, but the multiplayer holds up exceptionally well. Of course, you could always play the HD remake on Xbox 360. This version doesn’t have all of the maps, but the graphics don’t turn your stomach.


Which local competitive multiplayer games cause you to scream expletives before giggling like a little kid? Am I crazy for including Blur? Let us know in the comments.