This feature was originally published in NGamer magazine. Buy the latest issue of NGamer and get it delivered to your door.
Funny, isn't it? A continent of Mario Kart challengers is just an A-button press away, you can roam World War II landscapes shooting up to 31 foul-mouthed pre-pubescents all day on Xbox, and there are fantasy worlds packed full of real people on PC. So why is traditional multiplayer - you, some friends and a sofa - a dying art?
Fortunately, the Wii is the one console that hasn't forgotten that sometimes contact with other humans isn't that bad. And to celebrate this and the release of Ninty's latest multiplayer epic, New Super Mario Bros Wii, we thought we'd give our chins a good rub and come up with this, our definitive-ish list of the best multiplayer games of all the times...
20. Wii Sports
Any multiplayer game worth its salt has to have a low entry barrier if the 'it looks terribly complicated' wallflowers are to get involved, and what barrier is lower than 'swing this white oblong thing like a tennis racquet'? Wii Sports doesn't have the complexity or the nuances of a Virtua Tennis or a Top Spin, but it feels like it does, and to be frank, that's 90% of the experience sorted right there.
The ingenuity of Wii Sports is that almost anyone can have a go. We say 'almost' because we're still a bit deflated from that time we brought the Wii back home for Christmas and bragged to Mum about how anyone can play it, before thrashing her 40-love, 40-love, 40-love, every single time. Not for mums, then, but pretty much everyone else will have a cracking time. Ace, as the lame jokes committee might say.
19. NBA JAM
"He's on fire!" It's a phrase that will trigger fond b-balling memories in anyone wrinkly enough to have experienced the SNES era. Nowadays, we wouldn't you-know-what on a modern basketball game if it was on fire.
Basketball has always struggled to make the transition to videogames, but in 1993 the moons aligned and Midway got it right. NBA Jam reinvigorated the genre by stripping the game down to a fast-paced two-on-two affair, and then added special moves, 'wacky' characters such as Bill Clinton and four-player multi-tap support. The result was inarguably the world's most accessible b-ball sim, and by far the most fun, with less worrying about shot clocks and zonal defence and more netting a flaming ball from the halfway line. It's a shame, then, that Acclaim took over the franchise soon after and ran it into the ground...
18. WarioWare: Mega Party Games
WarioWare on GameCube was ported from the Game Boy Advance in just six short months, so big things were not expected from it or its tacked-on party mode. Yet somehow Intelligent Systems managed to create one of the most memorable, offbeat and downright weird multiplayer experiences ever to grace the console.
A quick office poll flags up 'Wobbly Bobbly' as a noted favourite. The aim is to be the last person not to lose their balance and fall over - which would be boring and long-winded were the competitors not balanced on upturned turtles. Success in the microgames adds another, smaller turtle to the other player's pile. Reptilian revenge beckons.
17. Donkey Konga
Played in isolation, Donkey Konga is a disappointingly flat rhythm action game, albeit one that's controlled by a huge piece of barrel-shaped tat that doesn't quite fit in your understairs cupboard. Divert some money from your 'gas bill fund' to your 'extra barrel-shaped tat fund', however, and you'll find that what your party lacks in central heating, it more than makes up for in drum-bashing, air-clapping hilarity.