A local multiplayer-filled November review round-up.
Couch multiplayer is at the core of my 20 or so years of video game playing. If you’re in the same boat, then our monthly round-up is filled with a hot bunch of games from November you might want to keep your eye on.
Get ready to call up your friends and butter up some popcorn: game night is just around the corner.
ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS! is a fairly straight-forward arena combat multiplayer game. Up to four players fight to the last rocket flying. Your rocket is fitted with some pretty juicy fire-power, including more rockets (pretty meta if you ask me), flares, and some slightly smaller missiles.
The game is fun for a little while, but there definitely isn’t enough content here to play beyond the few times a month your friends stop by. Rockets are fast and nimble, but sometimes it can feel like too much mayhem is happening on-screen, and it can be tough to follow.
Although the on-screen craziness can be hard to follow, it looks beautiful. The colourful explosions and rocket trails create some gorgeous fireworks-style visuals that can make the mayhem easy to forgive. Not to mention, the music… it’s awesome.
ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS! is by no means a must-play, but if you do, you’ll likely enjoy it.
Varion‘s cyberpunk, Tron-like aesthetic lends itself well to the arena battle royale combat the game is built around. Up to four players are pitted against each other in a small enclosure. The catch is that only bounce shots are lethal. The only way to eliminate another player is to ricochet one of your shots against one of the various translucent walls and into an opponent.
This bounce-shot mechanic makes for some truly tense and commendable moments. Finding yourself in a one-on-one bounce shot shoot-out is enough to make any gamer sweat. Admittedly, the sensitive controls can make it tough to pull off the shot you want, and occasionally it feels like you’re just mashing the fire button, but it never takes away from the great moments Varion offers.
DERU: The Art of Cooperation
DERU: The Art of Cooperation is a brilliant and simple puzzle game. One player controls a white triangle, the other player controls a black triangle. The white triangle can only pass through black trails and the black triangle can only pass through white. The objective is to get both triangles to their designated spaces on each stage.
DERU’s puzzles can be tough to wrap your head around. Although it can be played single-player, I don’t know why anybody would choose that option. The game is so centred around teamwork, and it would be a nightmare to approach some of the tough stages from only one perspective.
The best moments I had with this game were the ones where I was stumped and had to talk it through with my buddy. Ink Kit does a great job of making DERU challenging but not frustrating. The gorgeous, zen-like abstract art style certainly contributes to the chilled vibes.
Screencheat: Unplugged has a hard time executing an interesting idea. It’s an unconventional couch-multiplayer, first-person shooter. At face value, it works similarly to any other shooter, with one main caveat – everyone’s invisible. The only way to tell where your opponents are is to – you guessed it – screen-cheat. Player views are divided into four panels on the screen, and you must study your opponents’ perspective in order to locate them.
It’s a great concept, and it works well for the most part. However, the Nintendo Switch’s joy-con controllers don’t have enough buttons to run a first-person shooter, and relies on motion controls for the ‘look’ function. Waving the controller about and constantly trying centre your reticle can be frustrating, and overall, it doesn’t really make for a fun experience.
A version of the game is available on PC and consoles though, which is great because it’s the platform that holds it back from being great, not the content.
Battery Jam is a multiplayer arena puzzler that is actually more robust than it seems.
Your objective is to capture as many tiles within the playing field as possible before the time runs out. To capture tiles, all you have to do is run over them – that is, if they’re already unaccounted for. The game really starts to pick up once most of the tiles are claimed. Defeating opponents by smashing a boombox into them, launching them into the air, or pulling tiles out from under their feet will land you all the tiles in their radius.
Battery Jam definitely has a steep learning curve, but once it clicks, it clicks. Pulling off long-distance boombox shots and raising tiles to shoot your buddies into the air is satisfying, and makes for some great moments. The best times I had with the game were when the claimed tiles were even between my opponents and I. Sometimes, it was so close, we couldn’t tell who won until the victor was shown on-screen.
The game doesn’t offer a ton of content, but what’s included here is great fun.