Is The Switch Saving Local Multiplayer?

With online multiplayer gaming everywhere these days, getting a group of friends together in the same room has taken a back seat in recent times. Is the Switch making developers think again though? Alexandra Collinson takes a look at the story so far …

Local multiplayer has been lacking for quite some time now.

But the Nintendo Switch has recently delivered a myriad of different and exciting games that are helping to revive the local multiplayer scene.

Since the golden ages of local multiplayer between the Nintendo 64 and the original Xbox, it’s been difficult to find a console that has delivered in both variety and depth. The Nintendo 64 provided classics like Goldeneye and Perfect Dark: as well as Nintendo’s own Mario Kart 64 and Mario Party.

Microsoft’s first console, despite being one of the first to provide online multiplayer for a console, gave us both Halo and Halo 2. Both of which were perhaps the pinnacle for couch play with friends.

However, since then it has been hard to find another console that has had consistently great local multiplayer games with some regularity. There have been exceptions of course, like Overcooked and Rocket League, but with the focus solely on online multiplayer, those of us who want to play something different with friends, in the same room, have found it a struggle. Dwindling local co-op options have dried up almost completely, with even Halo ditching it from its last mainline game.

Is local multiplayer making a comeback though?

The recent launch of the Nintendo Switch has brought along a whole host of fun games that include a plethora of local multiplayer options and can appeal to a whole range of people. From Just Dance 2017 to Super Bomberman R to Puyo Puyo Tetris to Nintendo’s own 1-2-Switch; this console really is bringing local multiplayer back to the forefront.

The games the Switch brings us are all dynamic, bring their own character to the table and most importantly, are simple to pick up and play.

1-2-Switch is designed specifically for local multiplayer, giving you a multitude of different games that you can play with all your family (from your gran to your son). You can play this with just one other person or if you have a whole group of you, then you can take advantage of the party mode so you can all enjoy the game together. Games like Super Bomberman R and Mario Kart allow you to play with 1 or more players against each other by racing or bombing each other. Single player and online options take a backseat, even they’re even options at all.

One thing that has really helped with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s local multiplayer is the accessible control system. The controls on other games, like Bomberman, have also been kept pretty simple, meaning that you can literally play with anyone of any age or skill set. Resulting in a fairly low barrier to entry.

Personally, I have found that the only game that is comparable to the ones on the Switch in recent memory has been Overcooked. It brought us a unique concept, that is crazy fun and thrives on being played with others in one room (even if it causes in-house friction) and its arrival on the Switch later this year fits right in with the game’s original vision.

We all laughed when the Switch’s pre-release ads showed groups of people together on rooftops and bars playing Mario Kart and others. The thing is though, it’s actually happening. Switch’s focus on local multiplayer is bringing people together – resulting in both exposure for the console and sales for Nintendo.

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