As gaming has progressed over the years, online gaming has become central to the industry. Pioneered by consoles like the Dreamcast and now being perfected by the Xbox 360, online gaming is thriving. However, is this coming at the cost of the multi-player gaming of the past? More and more games shun local support in favor of grand online features. This is my personal top ten list of games that can be enjoyed with a group of friends in one room.

We start this list with what is largely regarded as 2006's best: Gears of War. Although sporting a range of great online features, Gears doesn't disappoint in the local multi-player department. Split-screen co-op campaign lets two players experience the epic struggle between humans and locust as Marcus Fenix; tough-as-nails hero, and Dominic Santiago; trusty right-hand man. For larger gaming groups (four, to be precise), versus mode allows you to go two-on-two as human and locust teams. You get all the fun of the online multi-player, without gripes like host advantage, etc.

Same-room multi-player may be on the decline, but the arcade has all but died. Thankfully, there are console conversions of some of the best arcade games; Tennis 2K2 is one of them. Also known as Virtua Tennis 2, it is still one of the best tennis games on the market. A range of (at the time) top professional players, from both the male and female tours, were selectable when it came down to the inevitable four-player doubles. The arcade action is some of the best sports gameplay ever, and having three friends to enjoy it with makes it even better.

The Wii's pre-packaged sports compilation is a guaranteed winner for same-room multi-player. Wii Sports contains five of the world's favorite sports (tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing) and has you swinging the Wii remote like you'd swing that racket, bat, arm, club or fist. The range of multi-player options is very accessable, too. If you don't have four remotes required to play doubles in tennis, you can play full rounds of four-player bowling and golf with a single remote.

The odd-one-out of this top ten list, Black Hole Rising is the second installment of the successful handheld strategy series Advance Wars. What makes this an odd addition to this list is the nature of its multi-player compared to the rest of the list. Rather than lightning fast thrills, Advance Wars 2 rewards the strategically-minded. Another easily accessable multi-player experience, four players can play by passing the GBA around. With a variety of units at your disposal, its your job to wipe out the armies of up to three other nations. Battleships, tanks and fighter jets are among your tools of destruction. Different commanding officers have different strengths and weaknesses, which adds to the tactical play. If that isn't enough for you, a map editor allows you to craft your own battlefields to wage war with your friends.

Wario's wacky Wii debut proves to be one of the most hilarious multi-player games ever. Smooth Moves takes full advantage of the Wii remote's unique motion-sensing capabilities, which has players making strange gestures to complete mini-games. These gestures include "the mohawk"; hold the remote with both hands above your head, "the elephant"; hold the remote with both hands infront of your nose (like a trunk) and many more. You'll have just as much fun laughing at your friends playing instead of actually playing the game yourself.

The first 3D Pokemon game was a poke-maniac's dream. Interactivity with the GameBoy Pokemon games allowed gamers to further fine-tune the ultimate fighting team, and then bring them to life in full 3D on the big screen. Two players could duke it out with their own custom teams, but eclipsing even this was the mini-game collection. Four players can take part in a competition of mini-games, all Pokemon-themed. This was so fun and successful that me and my friends would just play Pokemon Stadium for the mini-games.

The original Guitar Hero was a major success, and RedOctane/Harmonix followed up with an absolutely rockin' sequel. As well as expanding the styles of music to appeal to more people, Guitar Hero II's multi-player got a major overhaul. Players can "face-off" by playing alternate sections of the song (perfect for hearing who is missing the notes) or "pro face-off", where both players play out the whole song. Co-op mode returns (which plays like face-off, but both of your scores accumulate), but the real improvement is the inclusion of the bass and rythym guitar tracks. Forking out for an extra guitar controller is well worth the money; turn up the volume and rock into the night!

The grandfather of the modern FPS, GoldenEye 007 was one of "the" games to own for the N64. As great as the single player campaign was, which saw you play your way through the story of the GoldenEye film, its all about the multi-player here. It is so fully-featured in every way. The variety of maps, the cast of characters, the range of weaponary; all these factors are tied together by a wealth of different game modes. Many of today's most successful shooters owe GoldenEye 007 a lot, and many of them still don't have the multi-player experience that compares to this titan of the genre.

The follow up to the N64's Super Smash Brothers became the GameCube's most successful title. Melee improved on the original in every single way imaginable. The range of fighters and battlegrounds grew substantially, making it a real who's-who of Nintendo history. Flagship duo Mario & Luigi lead the line, but lesser known characters are paid homage, such as the Ice Climbers and Mr Game & Watch. It was the multi-player, though, like many of the games on this list, that really made Melee. The lightning quick gameplay is accessable for people who don't like the complicated combo chains of traditional fighting games, but for those who are skilled enough, there is much depth to be found (just check out the GameFAQs message board to find out). If there is one factor of the multi-player experience that stands above the rest, it has to be the special melees (lightning melee sees you fighting at break-neck speeds, giant melee sees you fighting with double-sized characters and there are so many more).

Arguably the best version of Mario Kart available, the Nintendo 64 offering tops off this list. In a time where the Playstation, N64's main rival, had only two controller ports, Nintendo had an out-of-the-box advantage with four ports. Mario Kart 64 is an example of what a great multi-player game should be. A collection of courses inspired by locales from the Mario universe, a cast of eight racers from said universe and extremely tight gameplay made it stand above the rest. What really made this game, though, was playing it with three friends. The intensity of going head-to-head over a four course grand prix is fantastic, and the joy of blasting everyone with a lightning bolt (and the inevitable three groans that follow) is immeasureable. Mario Kart 64 was recently re-released as a Wii Virtual Console download, so hopefully, the days of same-room multi-player will flourish once again.

And there you have it, The Top 10 Same-Room Multi-player Experiences. Although most of these games are from years gone by, they are still among the best in the multi-player field. If you get the chance to buy or play any of these games, don't pass it up. Call three of your mates and enjoy the multi-player goodness!

List by SpellSword89 (02/21/2007)

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