Critical Hit | Lack of Local Multiplayer

By André Eriksson 01.02.2015 29

Sometimes what's taken for granted is not there. Sometimes something so obvious is lacking. Sometimes a multiplayer game lacks the best of multiplayer experience, and sometimes it lacks local multiplayer.

One day I bought a game. I heard its multiplayer was great, so I wanted to experience it with my friends. With my four controllers plugged into the console the game was made for and a mountain of snacks to keep us fed during the weekend, I checked out my phonebook to see which friends I wanted to invite for this glorious weekend of gaming. Checked out the box once more to hype myself up for all the fun multiplayer madness we would have this weekend, only to read "One Player Local" on the back of the box. The whole weekend was ruined. Situations like this are far too common nowadays, and that is a complete nuisance. Welcome to another edition of Critical Hit…


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Since the mid 2000s, online has taken over more and more of our multiplayer scene. It started earlier on PCs, but let's ignore PCs for this article as what is going to be discussed here never was big on that scene to begin with due to technical and practical reasons. I am not going to bash online multiplayer itself. It is a great option to play with people all around the world from the living room. The issue is, however, that online multiplayer, instead of serving as an option to local multiplayer, has started to replace it entirely.

Online multiplayer started to grow into a thing in the fifth console generation with titles such as Phantasy Star Online hitting the Dreamcast (and, eventually, the GameCube) and Final Fantasy XI doing its entrance on the PS2. However, this expanded greatly during the sixth console generation. Online multiplayer franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield started to grow bigger and bigger and cover more and more of the gaming sales than ever before. This is, also, not the issue. Instead, the issue is the consequence this online focus has brought upon the industry, and that is that more and more often, local multiplayer options are completely absent.

This phenomenon started to become more apparent during the mid-to-late sixth console generation and is starting to grow more and more of a problem. The reason this is problematic is because one of the best features with a home console is the possibility to sit down there on the couch and start up some great multiplayer titles such as Mario Party and start to play it with friends that are there in the same room.

Image for Critical Hit | Lack of Local Multiplayer

"Why can we not simply play these online?" is a question that might get asked. Well, there are several reasons behind this. The first and most obvious one is that some games are simply not as fun to play together if the players are at different locations. Let's take Mario Party, for example. How fun would it be to play Mario Party with a friend who sits miles away? One of the very core experiences of that game is the fact that people get upset with each other and create pacts, something that is severely downplayed if playing online.

The second thing is the social aspect. Sure, with voice chat it could be argued that it is still, technically, a social experience. However, there is no physical contact and very seldom emotional contact - just commands getting shouted out between players. This creates a very dull multiplayer experience. Okay, it fits in with the competitive environment of the online community in Battlefield games, but it does not fit as well when four friends sit and play together. It severely damages the experience when the experience is forced to be online.

Besides these obvious things, there are other drawbacks with this. For instance, the online community in a lot of games is very toxic - nothing that fits a game between friends. There is also the good old Internet connection. For people with bad Internet this can be very painful and many would most likely be happy to at least have the option to take their friends to their own place to play.

Image for Critical Hit | Lack of Local Multiplayer

One great example of a game that does not offer offline multiplayer, but that has gameplay that would work best for that, is Bayonetta 2. It is an extremely sore case because of the nature of the co-operative/competitive gameplay it offers. The multiplayer in Bayonetta 2 is of a nature that is strongly enhanced by local multiplayer. Can anyone here even think about a game such as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords without local multiplayer? It would not be anywhere near as good an experience. While the case of Bayonetta 2 might be excusable as I have a feeling that it is due to technical limitations of the console and that the multiplayer is such a small part of the game, sadly it does show signs of an unhealthy evolution in the way multiplayer is handled.

Why can developers not work on and introduce local multiplayer in their games? Why are we forced to live with games that clearly have a multiplayer mode but no way to play it with our friends at home on the couch? I guess it demands some work, but let that work be put into the game. This is an important aspect! This is what multiplayer is all about: friends sitting on their sofas playing games together all weekend long.

Thankfully, it seems like local multiplayer is not quite dead yet, with Nintendo releasing the new Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which offers eight-player simultaneously multiplayer. Also, the whole portable gaming industry almost always shows support for local multiplayer gamers. However, it is very sad seeing it being a completely ignored feature by some developers, especially on the home console front.

Do you agree about the importance of local multiplayer in modern gaming?

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Good article!

Definitely agree that we need more local multiplayer, and it needs to be preserved, considered just as important as the main experience (unless it's a primarily solo affair like mainline Zelda).

Am glad games like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. for Wii U have kept the local multiplayer well and truly there; it's one of the biggest Nintendo selling points still and long may it continue!

Find it hard to have those extended multiplayer sessions these days, sadly. Friends come round, and you really need to get them to keep playing because mobile phones keep coming out of pockets, and people get distracted. It'd be like 3 matches of Smash and bamn, out comes the phone again.

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Local multiplayer is nice and all, but I wish more games offered both local and online if technically feasible. I'm a fair bit competitive when it comes to multiplayer with friends and everybody I know irl doesn't challenge me in the slightest. It's not so bad when games have an online component as well, but when it's stuff like Mario Party or even Four Swords Adventures it's very underwhelming, since I have to hold back just so I don't scare off the people I play with. If I was playing online against my more skilled friends, I wouldn't have to do that and could play however I want to. Even in co-op games like platformers it's a problem, since I often end up carrying the other players through levels because they can't make it on their own.

Just one of these problems I have because my irl friends don't play games all that often and lack interest in at all, so it always feels like I have to beg them to play anything. I don't even bother asking around for local multiplayer nowadays, because I always leave feeling very underwhelmed. Thank god there's Monster Hunter for my multiplayer fix or I'd probably be depressed by now...

Now, if we all lived remotely close to each other and had a proper Cubed3 HQ for local multiplayer gatherings, I'd be far more excited about local multiplayer. Sadly, this is not the case...Smilie

SirLink said:
Local multiplayer is nice and all, but I wish more games offered both local and online if technically feasible. I'm a fair bit competitive when it comes to multiplayer with friends and everybody I know irl doesn't challenge me in the slightest. It's not so bad when games have an online component as well, but when it's stuff like Mario Party or even Four Swords Adventures it's very underwhelming, since I have to hold back just so I don't scare off the people I play with. If I was playing online against my more skilled friends, I wouldn't have to do that and could play however I want to. Even in co-op games like platformers it's a problem, since I often end up carrying the other players through levels because they can't make it on their own.

Just one of these problems I have because my irl friends don't play games all that often and lack interest in at all, so it always feels like I have to beg them to play anything. I don't even bother asking around for local multiplayer nowadays, because I always leave feeling very underwhelmed. Thank god there's Monster Hunter for my multiplayer fix or I'd probably be depressed by now...

Now, if we all lived remotely close to each other and had a proper Cubed3 HQ for local multiplayer gatherings, I'd be far more excited about local multiplayer. Sadly, this is not the case...Smilie


I get that feel. :/ Must be really though. I know some of my friends never ever wants to play competitively against me due to them knowing that if they do they will lose without a doubt.

Luckly for me though I am blessed with a father who is VERY good at video games and some friends who plays on competitive levels, so it is never really an issue for me to find worthwhile challenges locally. But I truly get you. Local + Online is always better than only the former or the later.

Would be really cool if everyone in Cubed3 lived next block, wouldn't it? Smilie Would make reviewing multiplayer games like Mario Party much more feasible for everyone. And it would be A LOT of fun! Smilie What you could do though, depending on where you live, is creating your own game club where people play with each other. It should not be too hard nor expensive to hire a local 3-4 hours every week for some organized gaming, you could even maybe depending on your living situation host it at your own place. Yet again, this is depending on where you live, some places just doesn't have a geek/gaming community to begin with and then it is difficult and Online might be the only solution.. This is something I personally have in mind starting once MH4U hits the shelves and I think I already have 2-3 people only in my closest circle of friends who would hook on this automatically.

This post also made me think... What about a staff meetup sometime in the future? o.O

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.
Endless Solitude (guest) 01.02.2015#4

Personally, I'm glad that Monster Hunter Tri had local multiplayer.  As did a number of other Wii titles ranging from Spectrobes Origins to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.  Admittedly, for a lot of these, multiplayer really meant two-player - but that's still better than purely online multiplayer in my view.

It's kind of weird, with 3rd party titles - especially on non-Nintendo platforms, I'd agree. With Nintendo games though, I want it to be the other way around. They need to embrace online multiplayer more, because they have so many games that could work really well with it and they're always limited to local (which is no good for someone like me).

It's hugely important to keep local multiplayer though, I hope that never gets phased out. I just wish Nintendo would put online multiplayer into more of their amazing games.

Marzy said:
It's kind of weird, with 3rd party titles - especially on non-Nintendo platforms, I'd agree. With Nintendo games though, I want it to be the other way around. They need to embrace online multiplayer more, because they have so many games that could work really well with it and they're always limited to local (which is no good for someone like me).

It's hugely important to keep local multiplayer though, I hope that never gets phased out. I just wish Nintendo would put online multiplayer into more of their amazing games.


Yeah, Nintendo clearly are on the other half of the spectrum on this... Why not have both is the question... That way everyone can play the way they can/prefer! Smilie

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Yeah, I'm actually of the opposite here.

To throw a gamer cliche out there: I play video games because I have no friends! So, Nintendo, start putting (good) online in your bloody games!

I rarely ever have mates round for local multi these days. Maybe twice, three times a year, give or take? It's not easy to get people together, and it's not worth me spending the money on local MP-focused games like Mario Party if I ain't got anyone to play them with.

That there is no online in MP10 means I immediately ruled out ever picking that up the moment I heard that fact. Of course Mario Party is a local-focused game, and it should stay in, but no option for online? Forget allowing to play with strangers - why can't I just have an option to play with friends only in online multiplayer?

That's where Nintendo's problems lie - no options, or lack thereof. NSMBU, DKC, Hyrule Warriors, Mario Party, Star Fox 3D? Why shouldn't I be allowed to play these where 99% of my gaming friends are: online? Then when they do add in online, the function is far from brilliant. Mostly good, but still lacking compared to PS/Xbox side, which is a damn shame, because Nintendo has so many more games I'd rather be playing online with great network options.

Are there any major examples where local is not an option in favour of online? That would obviously be on the PS/Xbox side, but I'm interested to know which games are in mind when talking about this issue. When I think of the games that feature online only, and no local, I have to say it doesn't really bother me at all. I haven't looked at my copy of Tomb Raider and been pissed off that I couldn't play it with mates in my room - the 1-player online is seen to me as a nice extra to the main campaign, and it never crossed my mind that local multi isn't there. There must be certain games in mind other than Bayonetta to make this article, because I think more and more people (certainly on the Nintendo side) would actually prefer to make an article of the opposite, wanting to give Nintendo a kick up the arse to add online play to more games.

As a final point, I love games where you can actually have two people together in the same room to log in and play online, like Uncharted. Even Mario Kart/Smash does that (well done, Nintendo!). So even when local multi is a thing, the want is there to go online, too. Of course we should have the best of both worlds, but in the case of where most of my multiplayer gaming lies, it's the lack of online with Nintendo that's my biggest beef. Otherwise, I can't say I'm arsed about lack of local in most non-Nintendo games. But I can understand the call for more and to preserve it, definitely.

( Edited 02.02.2015 16:20 by Azuardo )

The Lego games still value splitscreen - to the extent they have that awesome auto-combining when your close together.

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The games that are clearly in mind are obviously mostly on the X-box and PS consoles. Other than the mentioned Bayonetta 2 so do I also have GTA V, Saints Row the Third, Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii (offers very limited local multiplayer, but considering the nature of the MH titles before it I thought I was safe to assume it would actually offer good local multiplayer) and Guardians of Middle-Earth. The list could go on and on really of titles where I have seen this.

But yes, it is indeed equally annoying when it is the other way around as well, something that I did not touch in this article. The best thing would truly be if we could always have had both. And this is a thing every developer should work towards.

( Edited 01.02.2015 14:15 by Andre Eriksson )

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Marzy said:
It's kind of weird, with 3rd party titles - especially on non-Nintendo platforms, I'd agree. With Nintendo games though, I want it to be the other way around. They need to embrace online multiplayer more, because they have so many games that could work really well with it and they're always limited to local (which is no good for someone like me).

It's hugely important to keep local multiplayer though, I hope that never gets phased out. I just wish Nintendo would put online multiplayer into more of their amazing games.

Not gonna happen because well nintendo lives under a rock in terms of online play. mark my words splatoon WILL be the last nintendo 1st party game with online on wii u. How ironic since my favorite nintendo console is everyones least favorite: the nintendo 64. Smilie

( Edited 01.02.2015 18:46 by mario party 1 N64 )

formally known as brando67854321

mario party 1 N64 said:
Marzy said:
It's kind of weird, with 3rd party titles - especially on non-Nintendo platforms, I'd agree. With Nintendo games though, I want it to be the other way around. They need to embrace online multiplayer more, because they have so many games that could work really well with it and they're always limited to local (which is no good for someone like me).

It's hugely important to keep local multiplayer though, I hope that never gets phased out. I just wish Nintendo would put online multiplayer into more of their amazing games.

Not gonna happen because well nintendo lives under a rock in terms of online play. mark my words splatoon WILL be the last nintendo 1st party game with online on wii u. How ironic since my favorite nintendo console is everyones least favorite: the nintendo 64. Smilie

Nah, I think atleast Star Fox will have Online Multiplayer, and I do not find it an impossibility yet that there is coming a new Metroid game for the Wii U, and if it is First Person it would be a total waste to not have online as it would basically be the best FPS title ever....

...oh, they wasted the opportunity thrice already, didn't they? :/ But fourth time the charm! Smilie But really, I think we might see some more Online game from Nintendo, while yes, they are sleeping under a rock in that department, but I doubt that once they've awaken they will go back to the rock.

( Edited 01.02.2015 19:29 by Andre Eriksson )

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

@Andre starfox wii u won't have online play because the 3ds starfox cash grab didn't have online WHY WOULD THIS ONE?! and don't expect metroid anytime soon because no thanks to other m selling as bad as f-zero gx and nintendo wasting ALOT of money on that one and even Hyrule WARRIORS lacked online co-op FOR NO REASON when EVERY SINGLE WARRIORS GAME AND IT'S SPINOFFS IN THE 7th gen HAD ONLINE! Tecmo/nintendo REALLY?! So NO nintendo will always, ALWAYS be living under a rock when it comes to online play!

( Edited 01.02.2015 20:49 by mario party 1 N64 )

formally known as brando67854321

mario party 1 N64 said:
@Andre starfox wii u won't have online play because the 3ds starfox cash grab didn't have online WHY WOULD THIS ONE?! and don't expect metroid anytime soon because no thanks to other m selling as bad as f-zero gx and nintendo wasting ALOT of money on that one and even Hyrule WARRIORS lacked online co-op FOR NO REASON when EVERY SINGLE WARRIORS GAME AND IT'S SPINOFFS IN THE 7th gen HAD ONLINE! Tecmo/nintendo REALLY?! So NO nintendo will always, ALWAYS be living under a rock when it comes to online play!

1. Because it was a port of an old game.

2. If Nintendo know anything about why Other M did not sell, they would realize that it's sales is no good measuring stick for Metroid games overall. While I personally did not find the game totally horrible as most of the world did so do I find that it is not really a "Metroid" game playstyle wise.

3. Yeah, that was a weird decision to say the least...

But out of these arguments there is nothing that tells with absolute certainty that there will be no other first party games with online play for the Wii U. We better wait and see on this one before painting up a world of gloom and doom. The issue, though, is that most franchises in Nintendo's core arsenal has been released/announced, which means that either they must go to one of their rarer franchises, like Metroid and (OMG I DO SO HOPE THIS) F-zero, or create something new and original, which happens once every blue moon and that blue moon seems to have been Splatoon.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Andre Eriksson said:
mario party 1 N64 said:
@Andre starfox wii u won't have online play because the 3ds starfox cash grab didn't have online WHY WOULD THIS ONE?! and don't expect metroid anytime soon because no thanks to other m selling as bad as f-zero gx and nintendo wasting ALOT of money on that one and even Hyrule WARRIORS lacked online co-op FOR NO REASON when EVERY SINGLE WARRIORS GAME AND IT'S SPINOFFS IN THE 7th gen HAD ONLINE! Tecmo/nintendo REALLY?! So NO nintendo will always, ALWAYS be living under a rock when it comes to online play!

1. Because it was a port of an old game.

Thats true but still the 3ds starfox was STILL a cash grab in my eyes.

2. If Nintendo know anything about why Other M did not sell, they would realize that it's sales is no good measuring stick for Metroid games overall. While I personally did not find the game totally horrible as most of the world did so do I find that it is not really a "Metroid" game playstyle wise.

Sure it was. they spent so much money on making that game it wasn't even funny.

3. Yeah, that was a weird decision to say the least...
I'm still hoping for online play in a patch or something since it's selling well (plus they backtracked on no amiibo and no tingle).

But out of these arguments there is nothing that tells with absolute certainty that there will be no other first party games with online play for the Wii U. We better wait and see on this one before painting up a world of gloom and doom. The issue, though, is that most franchises in Nintendo's core arsenal has been released/announced, which means that either they must go to one of their rarer franchises, like Metroid and (OMG I DO SO HOPE THIS) F-zero, or create something new and original, which happens once every blue moon and that blue moon seems to have been Splatoon.

I'm guessing f-zero is going to come to wii u and PROBABLY be reveled at E3 2015 since they never said it wasn't in development just assumed.... HEY I can dream can I? Smilie



( Edited 01.02.2015 22:58 by mario party 1 N64 )

formally known as brando67854321

I too truly hope F-zero is in development aswell and that it will offer both local and online multiplayer options. F-zero GX is my favorite racing game of all time and if they can follow that one up with an equally or maybe even better title so am I head over heels over it! Smilie

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Great article Andre. It's a factor that I don't really ever consider these days. Like Az I have no real need for it but I don't care for online multiplayer either...well not much. 

However back in the 90's and early 00's local multiplayer was everything to me and my friends, games like Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Mario Kart 64, various WWE games, Smash bros 64, Melee , Crash Bash, FIFA, Pro Evo, Star Wars Clone Wars, Conkers Bad Fur Day, Mario Tennis 64, Timesplitters 2, Tony Hawks 3, Mario Kart Double Dash were all multiplayer hits and we all had game nights and competitions with all these games. I am sure I am missing a few games in there but for the most part it was these games. Mario Kart Wii got a lot of game time with my uni pals but they were 'casuals' jumping on the Wii hype.

Although I am not at home, if would be, my cousin and a few friends would be playing Mario Kart Double Dash, Halo, the latest COD, FIFA and Smash Bros Brawl. I reckon we would have substituted Brawl for U by now but that line up rarely changes. I try and through a random game or two but I'm the last Nintendo fan of the group so trying to push games on them is a little hard. However I couldn't have imagine my childhood without the list of games above. It might have meant actually leaving the house to play football...

@GamenasterB - I don't think Splatoon will be one of the last Nintendo games to have online multiplayer on the Wii U, but I can't say that they'd have much more. I will keep dreaming for Starfox and Fzero to be online though...one day it will be true...hopefully.


@andre - multiple attempts of a C3 meet up have been tried over the years but always fell through, I think the concept of renting somewhere and equipment plus organising it through the internet on a Nintendo based site didn't really bode well...however that was all tried before "crowd-funding" was a thing. I don't know how all those types of sites work but I'm sure that could be a route of trying to gauge real interest. Although I don't see a lot of long timers knocking around these days...it's a little barren of some of the familiar faces I have been used too over the years.

Also, you mentioned Metroid having multiplayer - I'll point to the overly criticised (but still a waste of time) multiplayer option in MP:2 Echoes. But you are leaving a Prime game out of your argument...Hunters...

My online game experience has been limited over the years but there was a few games I played online and that was Mario Kart DS, mario kart 7, Smash Bros 3DS Call of Duty black ops 2 and Metroid Hunters. i used to play with one or two guys from here and one or two of my friends that actually owned a DS. I also played against randoms, it was a nice baby step for Nintendo at the time and it actually worked...

I care less about multiplayer these days, whether it be on or off the line and considering these kids these days are so internet savvy do they really need Local multiplayer in 2015? I mean we bank from our phones, we date via Tinder, we watch things on a 5-10 inch screen...times are changing! Smilie


( Edited 02.02.2015 10:49 by Flynnie )

Flynnie said:

@GamenasterB - I don't think Splatoon will be one of the last Nintendo games to have online multiplayer on the Wii U, but I can't say that they'd have much more. I will keep dreaming for Starfox and Fzero to be online though...one day it will be true...hopefully.
Me too. Smilie.

( Edited 02.02.2015 18:19 by gamemasterB )

formally known as brando67854321

Yeah! I forgot about Hunters.. Did it really have Online Multiplayer? o.O Must've missed that somehow.

But MP 2 did not have online multiplayer from what I remember... Which is sad. I LOVED MP 2 multiplayer. My favorite FPS multiplayer experience right after Goldeneye multiplayer.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Andre Eriksson said:
Yeah! I forgot about Hunters.. Did it really have Online Multiplayer? o.O Must've missed that somehow.
yeah I used to see my brother play it for a while and I didn't even KNOW the game had online because I just assumed it was local only.

formally known as brando67854321

Indeed it was, my hand suffered much cramping from playing that game online. By no means the best online shooter there ever has been but not bad for it's time on a handheld. 

I also used to play Tetris DS but always got my arse kicked!


i guess my DS got a bit of online play back then because I had purchased that Nintendo Wifi connection dongle so I thought I'd make the most of the thing!

Yeah, Hunters was actually pretty fun online and it even had voice chat in the lobbies! That was impressive for a DS game, I think the only online game on DS to have it. I don't know any DS or 3DS game since that's had that ability. So yeah, just shows how far Nintendo have come with their online... Not very far (when it comes to in-game features at least). x)

( Edited 03.02.2015 10:52 by Marzy )

Come to think of it Marzy didn't we have a few games back in the day? I would have thought we would have. I'm fairly certain others like Blade2t3 and Knighty were involved but I can remember who else! 

I'm pretty sure we did! I also played with shiptoncraig a lot. I remember at the time I'd complain a lot, because I was left-handed and had to use the DS' buttons to move my character around. It hurt my hands after playing for a bit.

Oh yea I remember him too! I'm also a lefty so it annoyed me a bit too!

I'll forgive F-zero not being online. It might simply be extremely hard to synchronize whatever the bandwidth.

Incidently, didnt a pokemon game have a crude videochat once? 

( Edited 04.02.2015 13:50 by Darkflame )

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