The List: One Party Game
As an adult gamer, by far the thing I miss the most is gaming with my friends. Online gaming is okay. But it’s nothing compared to sharing the couch and laying the smack down on my friends, and the shouts of joy and agony that fill the room. Amazing come from behind victories, impossible shots, hilarious screw ups, all reminisced over the entire evening over endless beverages and snacks.
All my friends may have moved on, just like I have with my own family and career. But there are still some amazing party games out there, and some old ones that are always worth going back to. Even if it’s just some family coming over, we can still fire up some great games and have a blast well past bedtime.
Now, as a reminder, the games on my lists are only games from my personal collection. So yes, there are great games left out. But the point of this is mostly just a thought experiment to pare down what are the best games I’ve ever played. So if I could take one party game with me to that wonderful desert island where no one ever bothers me again and I get to do nothing but play games… what would it be?
I’ll be honest. Most of the categories so far, I’ve known going in which game was going to win. This one though, even as I write this, I’m still not sure what to choose.
GoldenEye is a very strong possibility. Having hosted eight GoldenEye Fests, and countless nights with friends playing until literally the sun came up, it might be hard to deny this one. BUT… if I choose it as the best party game. It won’t be able to compete in the First Person Shooter category… which wouldn’t feel right at all.
StarFox 64 is one game that I wish I would have had the opportunity to play with more people. The ability to loop around, lock on to your friends and play with them like a cat plays with a mouse before going in for the kill is ridiculously satisfying. Being able to choose between the tank and arwing is a neat feature, though it seems like the tanks were always at a disadvantage. But usually games like Mario Kart or GoldenEye took the spotlight away from this great game on party nights.
Nintendo Land is one of my biggest surprises in recent memory. I didn’t really expect to give much regard to the the game. But one night Andrea’s family was over. We had 4 people with Wiimotes and one on the gamepad playing Mario Chase… I haven’t had so much fun playing with other people in a long, long time.
Mario Kart: Wii is one of the Mario Karts I’ve been least impressed with, but it really is the best living room Mario Kart experience with family and friends. Some people love playing with the Wii Wheel. That’s fine, I’ll kick their butt every time. I have to use the controller myself. But the thing about Mario Kart, is that no matter how good you are, no win is guaranteed. So even people that have never played before, still have a chance to win. And honestly that’s what I love about it. I mean I’d love to win every game, but eventually people don’t want to play with me any more. So Mario Kart in general strikes that perfect balance of skill, random craziness, and just plain fun.
RockBand and Guitar Hero were legendary in my family for a while. I remember playing it at my sister-in-law’s house and on our way home, we had to pick one up for ourselves. Until my Guild Wars 2 CE, it was the most I’d ever spent on one single game. Rhythm games seem like the butt of a lot of jokes these days, but honestly, I still enjoy busting out the plastic guitar, cranking up the surround sound and rockin, right the hell out. Add in the full band and someone’s terrible singing (usually enhanced by alcohol) it’s a good time that’s hard to beat.
Wii Sports is great because it’s a game that absolutely everyone can play. Even people who would ordinarily never play videogames, will still play Wii Sports. And still get highly invested in it. I remember waiting patiently for my turn to play, and the satisfaction that came with winning a matchup in whichever sport the challenger chose, because winners were allowed to keep playing. The games were usually short and worked perfectly for passing around the controller with a group of friends.
Ice Hockey and Dr. Mario may only be 2 player games, and they may be the oldest games on this list, but to this day, I’ve yet to see any other game that has people that are more passionate and competitive about them. My neighbor across the street is a dedicated Dr. Mario player. And my brother-in-law takes great pride in his Ice Hockey skills. Both of them (if you beat them) will become physically perturbed. They are also games that are pretty much universally loved and anybody will join in for the next round.
Of course Super Smash Bros: Melee IS a highly competitive game. There are still organized contests to this day. I am not any good at this game at all, but I even love losing in this game. I love, love, love, love, love playing as Peach and smacking unsuspecting people with a frying pan. I never really had any friends that were into this game, but I did attend a couple parties where I got my ass handed to me. I’d actually play this game forever, even if I knew I’d never win.
And finally, New Super Mario Bros: Wii. I picked this over the new NSMB:U just because I have more experience with it. Even the little kids can come over and play. When we get to a tough spot, we just tell them to “bubble!” and it’s an awesome way to get the whole family involved and playing. It’s fun to work together, but also if the action starts to lul, you can start messing with your teammates by swallowing them up with Yoshi and spitting them down a hole, just to be a douche and get some laughs.
And the winner is:
So… GoldenEye will live to fight another day. And I REALLY went back and forth between this and Nintendo Land. Nintendo Land is SUCH a great game. Literally the most fun I’ve had in years. BUT… Rockband or Guitar Hero was infectious. People I knew would play it, then next thing I know, they had one too. It hasn’t gotten much love lately, but a couple years ago, it was pretty much expected that this is what we did at family get-togethers. It’s so satisfying to nail a tricky solo. And even getting through certain songs on the highest difficulty were grounds for bragging eternally.
But seriously. If anyone wants to come over and play some games, I have a couple. It would be fun. You can probably even beat me! Honest!