Multiplayer Spotlight

Looking for a game to play again with your friends? Check out these Virtual Console games that have a real focus on a multiplayer experience.

Balloon Fight (NES)
Nintendo's answer to Joust, Balloon Fight is a competition to see who is the last one remaining in the skies. You defeat opponents by colliding with them at a higher position. Gain altitude from flapping your arms by pressing the A and B buttons but keep in mind too much momentum is tough to control. Though you are probably working together with the other player, be careful as you can still pop each other's balloons. Unlike regular opponents, players get 2 balloons to start with and you will definitely need them!

Columns (Genesis)
Columns is a simple puzzle game where you try to match up 3 blocks of the same color in any direction to clear them from your area and the first person to fill up to the top loses. Though it's an easy game to learn, it can be much more difficult than you may think as a mistake in placing a block can be very tough to fix.

The Combatribes (SNES)
In this goofy beat 'em up game, you fight through hordes of thugs followed up by the area's boss. With fast paced gameplay and focused action, this makes for a great multiplayer game that keeps you right in the fight without any boring walking around in areas with few enemies. The attacks are also really entertaining such as smashing two guys' heads together or spinning someone around by their legs into other enemies but of course you have standard punches and kicks too if you are feeling a bit conservative.

Cruis'n USA (N64)
If you are looking for a pure arcade style racing game, then look no further! With a 2 player split screen, a friend can join you as you race through tracks based on real locations throughout the country from Golden Gate Park to Washington DC. There's a lot of other cars on the road that can lead to some really funny pileups; not only the other racers but also random traffic.

Darius Twin (SNES)
Like most scrolling shooters, Darius Twin is a very challenging game. The unique thing about it is that it supports 2 player co-op allowing you to coordinate your attacks and pick off enemies on different parts of the screen. It's distracting at first seeing this other craft in the skies and at times confusing remembering which one you are but if you are looking for a very challenging game to go through with a friend, then look no further.

Final Fight 2 (SNES)
Unlike its predecessor, Final Fight 2 allows 2 player co-op as you fight your way through legions of Mad Gear gang members. Each enemy has their own attacks so you know what to look for when you watch each other's back. The game does allow you to hit each other "accidentally" so watch those punches.

Ghoul Patrol (SNES)
As the sequel to Zombies Ate My Neighbors, you can expect much of the same and that's not a bad thing. Ghoul Patrol is a run and gun game that puts you and another on the same screen as you work cooperatively to destroy the walking dead and rescue people trapped in the area. You can pick up new items to use but they have limited uses so you may not want to play with someone who likes to hoard everything.

Golden Axe III (Genesis)
Features 2 player co-op, allowing a friend to control another warrior as you fight through legions of evil minions. You can choose from four characters to play, each with different attacks and handling. Two player co-op is especially fun as enemies attack from all directions, allowing you to split up or stick together to deal with each threat. As the most refined and slightly less difficult entry in the series, this is the perfect place to start if you have never played a Golden Axe game before.

Gunstar Heroes (Genesis)
A fast paced run and gun game featuring 2 player co-op, allowing a friend to take control of another character. You can shoot in all directions which will be handy since enemies will attack from everywhere. Different weapon types allow you to attack differently and you can even use close range attacks like hits or throws if they get too close. With another player's firepower, you can work together to make sure you don't get surrounded or cooperate to break through enemy fortifications and bosses. With great responsive controls and non-stop action, it's a perfect multiplayer game for run and gun fans.

Ice Climber (NES)
In Ice Climber, you need to break through the ice in each layer to reach the top of the mountain and a second player can join in as another ice climber to help make the trek a bit easier. Teamwork can really come in handy as the other player can block enemies coming in from the sides and above. Just don't go too far ahead as the other player below will lose a life if they fall far enough under the screen.

Life Force (NES)
This challenging scrolling shooter features 2 player co-op where the other player can join to help you blast through enemies and the environment alike. Many stages feature alternate routes so you can decide to stick together for safety or split up to get more powerups. The stages alternate between a side view and overhead view areas to keep you on your toes.

Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Mario Kart 64 is one of the ultimate multiplayer experiences on the Nintendo 64. With the ability to have 4 players at the same time, it really is twice the fun and the battlemode tracks are more refined compared to those seen in Super Mario Kart. The Grand Prix races are 2 players max however.

River City Ransom
This classic beat 'em up features an open world where you walk around the city beating up other greasers. If you are low on health, you can stop by the stores around town to regain your stamina and increase your stats. Attacks are somewhat basic but you can pick up weapons dropped by enemies or objects around the streets and really put the hurt on. You can still hit each other though so watch where you throw those garbage cans.

Secret of Mana (SNES)
Secret of Mana was one of the rare games on the Super Nintendo that featured simultaneous multiplayer for more than 2 players. Other players can drop in and drop out with the press of a button to take control of the other characters or even switch between which character they are controlling.

Players on the Virtual Console will count themselves lucky in that they won't need to use the SNES Multitap to support the third player.

Sky Kid (NES)
This simple shoot 'em up game allows a second player to control another plane as you blast through hordes of enemy fighters and anti aircraft weapons. The speed isn't as intense as many games in the genre so it's a great multiplayer game for players of all skill levels. You can't shoot down your partner but you can momentarily stun them so watch those shots!

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SNES)
This is the definitive fighting game for both home console and arcades! Two players can choose one of 8 fighters, each with their own special moves in addition to their basic attacks. Each match is decided by the best of 2 rounds and different fighters can be chosen after. Handicaps can also be set to increase or decrease the damage you do, allowing players of different skill levels to play against one another. Though there are other expanded and complex Street Fighter games for the SNES and Genesis, this entry still contains everything that made the series and is a great place to start.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
When many people think of SMB 3, they usually forget that it does have a great little 2 player minigame. And unlike the main game, the multiplayer is simultaneous. Enemies come out of the pipes on either side and the only way to defeat them is to knock them over by hitting the block below them and kicking them out. Of course, this makes it easy for the other player to run in and the point for themselves. You can also try to stun each other to let the roaming enemies finish the unlucky player off.

Super Mario Kart (SNES)
Many may prefer Mario Kart 64 for its 4 player multiplayer or more refined gameplay but Super Mario Kart still has a lot to offer. Super Mario Kart features a variety of challenges for 2 players, the best of which is a non rubberbanding AI in the Grand Prix races and a gameplay system that rewards driving skill more than item usage like later titles in the series. Super Mario Kart does feature a Battle Mode but it can get a bit rough with just 2 players.

Toejam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron (Genesis)
A goofy game where you capture Earthlings by throwing bottles at them and picking them up before they break free. Bottles can be thrown forward, tossed up in the air and even placed on the ground like a landmine. Though some Earthlings are in plain sight, others are in hiding and can be found by checking objects such as shaking trees or checking under rocks. Though you both share the same screen, it will follow a player that breaks off. If you aren't on screen, you can quickly teleport back in with the start button. Each Earthling type has different attacks but working together you should be able to get them on a ship back to Earth in no time.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES)
Team up to take down zombies and rescue your oblivious neighbors. Both players share the same screen so you can take extra care to coordinate your attacks or to make sure the other player doesn't get attacked from behind.

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