back to article Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

The petulant slap of a velvet glove across a rival’s cheek – the centuries-old prelude to a duel to the death between gentlemen. To the victor, the promise of a wrong righted and, quite possibly, the hand of a buxom beauty. For the defeated, nothing but dishonour, or else the cold embrace of the grave. Kubrick classic: Barry …

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My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Mario Kart

Micro Machines

Worms (makes good friends curse each other: a good thing!)

I don't do PES or FIFA, though I know folk who play little else

Sensible Soccer

Mario Stadium Soccer (bonkers)

Speedball 2

Super SWIV

The Chaos Engine

Tetris

Tekken

WipEout

GoldenEye 64, and later, Halo Combat Evolved (most FPS games wanted a LAN or null-modem cable for multiplayer. Split-screen gaming is fun and easy)

Special nod to Portal 2, a set of puzzles that require two players to solve.

Hmm, most of these can be divided into Racing, Fighting, Ball Sports or Shooting.

I haven't actually plugged in my console for over a year. I've had a few sessions of Worms with friends, and a lost weekend when I discovered an Android port of Dune 2 (finally, a use for my Galaxy Tab 10.1!), but that's about it!

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Add to this list

Super Bomberman (SNES)

and the game pad wrecking International Track and Field (PSX)

Brings back fond memories of student life in the late 90's

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Thanks Ace, I knew that some titles must have slipped my memory!

I also loved Time Bandit on the Atari ST, a two player top-down shooter / adventure game, with some levels being a homage to Pac-Man and Centipede. If one player died, they could still accompany the surviving player as a 'ghost'. Alas, the PC version has bugs, including one that prevents the players from being able to shoot.... how the hell did that ever get released?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_Bandit

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Settlers... with a cardboard screen splitting the screen in two so we couldn't so easily see what the other one was doing. Unfortunately settlers got worse and worse for 2-player with every new version and it lost all the charm of the first. The latest, is completely ruined by unisofts moronic insistence on everything being about meaningless "micro-purchases", a ratings ladder and very limited (if pretty) maps - they don't even permit a ****ing save game feature in two player because it might be mis-used in the ratings ladder. Guess what, we don't give a flying rats about the rating system, we just want to play the game. And without unisoft's DRM and other intrusive nonsense getting in the way as well.

Sensible Soccer (tournaments) - we took teams, played against each other, drunk beer. Some days just never got better.

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Aaah, Worms. I still can hear the falsetto "I'll get you" and "you'll regret that" across the decades... Brilliant game, and I'm going to have to introduce my kids to it.

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

+1 for Worms (in-coming!).

But also Tony Hawks (any of them). Sure, it wasn't a good 2-player. But spent many endless hours of trying to beat each others high scores.

Also, Quake 2 on the PSX. It was the only 4 player split-screen FPS there was. We didn't have an N64.

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@Nick Ryan

You need to get a copy of Settlers 10th anniversary.

All the joy of the best version of Settlers with zero ladders or ranking or any other shit that gets in the way. It runs on everything too.

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Also, xScorch for turn-based multi-player.

Cow-race on Wii Play is just hilariously silly.

I think split-screen/multiscreen is where Valve should be going. There's a host of cheap/old games out there which could be run multiplayer on the same PC with a little bit of virtualisation and controller jiggerypokery. The thing about PC's is that its easy to change the config, whereas consoles are pretty much stuck.

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Re: @Nick Ryan

@Pascal Monett

You need to get a copy of Settlers 10th anniversary.

Oooh... thanks for that. I think I may need to purchase that straight away!

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

Me, my mate, ONE Playstation ONE, the first hardware iteration with the video-out AND AV out connections, two TVs back to back, each with cardboard taped over one side of the screen, and vertical split screen game of Syphon Filter. No sneaking a peek at your opponent's location, so all the suspense of online but with the other player sitting right there. Genius.

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Re: My fondest gaming experiences have been two+ player:

@monkeyfish

Ahhh . . . Tony Hawk 2 on the Dreamcast (still my favourite in the series) - I remember many an hour spent playing 'HORSE'. Not that we used that word.

Also NHL 93/94 - again, still my favourites. My brother and I had a side-game going on total penalty minutes, the winner being the one with the highest total, obviously : )

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An article about the best 2 player games without a mention of Speedball 2 is no article at all.

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Must be the hippy in me...

But I preferred the co-op of Gauntlet... I had the port expander for my ST, and we used to play for hours..

But +1 to Worms - the original was just stonking, and the landscape generator it had has never been matched. I've got Armageddon for my Nexus, but the original was just unbeatable. Well, actually my mates were unbeatable. I've always been crap at games...

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Re: Must be the hippy in me...

Speaking of co-op games and STs... Bubble Bobble!

(I can hear that bloody music in my head now!)

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Re: Must be the hippy in me...

Omg, I'm so glad you reminded me of Gauntlet! Spectrum, at my mates house when I was no more than 8 years old. Awesome.

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Re: Must be the hippy in me...

Ah Bubble Bobble :)

In an old flat we'd play all sorts of games, the PS2 was the mainstay for console stuff in the livingroom. While the various fighting games got most of the attention, nothing brought out rivalry and swearing quite like Bubble Bobble.

Maybe it's the inevitable cycle of A drops a pile, dumps on B, B swears, wrangles way to dump some of pile thus dumping more on A. Repeat until police are called. We then toned down the insults to no longer include threats of dismemberment or bodily harm, although "Why don't you just STAB ME IN THE FACE!" stuck around as a general statement of complaint, ideally about the smallest thing. That was coined by my darling ten year old niece.

Oh, and I'm not allowed to babysit her around my "rude" friends, after she called her dad a "fuck knuckle". Well, she used it in a full and descriptive sentence, but I'm pretty sure she knew the rest of the words prior to that. Don't think it helped that my sister laughed when the kid went off :)

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Re: Must be the hippy in me...

Yes, teaching one's siblings' kids the finer points of gutter elocution is one of the small pleasures that make life worth living. My nieces and nephew (my sister's kids) all received their first tuition in pottymouth prosody at the hands of me and my brother at an early age, much to my sister's lasting annoyance.

But back on topic: Bubble Bobble (the Amiga version) has a lot of history with me and my friends as well.

But our best memories are of Gloom (the Amiga's answer to Wolfenstein) which introduced a new and evil pleasure: the map editor. I designed a particularly fiendish map which was laid out as follows: There was a central "safe room" with six switches and a door that could be opened only from the inside. Surrounding this was a large central "atrium" with a stack of powerups and weapon upgrades. Around the outside of this atrium were six doors, which opened into side chambers, each packed with a massive horde of monsters. Each door was linked to a corresponding switch in the safe room. The spawn points were located in a separate closed off room with two teleport triggers. I had a tiny one-shot teleport trigger in front of my spawn point, and a larger repeating teleport in front of my friend's. Hitting my teleport would zap me into the safe room, in which I could trip the switches at leisure and watch out the windows in perfect safety as my friend had to rush around gathering powerups and fighting off packs of monsters. I'd time the release of the switches so he'd have scant seconds to get the next powerup before having to deal with the next monster rush.

It didn't take him long to figure out that by jumping forward left at the instant of spawning, he could snatch my teleport from under my nose if I was a fraction tardy about moving myself. The first time he did this, his revenge was to open every switch in the safe room at once, burying me under a unstoppable avalanche of monsters that tore me to shreds in seconds. My cries of "You fucking bastard, I never did that to you!" were drowned out by his howls of maniacal laughter.

The rest of my map designs were... rather fairer.

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Street Fighter

This article reminded me of this classic street fighter moment, the famous(kinda?) "beast is unleashed" moment from EVO tournie years back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvxsmd9NECM

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Re: Street Fighter

Eh, just realised the quality on that is even worse than I first thought.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KS7hkwbKmBM is a slightly better one.

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JDX
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GoldenEye

Surely that's up there in the "defining games" category too?

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+1 for Worms

Don't like the new 'pretty' versions with trillions of weapons but the PlayStation port of the original version still gives endless hours of hilarity (especially with with Banzai Mode, Sheep and Banana Bombs enabled)

Also great fun was 4-on-screen Timesplitters, with sneaky peeking at the other players of course :)

And I got all my mates into Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, one of the best multiplayers ever!

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Childcatcher

2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

Two player gaming was, is and ever shall be where it’s at when it comes to having the most memorable gaming experiences.

Except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

Most of my teenage years (the 90's if you must ask) and those of my closest friends was spent playing 3/4 player games, as there was usually 4 of us.

Goldeneye, early FIFAs or PES (much better banter/teammate arguments when you are playing 2v2), International Track and Field, some-Playstation-Rallying-game-I-can't-remember-the-name-of, WWF Wrestlemania - all spring to mind.

It was something the N64 was first to get, put more ports on for controllers because there is often more than 2 people playing. People often criticise FIFA as being a dumb cash cow for EA, and there is certainly no reason to buy it every bloody year, but games like FIFA are really good fun when in groups, it doesn't need splitscreen like FPSs do.

I used to love playing multiplayer with my mates, nowadays none of us have consoles and I just haven't enjoyed the fleeting attempts at online multplayer games so I've eneded up playing single player games when I do play. For me online multiplayer games have oddly kind of killed multiplayer

</wistful nostaglia>

ps. Jonah Lomu Rugby (mid 90s) was brilliant in multiplayer. It never got that much attention but we absolutely loved it.

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Pint

Re: 2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

Oh. My. God.

Jonah Lomu Rugby by Codemasters, played on a PS (One as it would be now).

What a two-player game. What a game.

For me, it was the fact that you needed a *completely* different approach to 1- vs 2-player modes, as you couldn't just bung it out to the left winger to hand off and score.

Have just looked it up on Wiki, and now remember that we would also try to unlock the special classic matches together, to allow access to ridiculous teams that would make play nothing short of a riot. Brilliant.

That and Sensible Soccer. And my personal favourite was a special version, given away on a cover disc once of Amiga Format (?) that was WW1 Sensible Soccer, playing with a live hand grenade. This would occasionally throb and then explode, taking out and removing any nearby players of both teams, making onward progress rather tricky. Best 2-play I personally ever played. Hilarious.

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Re: 2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

I thought I was the only one who owned Jonah Lomu Rugby.

"He's digging like a demented mole there"

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Happy

Re: 2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

@Greenawayr - Yes, RIP Bill McLaren, loved that line. What I'd give to hear someone with his class commenting on the six nations rather than the partisan and irritating commentary the BBC have now.

I can still remember Bill shouting "Mather!" as the developer team's super winger ran through.

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Happy

Re: 2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

@Pithy Username - JLR didn't seem to be that well known a game but I think that was a real shame as Rugby Union is a horrible game to model, yet Codemasters managed to do just that. You have to simplify and compromise many parts to get it to work well. I loved the fact that the more people you entered into rucks the more chance the ball came back. Stonger teams needed to put less people into rucks, so as a weaker team you had to really put in the effort to recycle the ball and then attack effectively on your next phase otherwise you would run out of support. Just like real Rugby.

Rugby League lends itself better to simulation as there's less players and less 'complicated stuff' but I haven't seen any League games of note either. It seemed to me that the only sport that can be well modelled is football. Basketball and Rugby games seemed to get worse as they tried to make them more realistic, where as football deosn't seem to suffer in the same way. American Football also seems not to suffer from increasing detail, but I think that is becuase the play stops constantly with overall tactical desicions at each stoppage so there's less complexity to simulate.

I notice that there is a "Jonah Lomu Rugby Challenge 2" on Steam, which I'm naturally waiting for a sale before considering as it doesn't seem to have had great reception. Pity, as I'd enjoy a well made Rugby Union game, a sevens game might work well.

"What a tackle! That could've put him in Ward 4!" - "I hope not Bill, that's a maternity ward!"

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Re: 2 player - well, maybe, except for 3 and 4 player gaming.

Not forgetting the quote which went along the lines of...

Maclaren - "What a tackle that was, that could've put him in ward 4 of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary"

Beaumont - "I hope not Bill, that's the maternity ward"

They don't make them like they used to.

I have got an xbox 360 release of JLR, which is quite good, moderately realistic, but not nearly as much fun.

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Nostalgia

I remember typing in a BBC BASIC listing. Two cannons facing each other. You could control the elevation and the force. There was a wind blowing to perturb things. Where can I get that now? :-(

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Re: Nostalgia

@Vorn

You want to search for 'Scorched Earth'.

You can set as many human or CPU players as you want, and edit other parameters. Basically, its a turn based canon game, with control of elevation and force. You can edit wind and gravity, and the weapons available. Wining rounds earns money that can be used to buy weapons and stuff like parachutes, shields and fuel.

There is also a 3D version, and various 2D clones, including browser and Android versions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorched_Earth_(video_game)

Okay, it's not the BBC game you remember, but it should be close enough to satisfy, and flexible enough for you to make it simpler, if you wish.

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Re: Nostalgia

Sounds a lot like my first two player on a mates console. Simple castle each and a catapult to lob rocks at each other. As with yours all you had was force & elevation. I wish I could remember the name of the console or game. Pant wettingly funny for a couple of young uns each time we took out the others catapult the the wreckage was dragged away.

XOR on the BBC made a good brain challenge against mates, the satisfaction of being the first to figure out a section. Another vote for worms during my uni years plus Turrican and Speedball on another mates Amiga.

Top era for me was Doom, Quake, Descent & F1GP on the work lan in my first job. Quake got up to ten or so players at times, heady stuff back then.

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Happy

+1 for Worms, Tekken and the Chaos Engine

Fond memories indeed. Still remember 5 of us sat round a mate's PC playing worms. First man to lose all his worms made the tea/fetched the beers and sat out the next round.

Which Tekken game had the bowling mini-game in it? Played that for hours.

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Wot no Doom?

Or Descent?

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Re: Wot no Doom?

>Wot no Doom?

Or Descent?

I think it was inferred that the article was about two-player games that only required one computer/console. All the action can take place on one viewport (typically fighting and sports games, but also MicroMachines) or else by use two viewports (split-screen), such as used by racing games and shooters. That said, I broke that convention in my OP by including Tetris, which in its most familiar incarnation required two GameBoy consoles and a link cable.

Not everybody had two PCs in a house, and lugging a friend's PC (and a heavy CRT monitor!) was a bit of a hassle. I did play Doom (and NASCAR Racing) over a null-modem cable, and it was great.

I also played 8-player Descent at school, on some networked Apple PowerPCs... setting it up took a few minutes because we had to take turns with the single game CD. It was well worth it though!

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Re: Wot no Doom?

Sorry, my bad. I thought the article included LAN or null-modem games...

We had a Novel network in the office which was ideal as those games only supported IPX in the beginning AFAIR.

Once we had a Doom session going when the office was raided by armed police. When they broke into the room, balaclavas and Kalashnikovs and all, we thought they were our security guards fooling around, so we told them to go to hell. Big mistake :-(

Those were interesting times in Russia, in the 90's...

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Mushroom

Erm...

Did you mean 'Prehistoric Isle'? And although 'Head-Over-Heels' had two independent characters, it was still a game for one player. But no mention of 'Gauntlet'? I too had an ST with a four-way adaptor and 'Gauntlet II'; we left it running all night once when supervising a Scouts night exercise. Many dragons were slain that night, I can tell you.

As has been mentioned above, the N64 was THE machine for 4-way adversarial challenges (although 'Warlords' on the old Atari is still a great game). But I think it was 'HALO' that was a real landmark in modern co-operative gaming. Sod the 'lone soldier' plot - lets have two of you and whack up the enemy AI; fantastic fun. One driving the Warthog, the other in the turret. Or running in to a melee, seeing enemies pop away from you under your mates' sniper fire.

I also remember a few shoot-em-ups where with two players, you could enjoy extra weapon modes and power-ups. 'Trigon' / 'Lightning Fighters' was one, a vertical scroller with a pod that floated between your craft that could be aimed by careful co-operation. I'm sure there was a horizontal scroller where if you moved into the firing path of the other player, their shots would be split out in a fan pattern. Knowing the way my memory works though, it was probably 'Trigon' again. Or 'Prehistoric Isle'...

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Timesplitters again ...

... and a vote for the innovative split/re-join on some of the Lego titles. But I've always thought that two player co-op is much more satisfying than playing 1 to 1 adversarial.

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Re: Timesplitters again ...

2 player co-op is where its at, the Lego games are the only games released recently that inccorporate this feature. Thrashing the other half on GT5 gets a bit boring but explaing to her that head shots are the way forward on Resi evil 5 / 6 is a great evening.

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Online = Loser / Split-screen = Friends

Never really got in to online play myself - just too solitary (I don't class chatting on a headset as being social).

Give me a couple of friends, some bottles of alcohol and a some (except where it's funny to shoot your mate in the back) co-op Modern Warfare violence, or an evening at the pub followed by some drunken split-screen sport action* any day.

* Running in with a sliding tackel on a stationary keeper NEVER gets old if you've drunk enough.

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Sliding tackle on a stationary keeper

I remember playing FIFA (can't remember which year) with friends. We would change the rules so there were no cards and a blind referee. It just became a war of attrition on whose team could survive the longest without loads of injuries.

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Re: Sliding tackle on a stationary keeper

We always played with fatigue turned off and the aforementioned blind referee which basically turned the game into a Maradona-off. From the centre-circle, you run straight at the opposition while manically jabbing the sprint button and trying to dodge the gauntlet of leg-breaking tackles. If you lost the ball then the other player ran straight at you in turn. Passing is for sissies and continentals.

One of the best things about multiplayer-in-the-same-room is coming up with playground variations like that.

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Pint

Re: Sliding tackle on a stationary keeper

Best bit of the original FIFA - if your player is about to get red carded you could run away from the referee, who would just keep chasing you to give the card. As long as you could keep going the Benny Hill sketch would continue. Something like this in multiplayer might seem annoying but it was always funny when someone did it out of frustration - that kind of laugh you can't have with online multplayer, it would just be griefing (or whatever).

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Its not the number of players or the game...

...its the proximity. It doesn't matter if you're sharing a screen or just a LAN, as long as you're in the same room and can see each other and communicate (gestures, not just speach) directly then its so much better than the same game played online.

At university I used to really enjoy multi-player Doom on a LAN, but have zero interest in playing its modern descendants online. Even the online games I have played the most (old text based MUDs) there was a group of us who'd gather in the same room of obsolete terminals to play them.

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Pint

Playing with friends FTW

Whether split-screen or lanparty or all getting together in the same online 'world', is always a blast, especially if you can manage to keep killing the same person time after time, even if its you being killed like that, very funny

Game/life theory - doing things with friends is more fun than on your own

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LAN parties..

Anyone remember Netrek? Occasionally played with friends on a university system..

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Re: LAN parties..

Netrek, of course. Also other games on LAN or pseudo-LAN setups -- Midi Maze and Populous were fun for that.

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Lemmings... 2 player

I'll never forget Lemmings... it was great as a single player game... but on the BBC Micro was the option to play split screen... two player Lemmings... one team had green shirts and blue hair... and the other blue shirts and green hair...

You each carried forward your lemmings from the last level... some levels you had to work together (otherwise no-one would save any lemmings)... and then you had to set a trap, so that every lemming went into your exit... (the exit they went out of decided who they would play for next time...)

And some levels were pure combat.... Sooo many late nights playing that game....

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Worms - many a lost hour! Got Armageddon on iOS and regularly play online against old school friends for the nostalgia even though we've gone our separate ways geographically. Still not the same as the mandatory "hotseat" game whenever we meet up, which offers much mirth over a beer.

And there's not much that can beat GoldenEye and MarioKart 64 split 4-ways.

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Dreamcast...

Powerstone...

That is all

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Pokemon on two Gameboys cabled together

And countless hours of Contra on NES.

Taught my son all about competitive gaming this way. Apparently that lesson stuck well because he is now a CompSci major at University of Texas, intent on running his own game development studio.

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Pint

University education

Consisted mainly of:

International Track and Field - 4 player mainly

Goldeneye - 4 player

TOCA Touring Cars - 2 player

And that was enough to ensure that there was a huge tangle of cables in front of the TV after passing controllers between us!

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