It's Thanksgiving in the US, a major celebration in which families and friends gather to spend quality time together; naturally entertainment will be high on the agenda. For those that enjoy gaming, meanwhile, it's a chance to break out all those excess controllers and get into the spirit of the occasion with party and local multiplayer games; in an era where so many games are focused on delivering online multiplayer, it's Nintendo that continues to offer the most fun games to enjoy on a shared couch.
Of course, outside of the US Thanksgiving has already been celebrated — it's an earlier Holiday in Canada, for example — or isn't on the agenda, in which case this list can simply serve as a reminder of delightful multiplayer games available on the Wii U. There are multiplayer options for those with 3DS systems and enough game copies — such as Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Mario Party: Island Tour — but the current home console offers the most interesting and accessible options while gathered around a TV.
So, without further pre-amble, below are five Wii U multiplayer experiences that are just perfect for a day with family and friends.
An obvious inclusion, with its recent release — it's about to hit PAL regions in Europe — making it a fresh entry for living room frolics. While beating the snot out of each other in four player battles remains an option, a major new feature is that up to eight players can now jump into the mayhem. If rustling together enough controllers is a challenge you can also throw amiibo into the mix to beef up the group. Beyond simple battles you can also take on Stadium events in co-op, if you're feeling particularly generous in spirit.
Another multiplayer staple for any Nintendo gamer, this is arguably — though it'll always be hotly debated — the best entry yet in the series; unless you like Battle mode, that is. It's HD and 60 frames per second if you race in two player, though if you go for four at once you'll have to tolerate 30 frames. When jostling on a couch and cursing whoever threw that blue shell, this remains one of the best multiplayer experiences that money can buy.
We're still happy to champion this launch title / 32GB pack-in as one of the Wii U's best multiplayer games. It utilises the GamePad in various clever ways and includes fun tasters of some beloved franchises — Metroid Blast is one for skilled gamers, The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is perfect for those that simply want to wave their arms around, while the competitive delights of Mario Chase, Luigi's Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day can still prompt raucous game sessions. It's just fun, which is kind of the whole point.
A dose of sublime platforming for the mix. We could always take or leave the 4-player options in Mario's 2D entries, but in 3D World it actually works, by virtue of having enough space to get around. This game feels like an entirely different — and more chaotic — experience in multiplayer, and though many lives will be lost it's an absolute hoot. Whether struggling to co-ordinate direction in a Plessie stage or scrapping over that lovely crown, this is ideal for some boisterous gaming.
Here's our curveball, as it's not a Wii U exclusive and we're not even referring to the main game. Rayman Legends is fantastic, yes, but we're recommending the Kung Foot minigame. Suitable for 2 or 4 players, you use the punches and kicks of the characters to play the most insane match of football / soccer imaginable. The pitch is tiny, there'll be loads of goals and it'll get very intense as the timer runs low. This is genuinely scrappy, utterly mad multiplayer fun; if you haven't played Kung Foot with others, do it now.
We did opt to only include one party game, but fun alternatives to Nintendo Land include retail titles such as Wii Party U and Game & Wario; shout-outs are also due to eShop games Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party and Sportsball, the latter of which is currently only available in North America.
A number of you in the US have also tweeted us with a number of top-notch single player games that you'll be enjoying over the Holiday weekend — examples have included Bayonetta 2 and Shovel Knight; it shouldn't be too hard to find an awesome game to play.
Let us know what games you'll be jumping into during Thanksgiving, or if you're not celebrating the Holiday tell us which of these local multiplayer games are your favourite.