: Art of the Splitscreen

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Art of the Splitscreen

Only two generations ago consoles were fitted with multiple controller slots. That the system would be furnished with multiplayer games was therefore an unchallenged expectation. And yet here we are, 2016, almost starved for such an experience. When my mates are over we resort usually to the likes of CTR (Crash Team Racing) on the PS3 (downloaded as a PS1 classic) for that fun fix of multiplayer mania. What's surprising is how enjoyable it still is: that Sewer Speedway shortcut still poses a challenge, and drifting the tight corners of Cortex Castle is still a blast. In many ways however, it is something of a last resort. Last time I checked there seemed to be nothing to satiate. But perhaps I'm not looking hard enough.

Well let's see. There's Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on the PS4. But that's a co-op game; this wont do you see as our hearts are ablaze with a passion to smite one another, relentlessly. Then Diablo 3 does the same thing-- team work is fun, but for a quick fix we need something that demands less prerequisites. It doesn't take long to realise the confounding extent to which this simple and beautiful aspect of gaming -- to impart gaming wrath on an adjacent other -- has been trivialised, strewn to the wayside, almost abandoned in the dust as the rest of gaming continued to evolve. In short CTR is still so good because nothing better has come along.

A simple remedy has been a Wii U purchase. There we have found solace with the likes of Mario Kart 8 -- which is visually spectacular -- and Super Smash Bros. Yes there we have found cathartic rest to our afflicted spirits. We have smashed for hours, the lot of us, and frivolous fun it has been. Nintendo seem to be the only publisher who hasn't given up on AAA local multiplayer. The standard excuse by gaming's star devs has been the wish to not compromise on the game's quality. While that concern is substantial, one need look no further than Mario Kart 8 to see that a neat solution is certainly possible. While CTR multiplayer has severe frame rate issues, Mario Kart 8 splitscreen runs almost flawlessly. The real issue here seems to be a growing apathy by the devs, but that's a whole other burger to bite.

I was one of the many who felt resentment when Halo 5 was confirmed to be doing away with local multiplayer. How could they do this to us, I bitterly mused. All those hours upon which moments of laughter, joy, fun and madness were etched and painted, as though time itself was a blank canvas, now reside within us as great, warm memories. And a whole generation of gamers are going to miss out on that. And for what? For visual fidelity? It simply is not worth it.  Oh and yes I have heard of Rocket League. A fine game, that. One game however cannot mitigate what seems to be an industry wide plague.

So what do you all think? Has splitsreen multiplayer been ignored too strongly? Are devs justified in their excuses? Should we the gamers be making more of a stir about this issue? Let us know what you think!





4/22/2016 John Nakhoul

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Legacy Comment System (5 posts)

Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 9:19:53 AM

They forget that some people still sit together and do things instead of being attached only by the internet.

Good point bringing this up John

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 4/22/2016 9:20:14 AM

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Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 9:54:39 AM

With the internet I understand why developers have ignored it unfortunately, but considering that I was playing local co-op with friends as far back as the Atari, whenever a game has local multiplayer, whether it be split screen or not, it grabs my attention. You bring up Mario Kart on the WiiU and that is GREAT split screen play. My girlfriend and I play that regularly (she's even better than me at it, gulp!) The other split screen we play is Gears of War on Xbox One. That is another great split screen co-op that she and I have a lot of fun with. As far as the PS4, I can't think of any split screen. For local multiplayer, we have Mortal Kombat and Knack, which are fun, but not split screen. I go back to Resident Evil 5 on the PS3 for Playstation splitscreen in my house.
Don't get me wrong, I still love, and generally prefer my single player games, but I guess considering the rarity nowadays, any local multiplayer catches my attention as well.

Last edited by rjmacready on 4/22/2016 9:56:29 AM

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Friday, April 22, 2016 @ 10:53:15 AM

We need local co-op for relationships.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016 @ 4:51:55 PM

I never in any generation liked split screen.. I would tolerate it for the others around me but couldn't get back to single screen quick enough. I don't miss it i don't want it, but i understand the need for it with games or for certain people.

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Monday, April 25, 2016 @ 11:42:35 AM

There are some split-screen options out there, but not a lot. Most of what I'm thinking of are PS3 titles, rather than PS4 titles.

In our house, split-screen is Minecraft. We've had four people playing simultaneously, which is okay, but I tend to drop it with more than two. The screen real-estate just gets too small.

I love racing games - not so much fighting games - but while my kids will play with me, they aren't very good at them even now that one is old enough to drive. That means we tend not to do a lot of split screen, because they struggle too much just staying on the track. LBP Karting wasn't bad on the PS3, though - ModNation Racers was even better in many ways, except for the load times that were long enough to let me go brew some coffee between races.

So much depends on who you have in the room with you and where your shared interests lie.

I think the developers are reacting to the fact that more people want to play online than in person, and it's not a minor difference. If a major game came out with awesome split-screen support but no online component at all, would it do even half the sales of any of the comparable games that are exactly the opposite? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer to that.

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