I’m not what you would call a “party animal”. I am, however, a very keen hunter of party games to add to my collection. I like to always have at least one new game at any time, so if we’re ever having a “what do we do next” moment, I’ve always got something new to pull out.
I’d like to share some of that knowledge with you. Some of these will end friendships, and some will forge unexpected bonds. Some of these you will know, hopefully most you won’t. Some you will love right up until the minute you lose, at which point you may opt to “retire” and never play again (the shame of it)…
So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to five of my favourite tried-and-tested party games.
Nidhogg 1 & 2 (PC/PS4/Switch – Less than $20)
Named after the mythical Norse serpent Níðhǫggr, Nidhogg is a true test of mettle. I was introduced to this wonderful game at PAX 2015 thanks to an impromptu tournament at the inaugural Ready Up Live party, and it has been one of my go-to party games ever since.
The premise is simple – two opponents must use their stick men to stab, dodge and mutilate each other in a tug-of-war struggle to get past their foe and run all the way to the other end of the world, whereupon they will be devoured by the great Nidhogg (AKA Victory Meat Worm).
I struggle to think of a party game that has given greater moments of tension, more unbelievable comebacks or levels of pure disrespect between players than this brutal game. The controls are incredibly easy to pick up and it even has a built-in tournament bracket system. Pure, unadulterated, competitive chaos.
Black & White Bushido (PC/PS4/XBO/Switch – Less than $15)
I discovered this little gem in the Rezzed area at EGX a couple of years ago. We had a decent group of people with us and it immediately hooked us for several games. Instant sell.
Black & White Bushido pits two teams of players (unsurprisingly one is made up of black figures, the other white) against each other, insta-kill slashing and ninja-starring each other to death until a score limit is reached. The big twist is the constant shifting of the beautifully drawn black & white backdrops, which match their respective player colours perfectly when moving slowly, allowing players to blend in and get the drop on their foes. Don’t rely on this cover too much, however, at any moment your shadow could turn into a brilliant spotlight and leave you clutching a fatal wound from a foe.
There is a selection of extra items around each map too, including caltrops to slow enemies down, shurikens for those who prefer a bit of distance (definitely the most satisfying kills) or even a smoke bomb to teleport across the map instantly. One of my favourite couch brawlers.
Pokemon Stadium Minigames (N64 – Retro)
Everyone knows Pokemon, and everyone should have an N64 in their lounge.
Those who have played Pokemon Stadium already know it’s perfect for gamer parties, but not the main game, oh no – the minigames are what makes it worth your time.
Between its two titles Pokemon Stadium offers over 20 minigames supporting up to four players, in addition to a tournament mode. The games are easy to pick up, a fun return to Pokemon before there were six million Pokemon, and challenging enough for one match to last well over half an hour. There is excellent variety here, with a mix of timing, button-mashing, skill and memory based games.
ScreenCheat (PC/PS4/XBO – Less than $20)
Screen-peaking has long been a controversial matter in split-screen games, some defending it as a genuine tactic whilst others cry bloody murder at the sheer thought.
For budget party game ScreenCheat however, this practice is a way of life. 4 players duke it out in traditional FPS arena style with a selection of weapons including a blunderbuss, a grenade launcher, a candelabra and even a hobby horse. There is one catch, however – everyone’s invisible.
How do I find my foes to run them down with Jethro the Faithful Hobby Horse, then? Get screen-peaking. Each map is colour coded into distinct areas with easily recognisable features and zones so you can approximate their location. From there, it’s up to you and your ability to coordinate your candelabra swishes with your screen monitoring.
Pick the blunderbuss, trust me.
WarioWare Smooth Moves (Wii/Wii U – Retro)
Here’s an unusual one for you. Released in 2006, it was an obvious game for parties at the time, but with age and sequels comes the inevitable fate of being forgotten by the masses.
Not in my house. The fact so few know or remember this game makes it the perfect surprise to whip out for newcomers. The very simple premise of 5-second obscure microgames and quick transitions, combined with simplicity of using just the one Wii-mote (sacred Form Baton) makes WarioWare a perfect icebreaker.
Start out with a simple foray into one of the different party modes that can take up to 12 players. Get them comfortable with the premise of the game. Get them comfortable with holding a Wii-mote to their nose, on top of their head like a mohican or pumping it like a dumbbell, then make it weird…
That’s all for now – plenty more games to share so keep an eye out for our next instalment! If any of these are new to you, be sure to give them a go and let us know what your favourite was!
Until next time…