By Julian Aidan, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 2, 2013
It’s hard to want to replace, or even think about replacing, “Super Smash Bros.” as the go-to party game. Just about everyone over 14 has played it, the concept is simple enough to grasp and you can get away reasonably well with smashing buttons until your hands go numb if your friends aren’t that great. But for those looking for newer games to play with friends but lacking access to the wonders of “Mario Party 9” or “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” on Wii, the Xbox Live Arcade is pleasantly full of independently developed surprises. While they may lack the polish of AAA titles, well-designed games with functional and interesting mechanics like “Build ’n Bump” and “Hidden in Plain Sight” make excellent investments for the curious gamer.
Build 'n Bump
Hidden in Plain Sight
Adam Spragg Games
More like this
“Build ’n Bump” consists of exactly two stages: building and bumping. Up to four players on the same console select one of four characters and a team color by which to be identified. One player then builds the level on which the players will fight to the death. With experience, carefully created maps can play out in novel and exciting ways.
During the bumping phase, players on opposite teams attempt to jump onto each other’s heads. Doing so nets you a point, falling to your death causes you to lose a point and getting a fixed amount of points wins you the game. That’s it. Yet this incredibly simplistic concept translates into hours upon hours of fun. The virtually limitless map possibilities mean that no game will ever be the same.
That being said, the game lacks the support to save any of the levels created, so devoted “Build ’n Bump”-ers will have to rebuild their favorite levels from memory. Definitely worth the $1 price tag, the first of these two overlooked multiplayer games makes a great addition to any living room’s repertoire.
For those with a penchant for the mysterious, “Hidden in Plain Sight” offers a variety of stealth- and deception-oriented games. Five modes — Death Race, Ninja Party, Knights vs. Ninjas, Assassin and Catch a Thief — each offer a different take on the matter. In each mode, players select a team and begin playing. Typically, players are unaware of which of the 30 or so characters on screen they control, and a large part of the game is determining who is and is not a real person.
In Death Race, each player has one bullet to use on another character while they all compete with two dozen computer-controlled opponents for the finish line. Overzealous players will find themselves getting taken out right before the finish line, and more cautious ones will never make it in the first place; gameplay is a careful balance of boldness and precaution.
In the Assassin mode, players either embody a sniper guarding a dinner party or an assassin intruding on said dinner party. Assassins attempt to kill as many guests before being spotted, snipers try to kill as many assassins before guests die. Just like “Build ’n Bump,” “Hidden in Plain Sight” ’s simple mechanics translate into hour upon hour of strategic, tense and exorbitantly fun gameplay.
While not necessarily up to today’s aesthetic standards, both of these games are a blast to play with friends. Just don’t let anyone get any ideas about having a dinner party.