Party games

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There ain’t no party like a Mario party. At least, that’s what we used to say in the ’90s. Now it’s 2013, and although we may still break out the N64 after a few beers, there are so many other party games out there with a variety of flavours and levels of chaos. Best of all, they won’t force everyone to stare at one screen the whole night. By blending digital and physical mayhem, these games ensure that both players and wallflowers can enjoy themselves.

For those of you with some space to spare and the endurance for some serious horseplay, Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally Okay Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.) is a simple yet devious game for the Xbox 360 and PC that packs a playful punch. It is a guided 2–4 player physical competition, taking place with players any number of steps back from the television and a single controller on the floor. All competitors are then given a task and a condition under which to accomplish it. Once the timer ticks down, everyone’s energy is unleashed and a frenzied ball of elbows, and screams spawn around the controller as each player attempts to achieve the goal, or keep others from it. B.U.T.T.O.N. is nothing more than a set of instructions, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a couple of dollars. In fact, I’d wager that anyone who pays the three-dollar price tag will have a good time—barring injury. Fortunately, it’s also got a setting that favours silliness over violent mischief. The sexy setting, meanwhile, should be saved for more intimate gatherings.

If you are a little reticent about showing up to class with bruises, but still want to partake in some fervent co-operative madness, then take out your smartphone and download Spaceteam. Do it right now. I don’t care if you’re not at an actual party, because Spaceteam will form a party around you, literally. For no money, you and up to three others will connect in local multiplayer, form a starship crew, and begin flying across the universe.

The only catch? Everything is going wrong all at once, and you will have to work as a team to fix it—a space team. Once everyone is connected, each of the phones becomes a control panel on the bridge of a wacky starship. As chaos breaks loose, players must shout orders at each other in the hopes that the right person will be sharp enough to find the specified interface on their console and adjust it accordingly. From “raise the astro-winch” to “flush the glorp-nozzle,” “set warp flange to maximum,” or “charge the cryo-splunge,” the countless commands are all bizarre, frantic, and confusing. Then, just when players think they are getting the hang of it, someone yells spastically: “Asteroid!” and players begin shaking their devices furiously to escape a fiery death. Spaceteam is an exciting, whirlwind experience that messes around with its campy sci-fi setting and ridiculous nomenclature to create an atmosphere that is just as dizzyingly funny to watch as it is to play.

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