5 Fun Multiplayer Experiences on the N64

Mario Kart 64 Photo Credit: Nintendo
Mario Kart 64 Photo Credit: Nintendo /
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Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards – Checkerboard Chase

Most don’t identify Kirby’s first 3D title — 2.5D if we’re getting technical — with its multiplayer; it’s the ability combo system that stands out (add the atmosphere and soundtrack for me). But as with other mainline Kirby games, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards adheres to the standard of pairing the main campaign with sub-games by offering three competitive trials fit for a Kirby-themed party game. (Maybe then we’d see more of his departed animal friends from Dream Land 2 and 3.) 100-Yard Hop and Bumper Crop Bump are okay, but the real shiner is Checkerboard Chase.

Players walk along an 8×8 board and send horizontal and vertical strikes, causing blocks in a line to fall in quick succession. The further away an opponent is along a given stretch, the more time they have to avoid falling through the floor. Nowadays if you play as one-game wonder Adeleine, the painter, you could pretend it’s Splatoon and you’re inking the floor.

It’s simple, fast-paced fun that boils down to coordination and instinctive strategy, as there are no lulls for planning, nor items to rely on. Everyone’s in a vulnerable state — sending out a wave will briefly lock you out from moving — and because of the hastiness of the affair, it’s easy to trap yourself in an attempt to corner someone else who is running out of options. The blocks do re-appear at a respawn time of three seconds, but those moments when you’re down to only two or even one space are tense moments of slim hope, which can sometimes lead to narrow escapes. The board shrinks by one unit all around whenever a player is kicked out, until only two remain. The best is when two people, both on their last life, cancel each other out and the stage is the one left standing.

Checkerboard Chase is insanely fun, and the hyper music brings the tension to the fore. And its accessibility makes it super easy to convince friends into five-win tournaments. Fun fact: If you play on Intense Mode, the presentation will shift from a sky theme to a space theme, with the Pop Star world in the background.

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