The long weekend is here, which means that we all have four glorious days to try and occupy ourselves. In honour of the many people who will no doubt spend the weekend drinking and gaming (myself included) here are 15 of the best party games ever released, ranked from good to best.
Gaming image via Shutterstock
15. Wii Sports
For a game that is literally just imitating sports with a motion sensing controller, Wii Sports is... surprisingly fun. The multiplayer modes were simple but effective. Bowling felt just like real bowling — sit down, wait your turn and sledge the other players mercilessly. What's more, every person who played it seemed to get a single sport that they were weirdly, inexplicably good at, that no one else could really get the hang of. Wii Sports was only made better by the weird plastic golf clubs, baseball bats and tennis racquets that you could snap onto your Wiimote to supposedly increase the immersion of the game.
14. Just Dance
If you need someone who can keep your weirdest, dirtiest secrets, play Just Dance with them. There is no (okay, very few) other game that can so effectively strip your dignity, so the act of sharing a game of Just Dance with someone is enough to create a bond for life. The downside to Just Dance is that you do need to make everyone who is not actively playing leave the room, which may make it difficult to set up. You also need quite a large room. Almost all Just Dance games are created equal — each year they just add a couple of new songs and that one meme dance that you're already really, really sick of.
13. EyeToy: Play
2003, PlayStation 2
The Kinect has come and gone, the PlayStation Camera is an obscure peripheral that no one really owns, but the best console camera peripheral is the one that started it all — the EyeToy. EyeToy: Play — the first mini-game collection designed for the EyeToy — was the first video game that got you up out of your seat, jumping around the room and generally making a fool of yourself in order to play it. EyeToy: Play 2 added a bunch of new games but let's be honest, the original is and always will be the best EyeToy game.
2005-2010, PlayStation 2 and 3
I bought a second hand PS2 after the PS3 had already been released, along with a dusty box of Buzz! controllers and a couple of the differently-themed quiz games. Not only was this a great party game, it even got my family playing almost every night after dinner. There have been quiz games innumerable on every console ever, but there was something about Buzz's big red button controllers (where it could have easily just used the regular PS2 controller) that made it just that extra bit special. That and the crazy avatars you could play as, with their ability to taunt.
2004-2014, PlayStation 2 and 3
Singstar is one of those classic PlayStation party games from that era when you probably had drawers and cupboards full of weird plastic add-on controllers, with one for almost every game you owned. While being framed as a competitive multiplayer game, Singstar was also one of the best home karaoke systems you could get your hands on — and probably still is. There was an additional song pack for everyone's taste, and you could definitively prove that you sung that one song way better than your friend did (even if you just knew of the various ways you could cheat the system).
10. WarioWare: Smooth Moves
The WarioWare series of games were some of the weirdest to come out of the Mario franchise — and that's saying something. Many of WarioWare's games aren't even minigames, they're 15 second microgames — and keeping that kind of pace can really get any party going. Smooth Moves was one of the best games to use the Wii's capabilities in this format, beating out any of the Mario Party games released on that console by miles. It also has a great multiplayer mode that only requires one controller and can accommodate up to 12 players — making it perfect for a party.
9. Jackbox Party Pack
This one's included for Kotaku Australia's Alex Walker, who is close to fanatical about Jackbox's party games and introduced me to a fair few of them. Like WarioWare, Jackbox's biggest draw is the fact that players don't need their own controllers — they can play the game on any internet-connected device they might have on hand. That, and they're generally hilarious, with a different game modes for all kinds of players. Who else can't wait for Jackbox Party Pack 3?
8. Rock Band
Are you seeing a theme of weird, plastic gaming accessories here? It seems like everyone still has a Rock Band drum kit sitting neglected in a cupboard somewhere, but the physicality of this game is what really made it special — if you can keep everyone from fighting over what instrument they want to play. While a lot of people got into Guitar Hero, Rock Band was like that, plus even more exciting elements. Rock Band was definitely one of the best musical party games ever released.
7. Mario Kart 8
2014, Wii U
While Wii U releases of old Nintendo franchises have generally been pretty terrible (see Mario Party whatever it is they're up to now — snore) somehow the Mario Kart formula peaked in Mario Kart 8. The gameplay is intuitive, challenging yet still accessible but above all, it's fun. The course designs are interesting, the different carts and bikes actually feel different to drive, and customising them feels more meaningful than in a lot of 'casual' racing games. Oh, and the blue shell is still just as devastating. Thanks, Mario Kart.
6. Banjo Tooie
Banjo Tooie's multiplayer mode was a pleasant surprise, and probably accounts for at least half the time I ever spent on my Nintendo 64. It let you play through all the minigames that were incorporated into the single player mode, tallying points and eventually crowning a winner. You could even just play the shootout modes over and over, for one of the weirdest multiplayer FPS games ever. Banjo was one of those games that everyone who had an N64 inevitably loved, and the multiplayer mode didn't lose any of its inherent charm. Some of the minigames were punishingly difficult, though.
5. Super Smash Bros Brawl
While all the Smash Bros games are pretty great in their own right, Brawl is probably the one that I've spent most time on over the years. Not only is the multiplayer brawl great, but its story mode is a great game mode to play with a smaller crowd. With a bunch of people, however, you can't go past an all-out Brawl. The Wii version of the game adds more characters, more items, cameos from beloved Nintendo characters in the form of 'assists', and a huge range of classic and new levels. When played on a night with drinking involved, it doesn't even matter — button mashing has the potential to get you just as far as a considered strategy would.
2012, Wii U
Coming bundled with the Wii U, Nintendoland was a huge surprise. It involves a handful of Nintendo-themed minigames that largely exist to show off the capabilities of the system like its equivalent on the Wii, Wii Play. Unlike Wii Play, however, Nintendoland had some incredibly entertaining minigames — including a few asymmetrical multiplayer games that would have been many people's first introduction to that concept. Surprisingly most of the games are pretty well balanced, largely depending on how well the team works together against the single player. Like many of Nintendo's games in recent years, Nintendoland is also super accessible even to people who've never picked up a game in their life.
3. Goldeneye 007
Goldeneye. Need I continue? The fact that an infinite game length existed in the multiplayer — and that people actually played it — shows just how successful Goldeneye's multiplayer mode was. Grenade launchers, remote mines, proximity mines and all sorts of other inventive explosives made multiplayer matches a mess of hidden traps and subtle screencheating. The cherry on top was when you scrolled all the way to the right in your results screen, finding out if you were 'Mostly Harmless' or won the 'Lemming Award'.
A 2D retro sidescrolling fencing game shouldn't be this fun. It's an idea that never should have succeeded, but somehow it does, and you'll easily get caught up playing until the early hours of the morning. While Nidhogg only allows two players at a time with its duel-style gameplay, you can set up a tournament for up to eight people. Nidhogg is one of those games that's just as fun for the people watching as it is for the people playing — so pick a side, start cheering and let the pixelated carnage begin.
1. Mario Party 2
There are a lot of arguments about which Mario Party is the best. For me it's the second game, released for the N64. It was close enough to the first that it stuck to its roots, kept some of the best mini games and added even more on top of that. The characters also got to dress up in cute little outfits for the differently themed worlds. Mario Party 2 also added items, introducing even more ways for you to screw over your fellow players — and if you're not making enemies in the process, you're not playing a party game!
What party games are your favourites? Let us know in the comments below!